Al Qaeda has active plot to hit the West soon
August 28, 2007
Capital Sources: The Next Terrorist Attack
The head of the National Counterterrorism Center speaks out on Al Qaeda's plans, America's readiness—and the nature of the war on terror.
By Mark Hosenball and Jeffrey Bartholet
Updated: 5:14 p.m. ET Aug 27, 2007
Aug. 27, 2007 - Al Qaeda has an active plot to hit the West. The United States knows about it but doesn't have enough tactical detail to issue a precise warning or raise the threat level, says Vice Admiral (ret.) John Scott Redd, who heads the government's National Counterterrorism Center. In an interview at his headquarters near Washington, D.C., Redd told Newsweek's Mark Hosenball and Jeffrey Bartholet that the country is better prepared than ever to counter such threats. But he also believes another successful terror attack on the U.S. homeland is inevitable. Excerpts:
NEWSWEEK: People in various agencies have said that since Tora Bora in 2001, they at no time have had even 50-percent confidence that they knew where Osama bin Laden was on any particular day, and therefore they have been unable to mount any operations to go get him. Is that wrong?
Why do people believe bin Laden's still alive?
Also, there are periodic rumors about him suffering from this disease or that disease, needing dialysis, having to get some exotic drug. Is any of that credible?
So they actually upload this stuff on the Internet directly?
While we're on this topic, what can
While we're on this topic, what can you tell us about Pakistan's release of Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, who allegedly was a top Al Qaeda communications and computer guy and is now roaming free?
What does the progression of terror cases in Britain tell you? Two years ago terrorists actually managed to kill some people. This year it's these two clowns in Glasgow. They were doctors and engineers who seemed to have some connection to Pakistan and/or Iraq, yet they couldn't build a bomb. What does this tell you about the evolution of the organization, the evolution of the front-line terrorists?
Iraqis a giant university for bombmakers.
But, see, they don't have to [make] it there. They just buy the explosives. It's HBX or C4. There's so much explosive material around there.
But if they wanted to teach people, they certainly could.
Is there evidence, though, that they are training people in Iraq to do operations abroad?
The Europeans have been concerned about traffic between Iraq and Europe.
Tell us about the threat that emerged earlier this year.
Earlier this summer, there was talk that people were picking up chatter that reminded them of the summer before 9/11. The Germans basically said this is like pre-9/11. They said, "We are very worried." What do you make of this?
But this did not affect our threat level. We didn't change our code.
And you don't as of today see any particular reduction in that threat?
Last thing: Are we winning or losing the war on terrorism?
I will tell you this: We are better prepared today for the war on terror than at any time in our history. We have done an incredible amount of things since 9/11, across the board. Intelligence is better. They are sharing it better. We are taking the terrorists down. We are working with the allies very carefully. We are doing the strategic operational planning, going after every element in the terrorist life cycle. So we have come a long way. But these guys are smart. They are determined. They are patient. So over time we are going to lose a battle or two. We are going to get hit again, you know, but you've got to have the stick-to-itiveness or persistence to outlast it.
On Islamist Websites: How to Join Al-Qaeda, Form a Jihad Cell, and Select a Western Target – '[Is] Assassinating the American Ambassador... Difficult For Someone Who Has Already Crushed America in His Home?' The Middle East Media Research Institute Special Dispatch Series - No. 1702http://www.memri.org/bin/opener_latest.cgi?ID=SD170207
On August 26, Islamist websites posted an item titled "How to Join Al-Qaeda." It is not clear when the item was written; it was produced by the website Al-Thabitoun 'Ala Al-'Ahd, which is affiliated with Al-Qaeda in Egypt and is currently inactive.
The item calls on every Muslim to regard jihad as a personal duty and to take initiative to establish a jihad cell without waiting for recognition from Al-Qaeda. It goes on to elaborate on how to form and run the cell, how to raise funds, and how to select a target, "for example, assassinating the American ambassador," which, it states, "takes no more than a gun and a bullet."
The following are excerpts from the item:
"Do you really have to meet Osama bin Laden in person in order to become a jihad fighter? Do you have to be recognized by Al-Qaeda as one of its members to become a jihad fighter? If Al-Qaeda commanders should be killed, would the jihad be eliminated? What would you do if Al-Qaeda did not exist today? How is Osama bin Laden different from you? – [yet] he managed to establish the world jihad organization. Who provided training to Osama bin Laden and Abdallah 'Azzam when they went to Afghanistan to become the first Arab jihad fighters?
"The answers to these questions are the following: I don't have to meet Osama bin Laden to become a jihad fighter. Moreover, there is no need to meet even one jihad fighter to become one. Neither do I need recognition from Al-Qaeda...
"As the first step, imagine that Al-Qaeda does not exist and that you are interested [in waging] jihad – what would you do in this case?... If you know any young people – whether one, two, or more – in your area, mosque, or university who are as dedicated and enthusiastic about jihad as you are, come to an understanding with them, and together form a cell whose objective is to help Islam and only Islam...
"At first, your cell should have no more than five members, all absolutely trustworthy... The cell must have a commander and a shura council... The commander must clearly realize that he is Osama bin Laden to the cell members...
"Each cell should have a source of funding... When you have several members, you will [surely] find the funds for your cell... Then you should buy weapons, make plans, brainstorm, plot your plans, monitor your enemy's important objectives, and study its moves. Set a goal; for example, assassinating the American ambassador – is it so difficult? Is it [indeed] difficult for someone who has already crushed America in his home?
"What is the difference between you and the hero of the New York attack, Muhammad Atta, who planned an action which even today shakes the world every time it is mentioned? Assassinating the ambassador takes no more than a gun and a bullet. One could disguise oneself as a peddler in order to tail [the target], which shouldn't cost a lot of money...
"The cells must maintain contact among themselves, but by no means in a direct or conventional way. The contact must be spiritual: What will unite you is the love of Islam and the motto "There is no God but Allah." Even if the contact between [your] cell and the rest is indirect, it will be close... You must meet once a month... You must not meet in the same place twice... Personal meetings with a small number of people [must take place] once a week...
"From the moment the cell is established, its members must be divided – into secret members, members who do not [act] openly and are not wanted by the authorities, and members who are wanted (who have been arrested in the past or on whom the intelligence apparatuses have a file)... The secret members must perform intelligence tasks, collect information, raise funds, recruit [new members], and assist in [actual operations]. Those who act in the open must perform the primary military operations, such as assassinations, firing at enemy facilities, etc.
"You must be aware that you have brothers everywhere, and that they are expecting the actions of you and your friends even if they don't know you in person or by name...
"Every jihad cell is a microcosm of the world jihad organization."