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Threats cited to trans-Atlantic flights

WASHINGTON -- New intelligence indicates that British Airways flights to Washington and Air France flights to Los Angeles could be terrorist targets, US officials said yesterday.

The flights are the same as those that drew increased attention when the nation's terror alert rose to orange, or high, just before Christmas. Two officials who spoke on condition of anonymity stressed there is no specific information about what might be planned, only that those flights are possible targets.

There are no plans to raise the terror alert because of the latest threats, Homeland Security Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said.

"We remain concerned about Al Qaeda's desire to target aviation, especially international aviation," he said. "The US intelligence community continues to gather specific credible threat information on international flights, as we have done in an ongoing basis in the past few weeks. We have shared this information with our international partners, and will work with them to put in place the appropriate security measures."

No flights have been delayed or canceled due to the new threats, officials said. However, a senior law enforcement official said US officials are talking to British and French authorities and no decisions have been made about future flights.

Another senior law enforcement official said the intelligence being gathered is similar to that seen during the heightened terror alert. That prompted US officials to ask for the cancellation of two British Airways flights to Washington and six Air France flights to Los Angeles.

A number of other flights were delayed for hours so passengers could be checked against watch lists.

US officials say they believe the process for checking the backgrounds of airline passengers and crews has been improved so that those long delays probably won't be repeated.

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