Thursday, September 11, 2008

On This Day, 9-11, We Still Aren't Fighting the GWOT Properly

Terror Expert: WMD Attack on U.S. Inevitable

A major terrorist attack on the United States, probably featuring a weapon of mass destruction, is inevitable during the next four to five years, says Marvin J. Cetron, the futurist who predicted 9/11 with alarming insight.

During an exclusive interview with Newsmax, Cetron said the attack could come in as little as two and a half to three years.
Cetron, who startled and embarrassed the intelligence community with his study “Terror 2000,” has let the genie out of the bottle again with his latest report, “55 Trends Now Shaping the Future of Terrorism.”

When Newsmax asked how the expert and founder of Forecasting International Inc. (FI) can be so sure of the impending disasters, he said he needed to guard his classified sources.

“Let me put it this way: We have so many good sources of signals intelligence and human intelligence that lets us know what doesn’t show up in the press,” he said.

FI, which produced “55 Trends” has conducted an ongoing study of the forces changing our world for almost half a century in support of clients ranging from General Motors to the YMCA, and from the Central Intelligence Agency to the White House.

“Terror 2000,” another FI project that was done for the Department of Defense in 1994, warned that terrorists were planning to use commercial aircraft as guided bombs to strike against a major landmark in the New York City area. It also warned that terrorists could hijack a commercial airliner, fly it down the Potomac, and crash it into the Pentagon.

Tragically, the report was filed and forgotten.

Cetron hopes this will not be the case with “55 Trends,” a 252-page treatise that is very short on any good news and includes the disturbing conclusion that worldwide terror networks are stronger today than at the time of 9/11. It also contends that the cells are not taking orders but are free to attack when, where, and how they want.

“We’re not talking about al-Qaida running these operations,” Cetron says. “We’re talking about cells and they are self-invigorated, if you will. They run on their own. The second thing that’s a real problem in this is that they don’t take orders. They do what they think is going to be good in their own local sphere.”

Cetron is not talking only about cells overseas.

The Terrorists Are Already Here

He estimates that there are “a dozen or more cells in the United States and they don’t get orders from overseas. They just know what to do. They get what they need.”

Lurking in the homeland are small groups of less than five and some between five and 20, Cetron tells Newsmax.

“They get their funding from drug funds, they get it from money laundering, they get it from kidnapping, I can throw a whole list, but those people can give us a lot of grief,” he says.

“There are two different groups – those that cost less than a quarter of a million to attack a target and then those that cost more than a quarter of a million. So you have to break them into separate areas and see what they are capable of doing and that’s what you got to take a look at.”

Cetron provides some detail about these ready-to-pounce cells: “They want to make two or three or four or five operations all at the same time and shoot up a whole bunch of strip malls.

They will have already planted – about 50 yards back from those malls – bombs inside cars, so when the police set up their area that they want to cordon, they will blow up the police and the people watching to see what is going on.”

As to where such zealots are coming from, Cetron notes, “Only 7 percent of the Muslim population agreed with what al-Qaida is doing, but if you take a look at 7 percent of 1.1 billion people, you are talking about over 1 million people running around here. That’s a hell of a lot of people who will be sympathizers.”

A multiple mall attack, however, could just be a warm-up, says Cetron, whose new report takes a hard look at WMD scenarios.

“But the biggest thing is that they could be using weapons of mass destruction. For instance, if anybody got into a printer where they print dollars or Euros, and they put pathogens on there, we could end up with literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, getting ill from that – and you wouldn’t even know where the hell where it came from.”

Another likely scenario, Citron says, is cyber war. “The Russians just used that in Georgia. You can literally turn off the electronics. Airplanes in the air wouldn’t be able to fly, you wouldn’t be able to communicate, you can turn off alarm systems. … They are actively looking to get into our systems…”

The Issue of Terrorists and Nukes

Cetron’s band of experts in “55 Trends” concludes that, if Muslim extremists cannot lay hands on a stolen weapon from the former Soviet Union, they soon may be able to obtain them from Islamabad. Tehran remains a more distant possibility.

This is not a guarantee that terrorists will use nuclear weapons against the United States or other potential targets, Citron’s latest report notes. The fabled “suitcase nuke” may be a terrorist’s dream weapon, but it is technology that no one who would share is likely to possess.

Instead, al-Qaida or some future equivalent will receive bulky, low-yield devices that will be much harder to smuggle to their target. They may well try anyway, but it will be some time before this becomes an immediate possibility. During that interval our detection and intercept capability should improve significantly.

Other WMDs will be much more practical, the report says. If mushroom clouds do not appear over Manhattan or Washington, clouds of toxic gas or weaponized bacteria easily could.

As Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese cult that released sarin gas in the Tokyo subways in 1995, demonstrated, chemical weapons are available to essentially anyone who wants them enough to put in a modest effort to make them.

Biological weapons suitable for military use take considerably more effort to prepare, but there are practical purposes for which all-out weaponization is not required. And even if radiological dirty bombs are not traditionally considered WMDs, they could be equally disruptive if employed with skill in a major city, the report says.

The distinguished panel of experts and consultants behind “55 Trends” makes some grim predictions:

- International terrorism will grow as veterans of the Iraq War return to their native lands, train sympathizers in the tactics of terror, and spread across the world.

- Among the Western lands, Britain and France (owing to their large Muslim populations) and the United States will be at the greatest risk of attack, in that order. Further attacks on the scale of 9/11 are to be expected in all three countries over the range of five to ten years.

- These attacks will combine mass bloodshed and economic impact. Now that the World Trade Center is gone, Grand Central Station at rush hour would be an obvious target for Manhattan. Coordinated attacks on shopping malls, tourist attractions, casinos, schools, churches and synagogues, and sports events also are possible.

For those who still minimize the risk of attacks, Cetron notes that the proof is in the pudding:

Many foiled attempts have never reached the public domain because of concerns that intelligence sources will be compromised.

“We’ve stopped a lot of attacks,” Citron tells Newsmax. “This is all classified, but the truth is that they have stopped a lot of stuff because we’ve gotten hold of computers. We’ve had a lot of people on the ground with human intelligence.

“If you want to put it properly, we’ve been damn lucky.”

Citron fears that Britain and France are in a worse position than the U.S. and it all has to do with demographics.

“By 2025 they are going to have more Muslims than non-Muslims,” he says. “That’s a problem. In Britain they have to take people from all of the old Commonwealth countries. And it’s not those people who come in the first generation. It’s the second one, the brighter ones that can pass as being Brits or Europeans or French that are going to give us grief.”

For anyone who thinks that the startling conclusions of “55 Trends” are the brainchild of one overly paranoid think-tanker, Cetron sets them straight.

“We had some 170 of the best people in the United States – not only the United States but all over the world,” he says.

It was a case of taking the talents of futurists and combining that with the raw knowledge of folks out in the field.

“We sent it out to all of these people all over the world and said look here is what we think is going to happen in the future, now you tell us where we’re wrong, and where we’re right,” Cetron says.

“We even had a bunch of flight officers and senior colonels and commanders in the Navy, etc., who sent us back information and said don’t use my name but let me tell you what’s really going on – and we used all of that information.”

Disturbing Trends

If talking to Citron is an eye-opener, reading the great detail of the “55 Trends” report may be even more so. At every other page is the grim news that we may be traveling backward rather than forward in our war on terror.

Case in point: In deposing the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and depriving al-Qaida of a safe haven there, the United States struck a major blow against the terrorist movement as it existed five years ago. Yet by failing to follow up on that success effectively, the report concludes, we have squandered much of the benefit that should have been gained from that first step in the counterterrorist war.

The Iraq War has supplied al-Qaida and its sympathizers with a cause around which to rally their existing forces and recruit new ones, the report says. As a result, the terrorist movement is now growing stronger, the report reveals.

Up to 30,000 foreign fighters are believed to have gravitated toward Iraq, where they are now gaining contacts and experience that will serve them well in future campaigns against the U.S. and its allies.

In this, Iraq is now serving the function that Afghanistan provided in the 1980s. The war in Iraq is building a skilled and disciplined terrorist cadre that will fan out across the world.

Saudi Arabia even has been forced to build a major program aimed at keeping young men from going to Iraq. The Wahhid, the dominant Muslim sect in that country, is teaching that joining the jihad is the Muslim man’s second-greatest duty, after going to Mecca. They must fight in Iraq, then come back and be available to fight for fundamentalist Islam in Saudi Arabia.

Thus are terrorist cells built, independent of al-Qaida but firmly committed to its goals and methods.

... do ya think McCain/Palin have a clue? How 'bout Obama/Biden? No ... I don't think so ... - Tiger

The Observer

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