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WASHINGTON-On Aug. 1, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge made the chilling announcement that his office had received more specific terror threat information from more sources than ever before. At the same time, he elevated the terror threat level from yellow, or “elevated,” to orange, or “high,” for financial institutions in Washington, D.C., New York, and northern New Jersey. Ridge reported that a number of intelligence reports indicated Al-Qa’ida may very soon attempt to attack the nation’s financial system. Specifically, intelligence reports named Prudential’s headquarters in Newark, N.J., the New York Stock Exchange and Citigroup in New York, and the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington, D.C. Treasury Secretary John Snow praised the financial services sector for opening up as usual on Monday, Aug. 2, after the announcement. “Our nation’s financial markets, financial institutions and financial sector continue to operate normally. I applaud the financial services industry for remaining open for business in the face of yesterday’s reporting. The extraordinary commitment of the men and women who make our financial systems work is invaluable; their work demonstrates the resiliency and strength of our financial system.” He noted that Treasury, the financial regulators, and DHS have been working in cooperation to strengthen and protect the nation’s financial infrastructure. Together, these various segments of government have worked to improve communications systems and protocols, coordinated the identification and mitigation of potential vulnerabilities, presented security seminars, issued guidance on business continuity and conducted drills to test backup systems and financial services professionals. Snow said the international financial institutions, the IMF and World Bank, have taken extraordinary measures to protect against terrorist attacks. Additionally, the key financial coordinating groups-including the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets which is comprised of the heads of Treasury, Federal Reserve Board, SEC and CFTC; the Financial and Banking Information Infrastructure Committee (FBIIC); the Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council (FSSCC); and the Financial Services Information and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC). CUNA and NAFCU are founding members of the FSSCC. Both trade associations also participated in a conference call the evening of Sunday Aug. 1 with Treasury and DHS following the announcement that the threat level would be increased. “What they wanted to do was to reiterate what had been targeted in terms of precautions,” CUNA Associate General Counsel Mary Dunn explained. She added that Treasury did not want any financial institutions in the area to close, but to take extra precautions. NCUA has Alert 03-025 from May 20, 2003 posted on its Web site (www.ncua.gov/FBIIC/Security/Index.htm), which explains to credit unions what steps they should take when the threat level is raised to `orange.’ “International terrorist groups, such as Al-Qa’ida, have demonstrated the ability to plan and conduct complex attacks, simultaneously, against multiple targets.” the alert read. “Terrorists are opportunistic. They exploit vulnerabilities left exposed, choosing the time, place and method of attack according to the weaknesses they observe or perceive. Increasing the security of a particular type of target makes it more difficult for terrorists to successfully strike. In order to protect ourselves from those that desire to harm our friends, families, businesses, and the nation, it is important to maintain awareness and look for suspicious activity or `things out of place.’ ” The alert warns of indicators of surveillance activities, which are a key preparation in a terrorist attack. In doing their reconnaissance work, some terrorists may disguise themselves as beggars or park in the same location on several occasions. Look for people taking notes or drawing in areas that are not normally of interest to tourists. The key concern for the potential attack this time includes car bombers. The alert recommends that businesses encourage personnel to be alert and report suspicious activity, packages, or devices. It also suggests businesses urge their employees to keep family members and supervisors apprised of their whereabouts. Businesses should increase security patrols and limit access points, among other things. NCUA, which is located just outside Washington, D.C. in Alexandria, Va., is also taking extra protective measures. A trip there Aug. 2 required a pass through a metal detector, which has just recently been required for board meeting days. NCUA Special Assistant to the Chairman and Director of External Affairs Nicholas Owens explained, “ With the heightened alert, the NCUA is following its continuity of operations plan which requires increased security measures. As a member of the Financial Banking Information Infrastructure Committee, NCUA has been fully engaged in process with the Treasury Department of protecting our nation’s financial infrastructure.” [email protected]

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