Yemen

Complacency Over Next Terror Attack By Muslim Extremists

FBI, CIA, NSA all say no 9/11 terror threat

The directors of the FBI, CIA and the National Security Agency said Thursday they have seen no specific or credible threat to the American homeland in connection with the 14th anniversary of 9/11 — despite a surge of digital and audio propaganda circulated in recent days from both al Qaeda and its growing rival on the global jihadi stage, the Islamic State…”

The Washington Times, September 10, 2015

On the eve of the 14th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, Al-Qaeda terror attacks, I detect an abundance of complacency in the U.S. concerning the next attack by Muslim extremists. For example:

Since September 11, Threat of Terrorism Has Morphed

Bin Laden’s distant dream of a caliphate in lands cleared of Western influence is being reshaped by the Islamic State, which exercises terror very differently, with less interest in attacking the ‘far enemy’ of the West than in creating a Salafist revolutionary regime…”

-Steven Erlanger, The New York Times, September 10, 2015

Does 9/11 really still have to be a ‘national emergency’?

As memorable and as meaningful as the 9/11 attacks were, they were also 14 years ago… virtually all the al-Qaeda leadership who planned the 9/11 attacks are dead or in custody, and while the long convoluted plotline of post 9/11 war and conflict has created an ongoing mess in the Middle East, any lingering threat to what was billed ‘the homeland’ — and the vigilance needed to stop it — is in a much, much better place than it was in 2001…

So what good comes of declaring a ‘national emergency,’ year after year?”

-Will Bunch, The Philadelphia Inquirer website, September 10, 2015

This is the wrong time to cut the city’s anti-terror funding

Alarmingly, funding is slowly decreasing for New York City under the ‘Securing the Cities’ program, which helps first responders detect nuclear materials and prevent attacks. The initiative deploys radiation-detection capabilities to the region’s law-enforcement agencies to identify illicit radiological materials that could be used for an attack.

This type of work requires sophisticated equipment and constant training — both of which are expensive but plainly worth the cost. Yet the Obama administration has proposed repeated cuts to the program, this year requesting only $10 million compared to historic levels of nearly double that amount…”

-U.S. Representative Dan Donovan (NY-11th), New York Post, September 10, 2015

Consider what Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City at the time of the 9/11 terror attacks, wrote on The Wall Street Journal website Thursday:

It would be a mistake, however, to conclude that 9/11 is now simply a part of the nation’s history, like Pearl Harbor. Because there is one big difference. The causes and hatreds that created 9/11 are still with us, and the terrorists have enlisted members who are even more diverse, cunning and determined. The Islamist terrorist war against us continues. This is not a matter of history but of current and future threats…

Now, once again, the terrorist attacks under the banner of jihad are increasing and diversifying. With so many such attacks and thwarted attacks over the past five or six years, we must recognize that “they”—those who want to destroy civilization—are continuing the war against us.

Yet those running our government seem to be in an even greater state of denial than the nation was in during the period before Sept. 11. Now, instead of bin Laden, Iran’s supreme ayatollah has declared that he wants to destroy Israel, to continue to kill Americans and to establish an Islamic empire including Iraq, Syria and Yemen—and the terrorist groups Iran supports. At the same time, the group known as Islamic State, or ISIS, has declared a caliphate seeking the destruction of Christianity and other infidels, and now occupies key areas of Iraq and Syria.

As we reflect on the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, we must remind ourselves that all the wickedness underlying those attacks still exists and has expanded. We may very well be in more jeopardy now than before 9/11. Attacks such as those at Fort Hood, the Boston Marathon and similar incidents in Europe and around the world reveal that many enemies, not just one, are united in purpose: the destruction of our way of life. Each of these attacks may be more limited than the coordinated terrorist assault on Sept. 11, but they are frequent and hard to anticipate, causing widespread fear, the ultimate goal of terrorism.

We must acknowledge this war being waged against us, increase the military’s capacity to deal with it and, most important, train police to recognize the precursors of terrorist acts. U.S. military and intelligence capacity must not be drastically cut as proposed by this administration. It should be quantitatively increased and strategically improved…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Just as I’m convinced a financial crash is coming to our shores, I’m sure another terror attack will be perpetrated by Muslim extremists.

Concerning both, it’s just a matter of “when.”

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

Sources:

Taylor, Guy. “FBI, CIA, NSA all say no 9/11 terror threat.” The Washington Times. 10 Sep. 2015. (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/sep/10/fbi-cia-nsa-all-say-no-911-terror-threat/). 10 Sep. 2015.

Erlanger, Steven. “Since September 11, Threat of Terrorism Has Morphed.” The New York Times. 10 Sep. 2015. (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/11/world/europe/9-11-anniversary-terrorism-europe.html?_r=1). 10 Sep. 2015.

Bunch, Will. “Does 9/11 really still have to be a ‘national emergency’?” The Philadelphia Inquirer. 10 Sep. 2015. (http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/attytood/Does-911-really-still-have-to-be-a-national-emergency.html). 10 Sep. 2015.

Donovan, Dan. “This is the wrong time to cut the city’s anti-terror funding.” New York Post. 10 Sep. 2015. (http://nypost.com/2015/09/10/this-is-the-wrong-time-to-cut-the-citys-anti-terror-funding/). 10 Sep. 2015.

Giuliani, Rudolph W. “The Islamist Menace Shadowing This Sept. 11.” The Wall Street Journal. 10 Sep. 2015. (http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-islamist-menace-shadowing-this-sept-11-1441929416). 10 Sep. 2015.

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Thursday, September 10th, 2015 Europe, Government, Middle East, Military, Preparedness, Public Safety, Religion, Terrorism, War Comments Off on Complacency Over Next Terror Attack By Muslim Extremists

Increased Screening Of U.S.-Bound Airline Passengers Over Terrorism Fear

I understand U.S.-bound airline passengers from some airports in Europe and the Middle East will now be subject to tougher security screening. From U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson in a press release posted today on the DHS website:

DHS continually assesses the global threat environment and reevaluates the measures we take to promote aviation security. As part of this ongoing process, I have directed TSA to implement enhanced security measures in the coming days at certain overseas airports with direct flights to the United States. We will work to ensure these necessary steps pose as few disruptions to travelers as possible…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

So what’s the reason for the additional screening at overseas airports? Mike Levine and Pierre Thomas reported on the ABC News website this morning:

Earlier this year, U.S. officials learned that associates of the al Qaeda affiliate in Syria – the Al Nusrah Front – and radicals from other groups were teaming up with elements of the Yemen-based group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which built such innovative devices as the “underwear bomb” that ultimately failed to detonate in a plane over Detroit Christmas Day 2009.

Bolstered by more recent intelligence, U.S. analysts believe the “subset” of extreme terrorists in Syria could be looking to down a U.S.- or European-bound plane, with help from one of the thousands of Americans and other foreign fighters carrying U.S. and European passports who have joined Al Nusrah Front and other groups in the region.

While intelligence obtained by the U.S. government has not indicated a specific target or a specific timeline, one source called the threat “different and more disturbing than past aviation plots.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Back on December 2, 2013, I blogged that American and European Union passport-holding jihadists fighting in Syria were being scrutinized by the federal government as potential terrorists.

You can read that entire press release on the DHS website here.

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

Source:

Levine, Mike and Thomas, Pierre. “Airport Security Directives Likely Amid Syria Bomb Threat.” ABC News. 2 July 2014. (http://abcnews.go.com/International/airport-security-directives-stem-syria-bomb-threat/story?id=24391883). 2 July 2014.

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Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014 Europe, Government, Middle East, Religion, Terrorism, Travel, War Comments Off on Increased Screening Of U.S.-Bound Airline Passengers Over Terrorism Fear

Al-Qaeda Poised To Strike U.S.?

“Thanks to the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform, the war in Iraq is over. The war in Afghanistan is winding down. Al-Qaeda has been decimated…”

-U.S. President Barack Obama, while campaigning in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on November 1, 2012

Not only is Al-Qaeda alive and well according to some former Pentagon officials and counter-terrorism analysts who just appeared before Congress, but there’s even chatter of the Muslim extremists possibly striking the “homeland” not too far off in the distance. Barbara Starr, CNN’s Pentagon Correspondent, reported on the TV news station’s website Wednesday:

A series of al Qaeda-based threats to attack American and Western targets in Europe, as well as threats to launch attacks inside the United States, has caused significant concern inside the U.S. intelligence community, CNN has learned…

U.S. officials as well as analysts have long said they believe al Qaeda is focused on attacking outside the United States because of the difficulty in penetrating U.S. homeland security. But these latest threat streams suggest domestic U.S. targets also continue to be looked at by al Qaeda.

Worry No. 1: Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

One of the biggest concerns right now remains efforts by Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to attack inside Yemen, in Europe and inside the United States

While it’s believed AQAP is mainly focused on targeting inside of Yemen, officials say an attempt to attack inside the United States or to recruit others to carry out such an attack cannot be ruled out.

Worry No. 2: Core group in Pakistan

Separately, still another official confirms to CNN that the core al Qaeda group in Pakistan is also seeking to place operatives in places to attack U.S. targets overseas and domestically

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

On the topic of “core” Al-Qaeda, Rob Crilly reported on the website of The Telegraph (UK) Wednesday:

Al-Qaeda is not a spent force in Afghanistan and is using a shadow army to hide its true strength, according to testimony presented by former Pentagon officials and counter-terrorism analysts to a US Congressional committee.

Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, said Osama bin Laden’s heirs had successfully hidden their strength as they spread their influence throughout the Middle East.

As a result, Afghanistan risks becoming a terrorist haven once again when Nato-led combat troops leave the country this year.

His evidence contradicts repeated claims that the movement had been “decimated” – particularly in Afghanistan – and Barack Obama’s public assessment earlier this year that its current leaders were junior varsity basketball players dressed up as superstars of the NBA after replacing senior commanders killed in drone strikes or other actions.

“Part of the reason these assessments have been flawed is that al-Qaeda has a ‘deep bench’ to draw from, both from within its own organisation and allied groups,” said Mr Joscelyn, pointing out the secrecy of the movement’s structure and personnel.

“Al-Qaeda is constantly in the process of recruiting new talent as well.”

Other witnesses gave similar evidence to the House of Representatives subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade on Tuesday.

David Sedney, former deputy assistant defence secretary, said focusing on the core al-Qaeda leadership missed the bigger strategic picture, which showed the group as decentralised.

“My view is that al-Qaeda, despite our tactical counter-terrorism successes, continues to be a major strategic threat to the United States and its allies,” he said. “Tomorrow, al-Qaeda will be an even greater threat because of its ongoing evolutions.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

One of these days, I’m convinced Al-Qaeda, an affiliate, or sympathizer(s) is going to launch another attack inside the United States.

It would be a real shame if the U.S. counter-terrorism apparatus underestimates the threat posed by present-day Al-Qaeda.

To think of this jihadist movement as “decimated” may be committing a huge strategic blunder that could come back to haunt America down the road.

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

Sources:

Starr, Barbara. “Stream of al Qaeda threats has U.S. intelligence concerned.” CNN.com. 21 May 2014. (http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/20/us/al-qaeda-threats-intelligence/). 23 May 2014.

Crilly, Rob. “Al-Qaeda ‘not defeated’ in Afghanistan.” The Telegraph. 21 May 2014. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/al-qaeda/10846151/Al-Qaeda-not-defeated-in-Afghanistan.html). 23 May 2014.

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Friday, May 23rd, 2014 Europe, Foreign Policy, Government, Middle East, Public Safety, Religion, Terrorism, War Comments Off on Al-Qaeda Poised To Strike U.S.?

FBI Director: ‘Risk Of That Spectacular Attack In The Homeland Is Significantly Lower’ Than Before 9/11

I heard that FBI Director James B. Comey was on Capitol Hill yesterday speaking before Congress. I was curious to find out what he had to say about potential terrorist threats out there. Timothy M. Phelps reported on the Los Angeles Times website yesterday:

The terrorist threat to Americans is greater overseas than at home and is significantly lower than before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, continuing a years-long trend, U.S. officials told a Senate committee Thursday…

“Because we took the fight to the enemy and got our act together in the last 12 years in very, very important ways, the risk of that spectacular attack in the homeland is significantly lower than it was before 9/11,” Comey told the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Randy Beers shared Director Comey’s assessment and was quoted by the Times as saying:

The dispersion of the Al Qaeda brand in North Africa, in Yemen, in Somalia and in other places- and as it is appearing to manifest in Syria now- means that the kinds of activities that will be undertaken are likely to be undertaken overseas, rather than directed against the homeland.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

While what Comey and Beers said makes sense concerning terrorist activities are more likely to be directed at American interests overseas, I can’t help but think this is only for the time being. From what I’ve taken away from Middle East terror experts, it’s just a whole lot easier for the bad guys to stay local and fight Americans in Afghanistan, for example, than attempting to infiltrate the U.S. homeland and pull something big off there. And according to the Associated Press on November 3:

Washington is expected to keep about 10,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014, provided the security agreement is signed and includes immunity from prosecution by Afghan courts.

So this scenario might continue on for a while.

Still, it must remembered that Al-Qaeda’s stated objective still remains the following (as noted by the Director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Graham T. Allison, in a Council on Foreign Relations debate back on April 20, 2007):

Al-Qaeda spokesman Suleiman Abu Gheith has stated al-Qaeda’s objective: “to kill 4 million Americans—2 million of them children—and to exile twice as many and wound and cripple hundreds of thousands.”

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Which, if you think about, really leaves Al-Qaeda no choice but to attack the U.S. ‘homeland” sooner or later in order to achieve such numbers, provided they have the capability of doing so of course.

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

Sources:

Phelps, Timothy M. “Officials say terrorist threat on U.S. soil is declining.” Los Angeles Times. 14 Nov. 2013. (http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-us-terrorist-threat-declines-20131114,0,2603061.story#axzz2kj9HI8Ps). 15 Nov. 2013.

“American, NATO officials offer mixed reports on readiness of Afghan troops ahead of withdrawal.” Associated Press. 3 Nov. 2013. (http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/11/03/american-nato-officials-offer-mixed-reports-on-readiness-afghan-troops-ahead/). 15 Nov. 2013.

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Friday, November 15th, 2013 Africa, Foreign Policy, Middle East, Military, Public Safety, Religion, Terrorism, War Comments Off on FBI Director: ‘Risk Of That Spectacular Attack In The Homeland Is Significantly Lower’ Than Before 9/11

Terror Threat From ‘Decimated’ Al-Qaeda Forces U.S. Embassies, Consulates To Close

Just like gold was supposed to be crushed by now, I thought President Obama had assured America that Al-Qaeda was “on the path of defeat”:


“Obama Brags ‘Al-Qaeda Is Defeated’ on Same Day US Death Toll Reaches 2,000 Deaths”
YouTube Video

And finally “decimated.”


“Obama: ‘Al Qaeda Has Been Decimated’”
YouTube Video

Regular readers of this blog know I never bought into this.

In fact, I just got done talking about the terrorist organizations resurgence as recent as last week.

From my old pals over at the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the U.S. Department of State comes this “Travel Alert” today:

The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, and possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula. Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August. This Travel Alert expires on August 31, 2013.

Terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests. U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Terrorists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services. U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling.

We continue to work closely with other nations on the threat from international terrorism, including from al-Qa’ida. Information is routinely shared between the U.S. and our key partners in order to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen our defenses against potential threats…

As a result, the State Department plans on shutting down a number of embassies and consulates in the threatened region starting this Sunday, August 4. Tom Cohen, Chris Lawrence, and Barbara Starr reported this afternoon on the CNN website:

A global travel alert issued Friday by the State Department said al Qaeda may launch attacks in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond in coming weeks, and the U.S. government prepared to close embassies and consulates in the region Sunday as a precaution…

U.S. officials who spoke to CNN on condition of not being identified said intelligence agencies have been tracking a growing threat against American and Western targets by al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen for a few weeks… prompting the Obama administration to issue a public warning and plan to close diplomatic facilities in the region Sunday.

You can read the entire alert on the State Department’s website here.

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

Source:

Cohen, Tom, Lawrence, Chris, and Starr, Barbara. “U.S. issues global travel alert, to close embassies due to al Qaeda threat.” CNN. 2 Aug. 2013. (http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/02/politics/us-embassies-close/index.html). 2 Aug. 2013.

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Friday, August 2nd, 2013 Africa, Foreign Policy, Government, Middle East, Public Safety, Religion, Terrorism, War Comments Off on Terror Threat From ‘Decimated’ Al-Qaeda Forces U.S. Embassies, Consulates To Close

British Intelligence: Al-Qaeda Plotting To Blow Up U.S. Passenger Jet

Has an Al-Qaeda-trained terrorist of Norwegian descent finally received his marching orders? From the Daily Mail (UK) website yesterday:

A terrorist plot to blow up a U.S. passenger jet timed to coincide with the Olympics has been uncovered by security agencies, according to intelligence sources.

Al Qaeda intended to use a radicalised Norwegian Islamic convert to attack U.S. planes in the build-up to the London Games – which start in 26 days on July 27 – it is understood.

The plan centred on using the so-called ‘clean skin’ – a terrorist with no previous criminal record and are unlikely to raise suspicions among the security services – in order to evade airport security…

It is believed the suspect tasked with the attack uses the Islamic name Muslim Abu Abdurrahman, had converted to Islam in 2008, and was recruited in a terrorist training camp in Yemen, sources told the Sunday Times.

According to the Daily Mail piece, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular (AQAP), based in Yemen, is thought to be behind this plot. As far as I know, there’s no comment yet from U.S. officials regarding the plan. However, CBS News picked up the story this morning, and from their website:

CBS News senior correspondent John Miller, a former Deputy Director of National Intelligence, said that despite foiled bomb plots targeting airliners, al Qaeda has not lost its fascination with commercial aviation – and that AQAP (al Qaeda’s branch based in Yemen) has been specifically assigned to find a way to blow up a U.S. plane.

“They were the architects of the first underwear bomb, they were the architects of the ingenious printer bomb which was interdicted before it could go off,” Miller said. “And I think what we’re seeing once again is they’ve tried to put a bomb on a person and get them on a plane. Whether it has anything to do with the Olympics or the Fourth of July – one of the chosen target holidays by bin Laden – is something we don’t yet know.


“Norwegian At Center Of New Al Qaeda Plot Fears”
CBS News Video

Sources:

“Al Qaeda ‘plot to blow up passenger jet’ in run up to Olympics uncovered by security forces.” Daily Mail. 1 July 2012. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2167166/Al-Qaeda-plot-blow-passenger-jet-run-Olympics-discovered-security-forces.html). 2 July 2012.

“Norwegian at center of new al Qaeda plot fears.” CBS News. 2 July 2012. (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505263_162-57464755/norwegian-at-center-of-new-al-qaeda-plot-fears/). 2 July 2012.

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Monday, July 2nd, 2012 Middle East, Terrorism, Transportation, Travel Comments Off on British Intelligence: Al-Qaeda Plotting To Blow Up U.S. Passenger Jet

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

More Doubts Arise Over Al-Qaeda Near-Defeat

Yesterday, I talked about how U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said during his first visit to Afghanistan this past weekend that, “We’re within reach of strategically defeating al-Qaida.” While I’d really like to believe that, the following two stories leave me questioning that claim even more so than before. From FOX News’ Catherine Herridge yesterday:

Fox News has obtained a draft copy of a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that concludes, a decade after 9/11, gaping holes remain in databases of overseas terrorists as well as in passport security.

“The system truly is as strong only as its weakest link,” Maine Sen. Susan Collins, the senior Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, told Fox News after reviewing the report.

“We have spent literally billions of dollars to increase security, to make sure our watch lists are more complete, to verify documents, but in fact we have to rely to a certain extent on the systems used by other countries.”

And the systems of these other nations suck in many cases. Herridge added:

Collins told Fox that the issue has taken on more importance because the threat from Al Qaeda’s affiliates in Somalia and Yemen is growing.

The Yemeni affiliate, which includes the American Cleric Anwar al-Awlaki among its leadership, was behind the last two major attempts on the U.S. using airplanes. It was also behind the recent threat intelligence that the group was trying to recruit a surgeon to surgically embed explosive devices in suicide bombers. The threat was not described, by U.S. officials, as imminent, but the intelligence was described as credible and another sign the Yemeni affiliate was thinking out of the box.

“What this latest intelligence tells us about surgically implanting explosives is that Al Qaeda and its affiliates will continue to explore all possibilities to defeat the security that we have in place now,” Collins explained. “And that is why the gaps that the GAO found are so troubling because inevitably there is going to be yet another attempt and the terrorists eventually are going to get through. We’ve got to do everything we can to put in place barriers to terrorists traveling to this country.”

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Al-Qaeda has also been busy operating within the borders of one of our Middle Eastern allies. From ABC News’ Lee Ferran today:

An al Qaeda plot to attack the U.S. embassy in Turkey was thwarted today when 15 suspected terrorists were arrested by Turkish authorities, the country’s state news agency reported.

The Anatolia news agency, citing official sources, said in its report that anti-terror operations in three cities resulted in the arrest of the 15 individuals as well as the discovery of about 700 kilograms (1,550 pounds) of chemicals which could be used in explosives and two automatic rifles. Police said the weapons were to be used in attacks on multiple locations, including the U.S. embassy in Ankara, Anatolia reported…

Though al Qaeda does not have as high of a profile in Turkey as in Somalia or Yemen, it has a well-established presence there. Last year Turkish authorities rounded up 120 suspected al Qaeda members, according to a report by the BBC. Just last month, another 10 suspected al Qaeda militants were reportedly arrested in a southern Turkish town.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

A senior member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee warning of a growing threat from Al-Qaeda affiliates in Somalia and Yemen. An Al-Qaeda plot to attack the American embassy in Turkey foiled just in time. Sounds like someone isn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet.

Sources:

Herridge, Catherine. “Report Shows Gaping Holes in Intelligence on Overseas Terrorists.” FOX News. 12 July 2011. (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/07/12/report-shows-gaping-holes-in-intel-on-overseas-terrorists/). 13 July 2011.

Ferran, Lee. “Turkey: Al Qaeda Planned Attack on U.S. Embassy.” ABC News. 13 July 2011. (http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/turkey-al-qaeda-planned-attack-us-embassy/story?id=14064244). 13 July 2011.

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Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 Middle East, Public Safety, Terrorism, War Comments Off on More Doubts Arise Over Al-Qaeda Near-Defeat

Quote For The Week

We wrote a trend alert when the bailout bubble burst that the next thing they’ll do after they run out of games is take us to war. That’s where we’re headed. The first great war of the 21st century has begun…

Watch the language. Obama says we’re on a humanitarian mission- people don’t have water or electricity. War is a racket. This is a perfect example of an empire in decline: Fighting losing wars, becoming entangled in foreign affairs, at a time we are over our heads in debt. They’ve become emboldened by their failures.

Take a country like Yemen- a wonderful U.S. ally. Read that, ‘You can be as brutal as you want.’ On the same day 20 died in Libya, there was a story on an inside page of the New York Times that 50 were slaughtered in Yemen. And what’s going on in Bahrain? We have our Fifth Fleet there. How about this one: The slaughter that is going on as we speak in the Ivory Coast. But we don’t have a strategic interest there. They just export cocoa beans. They don’t sit on a major supply of the sweetest, lightest crude oil in the world. Do you think we would be in Iraq if their major export was broccoli?

-Gerald Celente, the founder and director of The Trends Research Institute who correctly-called the financial crisis, at the University of Charleston in West Virginia back on March 22

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Survival And Prosperity
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  • Degussa Singapore Launches YouTube Channel
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    The list of private, non-bank vaults outside the United States (offering safe deposit boxes/lockers at a minimum) located on this blog’s sister site- Offshore Private Vaults- was recently updated. Safe deposit facilities now open for business have been added under the following countries: -Hong Kong (Royal England Safe Deposit Box Ltd.) -Thailand (Magna Carta Law […]
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    Degussa, a leading international player in the precious metals world which also offers safe deposit boxes (for customers) at branches in Germany, Singapore, Spain, and Switzerland, has just posted information about their next Numis Day (first blogged about here) at their Geneva and Zurich showrooms. From their website: The Next Numis Day We appreciate and […]