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Lurking danger

world Updated: Nov 16, 2008 00:19 IST

Top security officials in the United States and Britain fear a ‘spectacular’ assault from terrorists linked to the Al Qaeda during the presidential transition in Washington, a news report said.

US President-elect Barack Obama is being given ominous advice from leaders on both sides of the Atlantic to brace himself for an early assault from terrorists, The Times newspaper said. The Bush Administration has been defined largely by the 9/11 attacks, which came within a year of his taking office.

General Michael Hayden, director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), on Thursday acknowledged that there were dangers during a presidential transition when new officials were coming in and getting accustomed to the challenges.

The UK daily reported that in Britain security officials say there is genuine concern that Al Qaeda will attempt an
attack in the transition period, but suggested it may be aimed more at President George W Bush than the incoming

James Lewis, an expert with the CSIS said Al Qaeda may wish to provoke a reaction from the next US administration designed to show the rest of the world that “America is still the evil crusader”.

However, intelligence chiefs on both sides of the Atlantic have indicated that such warnings refer more to a general sense of foreboding than fear of an imminent or specific plan, the report said.

Even as acknowledging the dangers, the CIA boss underlined there was no detection of any “real or artificial spike” in intercepted transmissions from terror suspects.

In Britain, while officials are on the alert, there is nothing from the intelligence world “to indicate that anything has changed dramatically in recent months to put them on alert for an attack at the moment.”