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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 August, 2004, 08:30 GMT 09:30 UK
Terror alert: Are you worried?
Armed police at Heathrow

Twelve men have been arrested under the Terrorism Act after raids in London and three English counties.

Police said the men, aged in their 20s and 30s, were suspected of involvement in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.

These arrests come as the Home Office is trying to calm fears of an imminent terrorist attack in the UK, while simultaneously saying there's a "real and serious risk" from al-Qaeda.

At the same time MPs have called for the government to end the detention of foreign terror suspects without trial. The cross party report was also critical of proposals for a new offence of "acts preparatory to terrorism".

American authorities have put New York and Washington on high alert with the Bush administration saying it believes al-Qaeda has targeted five leading US financial institutions.

Are you worried by the threats? Why do Britain and the US appear to be acting differently over the threats? Do you work for the institutions that might be targeted? What are your views on the recent arrests? Do you agree with the criticism of the government's anti-terror powers?

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

This topic was suggested by Jujumon, from the US:
Why is the UK not reacting like the US over the new terror threat information?

For me the worst thing about all this is that al Qaeda are achieving their aims without even doing anything. Civil liberties have already taken a hammering. Now we have terror warnings on a monthly basis whose only purpose seems to be so that the government can say "We warned you" if something does happen. It won't stop anything, only increase fear and prejudice.
Robin Massart, Oxford

To any non-Daily Mail reader with a mind of their own, its obvious that the ongoing scare tactics of the UK and US governments are designed for political advantage - Bush to take focus away from Kerry and Blair to justify his increasingly dubious position on the war in Iraq. I doubt we're in any more danger than we were during the IRA's reign if terror and I don't remember receiving a special booklet in those days. We need to consider the psychological effects of promoting fear and terror on a day to day basis, especially to our children who should be enjoying the happiest time in their life. The media should be more questioning about the true motives behind this constant cry of 'wolf'.
Neil, Swindon

To be afraid of terrorists would be to give them exactly what they want
Peter Marshall, Pontefract, UK
Am I worried? No. To be afraid of terrorists would be to give them exactly what they want. I'm worried about working towards my degree; how I'm managing my money; whether my diet is okay. I've seen terrorist actions - I've been there - but quite frankly, for the public, it's only worth worrying about when you face it.
Peter Marshall, Pontefract, UK

Keep up the pressure. If we give an inch, they'll take a mile. We have to stand up for freedom and this is what is needed. Squeeze out the terrorists from the UK and let them fight their religious wars elsewhere.
Tim, UK

The fear I feel now is no worse than it was when Bush and Blair decided to go to war in Iraq. I do not agree with people being detained indefinitely without either fair trial or release, but equally, the security services need to be allowed to follow up any leads they have.
Ann, England

So is it going to be Eastasia or Eurasia? It does not matter who we are at war with so long as we are afraid!
Maz, UK

It's inevitable that there will be a terror strike in the UK, and this feeling of impending doom has made me change what I would normally do during the summer - a trip to the Proms in London. I'm giving it a miss this year and staying 'up north' as I believe London would be the terrorists' prime target.
Colin Ormesher, Knottingley, West Yorkshire

I am sceptical, not worried.
John Hayes, London

MI5 work undercover, often infiltrating groups and putting agents into positions high up in terrorist organisations. If the UK Government was to come out and say "we know an attack is going to happen at x on x", then the cover could be blown. That is one of the ways in which we are protected.
Lee, Hebburn, England

This was always going to happen. I fear that the anti-terrorist squad have no idea what is happening in England. Do local police not report to them when Muslim groups who support al-Qaeda are recruiting Muslims in cities they patrol and everybody in a neighbourhood knows where and when such meetings are held? I live in Rochdale and this has been occurring for three months and yet the police or any government agency hasn't stopped this. What is happening to protect us?
Sahid Khan, Rochdale

A terror plot will go ahead no matter what our security forces do, we aren't dealing with cavemen, we are dealing with an extremely sophisticated terror network who managed to hijack five planes and crash them all within a couple of hours of each other, do we really have a chance? I just hope the casualties aren't that high. Let's not underestimate them.
Jo, Aberdeen, Scotland

I'm not worried, what will be will be. But the US and UK need to realise that you reap what you sow. In Iraq they have created a whole country for al-Qaeda to move into and set up operations.
Matt, UK

The only people I feel who are at risk are those who work in urban areas
Daniel Curwood, UK

No I myself personally am not worried - life is too short. The only people I feel who are at risk are those who work in urban areas such as London and those who live and work near major transport hubs (e.g. Manchester Int Airport). The most high risk areas are the public buildings and their immediate vicinities.
Daniel Curwood, Annesley Woodhouse, UK

What is worrying is the precarious condition of public services under normal conditions. One day of heavy snow or torrential rain and the country grinds to a halt. One defective train and a whole grid is blocked for the day. Transport, emergency medical care, water and sewage provision, electricity supply are all run on shoestring with decaying infrastructure and shortage of expert staff. Privatised utilities cannot respond to emergencies in a coordinated and efficient way. Yes I am worried.
Joe, Kent, UK

Surely all these terror threats have existed for years. Its only since 9/11 that the US government has decided make the threats public and keep people living in fear.
Douglas, Cardiff, UK

I am more worried about what legislation the government will try and put through off the back of these threats, Tony and his cronies are a far greater threat to our liberties than any terrorist organisation. People all over the Third world have to live with this every day of their lives, what makes us so special, well apart from being rich?
Simon Rerrie, Birmingham, UK

I live in Luton, where one of the arrests was made and in that particular part of the town there are always people on the streets trying to recruit young men into 'extremist' organisations and nothing is done about it. Surely, this is incitement? As with all crimes, if they are tackled at a lower level such as this recruiting, then surely it would be a big step towards a safer country?
Sonia, Luton, UK

There is more of a chance that I will die trying to pay all my taxes than from an Islamic terrorist. Should said terrorists like to step forward though, I will be more than happy to end their miserable existence.
Lee, UK

So much hot air has been expelled concerning alleged terrorist threats on a daily basis both pre-war and post-war that credibility is now stretched to its limit. The main exponents, Blair and Bush are no longer believed by the majority of people having been exposed by public inquiries on both sides of the pond. Remember the student thesis that was advanced as a case for bombing Iraq? Now we have four year old intelligence. Whatever next? The Chinese restaurant theory again?
Kev Rafferty, Worksop, UK

Excellent work by our security services who do a great job under difficult circumstances
Hetal Patel, Pinner

Excellent work by our security services who do a great job under difficult circumstances. One has more to worry from the PC brigade who would immediately talk about the rights of the alleged terrorists rather than their guilt. I say kudos to the police and hope that Blair gives them every possible help in rooting out all the bad apples in the land.
Hetal Patel, Pinner, UK

Cobblers. Just a cheap ploy to win votes and keep people scared. Have they never read the story about the boy who cried wolf? If their alerts were so good why did they not have a clue about Madrid, Iraq's non-existent weapons of mass disappearance or just about every other attack that has taken place? They are clueless and it shows.
Adam, London, UK

Let's get real: we know for sure that the political campaign teams include numerous political strategists. It's a sure bet that these guys would not ignore a key election issue such as the 'war on terror'. Of course, the timing of news release is critical. the danger of a terrorist attack is real but, in my opinion, is blown out of proportion and used for the exclusive benefit of G W Bush. Also, I guess that Al-Qaeda would like to see Bush re-elected. that would fuel the hatred against arrogant America in the Arab world. a peaceful and friendly America would not be that much fun for them.
Mihai, Ottawa, Canada

Politics aside and the 'dammed if they don't, dammed if they do' scenario, my question is this. If this information is a couple of years old, maybe pre 2001, why was it not shared with the public then? Homeland Security is saying that the information was more updated/specific' now which is why they released the information at this time. They should have alerted the public of the threat when they first knew about it. Told the people that certain factions were out to cause terrorist atrocities on the mainland and told us to be vigilante. The threat remains the same, be it now or originally when the information first surfaced. The timing is what I question, not the threat.
M B French, San Francisco, US

If Britain had been the target on 9/11 and not the US, we would be watching you overreact now. It's that simple. Britain has not yet experienced a terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11 and is unable to comprehend it. That being said, I'm not too worried about the threat. There is a threat warning every time Bush is suffering in the polls.
Shawn, Washington, DC, USA

I cannot let a few cowardly thugs with masked faces dictate my life
Stuart Galloway, Long Beach, US
I work in a highly visible tower block on Long Beach's main drag....with a clear view of the ports of LA and LB less than two miles away. We are a target, undoubtedly, but I expect the Bush administration to issue more and greater "threats" on less and less provable evidence as we get closer to the election. We also have a wager on that Bin Laden will be found about a month before November 7th, so that Bush can portray himself as the conquering hero. Any takers? It is very sad, but in the administration's desperate grab to retain power, all sorts of ideas and freedoms are being undermined by the phrase "That's un-American". The threats are real, but having grown up in London with the IRA bombs, I cannot let a few cowardly thugs with masked faces dictate my life.
Stuart Galloway, Long Beach, US

No, in a word. I am not worried. This is exactly as Michael Moore predicted in his award winning documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11. The US will continue to raise and lower the terror alert more so in the run up to elections. This is the present Government's way of controlling the masses. We should not change our routine in the slightest.
Janet Furly, London, England

Not really. What annoys me is the medias over indulgence in the supposed threat - real or not. It alarms my family and particularly my children to no purpose. The bottom line is that if a terror group want to cause chaos and mayhem there is realistically no defence -as was shown by the success that the IRA had over many years and also the attacks against Israel. If the security services and the government have good evidence or suspicions of an impending attack, they should keep quiet about it and deal with it. Ignore the "we should be told everything brigade", - it doesn't do any good. In that the terrorist want to disrupt everyday life, to allow the media to report and publicise is to allow the terrorists to win.
P S Rule, Calne, UK

Now that the irrelevant Iraq invasion is breeding more terrorists, perhaps we should be a little more worried, but how on Earth can we know with such a bunch of paranoiacs running the intelligence services?
John, London, UK

Personally my experience tells me it is an eventuality and will happen no matter how strong the security may be
J H Nanneti, Toronto

To see so many negative views about the terror alerts makes me feel as if some people either don't care or are just ignorant of the capabilities of al-Qaeda. Personally my experience tells me it is an eventuality and will happen no matter how strong the security may be. It is not possible to stop these people who are willing to kill themselves in order to force their views on others. In fact now some of my Muslim friends who were supportive of these people now are tired of these people. We need a little patience with the authorities, who knows what they know. There is nothing wrong in taking necessary precautions either to stop any kind of terrorist activity in order to reduce the impact. If a single person could be saved with steps taken it is worth it.
J H Nanneti, Toronto, Canada

Car bombs can be defeated by "pedestrianisation" and essential deliveries made by checked-out vehicles at night. It's only when you start to walk around central London that you realise how much time and energy is wasted going up and down stairs into tube stations because north to south and east to west, the area is really quite small.
John , UK

I can't help but notice that people whose addresses place them either in a different continent to the possible targets, or at least on a different coast, seem to be the most convinced that there is no real threat. It's very easy to be blasť about something that won't affect you, and to therefore assume that you (whoever you are) are better qualified to judge the threat than people who devote their lives to understanding it and trying to avoid it. Perhaps all the armchair intelligence officers out there would care to explain to us why they failed to predict 9/11, if they're so good at the job that they can be absolutely certain that there is no real threat now.
Julian Porter, Glos, UK

Just how many terrorist attacks have we had on Western soil lately? I feel more endangered by driving than I do this real and serious [albeit not there] risk. And besides, more people are dying this minute of starvation than of terrorist attacks this year. Where's the press on that?
Callum Dougan, Linlithgow, Scotland

"Intelligence"? - Bush and Blair don't know the meaning of the word.

I am not worried because with all this publicity in the US, the terrorists won't strike. We will have to wait until all this commotion has died down. Also once our guard is down like in 2001 then the terrorists will strike. The US government will always get it wrong even if John Kerry steps in. Remember how George Bush get elected, it was not for his flare and wit, it was because certain people behind the scenes elected him, and money always talks where politics are concerned.
Joanne Edwards, Brighton, UK

9/11, Bali, Madrid, Tanzania, what more do you need to be convinced that this is a real war?
William, Liverpool

I'm constantly amazed at the naive dismissive attitude shown by many contributors here. The whole civilised world faces a real and imminent threat from radical Islamists backed by Saudi and Pakistan, yet many people seem to be of the opinion that this is a political ruse. 9/11, Bali, Madrid, Tanzania, what more do you need to be convinced that this is a real war?
William, Liverpool

I thought we were safer now that Saddam has gone but apparently not. Maybe Bush and Blair should start planning new wars in order to ensure our security.
Arjang Arya, Uxbridge, UK

It's just hype in order to keep the public in fear of al-Qaeda... we have more chances of dying by being hit by lightning than a terrorist attack on mainland UK. I am worried our government is sticking their nose in places they are not welcome, look at what happened on 9/11.We ought to be sorting domestic issues such as BNP, and the economy in general....
Naz, Birmingham

I think it is no surprise that the UK and US governments are claiming that they have recently come across some new intelligence. The recent increase in security is simply a way of trying to restore faith in the home land security services, left wanting after 9/11, Madrid and other attacks.
Francisco, London, UK

I'm not worried - governments of the USA and UK got the intelligence 200% wrong on Saddam's WMD - why should this fresh intelligence be any more accurate?
John, Cranleigh

I am much more worried about the prospect of a third Labour term than terrorism. The former would be much more damaging to this country in the long term than the latter.
G Y Shin, London, UK

Churchill said. "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself'. Looks like the Bush and Blair governments are trying their utmost to keep us in fear - to justify their insane policies and greed. Why greed? Because when people are fearful they consume to feel secure... and the corporations love that.
Paul Fox, Exmouth, UK

Based on four year old intelligence, this is a farce, whilst I agree it is important to take measures to protect your population, its a joke that in the year 2000 they couldn't be bothered to respond to terrorist threats yet suddenly after an unpopular war and in an election year they start worrying about national security.
Andrew L, UK

The risk of being involved in any attack are so small that people should not worry
Graham Bucknell, Livenham

The risk of being involved in any attack are so small that people should not worry. The IRA were more of a threat and we never stopped to worry about them too often. The main targets in this country are the politicians as we have few landmark places like the twin towers. We should just get on with our lives and concentrate on putting right the wrongs at home and not fighting wars to protect oil which alienate most of the rest of the world.
Graham Bucknell, Livenham, Wiltshire

Inadvertently, the Bush Administration has become the terrorists' greatest ally. Regularly shutting down the whole country, terrifying the population and slowing down the economy. If anyone wanted to cripple the US, what more would they require? Does anyone know in real terms, what the actual cost to America is?
David Van Heyt, Toronto, Canada

We now discover the intelligence is four years old. The only thing that worries me is leaders who think they can treat us like morons all the time.
Bob Harvey, Lincs, UK

We have reason to be wary of the Bush administration, but we cannot let that stand in the way of the security services doing what they have to in the interests of security. Terror alerts are, and will continue to be part of modern life so long as there are terrorists.
James Tyrell, Newcastle

I am not worried, why live in fear? Life is short and I'm not wasting my youth worrying about fanatics, sick of terrorism in Ireland and now this new threat. I do feel that USA (GWB government) are loving scaremongering, with all the high and amber alerts. Fair enough let your people be ready, but don't frighten them half to death every two weeks?
Gillian, Dublin, Ireland

When people cry 'wolf' too often, people start forgetting that they are supposed to be living in fear.
Graham, Cambridge, UK

Al-Qaeda must love it! The number of people who already live their lives in the shadow of fear; who restrict their actions and their travel for fear of what might happen. How many of these so called items of intelligence are entirely spurious - placed there by Al-Qaeda with the sole intention of being uncovered and fed to a quivering public? This method alone would cause a great deal of political unrest and incite a surge of panic into all those who are unable to pretend that they can 'carry on as normal'. They don't need to blow us up to win. I think that this threat to the Western world will be around for the rest of my lifetime.
Tracey Dunlop, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

The UK and US react differently to these "threats" because our populations expect different things from our security forces. Americans feel safer with huge, gung-ho displays of firepower and muscle, whereas Brits feel safer not seeing any outward sign of activity, but preferring to assume that the enemy is being covertly dealt with. To our mind set, if you have to ring buildings with machinegun toting Para-militaries then you are already losing.
Graeme, England

The last thing we need is for our freedom to be suppressed by nothing more than a fear of what may happen
Fraser Irving, Sheffield, UK
What's the point? If they want to get you they will get you. The last thing we need is for our freedom to be suppressed by nothing more than a fear of what may happen. This will only paralyse our economies and play into the hands of the terrorists. Stay cool; be alert but don't worry.
Fraser Irving, Sheffield, UK

Oil at $44 a barrel is a far greater threat to the American way of life than any terrorist threat, real or imagined. Will the Bush administration take the strong action that is required? I doubt it. It's not a vote winner.
Joe Ryan, Chartres, France

Those that claim that 'there are no terrorists' and that it is some sort of political plot are as foolish as those who over-react to such warnings. Fortunately, most Americans seem to be very level-headed and take such warnings as they are intended, as advice to keep your eyes open and stay alert.
Gordon McStraun, UK

Kerry has a good convention on Friday...Terrorist alert on the Weekend. Bet you wouldn't have got good odds against that at the bookies! Now we find out the data is 4 years old. Bush is running scared of losing his job - most of us are scared he won't.
Jim Kirk, Basildon England

No I'm not scared. Great idea though, change a colour on a warning scale, raise oil prices because of instability, make more money while you can and at the same time scare everyone to oblivion. This scare tactic will only work for so long, one day there will be peace and the governments will be forced to keep the oil prices down for good.
Domenico, Hitchin, UK

I couldn't care less, one way or another. If it happens, it happens. It would come of no surprise with America's dictatorial foreign policies, and the enemies it has made as a result! The UK is justifiably as bad, regardless of what the Blair supporters and pro-war lobby say!
Andy, UK

Maintain people afraid, it is the best way to keep a person quiet and inactive.
John Arango, Houston, USA

No amount of security will ever diminish the factors that contribute to the rise of terrorism. We unfortunately address the symptom, while the cause festers.
Gavin, KS, US

I'm astonished that so many people have fallen for the "politically motivated" analysis generated by the anti-Bush camp. These are the same people who would criticize the administration for "doing nothing" if warnings and raised threat levels were not given. The real issue is that the nation (and civilized world) is as war with a fanatical and murderous enemy - and civilized people need to start behaving accordingly.
Mark, Arizona, USA

I work in Afghanistan and I feel very worried by what is happening. Unfortunately the US led coalition is failing dismally to secure this region. This is because they failed to secure this area prior to them deciding to go after Saddam. People are dying here on a daily basis, but because of the Iraq situation very little is reported in the media about this country. I think America needs to learn that terrorists do not need a reason to strike, they just need an opportunity. The Brits learned this lesson in Northern Ireland. America you reap what you sow, suck it up, and learn to live with like the rest of the world is!
Peter, Southport, UK

I don't believe this threat. I think this is a stunt cooked up by the Bush admin to influence the election. Has anyone else noticed that Pakistan held this terrorist for two weeks before they announced his capture during the Democratic convention? The fact that the threat was not discussed until after Kerry had made his speech? Bush is manipulating us and our fear of another 9/11 to stay in power.
Lisa Starrfield, Gregory, USA

Not worried, but definitely angry. The Administration is painting a picture that no matter what, makes them look good. If there's no attack, they look like they did their job and that Homeland Security works. If there is an attack, they can say they gave us prior warning and that Homeland Security works. If there's an attack that we "somehow" prevent or reduce casualties, they look good and shows that Homeland Security works! Either way, Bush is going to stay in office elected by the drones that follow the fake terrorism threat.
Lars Weimar, San Diego, CA

Better to be on guard then to be caught unaware again
Michelle, NY, US

If the terrorists' plan is to ultimately influence the presidential election, an attack might backfire on them. I'd bet many Americans would vote for Bush in defiance of the attackers, to say to them, we won't vote the way you want us to vote, as seemed to happen in Spain and the train bombing. As for the warnings, better to be on guard then to be caught unaware again.
Michelle, NY, USA

It's about time Americans realized that they can never secure themselves against terrorism and that if Bush truly wanted peace, he'd stop making enemies.
Glenn Barker, Victoria, Canada

We hear negative comments all the time on how the government is handling the terror issue. I think they have done a good job, if they weren't we would have been hit already. They have done and continue to do a great job protecting America and sharing valuable information with our allies.
Jerry Moore, Taylor Mi. USA

While people might argue either way as to the credibility of the warnings, I just don't see what good they do whether they are real or not. Since they are usually vague and the attack could be biological, chemical, by air or bus bomb, what exactly are we citizens supposed to be looking out for? I don't think the warnings will stop terrorists but I do think that they create more paranoia, mistrust and divisions between human beings. Such results actually increase the likelihood of more violence and terror between us.
Melinda Gelder, Japan (US citizen)

Car bombs are not preventable, no matter how much security you have. These 'Terror Alerts' are not much more than a method to control people through fear. It's a very effective mechanism used to the maximum potential by the Bush Administration.
Clay, San Diego, USA

Bush and the Dept of Homeland security are damned if they do and damned if they don't. When they release these terror warnings and nothing happens people accuse them of using scare tactics. If they didn't give the warning and there was an attack they would be accused of incompetence. It is better to give warning and for nothing to happen in my opinion.
Michael, Texas

They must prove that they can stand between the terrorists and freedom
Sharon, Grove City, USA

Homeland Security, CIA, and FBI will not allow the debacle of the past to occur again. They have something to prove to the world now. They must prove that they can stand between the terrorists and freedom. Afraid, no, not at all. We're safer now than we've ever been. We are, however, more vigilant as well.
Sharon, Grove City, USA

I no longer believe one word the US or UK government says on any subject.
Bob, Taos, USA

Whatever the Government does they can't win. If they put out warnings they are accused of election year scaremongering. If they don't put out warnings and a disaster happens they get blamed for not warning. Given this paradox then they are doing the right thing by erring on the side of caution and putting the warning out.
Mark, New York, USA

It disgusts me that so many people think this terror warning is politically motivated. Did the government make up all of the meticulous details of the intelligence? How would you feel if you knew that terrorists had been sitting outside your building, counting the number of pedestrians on the street, monitoring your security guards all day, and even sneaking inside to look around? This stuff is real.
Jen, Washington DC, USA

Honestly, I don't know what to believe anymore.
Marc, Los Angeles, USA

Like the other NYers here, I'm not too fazed. My only concern is that instead of fishing any cell out that may have been working on this plan, by outing it the terrorists (if they are in the US) may go underground and start work on a different plan. These terror alerts do absolutely nothing for those of us living and working here. Instead, it seems as if the Dept of Homeland Security is using them as a reminder to middle America there is a war on terror going on.
Tim, NY, USA

I'll continue to party on Bleeker Street and around the villages and I know the rest of you will too
Dave, NYC, USA

I live in Bleeker Street and work in the financial district. Scared? No. Concerned? Slightly. However, I've lived like this most of my adult life, having been in London during the worst of the IRA campaigns. It becomes a way of life, another one of those one-in-a-million things, like traffic accidents, that can end your days abruptly. I'll continue to party on Bleeker Street and around the villages and I know the rest of you will too.
Dave, NYC, USA

I am not bothered at all. First because I serve a mighty God who does not let me live in fear. Second I will not let these terrorists get the better of the USA. Are we mighty or mouse? For every American they kill a thousand will stand against them and for every dollar they cause us to lose we will make a million. They want us to suffer but I will not. Americans are mostly sissies and need to pull their socks up. Thirdly have nothing to lose if I am blown up, either I go to heaven or I enjoy life on earth - it is that easy!
Anon, USA

More scaremongering! What's next on the list of freedoms we have to sacrifice? Just hand us the dog collars and leads already.
Adria B, South Haven, Michigan

It's difficult to know how serious to take the terror alert following the debacle of both US and UK Intelligence Services in recent months.
Kevin Price, Norwich, England

I took the subway twice past Wall St and back today and of course nothing seemed out of the ordinary. New Yorkers tend to have a pretty fatalistic attitude towards most things, including terror threats and politics. To live a happy life here, you have to be able to shrug stuff like this off. I think it's great that the stock market has barely registered a reaction to the whole thing, even though the NYSE and the world's largest bank are apparent targets.
Raun, NYC, US

With Bush's "the end justifies the means" administration I don't know if this is a real threat or something they created to get more votes or to reach some other ulterior motive.
Bob Belbeck, MN, USA

Looks like everyone who thinks the terror warning is part of some right-wing conspiracy has been watching a little too much propaganda from the BBC's favourite film maker - Michael Moore. I work in NY and we're used to this drill by now. I'd rather be in a defensive stance if something does happen rather than being caught off guard.
Jose, NY, USA

We, the allies on the war on terrorism must understand that Pakistan has become the nodal point generating terrorists
Arjun Malakar, New York

Yet again, the international terror trail has been traced back not to Iraq or Iran but the likeliest of all countries - Washington's frontline ally in the war in terrorism, Pakistan. We, the allies on the war on terrorism must understand that Pakistan has become the nodal point generating terrorists and terrorism around the globe. Something serious needs to be done about this. Nobody seems to have an answer to this, neither Mr Blair nor our President Mr Bush.
Arjun Malakar, New York

Yes, I'm worried this admin is going to put fear into the hearts and minds of the nation if not the world. If they have in fact credible threats why don't they arrest someone? The truth is that since 9/11 they have not had one conviction of any so called terrorist. If they were really concerned with terrorism they would've stayed going after them in the mountains of Afghanistan. Instead they went into a war of conquest in Iraq and now looking at Iran. When will it stop? Moreover, if they really had credible evidence of a real threat, why announce it? Would it not be far better to trap the terrorists in their attempt to do whatever it is that Homeland Security knows? How crazy is it? The so called terrorists will have to find a new target I guess, now that it's been established that the authorities know the plan... it's ugly and boring! We need new leaders to get us out of this!
Gary, NYC

I work for the World Bank and yes, I do believe the threats are real they are too specific this time. Obviously I am concerned and I am trying to be more vigilant. Some of my staff are on the verge of tears as they are concerned for their children should anything happen to them. However, we cannot cower every time some nutter threatens us. It was the same with the IRA in London. We get on with it.
Anon, Washington DC (Brit)

For those who are sceptical about the motives behind this alert, i.e. politics, let me ask you this: With such specific information made available from multiple sources, would any president not act? Mr Kerry just blamed President Bush for not doing enough. He needs to make up his mind... should we act or not. I guess we should just wait for him to come and save us.
Manoj, Orlando, USA

To all you cynical Brits who think that there is nothing to fear but fear itself, I suggest that you take a stroll around Speakers' Corner in London's Hyde Park any weekend to get a sampling of some of the brilliant ideas being proposed to deal with the evil West (the UK included).
Boris, Austin, TX, USA

I appreciate the heads up from the government, and don't believe this is politically motivated at all. If the President says nothing, and something happens, he gets blamed. Yet when he says something, it's called political. The White House knows they are taking a political risk by putting this warning out there and facing criticism. However, they're willing to do this because they know the threat is legitimate and the public has to be made aware.
Al L, New York, USA

To those who believe this threat is for political benefit I don't think even GW would stoop so low
Sarah, Washington DC

I work in the US Capitol and while it was not directly targeted in this threat warning, we are always aware of our high visibility. The raised terror threat on DC financial institutions also increases the security around the Capitol grounds. Walking in today was like any other, despite seeing more uniformed guards and police walking with machine guns in their hands. There is something unsettling in seeing police with large weapons patrolling our road ways when you are working in the United States. Unfortunately, however this is our reality in 2004 and it very well may remain this way.

As Americans we have had the benefit of living in a truly free society free of terrorism, but that is no longer. To those who believe this threat is for political benefit I don't think even GW would stoop so low. The reality is that terrorists exist and these threats are out there. I simply applaud the administration for choosing to share this information with the public so that we might be more aware. The problem is, that in this day and age I think we always have to be aware that as Americans we are hated in many parts of the world and to that end we are always an open target regardless of where we work or reside.
Sarah, Washington DC

It again shows that Pakistan is full on al-Qaeda terrorists. US and the whole world should intensify its search for terrorists in Pakistan. This rogue nation is not being paid enough attention, we are afraid. All of us should remember that only this country has the dubious proven record of selling nuclear bomb technology to other similar rogue states.
Gautam De, New York, USA

Not at all with any alerts the US issues. They go up and down like traffic lights from orange to red etc and usually when Bush's polls go down or someone like Kerry takes the limelight. If there was any credence in information specific to this warning, don't you think the US authorities would be a little more clear about the targets and dates etc?
Kevin West, Abu Dhabi, UAE

If information indicating a potential terrorist attack, it must be acted upon. The same people who see some type of Bush/Republican agenda behind the US government's terrorist warnings are the same folks who, if an attack were to take place, would be screaming that Bush should have prevented it. No matter what the US government does; no matter what our president does, there are some who will criticize. There is no rational argument for those who see some right-wing conspiracy in anything the US government does.
Bob Garza, Joliet, IL

We're here. We're open for business
Susan Shwartz, New York

I work at Citigroup Headquarters. I came in through a tight security cordon. I will come in tomorrow. I have a lot of work to do. Whether or not this is politically motivated, I feel safer seeing the NYPD cars outside, the security inside, and the helicopters overhead. Whatever else can be said, I cannot believe that the government in the City of New York would risk us or would be using us as a ploy. We're here. We're open for business.
Susan Shwartz, New York, USA

I work in the heart of Wall Street financial district. We are all here, we are all at work, life goes on no matter what. Is there fear? Of course. Fear is a natural part of human existence. But it is how we behave under the circumstances that make us who we are. The cowards who want to terrorise this planet with bombs and beheadings will never win. We may be feeling fear, but we are not cowards. Terrorist may claim they don't fear anything, but they are cowards. It is up to the world community to rid this planet of this toxic waste of human kind.
Yana, New York, NY (Russia)

It makes no sense to me why the US administration is letting the terrorists know that the US know about their plans I thought that intelligence should be kept secret. Unless scaring the public is their policy.
David Roberts, Mansfield, England

To David Roberts, England: I agree with you. Why are we alerting the terrorists that we know their plans? Diluting the strength of our intelligence by making it public seems an awful price to pay for politics.
Todd Kephart, Chicago, USA

As an American who moved to Germany two weeks after 9/11 for a student exchange program of one year, I find myself in a unique position to make a statement on this topic. I travelled all over Europe feeling quite secure. However, upon returning home, I have never felt so insecure and unsafe in my life. I feel the same threat from our government stealing my civil liberties, as I do a terrorist attack. In all actuality, I think I fear this administration more than any terrorist I may have encountered in my travels.
Travis, Milwaukee, WI, USA

To Travis: Isn't it amazing how many people jump to the conclusion that threats are tricks by governments for some mysterious reason. Al-Qaeda must love all of this! At least they are getting something for little effort on their part. Next thing I expect to see on this board are statements that 9/11 was really a Hollywood spectacular movie and never really happened; just like the wackos who say men never landed on the moon. The alert level and revelation of minimum details prevents a Monday morning surprise, for the public, with guards all over the place, and jammed telephone communications lines as people try to find out, "What's going on?" It is also a deterrent without revealing exactly what is known. You can be certain that investigations are going on, right now, all over the USA with the possibility of arrests. Guards stand a wait while investigators pursue. We are not afraid, we are anxious for the evil-doers to show their hand so we can bring them to justice.
Jim Martin, Jamestown, USA

How timely! Just before the Republican convention.
Barbara, Pacific Grove, CA, USA

Every new security threat is making us lose a little bit more freedom
Samantha, Champlain, NY

We who live on the border of the US and Canada suffer every holiday and every Republican political event. We get stopped on the highway going north (of course), stopped in the middle of a highway when we are going south to our capital, and stopped on our city streets under the guise of checking to see if our automobiles' security belts are fastened. We even get pulled off the public transportation buses every once in a while and our ferry rides include our trunks opened. Every new security threat is making us lose a little bit more freedom.

I guess that is the Bush administration's objective; to squeeze the life out of us. It's working, and feels a lot like the old East Germany's Checkpoint Charlie. Without an enemy of the decade, our government would not be able to control us like it does. We are no longer free thinkers, but cowards and under the military control. We get put in cages if we oppose the status quo's ideas.
Samantha, Champlain, NY

To Samantha, Champlain: Sure. We had lot more freedom and much less security and alert before 9/11. And guess what happened? 9/11.
Ian C, New York City, USA

I work very close to the Citigroup building in midtown and the closing off and police squads between Lex and Park this morning are more than just a Republican gimmick. The entire East side was at a traffic standstill while police investigated a suspicious looking device on 57 Street. Whoever thinks this is a Republican gimmick is clearly out of their minds! There is no way that the amount of resources spent and potential market losses would be disregarded by the entire Republican Party just because they want to win an election by scaring the public.
Aileen, New York, NY, USA

I think the key thing is to keep some perspective about this. Let's not get so panicked about the terrorists that we get run over by the Third Avenue bus while crossing the street. Consistently do we fixate on these sorts of unusual dangers only to forget about the mundane everyday things (such as the 300 people who died in the Paraguayan shopping mall). I think the media does do some disservice by sensationalizing, which opens up the whole terror alert process to manipulation by terrorists seeking to create a sense of fear and panic.
Andrew, New York, USA

We're Americans; we're not going to cower in fear
Brian, Kansas City

This type of thing has become second nature to us now. We are in a war with people willing to kill indiscriminately inside and outside our borders. But we're Americans; we're not going to cower in fear. We go on with our lives. If they hit us again, we'll deal with it, and continue on.
Brian, Kansas City, USA

I live four blocks from Citibank Centre. Do I believe the warning? Yes. Am I scared? No. Is the neighbourhood trembling in fear? No. And I suggest that those who suggest this to be a Republican plot might well examine their own ways of acting.
Pleasance, New York

While we are concerned and worried about these warnings, I wonder the US authorities will double check the Pakistani intelligence reports as they are very unreliable at times. Given the fact that the administration has made some attempts to politicize events out of Pakistani before the election, one, despite all the fears, become little hesitant to believe the ability of Pakistani intelligence sources. I only hope they are verified and scrutinized unlike the 16 words in the State of Union Speech. We should not allow Pakistani intelligence reports to decide the US elections!
Ismail Saadiq, Male, Maldives

Has George Bush read 'The Boy Who Cried Wolf'?
Jim, SJ, USA

You've got to be kidding me. Our cities are facing grave and real threats and still 80% of the people on this board feel it is all a ruse by the government for purely political purposes.
Ted, Seattle, USA

What if nothing was said and something did happen? All the people whining about this being a political ploy would be the first in line to cry about the government's lack of action.
Kristy, Charleston, USA

Our lives shouldn't stop because of their threat
Elizabeth Edwards, Cardiff
I think it's brilliant that people are being urged to carry on as normal. They want us to be afraid and I think it's so important that we carry on and show them that we will not be forced into living in fear! The less we are disrupted the less they can affect us. They will not stop, I realise that, but our lives shouldn't stop because of their threat, we should live and enjoy our lives!
Elizabeth Edwards, Cardiff

The modern world is a frightening place. On one side we have fanatical terrorists with no respect for the innocent and on the other, lying and manipulative politicians who are more interested in the accumulation of wealth and power than in serving their people.
P M Jackson, UK

I find it very suspicious that this announcement comes at a time when Bush's challenger for the presidency, Kerry is running high in public opinion following the Democratic convention held last week. I believe Bush wants to pass the message to the Americans: terrorism is still a threat, and you need me to remain your president. However, I hope the American people will not be taken in by this.
Brian Decelis, Naxxar, Malta

The world must understand that the threat of terrorism is very real, threatening peace, freedom and promoting a culture of fear and death to everyone. The authorities in America did right to put up anti-terrorist measures and keep the terrorists on the run. The Americans can be sure that if the terrorists and al-Qaeda in particular picks an opportunity to embarrass them, to kill them, to antagonise them... especially towards the election, they would be more than happy therefore the authorities must take no chances. And to the rest of the world we must never continue dreaming that terrorism is an American problem, let us unite to promote the culture of life and genuine freedom.
Mary Carlo, Kinshasa, Congo

Fear is a great political weapon
James McGhie, Glasgow Scotland
I can't help but feel that the warnings being given by the US government might be a political stunt to ensure George W Bush remains in office next term. Fear is a great political weapon, perhaps the greatest. Those who are voting might decide not to rock the boat or change commander during a time of conflict.
James McGhie, Glasgow Scotland

I think they are right to go to work, because as the name implies the main weapon of a terrorist is terror and the more normality continues the less impact they have on society.
Tomas Lynn, Cambridge, United Kingdom

I think we should expect a number of warnings like this from the US government in the lead up to the next election in an attempt to scare the American public into believing they are still engaged in a war. This is Bush's only realistic hope of winning votes.
James, Frimley

There is this information coming from? The same place that told us Iraq had WMDs? Bush has already looked into ways of postponing the election if America is threatened. Or should that be if opinion polls suggest he might not win?
David, Hong Kong

The increased threat to the United States appears a farce especially when thousands are dying everyday in Iraq. The perpetual fright that is strangling the American society is a pity. Moreover the entire Muslim world is tormented because of the fear psychosis of the Americans.
Jyotsna, Chennai, India

Given the facts on WMD and doubts on who was actually behind 9/11, it seems like another American government ruse to spend more public money. If there ever is another terrorist act, my guess is that it will be just another government plot to keep the public afraid of the unknown.
A Smith, London, UK

Keep the people living in fear so that the fool Bush will get re-elected. Don't fall for it!
Ben Pitts, Feltham, UK

These are smoke and mirror tactics to divert attention from the economy and Iraq.
Anon, UK

There is one sad, but very true fact that underpins all the recent terror reports from the U.S. An attack by a terrorist organisation is coming to U.S. soil...and the authorities are nearly powerless to prevent it.
Paul Ashton, Okayama, Japan

It's a very frightening development, but if everyone stays at home, they've won, and that cannot be allowed to happen. Having said that, it's easy to say when you don't work in the target areas yourself. We have to hope that security is good enough.
Malcolm Newbigging, Southampton, England

To be honest I take it all with a pinch of salt. It's timing suggests to me a tactical move by George W Bush to keep the terror phenomenon fresh in people's minds around the time of the presidential election. Anyone who has seen the film Fahrenheit 9/11 will find these statements extremely difficult to believe. I wish I was being cynical, but I'm probably just being correct. What a coincidence that we have just seen the Democrats on the box all last week. I don't know enough about American politics but I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that the buildings named were all in swing states?
Danny, Newcastle, England

I believe the report to be credible as it matches the same tactics utilized in past attacks on innocent civilians. The War on Terror must continue until such alerts are no longer necessary.
John Mundt, Connecticut, USA

These terrorist have shown remarkable guile and intelligence which, I regret, is not being shown by those charged with defeating them
G Gordon, Emsworth, UK
It appears that the terrorists are playing their trump card.. Whether the physical threat is real or not the psychological impact is affecting the international community's most venerable flank ...the sense of financial security. And in turn this will strengthen this incumbent president's election campaign .. and could well give rise the re-instatement of an administration that shoots at the wrong targets for the wrong reasons and alienates its friends. In doing so it weakens the international community's resolve in defeating the evil threat of global terror. Evil they may be, these terrorist have shown remarkable guile and intelligence which, I regret, is not being shown by those charged with defeating them.
G Gordon, Emsworth, UK

Its been nearly 3 years since the tragedy of 9/11 took place and I don't think we've come anywhere close to stopping terrorism. Its not just the US that must be worried, The UK is at a risk ourselves!! Bush, Blair and all the other leading powers must pull together and try and find some way of counteracting against these sick people. We got Saddam, now we must get Bin Laden, however be under no illusion even if we get him, as in Iraq the fight will never end! Its our children and their children I feel for!
James, Bristol, UK

The American authorities are trying to prevent further devastating attacks like 9/11. They are to be congratulated and supported in their aim.
Jon Lewis, Cardiff, Wales, UK

I'm sick of these terror alerts, especially that 'terror level ladder' or whatever it's called. I have a feeling it will be kept elevated right up to the elections. Bush is trying to scare everyone into voting for him again.
Sarah, Brussels, Belgium (USA)

Call me a cynic but is this a genuine threat OR does it have something to do with what a certain Mr Kerry was up to a couple of days ago?
Sam, London, UK

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