U.S. Raises Terror Alert Level

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The Bush administration raised the nation's terror alert warning to its second highest level Tuesday, code orange, signaling a high danger of attack ahead of the Sept. 11 anniversary, government officials said.

The level, which reflects a high risk of terrorist attacks, is one step below the top "red,'' or severe, threat level. The level had been at "yellow,'' in the middle of the five-color scale.

The decision was to be announced by Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller and Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, said the senior administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The officials cited specific threats against U.S. embassies in southeast Asia. There is no specific threat against targets in the United States, but the government opted to raise the alert level because of an increase in communications among suspected terrorists.

The development came as the government closed its embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was the second embassy in the region to be ordered closed because of terrorist fears on the eve of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, closed earlier Tuesday.