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WASHINGTON - The FBI today issued a bulletin announcing a worldwide search for four men in connection with possible terrorist threats, and cautioned that future attacks could include poisoning the U.S. food and water supply.
The FBI posted the bulletin on its Web site and circulated it among law enforcement agencies after recent intelligence indicated the four could be involved in an unspecified plot against U.S. interests, said a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The bulletin, obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, also cautions terrorists might use two naturally occurring toxins -- nicotine and solanine -- to poison U.S. food or water supplies. Nicotine is found in tobacco plants and solanine in potatoes that are old or have been exposed to sunlight for a long time. According to the bulletin, terrorist manuals and documents recovered at al-Qaida sites in Afghanistan contain references to use of both substances as poisons.
The FBI said there are no known uses of either toxin by al-Qaida or other Islamic extremist groups, and there is no intelligence indicating such an attack is imminent. But the bulletin noted a Michigan man pleaded guilty in May to lacing 250 pounds of ground beef with an insecticide containing nicotine, sickening 92 people, in an attempt to get a supermarket co-worker in trouble.
Separately, a new advisory released by the Homeland Security department warns of other potential terrorist plots, including hijacked flights and truck bombs at infrastructure targets like power plants, petrochemical facilities, transportation hubs, dams and food distribution centers. Lightly protected targets like restaurants, hotels and apartments are also possible targets, it says.
Homeland Security is advising federal, state and local security officials to evaluate their security procedures in the run-up to the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, but said current intelligence doesn't warrant an increase in the national threat warning.