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Monday, June 14, 2004

Crystal Balls 

From an interview with Richard Clarke in today's Independent (link via Suburban Guerilla):
Apart from the missed opportunities he highlights, what might be of potentially greater concern is Mr Clarke's belief that al-Qa'ida could easily attack again, and America and Britain remain exceedingly vulnerable. Another attack is not inevitable ("I think almost nothing is inevitable," he said) but possible.

He added: "I think it is harder but I can think of ways of them doing it and I'm sure they can imagine ways of doing it. It's entirely possible there will be another major attack." A dirty bomb, he believes, is probably in the "too hard" category. It is more likely terrorists would use suicide-bombs to attack softer targets, such as casinos or shopping malls. "Those are the two scenarios I use all the time when discussing it," he said. "If you do eight guys in eight shopping malls you have an enormous effect on the economy ... so much of the US economy is tied up with retail sales.

"If you did four casinos with four guys you could destroy the economy of Las Vegas. There are lots of low-end ways of doing things. And the reason they have not done some of the low-end threats, I think, is because they set the barrier for themselves very high with the 9-11 attacks. They may want another major attack; they may feel that if they do less than a major attack [they] will look like a lesser force" . . . .

The whistleblower highlights three ways in which the invasion of Iraq diverted resources from the real "war on terror". Money is not available for the Department of Homeland Security to protect potential targets such as trains and chemical plants adequately, funds are not available to help countries such as Pakistan and Yemen, which could do more to counter terrorism.

Finally, the war was a great propaganda coup for the jihadist movement. "It probably greatly increased its recruitment," he said. "There was a period of time as well ... where resources in the hunt for Bin Laden were pulled away, satellite resources, special forces, Predator [drones] were sent to Iraq, rather than sent to Afghanistan. That has been somewhat rectified but not entirely. If Bin Laden had written the scenario it would have been identical to what happened."
From today's AP wire:
A Somali man has been charged with plotting to bomb an Ohio shopping mall, the type of vulnerable target in the nation's heartland that U.S. officials have warned that terrorists want to strike.

The four-count grand jury indictment unsealed Monday in Columbus, Ohio, alleges Nuradin Abdi conspired with Iyman Faris, a convicted al-Qaeda operative who sought to sabotage the Brooklyn Bridge, and others to detonate explosives at an unidentified mall in the Columbus area.

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