American Hiroshima

Project Prepper, Part 45: Top 3 Threat Priorities

“As a result of my research and this blog, I’m now aware of the myriad of man-made and naturally-occurring threats to my life and lifestyle (and those of my loved ones), and think it’s probably wise to acquaint myself more with ‘prepping’ via a sustained ‘hands-on’ program of learning and doing, which I’ll call ‘Project Prepper.’

Through a series of posts on this blog which I suspect should last for quite some time (years?), I’ll be able to share my preparedness experiences with you…”

Survival And Prosperity, “Project Prepper, Part 1: It Begins,” October 24, 2012

This week’s “Project Prepper” post is going to be a little different. While I’m currently working on a number of projects related to fulfilling seven “innate survival needs” (hat tip Jack Spirko @ The Survival Podcast):

1. Physical Security
2. Financial Security
3. Water
4. Food
5. Sanitation and Health
6. Energy
7. Shelter

Today I’m going to talk about threat priorities. As a forty-something homeowner residing with my girlfriend in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, in 2016, “I’m now aware of the myriad of man-made and naturally-occurring threats to my life and lifestyle (and those of my loved ones).” Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know I blog about them frequently. But from my vantage point, here are the “top 3” I’m mostly concerned about:

1. Severe Weather
2. Financial Crisis
3. Terrorism

Concerning severe weather, here in the Chicagoland area residents have to contend with spring and summer storms that can consist of high winds, torrential rain, flooding, and tornadoes. Winter can bring along with it ice storms (not too often), significant snowfall/blizzards, and brutally-cold temperatures. Consequently, structural damage, utility outages, hazardous travel conditions, and other threats to life and property accompany such events.

Case in point, prior to my girlfriend and I moving into our house in 2013, a large part of the Chicago metro area suffered significant damage from a “derecho” (widespread, long-lived wind storm) event that left many area homeowners without electricity for several days. A real nuisance for most of those affected, but potentially deadly to those with serious health issues- like my elderly father. And in case readers think I’m talking about those far-off “suburbs” of Chicago here (I remember one real estate agent referring to Rochelle- approximately 80 miles west of Chicago- as a “western suburb” during the housing boom last decade), these extended outages were taking place in near “North Shore” enclaves. I remember watching one furious Northbrook homeowner being interviewed on the local televised news, saying how he had been without power for a number of days and couldn’t understand why it hadn’t been restored yet considering the high taxes he paid to live in such a nice area. Anyway, severe weather tops the list for me. Not as “sexy”- as some would say- as preparing for the “Zombie apocalypse,” but oh well.

Financial crisis. Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity and its predecessor know I’ve been on the lookout for coming “tough times” for some years now. From this blog’s “About” page:

Back in 2004 when SP’s creator/editor Christopher Hill was surveying the economic and investment landscape in support of his own investing activities, he concluded from his own research that the United States was heading towards a financial crash. Deciding that this was something other Americans might want to know about, Mr. Hill launched the independent financial blog Boom2Bust.com, “The Most Hated Blog on Wall Street,” on Memorial Day Weekend 2007 with the purpose of warning and educating others about the approaching U.S. economic crash. He has been credited with calling last decade’s housing bubble and subsequent bust, the 2008 global economic crisis, and the “Great Recession” as a result of his work on this project. Chris wrote over 1,500 posts on Boom2Bust.com during its nearly three-year run, with many of these picked up and republished on the web sites of The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, Fox News, Reuters, USA Today, the Chicago Sun-Times group, the Austin-American Statesman, the Palm Beach Post, and the West Orlando News, among other media outlets. Chris was also interviewed for a May 2009 MSNBC.com article as a result of his work with the blog.

Since Memorial Day Weekend 2007, I’ve stood by and watched as the bursting of the U.S. housing bubble and subprime mortgage crisis was quickly followed by carnage on Wall Street in the autumn of 2008 and a “Great Recession.” I also observed how the Washington politicians and the Fed responded by “papering up” the mess with massive government and central bank intervention. But as everyone knows, you can only “kick the can down the road” so far. And my concern is that the road is rapidly coming to an end. Visit this blog often enough and you might get that sense as well.

Consequently, I’ve come to believe that the U.S. financial crash I still see headed our way won’t be like an airplane that suffers a sudden, catastrophic failure and plummets back to Earth like a rock. Rather, taking into account the abilities of the federal government and central bank to keep the aircraft aloft for quite some time, the crash may be more akin to a slow- yet-unavoidable descent into the ground. At which point, Americans might be left pondering what had happened to them, just like Argentines did after their economy crapped out in the early 2000s after prosperous times.

Making matters worse is the fact that I still reside in Cook County and Illinois, whose financial troubles are well-publicized. While I’ve left Chicago, I still haven’t made Wisconsin my permanent home address.

When the “balloon goes up” locally and nationally, I suspect everyday living is going to get particularly gritty around these parts.

As terrorism is concerned, post-9/11 I found myself working in the public safety field. As part of my duties at a local fire department, I catalogued potential terrorist targets in the area in the hunt for money to upgrade the agency’s response capabilities. It was my belief that the threat was real then, and it remains so today. Even more so in 2016, as U.S. border security is quite suspect at a time when those who would wish to harm the “homeland” continually make their operational capabilities and future desires for wreaking death and destruction known.


“Border Patrol Admits US Citizenship Doesn’t Matter”
YouTube Video

Like I’ve repeatedly said before on this blog, I believe it’s only a matter of time before the United States suffers terror attacks possibly resembling what occurred in Beslan (Russia) in 2004, Mumbai (India) in 2008, and more recently in Paris and Brussels. And a terrorist strike rivaling or even surpassing the carnage of September 11, 2011, is not out of the question as far as I’m concerned. New jihadists continue to replace their fallen predecessors in this “War on Terror,” and the religious duty of killing “infidels” remains the same. On May 6, 2011, I wrote:

In 2005, Dr. Paul L. Williams, a journalist and author, published the book The Al-Qaeda Connection, in which he discussed plans for a future nuclear terrorist strike, dubbed “American Hiroshima.” He wrote:

Bin Laden asserts that he must kill four million Americans- two million of whom must be children- in order to achieve parity for a litany of “wrongs” committed against the Muslim people by the United States of America. The “wrongs” include the establishment and occupation of military bases between the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, the support of Israel and the suppression of the Palestinian people, the Persian Gulf War and the subsequent economic sanctions, and the invasions of Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

These days, the Islamic State has stolen the headlines from Al-Qaeda and other Muslim extremists. But such religious fanaticism as a whole remains a top concern for me.

Severe weather, financial crisis, and terrorism are natural and man-made threats that register the most on my radar. But this doesn’t mean I discount other potential dangers to life and property either (pandemic, severe space weather, and war would probably be the next three on the list). As such, an “all-hazards” approach is emphasized in my “Project Prepper” activities.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Boston Marathon Explosions Al-Qaeda’s Work?

“President Barack Obama has described al Qaeda as having been ‘decimated,’ ‘on the path to defeat’ or some other variation at least 32 times since the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, according to White House transcripts.”

-CNSNews.com, November 1, 2012

If the horrific explosions in Boston earlier today are confirmed to be the result of terrorism (MSNBC is still calling them “blasts”), I, for one, wouldn’t be surprised.

After all, I’ve constantly warned Survival And Prosperity readers that the threat of terrorism is alive and well these days, particularly from Muslim extremists.

Consider what I wrote on September 10, 2012:

Since I started blogging in 2007, I’ve noticed that complacency seems to be growing over a major terror attack by Al-Qaeda. I guess it’s only natural, considering the amount of time that has passed since September 11, 2001, and the successive blows suffered by the leadership of Al-Qaeda and their affiliates. Still, security was heightened in the U.S. with the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 and in Great Britain with the 2012 London Olympics. But as September 11 rolls around again tomorrow, and being informed that the terror group is big not only on anniversaries but on raising the bar on casualties, I sense a huge degree of complacency as it concerns another terror attack in the United States tomorrow and down the road

Al-Qaeda is like the Rodney Dangerfield of terrorist organizations these days- can’t get no respect. Look at these recent headlines on some mainstream media websites:

“Terror takes back seat; Americans safer now”
-From the Associated Press on Yahoo! News, September 8, 2012

“Never have so few been able to frighten so many”
-Philly.com (joint project of The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Philadelphia Daily News, September 9, 2012)

“On anniversary of 9/11, fear is present but not all-consuming”
The Boston Globe, September 10, 2012

There’s even this out of Hong Kong:

“Americans stop fretting about the threat of terrorism”
South China Morning Post, September 10, 2012

I loathe Al-Qaeda as much as any other American. But let’s not call the outcome of the game (Al-Qaeda is now kaput) while it’s still in the early innings, as the next generation of terrorists- inspired by the American response and presence in the Middle East after 9/11- start to replace their predecessors who have been captured, incapacitated, and killed.

As such, keep watching your six, because I don’t think Al-Qaeda is all out of bullets just yet.

So, was today’s incident in Boston Al-Qaeda’s handiwork?

I don’t think so. From what I’ve learned about the terror group, their modus operandi would have demanded significantly more casualties than were suffered today. 9/11 is now supposedly the “bar.” An American Hiroshima– their “wet dream.” Remember their goal: 4 million Americans dead- 2 million of these children. Initial reports claimed the blast occurred well-after the first runners reached the finish line, when many reporters and news cameras had already departed. It’s widely-known Al-Qaeda recognizes the importance of the news media in broadcasting their message- and terrorist activity. Unless it’s subsequently discovered a glitch delayed the explosions, this doesn’t sound like an Al-Qaeda operation.

Plus, I understand that Al-Qaeda is fond of “celebrating” anniversaries. As far as I know, April 15 isn’t a significant date for them.

However, that’s not to say today’s carnage wasn’t the work of one of their affiliates. Or someone motivated by their cause.

Hopefully, time will tell exactly what transpired this afternoon in Boston. And if it was terrorism, who was behind it.

At which point, may justice be served.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Could Attacking Iran Unleash The ‘American Hiroshima’?

Talking about what Iran might do if its nuclear sites are attacked brought to mind something I read several years ago. But before I go there, have you ever heard of the “American Hiroshima” threat? I blogged about it back on May 6, 2011. I wrote:

In 2005, Dr. Paul L. Williams, a journalist and author, published the book The Al Qaeda Connectionicon, in which he discussed plans for a future nuclear terrorist strike, dubbed “American Hiroshima.” He wrote:

Bin Laden asserts that he must kill four million Americans- two million of whom must be children- in order to achieve parity for a litany of “wrongs” committed against the Muslim people by the United States of America. The “wrongs” include the establishment and occupation of military bases between the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, the support of Israel and the suppression of the Palestinian people, the Persian Gulf War and the subsequent economic sanctions, and the invasions of Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Few military and intelligence officials question bin Laden’s ability to carry out this threat. US, Saudi, Pakistani, Russian, Israeli, and British intelligence sources have confirmed that al Qaeda possess a small arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons- weapons that are being prepared for the “American Hiroshima.”

Dr. Williams said later on in the book that several nuclear weapons are already in the United States and that the attack is planned to occur simultaneously on a number of major cities, including Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Washington, DC.

Spooky stuff. But back to what I was saying before about the current situation with Iran. On April 28, 2006, the following appeared on WND.com courtesy of Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin (FYI, Hamid Mir is a Pakistani journalist and terrorism expert who interviewed Osama bin Laden in 1997):

[Hamid] Mir said that he met with an Egyptian engineer last week who lost an eye after one of bin Laden’s nuclear tests in the Kunar province of Pakistan. The Pakistani journalist said the encounter with the engineer greatly disturbed and depressed him since it provided further assurance that a nuclear nightmare for America is about to dawn.

Mir believes that an “American Hiroshima” will occur as soon as the U.S. launches an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

According to Mir, the terrorist group and Iran have a “secret relationship.” The piece continued:

Mir’s position that al-Qaida’s nuclear weapons may have already been forward-deployed to the United States confirms the report of Sharif al-Masri, a key al-Qaida operative who was arrested in Pakistan in November 2000.

Al Masri, an Egyptian national with ties to [Ayman] al-Zawahiri, said that al-Qaida had made arrangements to smuggle nuclear weapons and supplies to Mexico. From Mexico, he said, the weapons were to be transported across the border and into the United States with the help of a Latino street gang.

Mir also maintains that numerous sleeper agents are in place in major cities throughout the United States to prepare for the nuclear holocaust. Many of these agents, he says, are Algerians and Chechens who obtained European passports and are posing as Christian and Jews.

He further says that many of these agents have been in the United States since bin Laden’s issuance of his “Declaration of War on Americans Occupying the Country of the Two Holy Places.” That fatwa was issued Aug. 23, 1996.

Talk of an “American Hiroshima” has increasingly disappeared in the years since 9/11. Doubters of the theorized attack argue that if Al-Qaeda had nukes in their possession, they would have used them already. However, if that capability truly exists (and I hope it doesn’t), I can understand why the terrorist group might want to wait for an attack on Iran before bringing nukes into play. Retaliating against the so-called “Great Satan” with such devastating weapons in response to an attack on the Islamic Republic of Iran could be a huge PR coup in the Muslim world at a time when Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia struggle to find their national identity and where exactly they stand with the West.

Source:

“‘American Hiroshima’ linked with Iran attack.” G2 Bulletin. 28 Apr. 2006. (http://www.wnd.com/2006/04/35923/). 15 Mar. 2012.

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Friday, March 16th, 2012 Africa, Foreign Policy, Middle East, Terrorism, War No Comments

Shadow CIA: Al-Qaeda Probably Not Capable Of Another 9/11

Back on September 1, while concerns about Al-Qaeda carrying out an attack on the United States to coincide with the tenth anniversary of 9/11 grew, Scott Stewart of STRATFOR (Strategic Forecasting, Inc., a global intelligence company which Barron’s once called the “Shadow CIA”) argued the terrorist organization is incapable of carrying out another strike on the same level of September 11, 2001. I thought Stewart’s Security Weekly piece was thought-provoking. Reprinted with STRATFOR’s permission…

Why al Qaeda Is Unlikely To Execute Another 9/11

By Scott Stewart

It is Sept. 1, and that means we are once again approaching the anniversary of al Qaeda’s Sept. 11, 2001, attacks against the United States. In the 10 years that have passed since the attacks, a lot has happened and much has changed in the world, but many people can still vividly recall the sense of fear, uncertainty and helplessness they felt on that September morning. Millions of people watched United Airlines flight 175 smash into the south tower of the World Trade Center on live television. A short while later they heard that another plane had struck the Pentagon. Then they watched in horror as the World Trade Center’s twin towers buckled and collapsed to the ground.

It was, by any measure, a stunning, cataclysmic scene, a kind of terrorist theater that transformed millions of television viewers into vicarious victims. Excerpts of the just-released memoir of then-Vice President Dick Cheney demonstrate that it was not just ordinary people who were affected by the attacks; America’s leaders where shocked and shaken, too. And judging from the statements of foreign citizens and leaders in the wake of 9/11, those who proclaimed, “We are all Americans,” it was also apparent that the toll on vicarious victims did not stop at the U.S. border.

One result of this vicarious victimization and the fear and helplessness it produced was that many people became fixated on the next attack and began anxiously “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” This spawned an entire industry of fear as dire warnings were propagated by the Internet of the impending “American Hiroshima” that was certain to result when al Qaeda detonated all the nuclear devices it had hidden in major U.S. cities. Chain emails were widely circulated and recirculated quoting a dubious Israeli “security expert” who promised simultaneous catastrophic terrorist attacks against a number of American cities — attacks that never materialized outside of Hollywood productions.

Fast-forward a decade and we are now commemorating 9/11’s 10th anniversary, which seems more significant somehow because it is a round number. Perhaps of more meaningful significance is that this anniversary closely follows the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on May 2. Indeed, the buzz regarding this coincidence has caused many of our clients and readers to ask for our assessment of the terrorist threat inside the United States on this 10th anniversary of 9/11.

While we believe that today holds some degree of symbolism for many, the threat of an attack on Sept. 11, 2011, is no higher than it was on Aug. 11 or than it will be on Sept. 12, and below we explain why.

The State of al Qaeda and the Jihad

All threats have two basic components: intent and capability. Al Qaeda’s leaders have threatened to conduct an attack more terrible than 9/11 for nearly a decade now, and the threats continue. Here’s what Ayman al-Zawahiri, now al Qaeda’s No. 1, said to his followers on Aug. 15, 2011, in a message released on the Internet via as-Sahab media:

“Seek to attack America that has killed the Imam of the Mujahideen and threw his corpse in the sea and then imprisoned his women and children. Seek to attack her so history can say that a criminal state had spread corruption on earth and Allah sent her his servants who made her a lesson for others and left her as a memory.”

The stated intent of al Qaeda and the rest of the jihadist movement is and has been to strike the United States as hard and as often as possible. It logically follows, then, that al Qaeda would strike the United States on Sept. 11 — or any other day — if possible. With intent thus established, now we need to focus on capability.

One of the primary considerations regarding al Qaeda’s capability to strike the United States is the state of the jihadist movement itself. The efforts of the U.S. government and its allies against the core al Qaeda group, which is based in Pakistan, have left it badly damaged and have greatly curtailed its operational ability, especially its ability to conduct transnational attacks. In January we forecast that we believed the al Qaeda core was going to be marginalized on the physical battlefield in 2011 and that it would also struggle to remain relevant on the ideological battlefield. Indeed, it has been our assessment for several years now that al Qaeda does not pose a strategic threat to the United States.

Since we published our 2011 forecast, bin Laden has been killed as well as senior al Qaeda leader Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, who reportedly died in a strike by a U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle Aug. 22 in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region. We continue to believe that the al Qaeda core group is off balance and concerned for its security — especially in light of the intelligence gathered in the raid on bin Laden’s hideout. The core group simply does not enjoy the operational freedom it did prior to September 2001. We also believe the group no longer has the same operational capability in terms of international travel and the ability to transfer money that it had prior to 9/11.

Some people believe there is a greater chance of an attack on this year’s 9/11 anniversary because of the killing of bin Laden, while others note that al-Zawahiri may feel pressure to conduct an attack in order to prove his credibility as al Qaeda’s new leader.

Our belief, as noted above, is that al Qaeda has been doing its utmost to attack the United States and has not pulled any punches. Because of this, we do not believe it possesses the ability to increase this effort beyond where it was prior to bin Laden’s death. As to the pressure on al-Zawahiri, we noted in December 2007 that the al Qaeda core had been under considerable pressure to prove itself relevant for several years and that, despite this pressure, had yet to deliver. Because of this, we do not believe that the pressure to conduct a successful attack is any heavier on al-Zawahiri today than it was prior to bin Laden’s death.

Finally, we believe that if al Qaeda possessed the capability to conduct a spectacular attack it would launch the attack as soon as it was operationally ready, rather than wait for some specific date. The risk of discovery is simply too great.

There are also some who still believe that al Qaeda maintains a network of “sleeper operatives” inside the United States that can be called upon to conduct a spectacular terrorist attack. We do not believe this for two reasons. First, because the pressure on the core al Qaeda leadership to conduct an attack in the United States has been so high for several years there is no reason that it would not have activated any sleepers by now. It would certainly not be in the group’s best interest to keep any such operatives idle for a decade, especially since U.S. intelligence has made such headway in rolling up the organization. Al Qaeda has been faced with a use-it-or-lose-it scenario.

Second, while there is a long history of al Qaeda and other jihadist groups employing covert operatives and inspiring jihadist grassroots operatives or lone wolves like Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan, there is no history of al Qaeda employing true sleeper operatives, that is, operatives who burrow undetected into a society and then remain dormant until called upon to act. Because of this, we remain extremely skeptical that al Qaeda has ever had a sleeper network in the United States. If it had, it would have used it by now.

Would the al Qaeda core leadership like to conduct a spectacular terrorist attack on the 9/11 anniversary? Absolutely. Does it have the capability? That is unlikely.

A Grassroots Focus

As we noted in our annual jihadist forecast, we believe the greatest threat to the United States and the rest of the West in 2011 emanates from grassroots jihadists and regional franchises. However, the civil war in Yemen and developments in Somalia have preoccupied the attention of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al Shabaab — the two regional jihadist franchises that have shown the intent and capability to conduct transnational attacks — leaving them very little opportunity to do so. Therefore, we believe the greatest threat of an attack on the 9/11 anniversary will come from the grass roots.

The bad news is that grassroots operatives can be hard to identify, especially if they operate alone; the good news is that they tend to be far less capable than well-trained, more “professional” terrorist operatives. And this means they are more likely to make critical mistakes that will allow their attacks to be detected and thwarted.

As the past few years have demonstrated, there are almost certainly grassroots jihadists operating in small cells or as lone wolves who are presently planning attacks. In fact, we know that since at least 1990 there has not been a time when some group of grassroots jihadists somewhere in the United States has not been planning some kind of attack.

Is it possible, then, that such individuals could be inspired to try to conduct an attack on the 9/11 anniversary if they can coordinate their attack cycle in order to be ready on that date. However, given the increased law enforcement vigilance that will be in place at hard targets on that day and the capabilities of most grassroots operatives, we can anticipate that such an attempt would be conducted against a soft target rather than some more difficult target such as the 9/11 Memorial or the White House. We also believe that any such attack would likely continue the trend we have seen away from bombing attacks toward more simple (and effective) armed assaults.

It must be remembered that simple terrorist attacks are relatively easy to conduct, especially if the assailant is not concerned about escaping after the attack. As jihadist groups such as AQAP have noted in their online propaganda, a determined person can conduct attacks using a variety of simple weapons, from a pickup truck to a knife, axe or gun. Jihadist ideologues have repeatedly praised Nidal Hassan and have pointed out that jihadists operating with modest expectations and acting within the scope of their training and capability can do far more damage than operatives who try to conduct big, ambitious attacks that they lack the basic skills to complete.

And while the authorities in the United States and elsewhere have been quite successful in foiling attacks over the past couple of years, there are a large number of vulnerable targets in the open societies of the West, and Western governments simply do not have the resources to protect everything. Indeed, as long as the ideology of jihadism survives, its adherents will pose a threat.

All this means that some terrorist attacks will invariably succeed, but in the current context, it is our assessment that a simple attack in the United States or some other Western country is far more likely than a complex and spectacular 9/11-style operation. In their primary areas of operation, jihadists have the capability to do more than they do transnationally.

Indeed, despite the concept of a “war on terrorism,” the phenomenon of terrorism can never be completely eliminated, and terrorist attacks can and will be conducted by a wide variety of actors (recently illustrated by the July 22 attacks in Norway). However, as we’ve previously noted, if the public will recognize that terrorist attacks are part of the human condition like cancer or hurricanes, it can take steps to deny the practitioners of terrorism the ability to terrorize.

Why al Qaeda Is Unlikely To Execute Another 9/11 is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

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Monday, September 12th, 2011 Africa, Middle East, Public Safety, Terrorism, War No Comments

Signs Of The Time, Part 20

While I didn’t include the following in that post about the so-called “American Hiroshima” nuclear terrorism plot last week, a search of that term on Wikipedia, “The Free Encyclopedia,” reveals the following:

This page has been deleted. The deletion and move log for the page are provided below for reference.

• 23:23, 11 August 2008 Maxim (talk | contribs) deleted “American Hiroshima” ‎ (Deleted because expired WP:PROD; Reason given: Non-notable phrase. using TW)

• 14:03, 10 April 2005 SimonP (talk | contribs) deleted “American Hiroshima” ‎ (patent nonsense)

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

“patent nonsense”

As with the self-appointed social engineers I seem to encounter with increasing regularity these days, I am so relieved to know other people out there have taken it upon themselves to make up my mind up for me.

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Tuesday, May 10th, 2011 Signs Of The Time, Terrorism, War No Comments

American Hiroshima

We assert that the blood of the mujahid Sheikh Osama bin Laden, may God have mercy on him, is too precious to us and to every Muslim to be wasted in vain. And it will remain, with permission from God Almighty, a curse that haunts the Americans and their collaborators and pursues them outside and inside their country, and that soon, with God’s help, their joy will turn to sorrow and their tears will mix with blood, and we will realize Sheikh Osama’s oath: America, and those who live in America, will not enjoy security until our people in Palestine do. The soldiers of Islam, together or as individuals, will continue to plot tirelessly and without desperation … until they are struck with a calamity that will make the hair of children turn white.

-Excerpt from an abridged version of the statement issued by Al-Qaeda earlier this week on the death of Osama bin Laden (translation from Arabic by Reuters)(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

All the recent talk of retaliation by Muslim extremists for Osama bin Laden’s death brings back memories of a theorized terrorist attack on the United States in which Al-Qaeda uses nuclear weapons on several major U.S. cities. In 2005, Dr. Paul L. Williams, a journalist and author, published the book The Al-Qaeda Connection, in which he discussed plans for a future nuclear terrorist strike, dubbed “American Hiroshima.” He wrote:

Bin Laden asserts that he must kill four million Americans- two million of whom must be children- in order to achieve parity for a litany of “wrongs” committed against the Muslim people by the United States of America. The “wrongs” include the establishment and occupation of military bases between the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, the support of Israel and the suppression of the Palestinian people, the Persian Gulf War and the subsequent economic sanctions, and the invasions of Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Few military and intelligence officials question bin Laden’s ability to carry out this threat. US, Saudi, Pakistani, Russian, Israeli, and British intelligence sources have confirmed that al Qaeda possess a small arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons- weapons that are being prepared for the “American Hiroshima.”

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Dr. Williams, who has served as a consultant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, talked about the intel he claims exists regarding this plot. From the book:

At present, the consensus of global intelligence about the nuclear capability of al Qaeda can be summarized as follows:

1. There are fully assembled nuclear weapons in bin Laden’s arsenal. The only disagreement comes with the number. The Russians say twelve to fifteen; the Saudis claim forty to seventy.

2. Bin Laden obtained these weapons through his connections with the Chechen rebels and Russian Mafia.

3. The Chechen rebels helped to recruit Soviet scientists and SPETSNAZ technicians so that the weapons could be properly assembled and maintained.

4. The location of the weapons remains unknown, but a stockpile was in Afghanistan before the launching of Operation Enduring Freedom on October 7, 2001.

5. Several nuclear weapons, including suitcase bombs, mines, rucksacks, and crude tactical nuclear warheads, have been forward-deployed to the United States.

6. Thousands of sleeper agents are estimated to be in place throughout the United States.

7. Many of the agents, including Adnan el-Shukrijumah, Anas al-Liby, Jaber A. Elbaneh and Amer el-Maati, have been trained in nuclear technology.

8. Nuclear supplies and materials have been transported across the Mexican border into the US.

9. The next attack is planned to occur simultaneously at various sites throughout the country. Certain targets include Boston, New York, Washington, DC, Las Vegas, Miami, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

10. Muslim terrorist organizations throughout the world, including Hezbollah, have been aiding al Qaeda in this massive undertaking.

Disturbing, to say the least. Do I buy it? Only Al-Qaeda and The Man above knows for sure about this nuclear arsenal. But who’s to say they haven’t built their own nuclear weapons? After all, a covert Pentagon operation in 1964, known as the Nth Country Project, showed that a couple of non-experts, without access to classified research, could successfully design a functioning nuclear weapon. And the material needed for the big bang? While successful intercepts of smuggled nuclear material continues to make headlines, I have to wonder how much has escaped detection by the authorities. Hopefully all, but in all probability, perhaps some? Enough to be used in a nuclear device? A number of experts warn of how serious the threat of nuclear terrorism to America has become. From the “About” page of this blog:

This debate asks how likely is it that terrorists will explode a nuclear bomb and devastate a great American metropolis. In the judgment of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, the likelihood of a single nuclear bomb exploding in a single city is greater today than at the height of the Cold War. Nuclear Terrorism states my own judgment that, on the current trend line, the chances of a nuclear terrorist attack in the next decade are greater than 50 percent. Former Secretary of Defense William Perry has expressed his own view that Nuclear Terrorism underestimates the risk.

From the technical side, Richard Garwin, a designer of the hydrogen bomb who Enrico Fermi once called, “the only true genius I had ever met,” told Congress in March that he estimated a “20 percent per year probability with American cities and European cities included” of “a nuclear explosion—not just a contamination, dirty bomb—a nuclear explosion.” My Harvard colleague Matthew Bunn has created a probability model in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science that estimates the probability of a nuclear terrorist attack over a ten-year period to be 29 percent—identical to the average estimate from a poll of security experts commissioned by Senator Richard Lugar in 2005.

-Graham T. Allison, director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and author of Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe, in an April 2007 debate

Any thoughts?

Sources:

“Text: Al Qaeda statement confirming bin Laden’s death.” Reuters. 6 May 2011. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/06/us-binladen-qaeda-confirmation-text-idUSTRE74563U20110506). 6 May 2011.

Burkeman, Oliver. “How two students built an A-bomb.” The Guardian (UK). 24 June 2003. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/jun/24/usa.science). 6 May. 2011.
Williams, Paul L. The Al Qaeda Connection. New York: Prometheus Books, 2005.

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Friday, May 6th, 2011 Terrorism, War 1 Comment

On TV: Prophets Of Doom

Last month, a show aired on the History Channel called Prophets of Doom. From the History Channel website:

Today’s world has troubles unique to its time in history, from the global financial crisis to technological meltdowns to full scale, computerized global war.

Observing the convergence of such events, contemporary prophets have begun to emerge from obscurity to suggest that these conditions might be signs of the demise of the modern world. These men are historians as well, using all manner of information and patterns from the past to provide context for where we are going. Their predictions interpret the current state of affairs in our world as evidence that the America we know may come to an end. The men proposing these ideas are not crackpots living on the streets of New York; they are intelligent, learned men who come armed with the evidence to back up their claims.

In the 94 minute show, investigative journalist Michael Ruppert, economist Dr. Nathan Hagens, author John Cronin, investigative journalist/author James Howard Kuntsler, computer scientist Dr. Hugo De Garis, and executive editor Robert Gleason came together to discuss some of the greatest threats to the future of the United States, including economic collapse, water shortages/contamination, peak oil, species dominance by self-aware robots, and nuclear terrorism. The following are some of the points argued during the program:

Michael Ruppert

• Unsustainable population growth coincided with the discovery of oil
• Despite finite resources, the U.S. population continues to increase
• The population will crash with the arrival of peak oil

Dr. Nathan Hagens

• The United States is insolvent and its debts will come home to roost
• The global economy is one giant Ponzi scheme and can no longer continue to grow
• The economy will crash as natural resources run out and alternatives fail to come online in time
• Americans suffer from cognitive dissonance, “when our brains don’t want to acknowledge the gravity or seriousness of a situation”
• The greatest threat to the United States today is the coming financial reckoning

John Cronin

• The United States is a “water economy”
• The quantity and quality of fresh water is in danger here and around the globe
• Waste dumped by sewage treatment plants into bodies of water not only contaminate drinking water with bacteria and viruses but also with exotic chemicals that the plants weren’t designed to remove, like pharmaceuticals
• Technology is needed to measure what’s in our water at any moment
• A shortage of fresh water is the most pressing threat to the United States

James Howard Kuntsler

• Peak oil has arrived
• America will experience a devastating energy crisis in the 21st century
• A 2005 energy study, known as the Hirsch Report, concluded that the United States is facing an imminent energy crunch, and was subsequently buried
• Major complex systems essential to daily life will unravel in such a scenario

Dr. Hugo De Garis

• Develops artificial intelligence- a “professional brain builder”
• His field predicts robots, which could soon be widely-available to consumers, will develop self-awareness by the 2040s
• When this happens, robots will achieve “the singularity,” where they can begin to think and act separate from human control
• However, this could lead to species dominance, where the robots might see humans as nothing more than pests- and seek to exterminate them

Robert Gleason

• Nuclear terrorism directed against the United States is a credible threat
• Terrorists might unleash an “American Hiroshima,” where nuclear devices are detonated in several U.S. cities to incapacitate the nation

After each “prophet” made their points, they discussed which threats to the United States seemed to be most pressing. Cronin, De Garis, and Gleason decided that water shortages/contamination was the greatest danger. Hagens chose a financial reckoning day. Ruppert also indicated an economic collapse- due to resource shortages. Kunstler argued that the major threats couldn’t be ranked as they comprised “several competing fiascos.” The narrator announced that the group had highlighted a debt-based society and water issues as the biggest problems America faces down the road.

While noting that America is not psychologically-prepared for the problems it faces, each “prophet” went on to offer their prescriptions for dealing with the threats. A common theme was the focus on re-localization. They also realized that time would be a precious commodity. While no one claimed the end of the world was at hand, they did recognize that we had reached the end of a particular phase in American history. Americans, they decided, would have to become more self-sufficient in order to successfully weather the challenges ahead.

Interesting show, smart bunch of guys- highly-recommended. Don’t worry if you don’t have the History Channel, as the entire program has been uploaded on YouTube here.

(Editor’s note: Link placed on “Resources” page and SPTV)

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