U.S. forces now on highest alert in 5 Gulf states

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U.S. forces now on highest alert in 5 Gulf states Saudi Arabia, Kuwait added to list that includes Yemen, Qatar, Bahrain October 31, 2000 Web posted at: 2:43 p.m. EST (1943 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. forces and diplomatic personnel in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have been placed on their highest level of alert, raising to five the number of Persian Gulf countries covered by an order that means a terrorist attack is considered likely, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

The alert, known as "Threat Condition Delta," was issued on Monday as a result of U.S. intelligence that indicates a threat against U.S. interests in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. "It is due to credible threat information on unspecified targets," said Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon.

He declined to elaborate, but a Clinton administration official told CNN that some of the specific information related to the expanded alert was linked to al-Quaida, the organization begun by accused terrorist Osama bin Laden.

U.S. Defense Department threat conditions Threatcon Normal -- No threat of terrorist activity is present.

Threatcon Alpha -- There is a general threat of possible terrorist activity against installations, building locations, and/or personnel, the nature and extent of which are unpredictable.

Threatcon Bravo -- There is an increased and more predictable threat of terrorist activity even though no particular target has been identified.

Threatcon Charlie -- An incident has occurred or intelligence has been received indicating that some form of terrorist action is imminent.

Threatcon Delta -- A terrorist attack has occurred or intelligence has been received that action against a specific location is likely. U.S. personnel in three other Gulf region countries -- Yemen, Qatar and Bahrain -- were placed on the same "Threatcon Delta" status in the days after the October 12 attack on the USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden.

The United States has U.S. troops and planes at the Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia, as well as at the Al Jaber Air Base in Kuwait.

All other countries in the Gulf region were put at "Threat Condition Charlie," an alert level just below Delta.

In a related development, the State Department is urging U.S. citizens to be cautious about traveling to Egypt and elsewhere in the Mideast.

"The possibility exists that extremist groups may be planning terrorist acts in Egypt and in other areas of the region," a public statement said. "The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens exercise caution in considering travel to Egypt as well as other areas in the region."

The statement also urges Americans "to be vigilant and exercise good security practices," including avoiding large crowds and demonstrations, maintaining a low profile and taking "appropriate steps to reduce their vulnerability."

Although the advisory was issued on Friday, it was not received by reporters until Tuesday. It supplements a worldwide caution issued October 18, which urges all American citizens abroad to take extra precautions.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), October 31, 2000

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