Ridge Urges Energy Companies to Be on High Alert

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Ridge Urges Energy Companies to Be on High Alert

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -

U.S. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge on Tuesday urged U.S. law enforcement agencies and private companies, especially in the energy sector, to be on high alert for possible attacks this week.

Ridge told CNN there was little specific information the government could pass to law enforcement officials or private companies, but it was imperative that security officials everywhere were on the lookout for suspicious activity.

``When you do have, from credible sources, a strong suggestion that this is a week that we may see additional terrorist activity in this country ... we need to heighten awareness,'' Ridge told CNN.

``We need to inform, as the attorney general did yesterday, 18,000 law enforcement agencies, we need to talk to our energy companies. ... We need to ramp up our security and deal with what may occur,'' he added.

Ridge mentioned private energy companies a second time during the brief interview, but gave no details on whether the threat may have been targeted specifically against such firms.

``We are dealing with an unknown, we are dealing without a lot of specific information,'' he said.

``When you've got literally hundreds of thousands of Americans involved at security at private energy plants, at public plants, at shopping malls, the neighborhood policeman on the beat -- we just want them to be aware of suspicious activity,'' he said.

``America has to continue to be on guard while the government, as well as the private sector, continues to work every day to better protect America against attack and be in a better position to respond to it, if it occurs.''

Ridge also praised ``unprecedented collaboration'' around the world on gathering intelligence about possible attacks by militant groups, suggesting the latest alert issued by the government may have been based, in part, on such data.

-- PHO (owennos@bigfoot.com), October 30, 2001

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