Friday, October 07, 2005

**UPDATE**: NYC Terror Threat - Sleeper Cells Involved?

Another suspect has been aprehended here in Iraq by U.S. forces, the NYPD is canvassing the city with security, and NY Governor George Pataki has also called in the National Guard to assist as well. However, there seems to be some disconect between local and federal officials with regards to the whether or not this threat was imminent and required such immediate large-scale action.

The disconnect appears to look something like this:
-U.S. forces have captured 3 of 4 Iraqi suspects
-The 4th suspect is believed to have traveled outside of Iraq (probably to Syria at least) probably on his way to NYC
-HOWEVER, NYC believes that the threat involves NINETEEN suitcase bombs

So we have 4 suspects, but 19 bombs. We're missing 15 suspects then. To my knowledge, the federal government and U.S. forces in Iraq have no knowledge of an additional 15 suspects. To my knowledge - from reading the media reports - that information was not given by the sources that led to the capture of the 3 suspects, or from the suspects themselves during interogations.

So the question I have is, does NYC know something that the federal government doesn't, and if so 1) has it told the federal government and 2) if not, why?

As the press has been reporting, the NYPD has a VERY robust counter-terrorism operation within the NYPD, complete with translators, local and international sources, and analysts to sort through all of the intelligence.

It seems that the possibility exists then that there were ALREADY additional terrorists in NYC plotting to conduct attacks against the NYC Subway system, and that the suspects captured in Iraq were simply on their way to NYC to participate in the attacks. It is still possible that the 3 captured in Iraq were the masterminds of the plot, or that they had a key role in coordinating the plot, but if the report of 19 suitcase bombs is correct, then they were clearly not alone in their actions. Yet it is highly unlike that the other suspects are all still in Iraq. Some of them - if they exist - MUST already be state-side. That would make sense strategically - from the terrorists' point of view - and also logically from what we know of the apparent gaps in this investigation thus far.

Furthermore, the U.S. intercepted a letter between Al Qaida leaders around May 30th which discussed a "spectacular Ramadan Offensive" (WorldNetDaily). Ramadan began 2 or 3 days ago, depending on the sect of Islam. If Al Qaida was serious about its Ramadan Offensive then, and serious about attacking the U.S. during that offensive, they would have had to have operatives/terrorists placed in the U.S. at least 5 days ago. However, that is a very conservative estimate which assumes that terrorists entering the country would have brought all of their supplies (explosives, etc) with them, which is unrealistic.

In reality, operatives would had to have been in country for at least a month - more like 3-6 months - to aquire the necessary bomb-making materials, surveil targets, and plan and conduct their attacks. They would have activated "sleeper cells" already in country in other words. So the distinct possibility exists that the individuals captured in Iraq were simply on their way to NYC to participate in the attacks, and possibly also that they provided a link between sleeper cells in the U.S. and Al Qaida in Iraq or Pakistan/Afghanistan.

Generation Why has suggested the possibility of a sleeper cell in Oklahoma, related to last weekend's Oklahoma suicide bomber.

That's all for now. Back to work!

(Hat tip again to Mark Tapscott)

Edit: I should clarify.... I am not so much speculating or predicting here as I am simply attempting to illustrate the underpinnings of how terrorism operations work in a more general sense.

The Analyst


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