A few random Thoughts on current Terror Warnings

August 4th, 2013 - This is going to be a rather brief post. Most of you will be familiar with the bulk of what has been reported thus far about the current concerns raised by the US administration and CT community in regard to a possibly immanent terror attack by AQ against US and/or Western targets. I would like to add a few random and not-so-random thoughts to the debate surrounding this development, especially because I believe that the usual kind of echo chamber is starting to manifest itself in some of the reporting, and I feel that some healthy out-of-the-box thinking may be a remedy of sorts.

So, here are a few things I have been chewing on.

1.- Of course AQAP is dangerous. But it is not the only network in the Global Jihadist movement that is theoretically capable of delivering a blow to the US or the West in the Middle East, the Muslim World or beyond. Just two examples: Nobody believed the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) had any internationalist intentions until they sent an attack team to Germany. And hardly anybody thought it likely that the TTP would engage in international terrorism before the Times Square attack.

2.- AQAP has proven it has international ambitions, true. But I would very certainly not put it beyond AQIM (in whatever state they may currently be) to out of a sudden enter center stage with an attack in the West. They have threatened to do so before and the fact they haven't done so does not necessarily mean they can't. They have the funds, they have the experience. And while I am at it: to a lesser degree, this is also true for AQI/ISIS.

3.- According to some reporting, people with knowledge of the nature of the intel have suggested that a tipping point had been reached because the muscle terrorists had been selected. If that is true, it may signal an important new phase within that plot. But it would decisively not make it more likely that said strike is immanent. Quite the opposite, actually: The larger the plot, the more likely that team selection needs to happen quite some time before execution.

4.- What effect might the public and global warnings have on the terrorists, assuming that a plot has actually been set in motion? Would they not be likely to hold off for a while rather than proceed? If AQ is anything, they are patient.

Please don't get me wrong. I am not trying to down-talk any concerns. I can easily imagine how Aiman al-Sawahiri would gladly invest quite a lot of energy and resources into a major plot, for example an attack that would be, say, jointly planned and executed by AQc and AQAP.

I am just feeling uneasy if the reporting gets too narrow. The most likely scenario is sometimes the most likely scenario only by a very small margin. 

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