Morning report: August 1, 2004

Al Qaeda threatening financial organizations? Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge cited specific threats against several East Coast financial centers at a news conference Sunday and indicated he would raise the threat alert level to Orange for designated areas of Washington, DC, New York, and New Jersey. Ridge said possible targets included the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C., the Prudential Building in Newark, N.J. and the Citicorp buildings and New York Stock Exchange in New York City. (Fox News)

Terrorists attack Christian churches in Iraq. In an ominous turn of events, terrorists have attacked Iraqi Christian churches in Baghdad and Mosul. According to the latest bulletin from Debka, at least 15 lives were lost in the attacks on Armenian, Catholic, and Chaldean churches. Debka further explains that this al-Qaeda operation is distinct from the goals announced by Ba'athist elements, who specifically stated that their campaign is "national, not religious" in nature. It also accompanies an al-Qaeda threat against the Vatican unless Italy withdraws its troops. (Comment: This seems like a particularly shrewd move if it is aimed at pitting the secular Italian government against the Holy See. The implications for both Europe and Christianity could be enormous. -aa )