Officials Warn of Al Qaeda Threats Against Wall Street

The FBI is worried that Yemen-based operatives could attack bankers through the mail

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Security officials are briefing Wall Street executives about threats to them and their institutions from al Qaeda terrorists in Yemen, NBC New York reports. The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force and NYPD officials are apparently concerned that "the names of some top banking executives have been discussed by terror operatives overseas" and "that operatives in Yemen may again try to send package bombs or biological or chemical agents through the mail to Wall Street bankers." Alerted banks include Goldman Sachs, Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, and Barclays.

NBC New York explains that a recent issue of the online magazine Inspire, which is published by Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, recommended attacking financial centers. The al Qaeda blogger Abu Suleiman Al-Nasser also recently instructed readers to target "financial sites and the program sites of financial institutions, stock markets and money markets."

Are the warnings cause for concern?

  • Threat Is Vague But Will Have an Impact, reports Daniel Trotta at Reuters. An FBI spokesman tells Trotta that these kinds of briefings are routine even if there's no imminent threat. But a security expert adds that companies have no choice but to take these warnings seriously and step up security in their mailrooms.
  • We Should Take Threats Seriously, argues John Hayward at Human Events. "Massive disruptions in the national economy could be accomplished with relatively minor physical disruptions at a small number of buildings in New York," he says. Hayward adds that this isn't the first time intelligence agencies have warned about an attack on Wall Street, referencing a report in 2004 that al Qaeda was considering attacking targets like the World Bank headquarters, the New York Stock Exchange, and the Prudential Financial building with truck bombs.
  • Officials Follow Inspire Stories Closely, notes James Gordon Meek at The New York Daily News: "After Inspire explained last year how U.S. government workers could be slaughtered in Washington's outdoor eateries, the FBI, DC police, and Department of Homeland Security officials fanned out to brief business owners that a Mumbai-style Al Qaeda attack is all but certain in the future."
  • I'm Not Sure How to React, admits TBogg at FireDogLake: "Part of me is trying to avoid being cynical about this, but then another part of me knows that these same banking executives will now be demanding hazardous duty pay on top of their already bloated ill-gotten gains."
  • I Wonder What the Terrorists Are Saying, muses Gawker's Hamilton Nolan. He imagines a conversation:

TERRORIST 1: Man, you know who I'd like to be? Jamie Dimon. That guy is so rich.

TERRORIST 2: What about Lloyd Blankfein? Even better. That guy is living the life, totally.

TERRORIST 3: I would convert to Christianity just to spend one weekend in Vikram Pandit's apartment. Talk about tasteful luxury.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.