Mumbai

U.S. Security Experts Wary Of American Fighters Returning From Syrian Civil War

Back on December 2, I blogged:

I suspect it’s only a matter of time before the U.S. homeland is attacked once again by Al-Qaeda (major operation), an affiliate, or sympathizers.

Complicating matters is the potential for radicalized Americans and European Union member state passport-carrying jihadists fighting in Syria’s civil war soon being part of this fray…

These radicalized foreign fighters were the focus of a piece that appeared on the International Business Times (UK) website Sunday. Tom Porter reported:

Experts have warned that a terrorist attack by jihadists returning radicalised from the war in Syria is “inevitable”.

It is believed that hundreds of British citizens have fought in the three-year Syrian conflict, with many taking up arms for Islamist groups.

Some have posted videos online, boasting of their exploits.

There are growing fears among security services that returning fighters with combat experience are poised to launch terrorist attacks in the UK. The Telegraph reports that around 250 Syria veterans may be back in the country.

Ahead of a discussion on Syrian fighters at Chatham House this week, Raffaello Pantucci, senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, spoke of the growing danger.

“It seems almost inevitable that some sort of a threat back to the UK will come off the battlefield in Syria, something supported by the fact that security services in the UK believe they have already disrupted at least one plot with links to Syria,” he told the Independent on Sunday.

Last year, security forces are reported to have foiled a Mumbai-style plot, involving killing civilians with guns in central London, which involved Syria veterans

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Even though Porter talked about the U.K., Syrian Civil War veterans who fought alongside Islamists will also be returning to the United States.

And U.S. security experts are wary of them.

Henry Austin and Charlene Gubash reported on the NBC News website back on February 15:

Foreign fighters returning home to the U.S., Britain and other countries after honing their skills in Syria’s civil war are posing a “nightmare for security services,” experts and officials say.

About 11,000 people have crossed into Syria seeking to help topple President Bashar Assad’s regime – including about 60 who are believed to have traveled from America. However, many have now been left disillusioned by bitter infighting between rival rebel groups and some have given up their weapons and returned to the West.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson earlier this month said that the U.S. government was “very focused” on the issue of militants returning to the country.

“Based on our work and the work of our international partners, we know individuals from the U.S., Canada and Europe are traveling to Syria to fight in the conflict,” he added.

Raffaello Pantucci, a senior research fellow at London’s Royal United Services Institute think tank, said recent history shows that “battlefields that have Sunni jihadist ideology have produced some sort of a threat.”

“It’s not true to say that all of those returning from Syria will come back and be a terrorist threat,” Pantucci added. “Perhaps a couple of them will, which makes it a nightmare for security services to track.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Some suspect Muslim extremists have been trying hard to recruit Western Caucasian members for some time now to use in terrorist operations against the United States and its allies in the “War On Terror.”

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

Sources:

Porter, Tom. “Experts Warn of ‘Inevitable’ UK Terror Attack By Returning Syria Jihadis.” International Business Times. 6 Apr. 2014. (http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/experts-warn-inevitable-uk-terror-attack-by-returning-syria-jihadis-1443631). 7 Apr. 2014.

Austin, Henry and Gubash, Charlene. “Syria’s American-Born Rebels Pose National Security ‘Nightmare’.” NBC News. 15 Feb. 2014. (http://www.nbcnews.com/news/mideast/syrias-american-born-rebels-pose-national-security-nightmare-n29451). 7 Apr. 2014.

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Gun ‘Control’ Forced On Boston, Chicago Cops?

I think Survival And Prosperity readers might find the following two firearm-related stories as they concern local law enforcement interesting. From the popular Chicago police blog Second City Cop this morning:

There is (or soon will be) not a single person in the State of Illinois who has to register a firearm anymore.

Unless you’re a Chicago Police Officer.

Read the linked order here, right on page two:

H. Sworn members will register all duty and nonduty firearms with the Department

“Register all… nonduty firearms with the Department”

Sorry, but I can’t see many rank-and-file Chicago police officers registering their personally-owned firearms.

I wonder who came up with this idea, and if they actually expect sworn CPD members to comply with the order.

Regardless, as regular Survival And Prosperity readers already know, gun registration often leads to confiscation.

Then there’s this out of the East Coast. Antonio Planas reported on the Boston Herald website yesterday:

Mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh is shooting down the plan to arm some Boston patrol officers with military-style rifles – setting up a potential showdown with the department which has backed the controversial measure, citing a need for high-powered weapons in light of school shootings and the marathon bombings.

“Mayor-elect Walsh is opposed to the AR-15 rifles,” his spokeswoman Kathryn Norton said in a short statement yesterday. “Unless otherwise convinced by the Boston Police Department, he does not think they are necessary.”

Walsh would have to approve a budget for 33 AR-15 rifles at a cost of $2,500 each. Police were in the planning phases of acquiring the rifles to put in the cruisers of two specially trained beat cops in each of the city’s 11 districts…

Other local elected representatives oppose BPD patrol officers having access to AR-15s. From the website of Boston’s FOX affiliate Sunday:

City Councilor Charles Yancey is not for the plan and said active-shooter incidents are better left to specialized SWAT team units and the use of assault rifles actually put the public in more danger.

“I don’t believe arming them with assault weapons is going to make them any safer,” he said.

I haven’t heard/read anywhere as to exactly why the Boston mayor-elect is opposed to a limited number of AR-15 rifles going out on patrol.

Has he drunk the “scary black rifle” Kool-Aid being offered up by anti-gun/gun “control” types?

Perhaps he’s ignorant of the 1997 North Hollywood shootout and body armor, and the 2008 Mumbai (India) massacre, where patrol officers armed with semi-automatic rifles could have tipped the scales in favor of the good guys. I’ll never forget those scenes of Mumbai police officers armed with Lee Enfield bolt-action rifles seeking cover as bursts of automatic rifle fire came their way.

Or maybe Mayor-elect Walsh is more shrewd than he’s letting on, having concluded a Kalashnikov can do the same (if not better) job as the AR-15 for a fraction of price. Got to be frugal when it comes to utilizing taxpayer money these days, right?

In all seriousness, I’m guessing it’s probably only a matter of time before Boston experiences an incident where their patrol officers are outgunned at the onset of contact with the bad guys and where SWAT is too late to help. If Boston’s mayor-elect doesn’t want BPD patrols to have access to AR-15s in such a situation, so be it. Just be prepared for the consequences when such an event takes place and police officers and innocent Bostonians are wounded/killed.

By the way, using the excuse “no one could have ever seen this happening” probably won’t cut it.

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

Sources:

SCC. “Once Again, Second Class Citizens.” Second City Cop. 30 Dec. 2013. (http://secondcitycop.blogspot.com/2013/12/once-again-second-class-citizens.html). 30 Dec. 2013.

Planas, Antonio. “Walsh shoots down rifle plan.” Boston Herald. 29 Dec. 2013. (http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_politics/2013/12/walsh_shoots_down_rifle_plan). 30 Dec. 2013.

“Walsh comes out opposing rifle plan for Boston police officers.” FOX 25. 29 Dec. 2013. (http://www.myfoxboston.com/category/233063/about-us). 30 Dec. 2013.

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Monday, December 30th, 2013 Crime, Firearms, Government, Gun Rights, Public Safety No Comments

Americans And ‘EU Passport’-Holding Jihadists Fighting In Syria Scrutinized As Potential Terrorists

I suspect it’s only a matter of time before the U.S. homeland is attacked once again by Al-Qaeda (major operation), an affiliate, or sympathizers.

Complicating matters is the potential for radicalized Americans and European Union member state passport-carrying jihadists fighting in Syria’s civil war soon being part of this fray.

Emery Dalesio of the Associated Press reported on The Christian Science Monitor website this past Saturday:

Federal officials say Americans are joining the bloody civil war in Syria, raising the chances they could become radicalized by Al Qaeda-linked militant groups and return to the U.S. as battle-hardened security risks.

The State Department says it has no estimates of how many Americans have taken up weapons to fight military units loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad in the 3-year-old war that has killed more than 100,000 people. Other estimates — from an arm of the British defense consultant IHS Jane’s and from experts at a nonprofit think tank in London — put the number of Americans at a couple dozen.

“A couple dozen.”

You may recall that only ten members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani terrorist organization, attacked the Taj Mahal Palace hotel and other sites in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India, between November 26 and November 29, 2008, killing 164 people and wounding at least 308.

Granted, just because these Americans are fighting alongside Muslim extremists (among others) in Syria doesn’t mean they’re automatically terrorists. Still, federal agencies are concerned.


“American Mujahid with Chechen Mujahidin fights in Syrian against Bashar”
YouTube Video

There are also worries over 1,000 or so EU member state passport holders who have also taken up arms in Syria. Vadim Fersovich reported on The Voice Of Russia website on November 25:

Of the 5,000 to 10,000 “foreign” mercenaries, about 1,000 “jihadists” carry EU passports, according to a classified report by the German Intelligence Service (Der Spiegel, October 21st ). But that thousand is made up of dozens, perhaps, hundreds (at the most) of nationals of different countries. Some of them will die in Syria; others will choose not to return. But those who will come back will move to their homes, so the hundreds will again break down into isolated people. Experts believe that an overwhelming majority of those who will buy the return ticket have for good lost interest in dangerous adventures because of actual fierce fighting. The insurgents realize that back home, security agencies are quite effective, while the number of those thinking along the same lines as terrorists is incommensurably small.

Of course, even individual terrorists pose a threat, given that they can use their passports to freely travel about Europe and the United States. According to a former CIA analyst, Michael Scheuer, they return home with a list of their mujahedeen buddies who may give advice and/or help out with the money, if necessary.

(Editor’s notes: Italics added for emphasis)

It should be pointed out that not all “EU passport” holders can “freely travel” around the United States. The U.S. State Department explains such restrictions on their website here.

Regardless, continued vigilance is still required to combat the threat of terrorism now- and maybe even more so- in the future.

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

Sources:

Dalesio, Emery P. “FBI warns about Americans joining Islamic fighters in Syria.” Associated Press. 30 Nov. 2013. (http://www.csmonitor.com/layout/set/r14/World/Latest-News-Wires/2013/1130/FBI-warns-about-Americans-joining-Islamic-fighters-in-Syria). 2 Dec. 2013.

Fersovich, Vadim. “Is Jihad likely in the West?” The Voice Of Russia. 25 Nov. 2013. (http://voiceofrussia.com/2013_11_25/Is-Jihad-likely-in-the-West-0430/). 2 Dec. 2013.

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RAND Corporation: ‘Mumbai-Style Attack Is Conceivable In The United States’

Last Thursday I blogged about the nonprofit global policy think tank RAND Corporation and their briefing of a U.S. House committee on July 18 regarding the threat Al-Qaeda poses to the United States.

I came across the RAND Corporation again when I stumbled on a recent article by Brian Michael Jenkins, Senior Adviser to the RAND President, on the U.S. News & World Report website. The former Green Beret captain served as chair of the Political Science Department at RAND and is the author of numerous books, reports, and articles on terrorism-related topics. So the man’s got “street cred” when it comes to discussing terrorism. Jenkins wrote on July 10:

Recently, I was asked to prepare testimony for a congressional hearing examining the possibility that an armed terrorist attack – similar to the 2008 attack that killed 162 people in Mumbai – could happen in the United States…

In Mumbai, there were 10 terrorists, armed with assault rifles, pistols, grenades and improvised explosives. They carried out coordinated attacks across the city, paralyzing a metropolis of 14 million people for 60 hours while mesmerizing the world’s media. It was a complex operation and likely the culmination of months of training.

Jenkins went on to point out a number of challenges to planning, mobilizing, and carrying out a Mumbai-style attack in the United States. Still, he concluded:

A Mumbai-style attack is conceivable in the United States, though probably not anywhere near the same scale.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

I just got done digging up his testimony that was submitted before the House Homeland Security Committee, Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, on June 12. “The Threat of a Mumbai-Style Terrorist Attack in the United States” is an incredibly interesting and informative read, especially as I, too, believe a Mumbai-style attack in America is possible. There are others who also share this view. I blogged back on April 28, 2011:

Should we as Americans be concerned with a Mumbai-style terrorist attack happening on our shores? Definitely, according to chatter picked up by Massad Ayoob, a captain with the Grantham (New Hampshire) Police Department and an internationally-known firearms and self-defense instructor. He wrote yesterday in his blog Massad Ayoob on Guns on the Backwoods Home Magazine website that:

The general consensus of police, military, and national intelligence is that it’s only a matter of time before this nation experiences an incident reminiscent of Beslan or Mumbai: armed, trained, committed terrorists massacring the innocent with automatic weapons and explosive.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

An “American Mumbai?” It’s possible. Some might even argue probable.

You can read Brian Michael Jenkins’ testimony to that House committee on the RAND website here.

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

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Chicago Hosting ‘Routine Military Training Exercise’ This Week

Another “routine military training exercise” is taking place around Chicago this week. I’ve blogged about two other exercises that occurred in the Chicagoland area since 2012, one in April 2012 and another in April of this year.

From the City of Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications on Monday:

The City of Chicago is providing support for a routine military training exercise in and around the Chicagoland area on July 22 – 25. This routine training is conducted by military personnel in cities across the country, designed to ensure the military’s ability to operate in urban environments as service members meet mandatory training certification requirements and prepare for upcoming overseas deployments.

The training sites have been carefully selected to minimize the impact on the daily routine of residents.

The training is not open to the public.

Since the U.S. military has been busy developing its urban warfare training program for some time already, some suspect if the drills aren’t training for a future declaration of martial law in case some SHTF event takes place, like a U.S. financial crash, or to send terrorists a message, such as our armed forces, in conjunction with civilian law enforcement, are ready for a Mumbai, India-style attack.

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

Source:

Stratton, Melissa. “Statement From The City Of Chicago Office Of Emergency Management And communications Regarding Training In Chicago July 22-25.” City of Chicago OEMC. 22 July 2013. (http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/oem/provdrs/emerg_mang/news/2013/jul/statement_from_thecityofchicagoofficeofemergencymanagementandcom.html). 24 July 2013.

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Wednesday, July 24th, 2013 Military, Public Safety, Terrorism, Training No Comments

Major Terrorist Attack On U.S. ‘Within Weeks’?

I stumbled on the following article on the website of WND (formerly WorldNetDaily), an independent news company. Reza Kahlili wrote Monday:

Iran has given the go-ahead to operatives of three terrorist groups that have infiltrated the United States to carry out missions, including what is expected to be a Mumbai-style attack on a hotel where innocent bystanders would be killed, WND has learned…

Three targets have been chosen within America for imminent attack, and the terror teams have now cut communications with the operational center in Iran, a sign that they are moving ahead with the attacks, according to a high-level intelligence officer within the Islamic regime.

According to an update to the piece Tuesday, Kahili’s “source” revealed the major attack would take place “within weeks.”

Interesting reading (can’t speak for how reliable the information provided is though), which can be viewed in its entirety on the WND site here.

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

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H1N1 Cases Reported In Asia, South America

President Barack Obama has declared the swine flu outbreak a national emergency, giving his health chief the power to let hospitals move emergency rooms offsite to speed treatment and protect noninfected patients.

The declaration, signed Friday night and announced Saturday, comes with the disease more prevalent than ever in the country…

-Associated Press, October 25, 2009

The global death toll from 2009’s H1N1 “swine flu” pandemic could be higher than initially reported. Simeon Bennett reported on the Bloomberg website yesterday:

The 2009 swine flu pandemic may have killed 15 times more people globally than reported at the time, according to the first study to estimate the death toll.

The H1N1 influenza virus probably killed about 284,500 people worldwide, compared with 18,500 deaths reported to the World Health Organization, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases today. More than half the deaths may have been in southeast Asia and Africa, compared with 12 percent of officially reported fatalities, the authors wrote.

The H1N1 virus was reported in more than 214 countries through August 2010, when the WHO declared an end to the pandemic. It’s since become one of three seasonal flu strains circulating worldwide, causing infections mostly during the winter months.

This year, H1N1 cases have been reported in both hemispheres, and in winter and summer. Loshana K. Shagar and Embun Majid reported on the Jakarta Post (Indonesia) website on June 16:

The Influenza A(H1N1) outbreak at the National Service (NS) camp is under control, said Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai.

He said there have been no new cases since Thursday.

Ninety NS trainees at Dusun Minda National Service training camp in Kuala Nerang, Kedah, were quarantined two days ago after coming down with A(H1N1).

Sumitra Deb Roy wrote on the Times of India website earlier today:

MUMBAI: The civic authorities are insistent that H1N1 cases in the city are sporadic and nothing to worry about. But statistics suggest otherwise. While 46 positive cases of H1N1 have been reported between April and June so far, there were zero cases in Mumbai during the corresponding period last year.

Prasit Tangpraset wrote on the AsiaOne website, an online news portal belonging to Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co., last Thursday:

Yesterday 41 persons were confirmed as infected with the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) at Nakhon Ratchasima Rajanagarindra Psychiatric Hospital in the Northeast…

Kamron Chaisiri, inspector-general of the Public Health Ministry, said the hospital found the first case on June 12 in the ward for alcoholics, who have weaker immune systems and are easily infected.

Six women and 35 men have been admitted, including six hospital staff. The patients are on the antiviral drug Tamiflu and none are severely ill.

And Latin American News Agency Prensa Latina published on its website last Friday:

The Bolivian Minister of Health and Sports, Juan Carlos Calvimontes, confirmed the record of 637 patients with influenza A (H1N1) and 2. 276 suspected cases.

According to Calvimontes epidemiological reports register five deaths, and he said that the department with more registered patients is La Paz, with more than 300 positive cases.

With all these reports coming in about H1N1 cases, here’s hoping this isn’t the beginning of another pandemic (or a “real” one, as some claim the 2009 event was a scam).

Stay healthy, my friends.

Sources:

Bennett, Simeon. “Swine Flu Deaths May Have Been 15 Times Higher Than Reported.” Bloomberg. 25 June 2012. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-25/swine-flu-deaths-may-have-been-15-times-higher-than-reported.html). 26 June 2012.

Shagar, Loshana K. and Majid, Embun. “‘No new H1N1 cases’ reported at Malaysia’s Kedah NS camp.” Jakarta Post. 16 June 2012. (http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2012/06/16/no-new-h1n1-cases-reported-malaysia-s-kedah-ns-camp.html). 26 June 2012.

Deb Roy, Sumitra. “46 H1N1 cases ‘not worrisome': BMC.” Times of India. 26 June 2012. (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/46-H1N1-cases-not-worrisome-BMC/articleshow/14396348.cms). 26 June 2012.

Tangprasert, Prasit. “41 swine flu cases confirmed in Thailand.” AsiaOne. 21 June 2012. (http://news.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Asia/Story/A1Story20120621-354262.html). 26 June 2012.

“Bolivia Reported 637 Confirmed Cases of Influenza A (H1N1).” Prensa Latina. 22 June 2012. (http://www.plenglish.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=519345&Itemid=1). 26 June 2012.

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Tuesday, June 26th, 2012 Asia, Health, Public Safety, South America No Comments

On TV: Mumbai Massacre

Back at the beginning of the month, I talked about the terror incident that took place in Mumbai, India, where members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani terrorist organization, attacked the Taj Mahal Palace hotel and other sites in the city formerly known as Bombay between November 26 and November 29, 2008, killing 164 people and wounding at least 308. In the March 1 post, I identified a good resource related to that 2008 attack- the 2010 BAFTA award-winning HBO documentary film Terror in Mumbai.

There is another documentary I know of that provides tremendous insight as to how an “American Mumbai” could go down. From the “Secrets of the Dead” area of the PBS website:

Mumbai, November 26, 2008. What began as a typical day in a bustling, cosmopolitan city turned into a horror-filled 60 hours of orchestrated chaos when terrorists infiltrated the city and rampaged through the train station, cafes, a Jewish center and two of India’s most famous five- star hotels. As police struggled to coordinate a response and journalists clamored to cover the story from the streets, victims trapped inside the hotels began making contact with the outside world using cell phones, text messages and Twitter. Their urgent and heart-wrenching messages begged for information and painted a gruesome picture of indiscriminate killing, unfettered brutality and mass confusion. But the victims weren’t the only ones communicating with the outside world. The terrorist leaders in Pakistan were watching the coverage of the attacks on the news and relaying crucial information about the whereabouts of the victims back to their operatives on the ground.

“This film offers an unprecedented, inside view into the attacks,” says Jared Lipworth, executive producer of Secrets of the Dead. “It not only reveals how the victims and terrorists acted during the massacre, it highlights how consumer technologies and social media gave the victims a chance to survive, while also putting them directly into the line-of-fire of the terrorists who were hunting them down.”


“Secrets of the Dead|Mumbai Massacre|PBS”
YouTube Video

Actor Liev Schreiber narrated the production. However, the PBS site noted:

Told completely from the perspective of the victims, Mumbai Massacre places viewers inside the maelstrom, where they become witnesses to the critical events and decisions that meant the difference between life and death. Incredible stories include: a Muslim architect and his wife who were forced to watch as two different groups of hostages were executed at their feet; a tourist whose husband died in her arms as they were shot trying to escape; an American cameraman whose mother in Texas texted him a map of the hotel; and a married couple who split up during the chaos to increase the likelihood that at least one of them would survive to take care of their children. The film also reveals the remarkable heroism and dedication of the hotel’s staff, documenting a restaurant manager who returned to the hotel to take care of his guests, and cooks who gave up their own lives to keep the terrorists away from their hidden visitors.

Like HBO’s Terror in Mumbai, Mumbai Massacre was put together well and very informative. More important for us, it presents a picture of what an “American Mumbai” could look like, and offers up ideas that might increase one’s odds of survival in similar circumstances.

I caught the documentary film on the local PBS station some time ago as part of the “Secrets of the Dead” series. Maybe you can too. Otherwise, Mumbai Massacre is uploaded on YouTube here.

(Editor’s note: Link added to SPTV and “Resources” page)

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‘Shadow CIA’ Calls End Of Terrorism A ‘Myth’

One last post about terrorism this week. Scott Stewart of the global intelligence company Strategic Forecasting, Inc., or STRATFOR, has authored a series of Security Weekly reports entitled “Fundamentals of Terrorism.” The first of these, “The Myth of the End of Terrorism,” was released on February 23. It’s a good, informative read, and serves as a reminder that just because major terror attacks directed against the United States and its interests haven’t been too successful lately, the threat hasn’t gone away. Reprinted with permission of STRATFOR:

The Myth of the End of Terrorism

By Scott Stewart

In this week’s Geopolitical Weekly, George Friedman discussed the geopolitical cycles that change with each generation. Frequently, especially in recent years, those geopolitical cycles have intersected with changes in the way the tactic of terrorism is employed and in the actors employing it.

The Arab terrorism that began in the 1960s resulted from the Cold War and the Soviet decision to fund, train and otherwise encourage groups in the Middle East. The Soviet Union and its Middle Eastern proxies also sponsored Marxist terrorist groups in Europe and Latin America. They even backed the Japanese Red Army terrorist group. Places like South Yemen and Libya became havens where Marxist militants of many different nationalities gathered to learn terrorist tradecraft, often instructed by personnel from the Soviet KGB or the East German Stasi and from other militants.

The Cold War also spawned al Qaeda and the broader global jihadist movement as militants flocking to fight the Soviet troops who had invaded Afghanistan were trained in camps in northern Pakistan by instructors from the CIA’s Office of Technical Services and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate. Emboldened by the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, and claiming credit for the subsequent Soviet collapse, these militants decided to expand their efforts to other parts of the world.

The connection between state-sponsored terrorism and the Cold War ran so deep that when the Cold War ended with the Soviet Union’s collapse, many declared that terrorism had ended as well. I witnessed this phenomenon while serving in the counterterrorism Investigations Division of the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) in the early 1990s. While I was in New York working as part of the interagency team investigating the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, a newly appointed assistant secretary of state abolished my office, declaring that the DSS did not need a Counterterrorism Investigations Division since terrorism was over.

Though terrorism obviously did not end when the Berlin Wall fell, the rosy sentiments to the contrary held by some at the State Department and elsewhere took away the impetus to mitigate the growing jihadist threat or to protect diplomatic facilities from it. The final report of the Crowe Commission, which was established to review the twin August 1998 bombing attacks against the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, explicitly noted this neglect of counterterrorism and security programs, as did the 9/11 Commission report.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks triggered a shift in international geopolitics by leading the United States to concentrate the full weight of its national resources on al Qaeda and its supporters. Ironically, by the time the U.S. government was able to shift its massive bureaucracy to meet the new challenge, creating huge new organizations like the Department of Homeland Security, the efforts of the existing U.S. counterterrorism apparatus had already badly crippled the core al Qaeda group. Though some of these new organizations played important roles in helping the United States cope with the fallout of its decision to invade Iraq after Afghanistan, Washington spent billions of dollars to create organizations and fund programs that in hindsight were arguably not really necessary because the threats they were designed to counter, such as al Qaeda’s nuclear briefcase bombs, did not actually exist. As George Friedman noted in the Geopolitical Weekly, the sole global superpower was badly off-balance, which caused an imbalance in the entire global system.

With the continued diminution of the jihadist threat, underscored by the May 2011 death of Osama bin Laden and the fall in Libya of the Gadhafi regime (which had long employed terrorism), once again we appear on the brink of a cyclical change in the terrorism paradigm. These events could again lead some to pronounce the death of terrorism.

Several developments last week served to demonstrate that while the perpetrators and tactics of terrorism (what Stratfor calls the “who” and the “how”) may change in response to larger geopolitical cycles, such shifts will not signal the end of terrorism itself.

The Nature of Terrorism

There are many conflicting definitions of terrorism, but for our purposes we will loosely define it as politically motivated violence against noncombatants. Many terrorist acts have a religious element to them, but that element is normally related to a larger, political goal: Both a militant anti-abortion activist seeking to end legalized abortion and a jihadist seeking to end the U.S. military presence in Iraq may act according to religious principles, but they ultimately are pursuing a political objective.

Terrorism is a tactic, one employed by a wide array of actors. There is no single creed, ethnicity, political persuasion or nationality with a monopoly on terrorism. Individuals and groups of individuals from almost every conceivable background — from late Victorian-era anarchists to Klansmen to North Korean intelligence officers — have conducted terrorist attacks. Because of the impreciseness of the term, Stratfor normally does not refer to individuals as terrorists. In addition to being a poor descriptor, “terrorist” tends to be a politically loaded term.

Traditionally, terrorism has been a tactic of the weak, i.e., those who lack the power to impose their political will through ordinary political or military means. As Carl von Clausewitz noted, war is the continuation of politics by other means; terrorism is a type of warfare, making it also politics by other means. Because it is a tactic used by the weak, terrorism generally focuses on soft, civilian targets rather than more difficult-to-attack military targets.

The type of weapon used does not define terrorism. For example, using a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device against an International Security Assistance Force firebase in Afghanistan would be considered an act of irregular warfare, but using it in an attack on a hotel in Kabul would be considered an act of terrorism. This means that militant actors can employ conventional warfare tactics, unconventional warfare tactics and terrorism during the same campaign depending on the situation.

Terrorist attacks are relatively easy to conduct if they are directed against soft targets and if the assailant is not concerned with escaping after the attack, as was the case in the Mumbai attacks in 2008. While authorities in many countries have been quite successful in foiling attacks over the past couple of years, governments simply do not have the resources to guard everything. When even police states cannot protect everything, some terrorist attacks invariably will succeed in the open societies of the West.

Terrorist attacks tend to be theatrical, exerting a strange hold over the human imagination. They often create a unique sense of terror dwarfing reactions to natural disasters many times greater in magnitude. For example, more than 227,000 people died in the 2004 Asian tsunami versus fewer than 3,000 on 9/11, yet the 9/11 attacks produced a worldwide sense of terror and a geopolitical reaction that has had a profound and unparalleled impact on world events over the past decade.

Cycles and Shifts

A number of events last week illustrate the changes happening in the terrorism realm and demonstrate that, while terrorism may change, it is not going to end.

On Feb. 17, the FBI arrested a Moroccan man near the U.S. Capitol in Washington who allegedly sought to conduct a suicide attack on the building. The suspect, Amine el Khalifi, is a clear example of the shift in the jihadist threat from one based on the al Qaeda core group to one primarily deriving from grassroots jihadists. As Stratfor has noted for several years, while these grassroots jihadists pose a more diffuse threat because they are harder for national intelligence and law enforcement agencies to focus on than hierarchical groups, the threat they pose is less severe because they generally lack the terrorist tradecraft required to conduct a large-scale attack. Because they lack such tradecraft, these grassroots militants tend to seek assistance to conduct their plots. This assistance usually involves acquiring explosives or firearms, as in the el Khalifi case, where an FBI informant posing as a jihadist leader provided the suspect with an inert suicide vest and a submachine gun prior to the suspect’s arrest.

While many in the media tend to ridicule individuals like el Khalifi as inept, it is important to remember that had he succeeded in finding a real jihadist facilitator rather than a federal informant, he could have killed many people in an attack. Richard Reid, who many people refer to as the “Kramer of al Qaeda” after the bumbling character from the television show Seinfeld, came very close to taking down a jumbo jet full of people over the Atlantic because he had been equipped and dispatched by others.

Still, the fact remains that the jihadist threat now predominantly stems from unequipped grassroots wannabes rather than teams of highly trained operatives sent to the United States from overseas, like the team that executed the 9/11 attacks. This demonstrates how the jihadist threat has diminished in recent years, a trend we expect to continue. This will allow Washington to increasingly focus attention on things other than jihadism, such as the fragmentation of Europe, the transformation of global economic production and Iran’s growing regional power. It will mark the beginning of a new geopolitical cycle.

Last week also brought us a series of events highlighting how terrorism may manifest itself in the new cycle. On Feb. 13, Israeli diplomatic vehicles in New Delhi, India, and Tbilisi, Georgia, were targeted with explosive devices. In Tbilisi, a grenade hidden under a diplomatic vehicle was discovered before it could detonate. In New Delhi, a sticky bomb placed on the back of a diplomatic vehicle wounded the wife of the Israeli defense attache as she headed to pick up her children from school.

On Feb. 14, an Iranian man was arrested after being wounded in an explosion at a rented house in Bangkok. The blast reportedly occurred as a group was preparing improvised explosive devices for use against Israeli targets in Bangkok. Two other Iranians were later arrested (one in Malaysia), and Thai authorities are seeking three more Iranian citizens, two of whom have reportedly returned to Iran, alleged to have assisted in the plot.

While these recent Iranian plots failed, they nonetheless highlight how the Iranians are using terrorism as a tactic in retaliation for attacks Israel and Israeli surrogates have conducted against individuals associated with Iran’s nuclear program.

It is also important to bear in mind as this new geopolitical cycle begins that terrorism does not just emanate from foreign governments, major subnational actors or even transnational radical ideologies like jihadism. As we saw in the July 2011 attacks in Norway conducted by Anders Breivik and in older cases involving suspects like Eric Rudolph, Timothy McVeigh and Theodore Kaczynski in the United States, native-born individuals who have a variety of grievances with the government or society can carry out terrorist attacks. Such grievances will certainly persist.

Geopolitical cycles will change, and these changes may cause a shift in who employs terrorism and how it is employed. But as a tactic, terrorism will continue no matter what the next geopolitical cycle brings.

The Myth of the End of Terrorism is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

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On TV: HBO Documentary Film Terror In Mumbai

Back on Valentine’s Day, I blogged about an Economic Times (India) piece which said Chicago and several other major U.S. cities had received training for terror attacks similar to what took place in Mumbai, India, where members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani terrorist organization, attacked the Taj Mahal Palace hotel and other sites in the city formerly known as Bombay between November 26 and November 29, 2008, killing 164 people and wounding at least 308.

If true, then public safety agencies recognize the potential for an “American Mumbai” taking place.

This morning, I want to share with you an informative resource related to that 2008 attack- the 2010 BAFTA award-winning HBO documentary film Terror in Mumbai. From the HBO website:

Terror in Mumbai features exclusive audio tapes of the intercepted phone calls between the young gunmen and their controllers in Pakistan, and testimony from the sole surviving gunman…

Terror in Mumbai presents a moment-by-moment account of the horrific attacks through interviews with survivors and Indian police officials, archival news coverage, extensive video surveillance footage of the terrorists in action, and chilling audio excerpts of cell-phone conversations intercepted by security forces. The phone intercepts provide a grotesque running commentary as the controllers, watching events unfold on live TV, direct the gunmen, telling them where the security forces are, which of their hostages should be killed and how to do it. With the killers wounded and asking what to do next, the tapes reveal the controllers calmly urging them to fight to the death and not allow themselves to be taken alive.

Trailer

HBO Video

Watching Terror in Mumbai made me feel like I was along for the ride. Being able to listen (actually, read English subtitles) to the actual cell phone conversations between the terrorists and their handlers was key. HBO isn’t kidding when they say “the phone intercepts provide a grotesque running commentary.” The interrogation of the lone surviving terrorist was real interesting as well. All of this provides tremendous insight for viewers as to how an “American Mumbai” could go down.

Now, I was lucky enough to catch the award-winning HBO documentary film on TV some time ago. Maybe you can too. Otherwise, Terror in Mumbai is uploaded on YouTube here (file entitled “26/11 Terror In Mumbai- Dispatches”)

(Editor’s note: Link added to SPTV and “Resources” page)

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Major U.S. Cities Train For Mumbai-Style Terror Attack

Thankfully, the news from Chicago isn’t all that bad today. Apparently, the city’s been training to respond to a terror attack similar to what took place in Mumbai, India, where members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani terrorist organization, attacked the Taj Mahal Palace hotel and other sites in the city formerly known as Bombay between November 26 and November 29, 2008, killing 164 people and wounding at least 308. From The Economic Times (India) website earlier today:

Washington: Learning a lesson from the 2008 Mumbai attacks, several American security and intelligence agencies have conducted a series of workshops in six major US cities to tackle such terror strikes, US Homeland Security department has said.

The information on preparations made to prevent Mumbai-type terrorist attacks has been provided by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in its annual budgetary proposals to the Congress.

“To address the current threat environment, FEMA partnered with the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis, the National Counter-terrorism Center, and the Department of Justice/ Federal Bureau of Investigation to conduct in six major cities across the country a series of workshops focused on response to a Mumbai-style terror attack,” it said.

While names of the cities have not been released, reports in the past have indicated them to include New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington.

I’ve discussed a Mumbai-style attack taking place on our shores before, most notably back on April 28 of last year, when I wrote:

Should we as Americans be concerned with a Mumbai-style terrorist attack happening on our shores? Definitely, according to chatter picked up by Massad Ayoob, a captain with the Grantham (New Hampshire) Police Department and an internationally-known firearms and self-defense instructor. He wrote yesterday in his blog Massad Ayoob on Guns on the Backwoods Home Magazine website that:

The general consensus of police, military, and national intelligence is that it’s only a matter of time before this nation experiences an incident reminiscent of Beslan or Mumbai: armed, trained, committed terrorists massacring the innocent with automatic weapons and explosives.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

The head of the Massad Ayoob Group (MAG) also talked about the Mumbai attack last summer. He wrote in his blog on June 13, 2010:

There have been indications that America’s enemies intend multiple terrorist attacks in this country, patterned after the 11/26-29/07 incident in Mumbai, India that left 168 civilians and authorities dead, and 308 wounded. It was perpetrated by ten members of Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Taiba group, armed with explosives and automatic rifles. Only one of the terrorists survived.

Note that some of the responding police in India were unarmed, and some others were equipped with hastily-issued WWI technology Lee-Enfield bolt action rifles, and cartridges issued by the handful. They were poorly trained by American standards. By contrast, American police have gone heavily to coordinated “active shooter response” training since the Columbine tragedy more than a decade ago, and AR15-type patrol rifles are widely distributed. US law enforcement can be expected to respond much more swiftly and effectively to a Mumbai-style incident.

In India, the citizens were effectively unarmed and helpless against the ten terrorists who slaughtered them at will. Armed Americans are likely to respond differently, particularly in the Southwest where there are indications that such potential terrorists have already crossed the border, and may “stage” near it. In Southern Arizona recently, it became apparent to me that more ranchers and even townsfolk are now storing rifles in their cars, and carrying handguns routinely. They can be expected to shoot back, an assessment that comes not from this writer’s guesswork, but from history…

An American Mumbai? Yes, it could happen, and seems more likely than ever based on recent intelligence projections. If it does occur, look for a MUCH faster and more decisive response by American police than those of India…and if it happens near the Arizona or Texas border, look for bullets from armed citizens’ hunting and defense rifles in the bodies of at least some of the dead terrorists.

If an American Mumbai occurs, I’m guessing it will go down in a high-profile, internationally-known city whose residents/workers are likely to be unarmed and incapable of defending themselves against rampaging terrorists with automatic weapons- like my hometown of Chicago.

Still, it doesn’t hurt for Americans outside of the “Windy City” to prepare for such an event. Consider what Gabe Suarez, a decorated veteran of Southern California law enforcement and president of the personal safety training outfit Suarez International, wrote in his blog Warrior Talk News on May 6, 2010:

Put yourself in the enemy’s shoes….err, sandals…..which option would YOU pick? Which offers the easiest implementation, least chance for detection, greatest chance for success – bombs or bullets?

The mass shooting and not the improvised and unsuccessful bomb is the “easy button”, and that fact cannot be ignored by us as it will not be overlooked by the enemy.

So what do we do?

1). We must identify who the enemy is. Please go back and peruse the list of events above, both failed and successful. What is the common thread connecting the attackers?

2). Carry your gun everywhere…..a REAL fighting gun….not some sissy “suitable for CCW” 5 shot “self defense gun”. The times are not such that concern over a mugger is the issue anymore. Carry extra ammo with you. It is not difficult at all to carry a full sized pistol with a couple of extra magazines. I have done so since 1983.

These are not the times to be seeking political correctness over public safety. It is not the time to fear false labels created and assigned by the mass media. The Israelis learned that lesson long ago. After all is said and done, it is better to be a live “intolerant racist” (as the MSM would call us) than a dead “co-existing”, tolerant “paragon of political correctness”. I suspect that had Shahzad’s bomb been successful, lots of tolerant, “co-exist” types would have died right alongside us “intolerant racists”. The times call for careful profiling and suspicious curiosity as well as daily preparation.

Dress everyday as if you had a business meeting in Mumbai on 26 November 2008 with a bunch of Jews, Christians, and atheist Americans at a cafe right across the street from the Jihad School Of Terrorism.

Be ready or be a victim.

“Be ready or be a victim.” Great words to live by.

More later.

Sources:

“US prepares six mega cities against Mumbai-type attacks.” EconomicTimes.IndiaTimes.com. 14 Feb. 2012. (http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/us-prepares-six-mega-cities-against-mumbai-type-attacks/articleshow/11885599.cms). 14 Feb. 2012.

Ayoob, Massad. “Sobering Knowledge From Cops.” BackwoodsHome.com. 27 Apr. 2011. (http://backwoodshome.com/blogs/MassadAyoob/2011/04/27/sobering-knowledge-from-cops/). 28 Apr. 2011.

Ayoob, Massad. “An American Mumbai?” BackwoodsHome.com. 13 June 2010. (http://backwoodshome.com/blogs/MassadAyoob/2010/06/13/an-american-mumbai/). 28 Apr. 2011.

Suarez, Gabriel. “The Coming Jihad… in America.” WarriorTalkNews.com. 6 May. 2010. (http://www.warriortalknews.com/2010/05/the-coming-jihadin-the-usa-.html). 28 Apr. 2011.

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Forget Bloomberg, The Public Is Needed To Thwart Terrorist Attacks

Go back to work. And leave it to the professionals.

-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, speaking to New Yorkers last Friday concerning credible yet unconfirmed reports of potential terrorist activity being directed against the city (Source: Daily Mail)

Last night, I shared a recent piece by global intelligence company Strategic Forecasting, Inc., or STRATFOR, in which Scott Stewart wrote the United States probably won’t suffer another terrorist attack on the same scale of 9/11. According to Stewart:

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 fact, the “Shadow CIA,” as Barron’s has called STRATFOR, thinks future strikes will consist of armed assaults. Stewart added:

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.

Regrettably, these types of operations aim to take the “professionals” by surprise, which we saw happen in Mumbai, India, back in November 2008. As a result, individuals who happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time when the bad guys get things rolling are forced to deal with the situation themselves. But this shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, as in “normal” times 95 percent of all 911 responses are too late to stop criminal activity anyway.

Well, there’s another terrorism-related piece I want to share with Survival And Prosperity readers that focuses on what the individual can do to prevent or even stop a terrorist attack (I previously shared a STRATFOR piece that addressed this same topic). Uli Gebhard, a staff instructor at Suarez International (Arizona-based outfit that provides training for the Martial Civilian in weapons of all types, combatives and tactics), wrote “Acts of Terrorism- what have we learned?” on the Warrior Talk News blog back on August 30. Anticipating the same armed assaults STRATFOR envisions, Gebhard reviewed recent active shooter/small-scale acts of terrorism, and talked about how to prepare for and react to these types of incidents. It’s a good, quick read, and can be accessed on the Warrior Talk News blog here.

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Tuesday, September 13th, 2011 Preparedness, Self-Defense, Terrorism No Comments

Kabul Hotel Inter-Continental Attack Continues Trend Of Hotel Assaults

If you haven’t already heard by now, last night the Hotel Inter-Continental in Kabul, Afghanistan, which is frequented by foreigners and dignitaries and considered one of the most secure sites in the Afghan capital, was attacked by the Taliban. From the Associated Press’ Rahim Faiez and Deb Riechmann this morning:

NATO helicopters fired rockets before dawn Wednesday at Taliban gunmen who stormed one of Afghanistan’s premier hotels, ending a brazen, nearly five-hour assault that left 19 people dead — including all eight attackers.

The strike against the Inter-Continental was one of the biggest and most complex to have occurred within Kabul and appeared designed to show that the insurgents are capable of striking even in the center of power at a time when U.S. officials are speaking of progress in the nearly 10-year war.

[Editor’s note: Shades of Tet 1968?]

It occurred less than a week after President Barack Obama announced the beginning of an American withdrawal and the transfer of security responsibility to the Afghans in several areas, including most of Kabul province.

Militants who had managed to penetrate the hotel’s security measures began the attack around 10 p.m. Tuesday, on the eve of a conference about the transfer of security responsibilities.

After hours of fighting, two NATO helicopters opened fire at about 3 a.m. on the roof of the five-story hotel where militants had taken up positions. U.S. Army Maj. Jason Waggoner, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting in Afghanistan, said the helicopters killed three gunmen and Afghan security forces clearing the hotel worked their way up to the roof and engaged the insurgents.

A final explosion occurred a few hours later when one of the bombers who had been hiding in a room blew himself up long after ambulances had carried the dead and wounded from the hotel, which sits on a hill overlooking the mountain-rimmed capital.

Now that the Taliban assault has been halted, reports of casualties are coming in. From the AP piece:

Latifullah Mashal, the spokesman of the Afghan National Directorate for Security, said five of the suicide attackers blew themselves up and three were killed on the roof by coalition helicopters.

The 11 civilians killed included a judge from an unnamed province, five hotel workers and three Afghan policemen, Mashal said. The Ministry of Interior said a Spanish citizen also was among those killed, but no other information was disclosed.

The ministry said 18 people were wounded in the attack — 13 civilians and five policemen.

Muslim extremists have a history of attacking hotels where foreigners congregate. Back on January 14, 2008, the Taliban launched an assault against the Kabul Serena Hotel in the Afghan capital. From the Associated Press that day:

Militants with suicide vests, grenades and AK-47 rifles attacked a luxury hotel on Monday, killing at least six people in the most brazen attack yet on Western civilians in Kabul, witnesses and a Taliban spokesman said.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the Norwegian foreign minister, who was not hurt, was the target of the assault, which came as the Norwegian embassy was holding a meeting at the Serena Hotel. Two U.S. State Department officials said at least one American was among the dead. A Norwegian reporter also died.

According to the AP article, the Taliban concentrated their attack on the hotel’s gym and spa, where foreigners were known to relax and exercise.

Then there’s the notorious example of Mumbai, India, where members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani terrorist organization, attacked the Taj Mahal Palace hotel and other sites in Mumbai between November 26 and November 29, 2008, killing 164 people and wounding at least 308.

As long as foreigners, especially Americans, continue to congregate at overseas hotels that are within reach of these terror organizations, I suspect attacks by small groups of heavily-armed gunmen, like what happened in Kabul last night, will continue at these locations.

Sources:

Faiez, Rahim and Riechmann, Deb. “Afghan President Defiant After Kabul Hotel Assault.” Associated Press. 29 June 2011. (http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=13954115). 29 June 2011.

“6 Dead In Afghan Luxury Hotel Attack.” Associated Press. 14 Jan. 2008. (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/01/14/world/main3709879.shtml). 29 June 2011.

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Wednesday, June 29th, 2011 Asia, Public Safety, Terrorism, War 2 Comments

Beware A Beslan-Style Attack Against U.S. Schools

On Monday, I finished reading a book by Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent C.J. Chivers entitled The Gun, which discusses the origins and global impact of the Avtomat Kalashnikova, or AK-47, assault rifle. Interesting book for Kalashnikov fans and users of the platform, but potentially infuriating to supporters of the “black rifle,” or M-16 assault rifle, who insist the firearm’s initial shortcomings were exaggerated. The former Marine captain wrote:

The early M-16 and its ammunition formed a combination not ready for war. They were a flawed pair emerging from a flawed development history. Prone to malfunction, they were forced into troops’ hands through a clash of wills and egos in Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara’s Pentagon. Instead of a thoughtful progression from prototype to general-issue arm, the M-16s journey was marked by salesmanship, sham science, cover-ups, chicanery, incompetence, and no small amount of dishonesty by a gun manufacturer and senior American military officers. Its introduction to war was briefly heralded as a triumph of private industry and perceptive management, but swiftly became a monument to the hazards of hubris and the perils of rushing, and a study in military management gone awry.

Ouch. Anyway, while digging up more info on Chivers, I discovered that the New York Times senior writer received a National Magazine Award for his Esquire magazine piece on the Beslan, Russia, hostage-taking incident that took place in September 2004. On September 1, 2004, armed terrorists took more than 1,100 people hostage- including 777 children- at School Number One in the town of Beslan, North Ossetia, Russia. On the third day of the crisis, Russian security forces stormed the school and defeated the terrorists. 334 hostages, including 186 children, died in the event, and hundreds more were injured.

While some Pollyannas may think the “war on terror” is over now that Osama bin Laden is dead, realists in the counter-terrorism community continue to warn of potential terrorist attacks being launched against American interests here and abroad. Such strikes may even be expedited now as the result of the Al-Qaeda leader’s demise. Concerning terrorist acts being directed against the general public in the United States, Al-Qaeda “sleeper cells” may already be on the prowl within our borders. Richard A. Clarke, a counter-terrorism “czar” in the Clinton and both Bush administrations, wrote in the New York Times back on August 14, 2005:

Are there such sleeper cells here? An F.B.I. analysis, reported earlier this year, said that ”efforts to date have not revealed evidence of concealed cells . . . acting as sleepers.” Agonizing over the possibility that his agents had missed something, the F.B.I.’s director, Robert Mueller, admitted to being ”very concerned about what we are not seeing.” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, however, said that U.S. agencies ”are very active and aggressive in pursuing these cells,” adding, ”We’re continuing to conduct active investigations of other cells.”

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Someone doesn’t seem to be on the same page here.

In addition, Abdul Hameed Bakier of the Washington, D.C.-based think-tank The Jamestown Foundation (former chief of the CIA’s bin Laden unit Michael Scheuer is a senior fellow with Jamestown) pointed out more indications these cells might exist. Bakier wrote on January 15, 2008:

A 2005 FBI report stated that the agency had been unable to find conclusive evidence of the existence of such cells (ABC News, March 9, 2005), though comments on jihadi websites suggest that they exist. The militants are aware of the FBI’s concern about sleeper cells in the United States; each time pertinent information is released in U.S. media, jihadi posters write comments and prayers for the success of those cells.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Even if sleeper cells don’t exist, how hard would it really be for an Al-Qaeda “strike force” to enter the United States across either of our borders. I used to handle immigration matters for a former U.S. Senator, and heard countless stories of how people got into the country illegally (“I followed a hiking trail that began on the Canadian side of the border, and the trail ended on the United States side, where I called a buddy to pick me up.”). I mean, if John Q. Alien can do it…

Regardless, if Al-Qaeda operatives are given the green light to carry out terrorist strikes against the U.S., despite all the homeland security measures put in place after 9/11, these individuals will still have a cornucopia of available targets to attack.

And no where is our soft underbelly more exposed than with the schools.

While a number of schools and districts have been proactive in planning and preparing for events ranging from the armed intruder to large scale man-made and natural disasters (funding and assistance provided by the U.S. Department of Education and other entities have helped significantly), exceptions abound. And such shortcomings make a Beslan-style hostage taking event attractive to terrorists wanting to strike at the heart of America with minimum initial fuss. Consider the following from Chivers’ Beslan piece, and the extent to which the terrorists caught the Russians off-guard:

The terrorists seemed to be everywhere. Zalina saw a man in a mask sprinting with a rifle. Then another. And a third. Many students in the formation had their backs to the advancing gunmen, but one side did not, and as Zalina sat confused, those students broke and ran. The formation disintegrated. Scores of balloons floated skyward as children released them. A cultivated sense of order became bedlam…

For many other hostages, recognition came slowly. Aida Archegova thought she was in a counterterrorism drill. Beslan is roughly 950 miles south of Moscow, in a zone destabilized by the Chechen wars. Police actions were part of life. “Is it exercises?” she asked a terrorist as he bounded past.

He stopped. “What are you, a fool?” he said.

Along with a Mumbai-style terrorist attack that I discussed back on April 28, the potential for a Beslan-type incident taking place on American soil should be taken seriously by the authorities and general public. Especially as these assaults have proved to be a success for the terrorists. If each of these worked once before, wouldn’t it make sense that the bad guys would be giving serious consideration to carrying out similar operations again?

You can read C.J. Chivers riveting Beslan piece on the Esquire website here. Be advised that it’s pretty graphic.

Sources:

Chivers, C.J. The Gun. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010.

Clarke, Richard A. “Finding the Sleeper Cells.” New York Times. 14 Aug. 2005. (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/14/magazine/WLN111054.html). 25 May 2011.

Bakier, Abdul Hameed. “The “Lone Wolf” and al-Qaeda Sleeper Cells in the United States.” Terrorism Focus (The Jamestown Foundation). 15 Jan. 2008. (http://www.jamestown.org/programs/gta/single/?tx_ttnews[tt_news]=4653&tx_ttnews[backPid]=246&no_cache=1). 25 May 2011.

Chivers, C.J. “The School.” Esquire. 14 Mar. 2007. (http://www.esquire.com/features/ESQ0606BESLAN_140). 25 May 2011.

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Terrorism Coming To Chicago?

After receiving today’s marching orders at their place of employment, a number of Chicagoans are settling down at their desks this morning and reading on the Chicago Tribune website:

Some of the first information gleaned from Osama bin Laden’s compound indicates al-Qaida considered attacking U.S. trains on the upcoming anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. But counterterrorism officials say they believe the planning never got beyond the initial phase and have no recent intelligence pointing to an active plot for such an attack.

As of February 2010, the terror organization was considering plans to attack the U.S. on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. CNN reports that al-Qaida was particularly interested in striking Washington, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Sounds like Chicago’s Al-Qaeda’s kind of town, right?

Probably even more so these days as Illinois lawmakers just got finished shooting down (pun intended) a concealed-carry bill (more about that in a different post).

Think about it. The general consensus of police, military, and national intelligence is that it’s only a matter of time before the United States becomes the target of a Beslan or Mumbai-style operation, in which well-armed, well-trained terrorists massacre civilians with automatic weapons and explosives. So why would a terrorist attempt something like this in Dallas, for example, where a wall of lead would almost certainly greet them- and not initially from the cops- once they got that party started, when they can visit the Windy City and have their way with the unarmed sheep- a good number of whom already gladly waive their right of and responsibility for their self-defense to others, including a police department that has a well-publicized manpower shortage and, as some allege, serious shortcomings when it comes to effectively dealing with a terrorist attack.

It’s possible their might be some improvement on this last point with the new Chicago police superintendent, Garry McCarthy. The Chicago Tribune’s David Heinzmann and Kristen Mack wrote on May 3:

McCarthy arrived in Chicago the day after a U.S. special operations team killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaida. The incoming police superintendent has not had a chance to get a detailed assessment of Chicago’s counter-terrorism plans. Although he was only marginally involved in the creation of NYPD’s plan, McCarthy said he knows how it was created.

“It might be the model that local police agencies should pursue,” McCarthy told the Tribune. “(Chicago) should probably have a robust component for counterterrorism.”

Getting back to that AP piece talking about Al-Qaeda threats, the article also stated:

After killing the terror leader and four of his associates, Navy SEALs confiscated a treasure trove of computers, DVDs and documents from the home where U.S. officials believe the al-Qaida chief had been hiding for up to six years.

Other intelligence information gathered at the compound represented a terrorist wish list but has revealed no specific plan so far, a U.S. official said. He said documents indicated a desire to hit the U.S. with large-scale attacks in major cities and on key dates such as anniversaries and holidays. But there was no sign those plans were anything more than ambitions. The U.S. official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

In the complete article, it’s repeatedly emphasized that potential terrorist strikes never got past the planning stages. Is it just me, or do you also find this hard to believe, considering Al-Qaeda has now had almost a decade since 9/11 to whip up something nasty? I, however, defer to an actual expert (hard to find these days) on Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. Michael Scheuer, a 22-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)- where for 6 years he was in charge of the search for Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden- appeared in a Newsmax.TV interview the other day and spoke about bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. On May 3, David A. Patten from Newsmax.com pointed out that Scheuer believes it’s just a matter of time before Muslim extremists attack. Patten wrote:

A revenge attack from al-Qaida against American or Western targets is “certain.” He adds: “They will counterpunch. I’m not sure it’s going to be in the near term though. If they have something they can do that’s on the shelf, they’ll do it. Otherwise, they’ll plan and execute an operation that is of significant size.”

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

According to the former CIA officer, “significant size” could be something on the scale of 9/11- or larger. On Monday I wrote that Scheuer spoke to Leigh Sales of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation earlier that day about President Obama’s announcement of Osama bin Laden’s demise. From that discussion:

LEIGH SALES: Does Al-Qaeda have the capacity to mount anything on the scale of 9/11?

MICHAEL SCHEUER: Probably, I think we have to assume they do. The United States has done very little to protect itself here, except for airline things and our borders are completely open except for official crossing points. So it wouldn’t be hard to bring something into the United States to use as a weapon, either through the Canadian border or the Mexican border to the south. So, I think we have to operate on the assumption that the American Government has been pretty derelict in terms of border control. And so if there’s a weapon to be brought in, it’s not that hard to do.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Sources:

“Report: Chicago among U.S. cities in al-Qaida sights.” Associated Press. 6 May 2011. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chibrknews-report-chicago-among-cities-in-alqaida-sights-20110506,0,748581.story). 6 May 2011.

Heinzmann, David and Mack, Kristen. “9/11 forged Emanuel’s pick for police superintendent.” Chicago Tribune. 3 May 2011. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-05-03/news/ct-met-top-cop-20110502_1_police-superintendent-police-officer-ground-zero). 6 May 2011.

Patten, David A. “Terror Expert Scheuer: Jihad Revenge is Certain.” Newsmax.com. 3 May 2011. (http://www.newsmax.com/Headline/scheuer-al-qaida-bin/2011/05/03/id/395043). 6 May 2011.

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