The Fear Factor
Vol: 20 Issue: 26 Monday, May 26, 2003
The threats keep coming fast and furious — it’s like the US media, in particular. are engaged in a contest to see who can scare the most people with the latest and most stupendous threat.
A truck driver in Ohio was arrested for being part of an al-Qaeda plot to collapse a suspension bridge in the US and possibly blow up an airliner.
In a major intelligence breakthrough, captured al Qaeda leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who has been spilling to the feds ever since he was seized in Pakistan March 1, fingered the truck driver, according to Newsweek.
The truck driver, who has not been identified, reportedly told his interrogators that his orders were to procure the tools necessary to loosen the bolts on a suspension bridge. He also told of a plot to blow up an airliner, possibly by driving an explosives-laden cargo truck underneath it before detonating.
The truck driver also revealed the existence of a coming ‘summer offensive’ by al-Qaeda against US targets. Among the targets al-Qaeda is reportedly considering are the nation’s subway systems, according to the latest intelligence.
“It is likely that an attempted terror attack against the U.S. homeland . . . could occur in the next 30 to 90 days,” according to a document obtained by Newsweek.
The CIA and FBI warned that the war on terror was entering a new and more dangerous phase: “an orchestrated spring/summer worldwide offensive.”
According to a top law-enforcement official, the Ohio truck driver is not the only al Qaeda member operating inside the U.S.
“The only thing we can say for certain is that they’re here,” the official told Newsweek. And al-Qaeda’s alleged reorganizational plan includes recruiting Canadians, women, African-Americans and Arabs with “clean passports” as spies and suicide bombers who would have a better chance of slipping through security.
Last week, the United Arab Emirates-based Alsaha.com posted this eerie message:
“Oh brother, further attacks are to come in the next 48 hours. All good Muslims in New York, Boston and other cities on the East Coast should leave.”
Although the 48 hour deadline came and went, the Department of Homeland Security ordered the terror alert level raised from ‘Elevated’ risk to ‘High’. The web posting appeared at the same time as an increase in terrorist ‘chatter’ similar to that which occurred just before the 9/11 strikes.
Since September 11, the United States has been subjected to a barrage of threats, but not a single one of those threats has yet come to fruition.
Last September, the London-based pro-Libyan newspaper al-Alamiyah reported that sources close to al Qaeda had the assets in place in several U.S. states to conduct “devastating attacks” once the signal was given.
However, they had postponed the attacks until after the crisis with Iraq had been resolved, “in order to prevent the United States from using the attacks as a pretext to employ weapons of mass destruction against Iraq.”
This raises the question why al Qaeda would believe that a WMD strike would be the American response of choice to their attack.
There is only one provocation that comes to mind that would evoke the threat of US use of weapons of mass destruction.
The Department of Homeland Security repeatedly warned of a very real danger of a seaborne nuclear attack somewhere along the East Coast.
Is it all hype? The constant barrage of threats without action has led to calls for reevaluating the terror warning system, or scrapping it altogether. Some claim America is becoming too vigilant, warning of a developing police state, while others decry the dangers of growing too complacent.
Only two weeks ago, President Bush hinted that he believed al-Qaeda was ‘finished.’ Then suicide bombers started going off all over the world.
But note the targets and the methodology. None of the targets were militarily significant or of particularly high symbolism. They were largely apartment buildings, cafes, and markets.
Since al-Qaeda’s goal is to foment revolution, blowing up neighborhoods inside targeted countries like Saudi Arabia or Morocco is unlikely to win al-Qaeda much popular support.
And the weapon of choice is unsustainable over the long term.
Probably at no time since the WTC attacks has al-Qaeda needed to demonstrate its capabilities more than it does now. The latest al-Qaeda bombing campaign used up a lot of suicide bombers.
You only get to use a suicide bomber once, and they aren’t that easy to recruit. Suicide bombers like to think they are striking a blow for the cause. Seeing a whole squad of them sacrificed on insignificant targets tends to have a dampening effect on the replacement pool.
That is not to say that this Memorial Day will not come and go without incident. We have no way of knowing how many September 11-style attacks have already been thwarted, like the truck driver and the suspension bridge.
So far, the US has been amazingly effective at preventing new terror strikes. But it has been a combination of hard work and luck. And the fear that America’s luck might run out has the whole country on edge.
Among the signs of the last days are ‘wars and rumors of wars’ on an ever increasing scale of frequency and intensity.
Jesus also said another sign would be that of ‘men’s hearts failing them for fear’ (Luke 21:26) as we witnessed the events ‘coming on the earth’ as the time for His return draws close.
Paul warned of ‘perilous times’ in the last days, warning that cries of ‘peace and safety’ would be punctuated by sudden destruction. (1 Thess 5:3)
It would be impossible to argue that these things aren’t beginning to come to pass before our eyes. The increase in frequency and intensity has shot up noticeably since the world entered the 21st century.
Fear is the operative word in today’s world. Even in places like America. Until September 11, American wars were fought somewhere else.
The world lives in fear of nuclear dictators, chemical and biological weapons, emerging plagues and viral infections, contaminated food and water, and if that isn’t enough, there s always the ever-popular fear of annihilation by a killer asteroid. How much is enough?
“And when these things BEGIN to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. . . Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. (Luke 21:26,32)