Terrorism On The Cheap

While Americans stand in line to be groped by TSA agents in an effort to prevent mass terror attacks, al Qaeda is touting the fact it’s efforts to perfect a form of terrorism that no amount of groping is likely to prevent:

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is promising more small-scale attacks like its attempts to bomb two U.S.-bound cargo planes, which it likens to bleeding its enemy to death by a thousand cuts.

The editors of a special edition of the Yemeni-based group’s English on-line magazine, Inspire, boast that what they call Operation Hemorrhage was cheap, and easy, using common items that together with shipping, cost only $4,200 to carry out.

“It is such a good bargain for us to spread fear amongst the enemy and keep him on his toes in exchange of a few months of work and a few thousand bucks,” AQAP said in its online Inspire magazine, released on militant websites.

(…)

“To bring down America we do not need to strike big,” the editors write. With the “security phobia that is sweeping America, it is more feasible to stage smaller attacks that involve less players and less time to launch” thereby circumventing U.S. security, they conclude.

The online magazine also said that killing mass numbers of people isn’t necessarily their goal anymore:

In the magazine, an author identified as the group’s head of foreign operations says the package attacks were intended to cause economic harm, not casualties. “We knew that cargo planes are staffed by only a pilot and a co-pilot,” the author writes, “so our objective was not to cause maximum casualties but to cause maximum losses to the American economy,” by striking at the multi-billion dollar U.S. freight industry.

“We are laying out for our enemies our plan in advance because as we stated earlier our objective is not maximum kill but to cause (damage) in the aviation industry, an industry that is so vital for trade and transportation between the U.S. and Europe.”

It’s worth noting that the “toner bombs” that AQAP sent out were only discovered thanks to intelligence tips from the Saudis, not by any of the screening processes that UPS and FedEx might use to screen packages coming from nations like Yemen. Certainly, though, it’s clear that the TSA procedures that Americans are now being subjected to would do nothing to prevent the kind of low-level, on-the-cheap, attacks that are being talked about here. Which argues strongly that we ought to be rethinking what we’re doing when it comes to counter-terrorism and security.

FILED UNDER: National Security, Quick Takes, Terrorism, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Tano says:

    ‘Certainly, though, it’s clear that the TSA procedures that Americans are now being subjected to would do nothing to prevent the kind of low-level, on-the-cheap, attacks that are being talked about here. ”

    Hmmm, let me get this straight. You read online somewhere some story that is purportedly written by our enemies (though the phrasings of it some quite suspicious to me), in which they talk about trying to mount a certain type of an attack, one that does not entail securing explosives on a person, and therefore you advise us to “rethink” (I guess you mean abandon) our searches of passengers?

    What exactly do you think we are doing when it comes to counter-terrorism and security? Here is a hint, Doug. We are responding to known threats. So yeah, to the extent that this is credible, and thus represents a new threat, it will be addressed like all the other emerging threats have been. That is why we have such a dizzying array of ever-changing regulations and procedures. Lots of people end up complaining about that, even though they are the result of doing exactly what you demand be done – respond to the latest threat.

    You just sound like you want to whine, no matter what the government does. Thats pretty typical of most of the stuff I hear on this issue. The people you should be pissed at are the terrorists, not those who are doing their best trying to keep us safe in an ever changing threat landscape.

  2. Contracts says:

    Yeah, responding to the latest threat…in the most overblown, ridiculous, and theatrical manner possible.  Like sending $1.2 billion in military aid to Yemen.  Because that’s cost-effective.
    Seriously, Tano, your points are getting old.  Most experts not in the government think that the TSA procedures are worthless.  Your belief that the experts in government know better has moved from cute to tiresome.

  3. tom p says:

    They only have to succeed once, we have to succeed every time.

  4. tom p says:

    And for the record, where is your money???

  5. Tano says:

    “Most experts not in the government think that the TSA procedures are worthless.”
     
    Translation: The loud “experts” who are reaching for their fifteen minutes, and who have no actual responsibilities to keep the country safe, think the procedures are worthless.