American Hiroshima Revisited

Sean Osborne, Associate Director, Senior Analyst, Military Affairs“Nuclear warfare is the solution for destroying America” -Abu Shihab al-Kandahari

23 April 2006: It was just nine short months ago when I created and posted on these pages a fact-based, fictional supposition on the theme of an “American Hiroshima”. In that article my supposition was based upon terrorist utilization of a small, privately-owned Cessna 152 aircraft and its tactical nuclear payload. The aircraft would depart from a small rural airport, buzz along at tree top height to ensure metropolitan air traffic control would miss the radar signature due to its merging with ground clutter in the returning radar signal. In the last minutes of the terrorist flight a pop-up maneuver would place the aircraft a couple thousand feet over Manhattan – virtually recreating the specifics of the US attack on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6th, 1945 insomuch as the size of the warhead required and the detonation altitude are concerned.

I believed my supposition was as plausible then as I do today.

Enter, once again, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to remind us of this specific threat to the American Homeland.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), part of the Department of Homeland Security, released on Friday, 20 April 2005, the following advisory. I view this advisory as a specific measure in a most welcomed pro-active attempt at preemption of the type of scenario I created as a work of fiction.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security
601 South 12th Street
Arlington, VA 22202

Advisory – Security Information for Aircraft Owners/Operators & Airport Managers

April 20, 2006

On April 13, 2006, a message posted in Arabic on a web forum explained how to identify private American jets and urged Muslims to destroy all such aircraft:

“Destroy private American aircraft…We call upon all Muslims to follow and identify private civilian American aircrafts in all airports of the world…It is the duty of Muslims to destroy all types of private American aircrafts that are of the types Gulf Stream and Lear Jet and all small jet aircraft usually used by distinguished (people) and businessmen.”

The message also advised readers how to identify American aircraft and provided the tail number of a private aircraft allegedly used by the CIA.

TSA reminds general aviation aircraft and airport owners and operators to review the security measures contained in the TSA Information Publication, Security Guidelines for General Aviation Airports (available at
http://www.tsa.gov/public/interapp/editorial/editorial_1113.xml), and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s Airport Watch Program materials (available at www.aopa.org/airportwatch). In addition, general aviation aircraft and airport owners and operators are encouraged to consider the following:

•Secure unattended aircraft to prevent unauthorized use.
•Verify the identification of crew and passengers prior to departure.
•Verify that baggage and cargo are known to the persons on board.
•Where identification systems are in place, encourage employees to wear proper identification and challenge persons not wearing proper identification.
•Direct increased vigilance to unknown pilots and/or clients for aircraft rental or charters – as well as unknown service/delivery personnel.
•Be alert/aware of and report persons masquerading as pilots, security personnel, emergency medical technicians, or other personnel using uniforms and/or vehicles as methods to gain access to aviation facilities or aircraft.
•Be alert/aware of and report aircraft with unusual or unauthorized modifications.
•Be alert/aware of and report persons loitering in the vicinity of aircraft or air operations areas – as well as persons loading unusual or unauthorized payload onto aircraft.
•Be alert/aware of and report persons who appear to be under stress or the control of other persons.
•Be alert/aware of and report persons whose identification appears altered or inconsistent.

The theft of any General Aviation aircraft should be immediately reported to the appropriate authorities and the TSA General Aviation Hotline at 866-GASECUR (866-427-3287). In addition, persons should report any suspicious activity immediately to local law enforcement and the TSA General Aviation Hotline.

My original supposition of 17 July 2005 which was titled with the quote from Abu Shihab al-Kandahari follows.

“Nuclear Warfare is the Solution for Destroying America”

Military Expert & Analyst Advances Theory: How about an American Hiroshima which is a repeat, an eye for an eye of the events of exactly sixty years ago this August 6th and 9th? Is it plausible? I believe so.

Sean Osborne, Military Affairs & Senior Analyst

17 July 2005: The early morning of August 6, 2005 began as any summer-time Saturday does in New York City with school vacations winding down and kids wanting to get the most of the remaining days of summer. An avid Mets fan, 10 year old Trevor Blaylock of Flushing, New York was already pestering his dad about when they were going to begin the short walk to Shea Stadium. The Chicago Cubs were in town and Trevor was very eager to be one of the first 12,000 kids through the gates so he’d get the official New York Mets back-to-school binder.

Meanwhile, in the up-the-Hudson city of Poughkeepsie, nefarious activity was going on at the Dutchess County Airport were an undetected Al Qaeda terrorist cell was making final preparations with their Cessna 152 and its tactical nuclear payload. The chosen plan of attack of the cell was to approach New York City at low altitude, barely tree top level so as you use the natural ground cover to mask the aircraft in the ambiguous radar returns. This course was chosen to further the operational security of this long-planned mass casualty attack against the infidels as General Aviation rules did not preclude their direct approach to the selected target.

It was at 2 PM Eastern Daylight Time, bottom of the first inning, the Mets had retired the Cubbies three up three down, Jose Reyes was at the plate awaiting the first pitch from the towering Carlos Zambrano when there was a blinding flash of blue-white light which illuminated Shea Stadium. Time itself seemed to come to a halt in that very microsecond and just as quickly all hell broke out in New York City. We came to learn later that the terrorists had followed the flight plan exactly, tree top to tree top and down the Hudson River. Upon seeing the George Washington Bridge the pilot suddenly pulled the Cessna 152 into a steep climb to an altitude of 2000 feet. Throttled up to full speed at 98 knots the terrorist made a mad dash for midtown Manhattan and at a position directly over the Empire State Building, with a shout of “allah akhbar” the terrorists detonated their ex-Soviet tactical nuclear weapon. The “American Hiroshima” had occurred exactly as the terrorists had been saying it was going to happen for the past three years.

The image of a broad daylight mushroom cloud over a World Trade Center-less New York skyline was now a reality. That image flashed around the world within seconds, New York was destroyed and four million Americans were dead - including 2 million children just like Trevor Blaylock. Three days later a second bomb was detonated 2000 feet over the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant a mere 45 miles south of Washington DC. The Jihadists had demonstrated the military concept of a “force multiplier” with the selection of this target.

Is this Tom Clancyesque work of fiction that far removed from a potential reality? Myself and a few others think not. The actual targets may be deviant but the concept is exactly what the terrorists of Al Qaeda have been saying for three years.

The Al Qaeda nuclear fatwa issued in December 2002 by Abu Shihab al-Kandahari is quite explicit and revealing. He begins by saying in Islamic Fatwa religious edict, which this article takes as its own title,

“Thus, you are not mistaken in reading this text. This is the only way to kill the greatest possible number of Americans. The Americans have never experienced a threat like this one. During World War II, America used this [nuclear] weapon twice in three days…”

“Al-Qaeda has in its possession bombs which are called “dirty bombs,” and bombs with deadly viruses, which will spread fatal diseases throughout American cities…”

“The coming days will prove that Kaedat el-Jihad [the Al-Qaeda organization] is capable of turning America into a sea of deadly radiation. Yes, we will destroy America and its allies…”

It has long been maintained in private consensus within the intelligence community that Al Qaeda obtained tactical nuclear weapons from the former-Soviet Union sources in central Asia. Al Qaeda number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri is on record saying:

“We sent our people to Moscow, to Tashkent, to other Central Asian states, and they negotiated, and we purchased some suitcase [tactical nuclear] bombs.” 9 months after September 11, 2001 and six months prior to the “nuclear fatwa” issued by al-Kandahari, in June of 2002, the former Kuwaiti-born Al Qaeda spokesman, Suleiman Abu Gheith, issued the baseline of Al Qaeda’s nuclear plan for America, this is the public genesis of the concept of an “American Hiroshima.” It is a detailed blueprint of their intentions and must be heeded in the literal sense. Here are the key excerpts from Abu Gheith’s three-part “In the Shadow of the Lances:”

“The [premises] on which we base ourselves as an organization, and on which we base our operations and our method of action, are practical and realistic… They are also scientific and [in accordance with] Islamic religious law, and they give us confidence and certainty… In writing them and in [publicly] revealing them, I do not intend to be apologetic for what was done; I lay [these arguments] before you so as to emphasize that we are continuing with our blows against the Americans and the Jews, and with attacking them, both people and installations [so as to stress] that what awaits the Americans will not, Allah willing, be less than what has already happened to them. America must prepare itself; it must go on maximum alert; …because, Allah willing, the blow will come from where they least expect it…”

“The religious arguments on which we base ourselves in our Jihad against the Americans - the explanations that inspire us with confidence in the triumph of our religion, our belief, and our faith - are many, and this is not the place to enumerate them, as they are included in the books of the sages.”

“If by religious law it is permitted to punish a Muslim [for the crime he committed] - it is all the more permitted to punish a Harbi infidel [i.e. he who belongs to Dar Al-Harb 'the domain of disbelief” or “any nation on earth not under Islamic rule”] in the same way he treated the Muslim.”

“We have not reached parity with them. We have the right to kill 4 million Americans - 2 million of them children - and to exile twice as many and wound and cripple hundreds of thousands. Furthermore, it is our right to fight them with chemical and biological weapons, so as to afflict them with the fatal maladies that have afflicted the Muslims because of the [Americans'] chemical and biological weapons.”

Based upon these words above and in combination of everything I have heard or seen concerning the terrorist activity of Qaedat-al-Jihad the backbone of my Clancyesque “American Hiroshima” theory was born. There are several directly quoted sentences above I wish to reiterate at this point:

“During World War II, America used this [nuclear] weapon twice in three days…”

“Therefore, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth…”

“Al-Qaeda… has in its possession bombs which are called ‘dirty bombs,’ and bombs with deadly viruses, which will spread fatal diseases throughout American cities…”

“we will destroy America and its allies”

So how about an American Hiroshima which is a repeat, an eye for an eye of the events of exactly sixty years ago this August 6th and 9th? Is it plausible? I believe so. I believe it is consistent with the Department of Homeland Security Informational Bulletin released on June 28, 2005 warning to law enforcement and all concerned parties, first responders, et al., for the month of July 2005. I would extend that warning to cover the anniversaries of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks of August 6/9, 1945. I also think there is no small coincidence with all the recent chatter of talk concerning this topic in the recent past, or the exceptional reaction in Washington DC to an errant, lone Cessna 152 which was three minutes from the White House when intercepted. Nuclear weapons are like hand grenades: “close enough” gets you that celebratory cigar.