WASHINGTON — Federal authorities are reviewing information about al-Qaeda's possible interest in conducting attacks in the U.S. on the eve of Election Day, a federal law enforcement official told USA TODAY.
The credibility of the threat, which identified New York, Virginia and Texas as locations, has not been established, according to the official, who was not authorized to comment publicly.
Beyond the general locations, there was no specific information on the possible form or targets of attacks, the official said.
"The counterterrorism and homeland security communities remain vigilant and well-postured to defend against attacks here in the United States,'' the FBI said in a statement.
"The FBI and DHS, working with our federal, state and local counterparts, share and assess intelligence on a daily basis and will continue to work closely with law enforcement and intelligence community partners to identify and disrupt any potential threat to public safety."
Federal authorities have been on alert for months to possible threats involving the election in wake of cyber breaches involving the systems of the Democratic National Committee and the scanning of state voter registration databases for possible vulnerabilities.
Last month, U.S. officials formally identified the Russian government as the source of the intrusions into the Democratic Party systems. Officials suspect Russian hackers are behind the scanning of voter databases, but they have not formally blamed Russia for that activity.
Federal officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and FBI Director James Comey, said the decentralized nature of voting systems across the U.S. poses a difficult target for hackers.
"In our judgment, it would be very difficult to alter a ballot count in any one place and have a significant consequence,'' Johnson said in an interview with USA TODAY.