Terror tip involving Chinese seen as revenge
The tipster who told federal officials about a potential terrorist plot involving Chinese and Iraqi immigrants may have fabricated the story out of revenge, a federal law enforcement official said Friday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the tipster may have been angry because a group of illegal immigrants had failed to pay for smuggling them into the country.
FBI agents have been looking into an uncorroborated tip that 16 people might be planning an attack on Boston. They include 13 Chinese nationals, two Iraqis and a man identified on the FBI's Web site as Jose Ernesto Beltran Quinones, whose nationality was not given.
Governor Mitt Romney said Friday that he has become "less concerned, not more concerned" about the threat since it was first reported Wednesday.
The original tip was received by the California Highway Patrol, according to another federal law enforcement official in Washington who also spoke on condition of anonymity. The tipster claimed that four of the Chinese two men and two women entered the United States from Mexico and were awaiting a shipment of "nuclear oxide" that would follow them to Boston.
Several radioactive compounds take form as oxides and could be used in a dirty bomb, said Charles Ferguson, a science and technology fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. Plutonium and americium oxides, in the right amounts, would be dangerous to human health, while uranium oxide would be less so, Ferguson said.
Security was increased in Boston, where two of the planes were hijacked for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.