Gov't Issues Holiday Terrorism Warning

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The government is warning law enforcement to be on the look out for a possible terrorist attack against New York City's subway system during the holidays.

An internal FBI memo states that al Qaeda "in late September may have discussed targeting transit systems in and around New York City. These discussions reportedly involved the use of suicide bombers or explosives placed on subway/passenger rail systems."

Such holiday warnings are not uncommon, though, CBN News Terror Analyst Erick Stakelbeck said.

Click play for more analysis with CBN News Terror Analyst Erick Stakelbeck.

"And the increase in security at train stations during this time of year - especially in big cities like New York - has become routine ever since 9/11," Stakelbeck explained.

But while such advisories may be routine, the language used in this memo is particularly strong. Also noteworthy: this is not just any holiday season, but a time of transition for the nation.

"Al Qaeda could be looking to test President Obama right off the bat," Stakelbeck said.

Al Qaeda - Weak, but Still Lethal

This would not be the first time al Qaeda has toyed with the notion of attacking New York's subway. In 2003, al Qaeda's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, proposed a cyanide gas attack against the subway system but later called it off.

"Back then, al-Zawahiri felt the subway attack wouldn't make a big enough statement and wouldn't cause sufficient casualties," Stakelbeck explained.

"So the new government warning - if true - may reflect a weakened but still dangerous al Qaeda that has lowered the bar a bit for U.S. attacks due to dwindling resources," he said.

Intelligence and Homeland Security authorities are currently working with local law enforcement to substantiate the information and plan to "continue to investigate every possible lead," according to the memo.

Sources: The Associate Press, CBN News

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