TODAY   |  August 03, 2013

Expert: Terrorist threat is ‘credible,’ ‘imminent’

U.S. officials are pointing to the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula as the source of a possible terrorist threat, which has been deemed serious enough to issue warnings and close embassies over. NBC’s terrorism analyst Roger Cressey is interviewed by TODAY’s Lester Holt.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> much. terrorist analyst roger crassy is a former counter intelligence agent. good to see you.

>> thank you, lester.

>> tell me about the intelligence here that would spark such a broad worldwide caution alert?

>> there are four questions you ask. we have talked about it in prior years. is it credible, specific, imminent and can you corroborate it from other sources. we have the answer yes to two of the questions now. it is credible and imminent. what's going on now is working within the intelligence community to see if there is additional information. also to work with foreign liaison partners to see if they can corroborate it. given the source and the time frame within which these attacks may take place, that's why you have seen the government take that action.

>> they are pointing toward the arabian peninsula and yemen.

>> it's the most active and dangerous al qaeda affiliate. they attempted to destroy a plane over detroit with the underwear bomber. we had an attempt to destroy a cargo plane with a print cartridge created out of bomb materials. they are active and pose the most dangerous threat.

>> the caution to americans traveling overseas, it's all well and good. exactly how are you supposed to conduct yourself? if you're on a plane , going over thes -- overseas, what's the advice?

>> not a lot different what what you would normally do. you're going to practice common sense, be smart about safety. if you're going to travel to yemen on vacation now, i would give you an alternative for a different outward bound adventu adventure. but just continue to do what you planned to do.

>> is there an overabundance of caution given what happened in benghazi ?

>> i think we are overrotating a little bit on the benghazi angle based on what i have seen in the press. this is a traditional threat intelligence stream. the state department and bureau of diplomatic security working within the security group doing things we have done in the past. benghazi is in the back of everyone's mind. because this is a credible threat emanating from an al qaeda affiliate that has demonstrated capability in the past, that's why they are doing what they are doing smm what do you think is going on bethiend scenes? they can't keep the embassies closed for months.

>> no, they can't. the latest alert talked about a potential window from now to the end of august. certainly the end of ramadan is a krp for a variety of reasons. we have seen attempted attacks in the past. one of the reasons they send out the alert is to notify the american people , the obligation to do so. also to buy the counter terrorism community more time. once the alert gets out there, the potential bad guys may hear about it, delay plans. that allows the u.s. and foreign intelligence services to work together to identify where the plot will take place and hopefully disrupt it before it occurs.

>> good to talk to you.