Al Qaeda Planning ‘Major Assassination’

Bill Gertz – Bin Laden hints major assassination

U.S. intelligence officials say a high-profile political assassination, triggered by the public release of a new message from Osama bin Laden, will lead off the next major al Qaeda terrorist attack, The Washington Times has learned. The assassination plan is among new details of al Qaeda plots disclosed by U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports who, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the killing could be carried out against a U.S. or foreign leader either in the United States or abroad. The officials mentioned Saudi Arabia and Yemen, two nations that are working with the United States in the battle against al Qaeda, as likely locales for the opening assassination. The planning for the attacks to follow involves “multiple targets in multiple venues” across the United States, one official said.

The new details of al Qaeda’s plans were found on a laptop computer belonging to arrested al Qaeda operative Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan of Pakistan. “We’re talking about planning at the screwdriver level,” one official said. “It is very detailed.” Khan was arrested July 13 in Lahore, Pakistan, along with Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian who was indicted in the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa and was on the FBI’s list of most-wanted terrorists. U.S. and allied counterterrorism officials are pursuing leads on other terrorists based on the data from Khan’s seized laptop. At least one arrest in Britain has been made so far, and others are expected, the officials said. Additionally, U.S. intelligence officials said they think that several al Qaeda terrorists already in the United States are part of the plot, although their identities and locations are not known.

There sure was a lot of information on that laptap. One wonders whether it is real or an elaborate counter-intelligence operation.

Hat tip: Command Post

Rusty Shackleford sent an email to several bloggers, getting the ball started, presumably having seen it first on Drudge Report.

Jeff Quinton and Kevin Aylward point to bizarre rantings at Democratic Underground charging that the Republicans are planning to assassinate Kerry and blame it on al Qaeda. John Little observes, “This issue transcends politics but its hard not to note that apparently al Qaeda and the Democrats share the same “Anybody but Bush” election year mantra.” I wonder how the stores manage to keep enough tin foil in stock.

FILED UNDER: Terrorism
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Moe Lane says:

    “One wonders whether it is real or an elaborate counter-intelligence operation.”

    It could also be a convenient sanitizer of information gathered elsewhere; who knows what that guy originally had in there, after all?

  2. McGehee says:

    bizarre rantings at Democratic Underground charging that the Republicans are planning to assassinate Kerry and blame it on al Qaeda.

    More likely Hillary’s finally going to “Kill Bill” and blame it on the Republicans.

    Makes just as much sense. Sheesh.

  3. J Thomas says:

    If al qaeda wanted “anybody but Bush” they sure wouldn’t assassinate Kerry.

    Far more likely they want Bush back, since he’s so good at playing into their hands.

  4. LJD says:

    J Thomas-

    What world are you living in? President Bush is playing into the hands of the terrorists?

    Would you care to elaborate? (Beyond the fact that we have not been attacked again, under this administration).

    I think many will agree that it is the Democratic platform to appease the terrorists, as the Clinton administration did for eight years, and as Kerry has already tipped his hand to….

  5. McGehee says:

    When people come to the all-too-logical conclusion that America’s enemies prefer that we be led by someone who won’t fight them, what J Thomas offers here is simply the only counter-argument the American contingent of ABB can come up with.

    It’s nuance, don’t you see?