Threat level raised
Jason Green, BNI News Service
When National Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge elevated the nation's terror level to high, state homeland security departments throughout the county also raised their awareness levels.
In Alabama, Jim Walker, the state's homeland security director, said he and his staff are working through the holiday. Consequently, hopes of a white Christmas in his office have turned a hard shade of orange with the threat level elevation..
Walker said Gov. Bob Riley has ordered national guardsmen to take up positions at all four major airports serving the state. "He has ordered guardsmen to be positioned at airports in Mobile, Huntsville, Montgomery and Birmingham," Walker said.
Protective measures will not stop there, however.
Department of Defense installations have also heightened their security levels and other state security assets will be placed at potential terrorist sites. Those sites, Walker said, include both the energy sector and chemical sector of the state's resource base.
"It isn't just where these items are produced," Walker added. "It is also methods by which they are transported. However, we are also focusing on the areas we know terrorists frequently use – airports."
Walker said he and Gov. Riley are in constant communication now in an effort to protect the people of Alabama.
He said he is also in constant contact with the Federal Department of
Homeland Security, checking to see if any specific threats have been made against targets in Alabama.
So far, no Alabama-specific threats have been made. Walker said if any threats were made concerning sites in the state, he and the governor would immediately respond with further security measures.
"First and foremost, we don't want to disrupt the holiday plans of the people of Alabama," he explained. "Yet, we do want to make certain our citizens are safe. Don't let your guard down and notify law enforcement if you see anything out of the ordinary. Please respect those who are working to keep Alabama safe. They aren't trying to inconvenience you, they are trying to keep you safe."
Walker made no speculation on how long the terror threat level would remain elevated or whether or not it would increase to the highest level – red. The terror level was elevated on Sunday after national intelligence assets revealed possible plans of an al Qaeda attacks potentially more devastating than Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Airplanes have been identified as the most likely method of delivery of any attacks taking place.