Terrorism: March 19, 2003


The United States increased it's terrorism threat level to Orange (just below Red, which would probably never be used because it would imply shutting down much of the country). While al Qaeda's leadership has been torn apart and most of the training camps shut down, there are still hundreds of cells. Many of these are local groups of young Moslem men who are willing, or at least regularly talking about, committing a terrorist act for the cause. Unfortunately, al Qaeda does not attract a lot of well educated and trained people. And many of those were used up in the September 11, 2001 attacks. Actually, most of those were not college educated hotshots who trained to be pilots, but less educated "muscle" used to take over the aircraft. The most devastating terror attacks take months or years to plan. Finding a target, recruiting the team, assembling the equipment and conducting rehearsals all takes time, training and people who can handle the required discipline. These operations often need technical experts, that al Qaeda used to supply. Al Qaeda still has some technical and management people to send out, but these guys apparently spend most of their time trying not to get arrested. However, there are so many cells out there, all operating autonomously, that some of them could be encouraged by all the pro-Saddam and pro-Iraq propaganda to attempt a terrorist act despite poor chances of success. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security fears that this would happen when the U.S. goes into Iraq, and the danger would not abate until it because obvious that most Iraqis were glad to see American troops. So, in the meantime, everyone is watching out for sloppy and improvised terror attacks. More deliberate attacks are also possible, but not nearly as likely as amateur efforts. 


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