Threat Message Outlines Attack Plans
16 February 2005: Updated/Related: Fox News: Rumsfeld Warns of New Terror Strike
15 February 2005-- According to a message posted early today on an Islamic web site, Islamic terrorists are reportedly preparing a "big operation" inside the U.S. The message outlines the length of time that has passed since the attacks of September 11, 2001 and that the American people had enough of an opportunity to reassess [our] values, way of life and support of "the crimes committed by [our] Government" but have failed to do so. The next attack, according to the message, promises to be strong and eclipse the events of September 11, 2001 in terms of economic and human losses. Multiple warning messages have been issued to the target (the U.S.) that have adequately fulfilled the terrorists' obligation to warn the unbelievers and afford them - us - an opportunity to comply with their demands. These messages were delivered in the form of audio statements made by Osama bin Laden in the three-and-a-half years since 9/11.
Also in that message are threats to U.S. forces and assets in the "Arabian Peninsula" and other Muslim lands. Attacks against such targets will cause attrition of U.S. forces in Iraq. Equally significant will be attacks against the U.S. oil interests in the Persian Gulf to cripple the American economy by causing the price of oil to reach and exceed $100.00 per barrel. The message added that the success of such attacks will result in a blow to Saudi and U.S. relations.
The terrorists' message further warned of the targeting of the leaders and security officials of any country allied with the U.S. with assassinations. Such potential targets were identified as the current leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egyptian President Mubarak, and members of the Shiite sect. Ambassadors and intelligence officers are also high on the target list, according to the message.
Although the legitimacy of the message itself could not be determined, the poster has an interesting track record and appears to have at least some advance knowledge of terrorist operations based on the timing of postings. Further, the "attack plan" outlined is consistent with the general analyses of the messages from Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda second-in-command, Ayman al Zawahiri.
Report by Douglas J. Hagmann
Intel Officials Testify About Attack Threats
WASHINGTON: 16 February 2005— Al Qaeda and associated groups top the list of threats to the United States, leading government intelligence officials told Congress on Wednesday in a grim assessment that also highlighted Iran's emergence as a major threat to American interests in the Middle East.
Despite gains made against Al Qaeda and other affiliates, CIA Director Porter Goss, in an unusually blunt statement before the mostly secretive Senate Intelligence Committee, said the terror group is intent on finding ways to circumvent U.S. security enhancements to attack the homeland.
"It may be only a matter of time before Al Qaeda or other groups attempt to use chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons. We must focus on that," Goss said.
FBI Director Robert Mueller cautioned of the risk posed by radicalized Muslim converts inside the United States and said he worries about a sleeper operative who may have been in place for years, awaiting orders launch an attack.
"I remain very concerned about what we are not seeing," he said in his prepared remarks.
More than three years since the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, Goss, Mueller and other intelligence leaders provided these and other bleak assessments at the annual briefing on threats from around the globe.
Also at the hearing, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Vice Adm. Lowell Jacoby, painted Iran as a leading threat to U.S. interests in the Middle East. In his prepared testimony, Jacoby said he believes that Iran will continue its support for terrorism and aid for insurgents in Iraq.
He said the country's long-term goal is to expel the United States from the region, and noted that political reform movements there have lost momentum.
Goss said that Islamic extremists are exploiting the conflict in Iraq and fighters there represent a "potential pool of contacts" to build transnational terror groups. He said the most-wanted terrorist in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (search), hopes to establish Iraq as a safe-haven to bring about a final victory over the West.
Goss also said that the intelligence community has yet to get to the "end of the trail" of the nuclear black market run by disgraced Pakistani scientist, A.Q. Khan Goss wouldn't rule out the possibility that organizations, rather than states, could obtain nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.
He also couldn't assure senators that the United States doesn't face a threat from nuclear weapons that may be missing from Russia.
In the past year, the intelligence community has been faced with a series of negative reports, including the work of the Sept. 11 commission and the Senate Intelligence Committee's inquiry on the flawed Iraq intelligence.
And next month, President Bush's commission to investigate the intelligence community's capabilities on weapons of mass destruction is also expected to submit its findings.
Given the after-the-fact investigations into the Iraq intelligence, Senate Intelligence Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, said his panel will become more proactive in how it reviews the intelligence community's strengths and weaknesses, already focusing on nuclear terrorism and Iran.