Latest al Qaeda threat targets hotel buffets

al qaeda hotelAccording to a report from the Department of Homeland Security, al Qaeda terrorists have targeted buffets at various U.S. hotels and restaurants as their latest terrorist threat. USA Today reports the threat is “credible” and hotels have been briefed and are on alert.

According to USA Today:

While the report says that hotel industry security officials have been briefed about the potential threat, Joe McInerney, who runs the industry’s chief association in Washington D.C. – said that federal officials say that “there is nothing specific” in terms of a potential threat against hotels so the industry isn’t immediately worried although it is taking action.

Here’s what CBS reported:

The plot, uncovered earlier this year, is said to involve the use of two poisons – ricin and cyanide – slipped into salad bars and buffets. Of particular concern: The plotters are believed to be tied to the same terror group that attempted to blow up cargo planes over the east coast in October, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. In online propaganda, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has praised the cargo attack, part of what it called “Operation Hemorrhage.”

The food poisoning threats are credible, and the Dept. of Homeland Security says public health officials are on alert. There hasn’t been any indication as to what hotels are being targeted or which ones have been briefed.

We want to know: Will you still eat at a hotel buffet this holiday season?

Terrorist threat goes after veggies in hotels

Terrorist threat targets vegetables in hotelsShould you really eat your vegetables? It’s a fair question, according to the latest from CBS News. The latest terrorist threat, it seems, is to poison food in hotels and restaurants at several locations in a coordinated, single-weekend attack. The threat has been called “credible,” according to CBS News’ sources, and the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Agriculture and the FDA have been talking to hotels and restaurants about it.

The people involved are believed to be involved with the same guys who tried to bomb cargo planes back in October – al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Ricin and cyanide are said to have been the poisons of choice.

CBS News continues:

On Monday Dept. of Homeland Security spokesman Sean Smith said, “We are not going to comment on reports of specific terrorist planning. However, the counterterrorism and homeland security communities have engaged in extensive efforts for many years to guard against all types of terrorist attacks, including unconventional attacks using chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials. Indeed, Al-Qa’ida has publicly stated its intention to try to carry out unconventional attacks for well over a decade, and AQAP propaganda in the past year has made similar reference.

So, there appear to be two alternatives: (1) eat steak and stay safe and (2) eat vegetables or the terrorists win. Frankly, I think broccoli rocks, and I’m not giving it up.

CBS notes: “The fact remains the government and hospitality industries are on alert.”

[photo by ilovebutter via Flickr]

Afghan archaeologists race to study Buddhist site before destruction

We all remember the Bamiyan statues, those giant stone Buddhas the Taliban blew up in 2001. One of the 1,500 year-old statues is pictured here. Pictures are all we have left of them.

Now another Buddhist site in Afghanistan is under threat of destruction. This time the danger isn’t the Taliban, but a Chinese mining company. The site of Mes Aynak in eastern Afghanistan was home to a thriving Buddhist monastery in the seventh century. It’s also right next to an abandoned Soviet mine that may have the world’s second-largest reserve of copper. A Chinese mining company has invested $3.5 billion to exploit the mine and Afghan officials are eager for work to get underway.

A team of Afghani archaeologists is busy excavating the site and has found an entire monastery complex with more than 150 statues. They were originally given three years, a woefully inadequate length of time for a team of barely forty people, and now they’re being pressured to finish by the end of this year. The archaeologists fear that once the miners move in, the monastery will get wrecked.

The mine will bring much-needed jobs and wealth to Afghanistan, which is also courting adventure tours, so the in the rush to yank copper out of their land they might want to think about preserving some of their past.

[Photo courtesy Marco Bonavoglia via Wikimedia Commons]

Al Qaeda Yemen connection suspected in cargo plane bomb scares

The simultaneous bomb scares in Newark, Philadelphia and London are now being linked to al Qaeda activity, according to the latest reporting from CNN. On its live blog covering the suspicious item discoveries, CNN reports, “U.S. officials believe that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was behind the plot that caused a security scare at English and American airports on Friday.”

In Washington, a diplomat from Yemen has said the government there is opening a full investigation into the alleged bomb, adapted from a toner ink cartridge, that was discovered in the United Kingdom at East Midlands Airport.

Look for tighter security all around at airports in the United States, some of which, according to CNN, will be “visible and passengers should expect a mix of security techniques.”

[photo by redjar via Flickr]

Travel warning for Europe–U.S. government asks citizens to be on alert

The U.S. government will issue a travel warning today for its citizens going to Europe. The warning is in response to intelligence regarding plans by terrorists to launch Mumbai-style commando attacks in European cities.

The attacks in Mumbai in 2008 were carried out by small groups of heavily armed terrorists who attacked several spots in the city simultaneously. They killed at least 173 people and injured hundreds more. US and foreign intelligence officials say that Al-Qaeda is planning similar attacks in the UK, France, and Germany. Details of the plans were leaked to the press last week. Nobody has been arrested but officials say several European citizens of Asian origin are under surveillance.

The travel warning, which is not as serious as a travel advisory, will tell U.S. citizens of the heightened threat level and request them to be extra vigilant when visiting Europe. No specific countries will be named in the advisory.

So how best to deal with warning? It’s impossible to know where terrorism will strike next, and these vague reports from anonymous officials don’t really clear things up. For some good safety advice check out this post by former Gadling blogger Abha Malpani, who was in Mumbai at the time of the attacks.

[Image courtesy U.S. Navy]