Officials warn of potential attacks on VA hospitals

The FBI and the Homeland Security Department have issued a warning that al Qaeda may attempt to attack hospitals operated by the Veterans Affairs Department, according to an Associated Press report.

On Thursday, the FBI and DHS sent a bulletin to law enforcement officials nationwide alerting them to reports of "suspicious activity" at government-operated medical facilities across the country, including unspecified military medical facilities in Bethesda, Md., and Aurora, Colo.

"These facilities may be considered attractive targets due to their association with the military and a perception that such an attack may be more successful than an attack against traditional military targets, which generally maintain a more robust security posture," the bulletin said. The AP obtained a copy of the warning Friday.

The bulletin urged police and security personnel at VA facilities to remain vigilant. It indicated evidence of "possible reconnaissance activities" at federal medical facilities, which could include unusual interest in security measures or access points of buildings; operatives disguised as "panhandlers, shoe shiners, food or flower vendors"; discreet use of video cameras in areas not frequented by tourists; and individuals seen observing security drills or procedures.

In early July, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said that intelligence reports continued to indicate that al Qaeda may launch a terrorist attack aimed at disrupting the November elections.

"This is sobering information about those who wish to do us harm," Ridge said at a news conference.

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