WASHINGTON — The FBI issued an extraordinary terrorist alert Monday night, asking law enforcement and the American public to be on the lookout for a Yemeni man and several associates who might be plotting a terrorist attack as early as today.
The FBI scrambled to put the warning out after information emerged that one or more people were involved. Officials said the intelligence, while deemed credible, was not specific about possible targets.
The alert identified one possible attacker as Fawaz Yahya al-Rabeei, a Yemeni national born in Saudia Arabia in 1979. It listed about a dozen associates of al-Rabeei.
The bureau planned to put photos and information on a Web site to help Americans identify the possible perpetrators.
“Recent information indicates a planned attack may occurred in the United States or against U.S. interests on or around Feb. 12, 2002. One or more operatives may be involved in the attack,” the alert to 18,000 law enforcement agencies said.
The alert asked police “to stop and detain” any of the named individuals in alert and that all “should be considered extremely dangerous.”
Steve Maviglio, spokesman for Gov. Gray Davis, said all state agencies were on high alert after the FBI issued its warning.
“We’ve been advised of the specific names on the list,” Maviglio said.
Law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the alert was prompted by recent information from interviews of detainees in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where several al-Qaida operatives are being held.
Law enforcement officials said there was no evidence that al-Rabeei had entered the United States. The alert did not say whether the attack was planned or that it involved Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network. Before Monday, FBI and Homeland Security officials had issued three general alerts urging all Americans to be cautious and on the lookout for possible terrorist activities.