WASHINGTON, March 3 (UPI) -- Militants linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaida network have targeted U.S. military facilities in Pearl Harbor, including nuclear-powered submarines and ships, The Washington Times reported Monday.
In the past two weeks, U.S. officials received intelligence reports about the terrorist threat to the Hawaiian harbor and these coincided with reports of the planning of a major attack by al Qaida, the group blamed for the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on New York and Washington.
The Times said the reports were one reason why the threat level was raised from yellow to orange. Last week, the alert status was again lowered to yellow or elevated.
The newspaper quoted officials familiar with the reports as saying al Qaida was planning to attack Pearl Harbor because of its symbolic value and because its military facilities are open from the air.
Officials told the newspaper that hijacked airliners would be flown into submarines or ships docked at Pearl Harbor.
"The targeting includes nuclear ships and submarines and military facilities in the Pearl Harbor area," a defense official told the Times.
Thirty Navy and Coast Guard warships, including 18 nuclear submarines, five destroyers and two frigates, are stationed at the harbor.
The Times said another target on Hawaii was the Hickam Air Force Base, located near Honolulu airport.
On Sept. 11, two hijacked airliners were used to down the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. A third plane crashed into the Pentagon near Washington and fourth crashed in rural Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 people were killed.
A spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Command, based in Hawaii, did not comment on the Times report.
The newspaper quoted a defense official in Hawaii as saying no extra security measures had been taken in response to the reports.
"All the installations down here are on a pretty high state of security and have been for a number of months," the official said. "Security at Pearl Harbor has been at a heightened state for some time."
The official said, however, security had been increased at Honolulu International Airport.