WASHINGTON, Jan 20 – US intelligence forces were Tuesday probing information about a "potential threat on inauguration day," but Homeland Security officials said they were uncertain whether it was credible.
"The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security (including the USSS) and the intelligence community are coordinating with other law enforcement authorities to investigate and analyze recently received information about a potential threat on inauguration day," Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said.
But he added as Barack Obama prepared to be sworn in as the nation’s 44th president: "This information is of limited specificity and uncertain credibility."
According to local radio station WTOP, security services had received a tipoff late Monday of a potential threat to Tuesday’s ceremonies from a Somali group called the al-Shabab.
The group, which is said to have a cell in the United States, has been classified by the US government as a terrorist organization.
WTOP said the FBI recently confirmed that some Somalis living in the United States had returned home for training by the group.
"Authorities at all levels are vigorously pursuing any lead relating to this threat information," Knocke said, adding that Obama’s transition team had been briefed.
A tight security blanket has been thrown over the US capital for Tuesday’s historic inauguration with more than 12,500 active troops and military reservists and thousands of metropolitan police patrolling the streets.
"As we have previously said, inauguration events could present an attractive target due to the large public gatherings and participation of many dignitaries," Knocke said.
"Authorities are constantly reviewing security measures in light of this threat information, as we would with any threat information," he added.