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No specific Al Qaeda threat to defense contractor, lawmaker says

July 3, 2011 | 11:30 am

A local congressman sought to reassure residents that federal officials had no evidence of a specific threat to AeroVironment, a San Gabriel Valley military contractor cited on an Al Qaeda-connected website.

Adam Schiff's comments come several days after federal authorities warned corporate executives at the Monrovia-based builder of small drone aircraft used in Afghanistan that they were among about 60 people targeted on the Islamist website.

In the wake of the warning, AeroVironment and authorities in Monrovia have stepped up security at the company's corporate headquarters on West Huntington Drive.

Homeland Security sources familiar with the threat told the Los Angeles Times that people participating in a jihadist forum on the website named past and present members of U.S. military leadership and U.S. political figures as well as corporate executives. Some photos were included.

The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case was ongoing, said the website did not include any specific plan of attack. Officials believe the threats were generated in response to a call to target Americans earlier this month by Adam Gadahn, a prominent member of Al Qaeda who grew up in Southern California.

There is no evidence of a specific plan of attack, Schiff said, adding that federal authorities were  working to ensure the safety of local aviation and military contracting firms.

“There has been a proliferation of threats on jihadist websites over the last several years, and especially since the killing of Osama bin Laden, as Al Qaeda has been trying to reaffirm its credibility after being marginalized by the Arab Spring,” Schiff said in a statement. “Many thousands of these kind of threats have proved no more than idle rants over the years.


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-- Bill Kisiluk and Richard Winton