Al Qaeda Terror ‘Spectacular’ This Summer

U.S. intelligence community believes a major al Qaeda attack could be forthcoming this summer, ABC News reports.

A secret U.S. law enforcement report, prepared for the Department of Homeland Security, warns that al Qaeda is planning a terror “spectacular” this summer, according to a senior official with access to the document.” This is reminiscent of the warnings and intelligence we were getting in the summer of 2001,” the official told ABCNews.com.

U.S. officials have kept the information secret, and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said today on ABC News’ “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” that the United States did not have “have any specific credible evidence that there’s an attack focused on the United States at this point.”

Certainly, the handling of this is proceeding much differently than during DHS’ early days under Tom Ridge, when every bit of “chatter” was hailed with great fanfare at a press conference, accompanied by a raising of the terror alert level color code and a marching band. It didn’t take long before the public treated these announcements with yawns.

Whether this turns out to be real or a false alarm will be known soon enough, I suppose. Chertoff’s demeanor, though, strikes me as correct. There’s not much the public can do, anyway, aside from the ever-popular keeping eyes and ears open and, of course, “remaining vigilant.”

This, however, is troublesome if true:

As ABCNews.com reported, U.S. law enforcement officials received intelligence reports two weeks ago warning of terror attacks in Glasgow and Prague, the Czech Republic, against “airport infrastructure and aircraft.” The warnings apparently never reached officials in Scotland, who said this weekend they had received “no advance intelligence” that Glasgow might be a target. Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff declined to comment specifically on on the report today, but said “everything that we get is shared virtually instantaneously with our counterparts in Britain and vice versa.”

One would hope. It would be an outrage, indeed, if we had solid intelligence about an attack in the UK and didn’t get around to warning them.

FILED UNDER: Intelligence, 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.

Comments

  1. Stormy70 says:

    We probably warned them, but how seriously did they take it? With all the terrorist chatter, one has to sift through lots of info to get to the actual plot.

  2. John Burgess says:

    It’s my experience that one can always find a piece of paper somewhere warning of an event that’s already taken place. It’s the ability to recognize that piece of paper before the event that’s tough.

    Very little of the ‘chatter’ looks real at first; it’s mostly garbage. Only with the hindsight goggles on does it stand out like a sore thumb.

    As far as a warning to the Brits goes, there might have been a message passed. But it might not have gone to the right people at the right time. It could still be sitting in an in-box somewhere. We have no reason to believe that British bureaucracy is any more efficient than our own.

  3. Andy says:

    Perhaps the yawning has something to do with the blatant politicization of the silly color alert system before the 2004 election?

  4. Tom Ritchford says:

    What a shame that we made no attempt to catch Bin Laden, and instead wasted years on destroying Iraq.

    Now we are in endless, pointless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while Bin Laden has had six years to laugh at us, kill hundreds in Bali and Madrid, and send mocking videotapes to the media.

    It’s still not too late to impeach the deluded incompetent who led us into such a terrible position.

  5. Boyd says:

    Just because you make something up and post it in a comment at OTB doesn’t make it true.

  6. legion says:

    “This is reminiscent of the warnings and intelligence we were getting in the summer of 2001,” the official told ABCNews.com.

    Well, that pretty much says all you need to know, then. We’re all screwed now.

  7. Philadelphia Steve says:

    Regarding the comment: “Certainly, the handling of this is proceeding much differently than during DHS’ early days under Tom Ridge, when every bit of “chatter” was hailed with great fanfare at a press conference, accompanied by a raising of the terror alert level color code and a marching band. It didn’t take long before the public treated these announcements with yawns. ”

    Don’t forget that in those days we had the 2004 presidential Elections, and the DHS was required to maintain high fear levels so that America would “Stay the Course”.

    Now we are past that presidential election and the need for fear mongering has diminished. But don’t worry, come 2008 we can expect the color codes to start ramping up again, especially if the Republican nominee starts to lag in the polls.

  8. Jim Harrison says:

    The intelligence people are unlikely to be able to predict spasmodic attacks by small groups of amateurs. On the other hand, they are also unlikely to predict serious attacks by well trained and determined terrorists either. Meanwhile, you lot will hype everything.

  9. davod says:

    1. Tom Richie: The Bali bombings and Afghanistan (WE went into Iraq after the Bali Bombings)? The Muslim ratbags in South-East Asia had been planning such at attack for years. Bali was also an attempt to have an effect on the Indonesian economy.

    Do you really think we would be any closer to getting Bin Laden if we had not gone into Iraq and Afghanistan? He is supposed to be in the badlands where even the Pakistanis cannot go.

    Do you really think getting Bin Laden will stop the ratbags. You need to conduct a little research into A) The Muslim Brotherhood, B) Iran and its declaration of war against the USA in 1979, and C) Al Qaeda’s declaration of war against the US in 1998.

    2. What warnings in the Summer of 01?

  10. legion says:

    Do you really think we would be any closer to getting Bin Laden if we had not gone into Iraq and Afghanistan? He is supposed to be in the badlands where even the Pakistanis cannot go.

    Hell yes. We might not be able to get major troop formations up there to root him out ‘cave by cave’, but we would damn sure stop the flow of support, supplies, & communications in & out of that area. And, the troop presence there would keep Musharraf _and_ the warlords on the straight and narrow while we were doing it.

    2. What warnings in the Summer of 01?

    Well, I would assume he’s referring to whatever intel that culminated in the infamous ‘Bin Laden intends to strike’ memo Condi and W never got around to reading… Of course, that very statement, by a senior DHS official, mind you, puts the lie to the pathetic defense that there wasn’t really much intel buzz prior to 9-11, but very few people would be surprised by such a realization anymore.

  11. G.A.Phillips says:

    Tom Ritchford

    It’s still not too late to impeach the deluded incompetent who led us into such a terrible position.

    Yes it is, I think, but we already did any way, but nothing came of it, right now he is running around backstabbing our troops and undermining our war effort in foreign countries and being paid well for it.

    Or where you talking about Carter?