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America on terror alert
  America on terror alert

US TERROR ALERT A 'HOAX'
An al Qaeda informant whose 'dirty bomb' warning put America on 'orange alert' has failed a lie test, it has been reported.

It means the alarm, which saw Americans being urged to put together survival kits, could have been a hoax.

The man, a captured al Qaeda soldier, is reported to have told US officials that terrorists had found a way of smuggling radioactive material through airports without being detected.

'Not true'

It raised fears that the US was about to be hit by a dirty bomb attack - a device in which radioactive material is wrapped around conventional explosives.

However, officials have told America's ABC News that the informant has since failed a polygraph test.

"This piece of that puzzle turns out to be fabricated and therefore the reason for a lot of the alarm, particularly in Washington this week, has been dissipated after they found out that this information was not true," Vince Cannistraro, former CIA counter-terrorism chief, told the news network.

The informant had told officials that a cell operating in Virginia or Detroit was planning to smuggle dirty bombs through airports hidden in shoes, suitcases or laptops.

Alarm

A warning followed and Americans were told to tape up their windows and pack enough food and water to last three days.

Police have been patrolling key sites with radiation detectors.

Despite claims of a hoax, officials told the network the level of alert would remain on orange.

It is not the first time America has been fooled had by an informant.

Over Christmas officials were told to be on the lookout for five men suspected of plotting an attack.

The informant later admitted he had made up the information.

Last Updated: 10:49 UK, Friday February 14, 2003
 
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