Taliban attack in US imminent?
There’s apparently corroborated intelligence which says there’s a Pakistani Taliban operative within the US preparing to stage an attack similar to the Times Square plot that failed some months ago.
I would assume the newest terrorist has undergone much more intensive bomb construction training than did Faisal Shahzad.
Of course, making bombs isn’t particularly difficult nor does it take exceptional brain power or technical knowledge. Any fanatic boob can be taught how to do it.
Frankly I’ve been surprised that we haven’t suffered a number of these sorts of attacks. Perhaps it is because in the past, the terrorists have attempted to send in one of their own from Pakistan or Afghanistan. In the case of the latter, unless extensive cultural training was done prior to the insertion of such an operative, he’d be like an alien landed on a new planet. And then there are all the visa and travel difficulties to contend with.
Nope, the way you do this is how the Taliban is proceeding at the moment. Recruit citizens from the target country to do the dirty work. Like the 8 “Germans” who were just killed in Pakistan. Or, Faisal Shahzad for that matter.
That’s probably the biggest hurdle – getting someone in country who can operate without raising suspicion. They used to tell stories in South Korea about how easy it was for authorities there to identify North Korean agents – because of the culture they came from, they were just obvious. And they didn’t last long in South Korea (any number of them defecting when they got a quick taste of the “decadent” South).
I don’t believe defecting is a particular concern, but it is a pretty fair surmisal that a rural Afghan would not fit in particularly well in the US culture. So stage 2, that which is apparently underway now, is to recruit those who can move easily through the culture and society – US citizens of the Muslim faith they can radicalize.
That, of course, significantly narrows the group that authorities most likely have to concern themselves with, but it also smacks of “profiling” – a sin worse than seeing Americans blown up by a terrorist, apparently. Of course profiling has been used successfully many times in chasing down serial killers and the like, but woe be unto authorities that admit it might be useful in chasing down a terrorist.
Anyway, the other aspect of this is the availability of bomb making substances and the ease by which they can be obtained. Certainly after the OKC bombing some steps were taken to better account for the obvious substances that can be used, but in reality, so many bomb making substances are in such wide use that unless you had unlimited manpower and unlimited time to follow up every purchase of propane, fertilizer or other bomb making substances, the probability of someone gathering the right stuff in the right quantities is high. That too is certainly better accomplished by a citizen than by an alien.
Finally, there’s opportunity. The bad guys want to make a bloody statement. That means a mass casualty scenario. The opportunities for that are almost endless in a country of this size in which large crowds gather routinely for any of a number of reasons. This is where constant intelligence and analysis are necessary to constantly monitor those opportunities as they occur and narrow them down to a small group of “most likely”. Not an easy job.
If, for instance, intelligence says that the terrorist is most likely to use a device like the Times Square (failed) Bomber, then he’s going to need an outdoor venue, not an indoor one – so you cross off all the indoor venues in the time frame. Since it is likely to have to be vehicle mounted, perhaps outdoor venues where the crowds are safely away from the streets can be crossed off as well. So maybe, for that day, they narrow it down to a couple of political rallies held in parking lots, or similar scenarios.
That’s all good for that day only. Next day starts the process all over again – in addition to continually attempting to identify and find the terrorist and his network (he’s most likely going to have some in support and logistics roles as well). One needle in a multitude of haystacks.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand – if this is an effort by the Taliban, it seems ill timed given the reports of high level talks between the Taliban and Afghan government aimed at stopping the Afghan war. Perhaps they are of the opinion that a successful attack here (and the promise of more if the US doesn’t get behind the effort) might actually help their cause.
Having watched the American people react to such attacks in the past, I’m not so sure that’s a great read on how to proceed. Of course they could be aiming this at the leadership here which may be much more influenced by such an attack in the way the Taliban would prefer than the people.
Bottom line: be aware. Per the intelligence out there somewhere someone is plotting American deaths in the US. Nothing particularly new there and nothing which should stop you from doing what you want. But understand as well, that this is the world we live in, keep your eyes and ears open and have a situational awareness about you that is tuned to security. I’m not trying to scare anyone – heck you risk you life every day when you drive to work. I’m just saying that this is and will be our on going reality for years to come. May as well get used to it.