Credible information has reached Saudi, British and Australian agencies that two al Qaeda branches – IS in Iraq and Syria and AQAP at its base in Yemen - have wrapped up plans to roll out coordinated terrorist spectaculars around the 13th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. According to debkafile’s counterterrorism sources, they are preparing to strike simultaneously in the Middle East and a West European city. Next, they will go for US targets in the Middle East and Europe.
In the estimate of Islamist experts, the IS and AQAP have decided to delay direct terrorist action in the United States, calculating that an attack on America will have a greater shock impact some time after the first cycle of outrages, toward the end of 2014 or early 2015.
It was this information that galvanized Saudi King Abdullah into warning the West that Al Qaeda’s plans were imminent. “If neglected,” he said strongly last week, “I am certain that after a month they will reach Europe and, after another month, America.”
The king issued his warning on the occasion of the US Ambassador to Riyadh, Joseph W. Westphal’s formal presentation of credentials. This gave his warning added weight, because it was a fabricated opportunity. In the two years that Ambassador Westphal has officiated in the Saudi capital, the king has never found time to confirm his accreditation. This cold shoulder reflected the nonagenarian Saudi ruler’s opinion of US President Barack Obama’s Middle East policies and what appears to Riyadh to be his lackadaisical attitude towards fighting Islamist terror.
Sharing the view that this peril is too grave to be ignored any longer, the prime ministers of Britain and Australia, David Cameron and Tony Abbott, appear to have prevailed on the Saudi king to signal this indirect warning to Washington - especially since Saudi intelligence shares the view that a great number of lives are at stake if Al Qaeda consummates its plans.
Our intelligence and counterterrorism sources disclose that the data on the two Al Qaeda groups’ plans to mark the 9/11 anniversary with major attacks has been in the hands of Middle Eastern, European and US security agencies since the second week of May, i.e., five months ago.
They were also anxiously aware that Al Qaeda’s top bomb-maker, Ibrahim Hassan A-Asiri, who works out of Yemen, had developed a secret explosive substance that can pass undetected through the screening devices and security measures currently in use at international airports and public places in the West and the Middle East.
Intelligence experts believe that this novel substance, when hidden in special shoes or electronic devices like iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones, can beat even tight security scrutiny. However, information has also been received about the new undetectable explosive substance being implanted in the bodies of suicide jihadists, to produce the ultimate “body bombs.”
It is feared that this hazard is already in place and that a surgical procedure may have been carried out to implant it on carriers of American or European passports, at a secret clinic in Yemen or a Gulf emirate by a surgeon dedicated to the radical Islamist cause. These human bombs will have been able to travel through Jordan or Iraq through Turkey to their targeted destinations. Such carriers of invisible bombs may be Americans, Belgians, Britons, Australians, French citizens or Germans, and already on standby for the prearranged signal to push a certain button and demolish a selected target.
The novel invention has made it infinitely easier for terrorists to move around and approach their targets, unnoticed and without arousing suspicion.
Prime Minister Cameron has woken up to the peril. He announced Tuesday, Sept. 22, he would ask parliament to urgently approve sweeping legislation to combat the “scourge of extremism” - including the power to seize passports of an estimated 500 British Muslims known to be frequent travelers to Turkey, Syria and Iraq and strongly suspected of identifying with Al Qaeda’s jihadist ideology.
Most counterterrorism experts fear that these measures if approved would come too late to pre-empt Al Qaeda’s 9/11 anniversary plot.