US elite tipped off about terror alert

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The Independent US

Police have confirmed that days before most New Yorkers knew - and even before Mayor Michael Bloomberg was briefed on the alleged threat - this small group received e-mails from people claiming to have connections to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials.

One e-mail said: "I do not send out mass e-mails as games or jokes so PLEASE take this seriously.

"As some of you know, my father works for Homeland Security, at a very high position and receives security briefings on a daily basis.

"The only information that I can pass on is that everyone should at all costs not ride the subway for the next two weeks in the major areas of NYC."

Last week's scare was apparently based on information from an informant in Iraq, who said that three men, who had undergone terrorist training in explosives, were working with other operatives - possibly already in New York - to set off 19 bombs on the city's subways. The information has now been largely discredited.

Police have confirmed to the New York Daily News that they were aware of the e-mails.

"Members of our corporate security network informed the police department of the e-mails' existence days prior to any announcement of the threat," said New York Police Department deputy commissioner Paul Browne.

Some police are concerned that DHS officials were leaking information. One police source said: "We're briefing the Mayor, ratcheting up security, talking about when to go public - and Homeland Security is downplaying the whole thing while their people are telling friends to stay out of the subways. It's pretty bad."