The alleged threat that led to heightened security on New York subways last week may have been a hoax on the part of an Iraqi informant attempt to get money in exchange for information, U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials said yesterday.
The informant has since disappeared in Iraq, and the Defense Department has not been able to locate him, city and federal officials said.
New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg described the informant's claims last week as the "most specific threat" ever received against the city's transit system, leading officials to issue a heightened terrorist alert and blanket the subways with police and National Guard troops.
U.S. troops in Iraq captured three suspects south of Baghdad who the informant said were involved in the alleged plot.
But none of the suspects, including two who were given polygraph examinations, corroborated the informant's allegations or appeared to have any connection to a terrorist plot, according to intelligence officials.
The city lifted the alert Monday after the time period identified by the informant passed without incident.
Officials with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security were highly skeptical of the threat from the beginning, though federal officials sought to play down any differences with New York authorities, reports the New York Times.
According to one official knowledgeable about the investigation, the threat listed this past Friday and Sunday as possible days for an attack.
Friday was three months to the day after four bombers carried out attacks on three London, England, subways and a double-decker bus, killing 52 people and wounding 700. (Full story)
Bloomberg cited information from the FBI about a "specific threat" when he heightened subway security Thursday.
Some intelligence officials downplayed that information, saying it was not credible, and by Monday, law enforcement officials said they could not corroborate any of the informant's claims.
Bloomberg said he was also told that when three men allegedly linked to the supposed New York plot were arrested in Iraq, one of them had shouted, "You are too late to stop us!" informs CNN.