Revenge for Bin Laden killing: How worried should Americans be?
Official threat level is unchanged, but security is tight at airports, subways, and other gathering spots, in wake of Bin Laden killing. 'Revenge is very important' to jihadists, warns one expert.
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Hamid, author of "Inside Jihad," is one who would know how a radical terrorist would think. He is a former member of the radical Islamist organization Jamaa Islamiya with Ayman al-Zawahiri, who later became second in command at Al Qaeda. After 9/11, he became more active in explaining terrorists’ mind-set.Skip to next paragraph
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Still, if there's no attack within several months, he warns, “from a security standpoint, you can’t go to sleep.”
“Yes, there is an immediate window,” he says, “But you cannot assume, if there is a window, they intend to strike [at that moment].” In the past, he notes, Al Qaeda has looked for large-scale types of attacks.
That’s one reason it is a good idea to bring back the Marine unit from Japan, experts say.
“It is sensible to be vigilant in all areas,” says Gary LaFree, a professor at the University of Maryland and director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). “It would be crazy to rule out a ... chemical or biological attack.”
According to a START briefing paper, of the 25 attacks since 1998 that killed 25 people or more, Al Qaeda was involved with 16.
In fact, Al Qaeda now has connections to 30 or 40 terror groups, says Mr. LaFree. “It’s more like a franchise. And they are not going away,” he says.
Security organizations need to make it harder for terrorist organizations to plan by conducting some of their activities at random, says Mr. Cilluffo. “It has to be done right, where you don’t let the adversary game the system,” he says.
For Hamid, the solution lies in dissuading radicalized Muslims from carrying out terrorist acts by understanding what matters most to them. “For example, if you say, 'I will kill you and all other Muslims,' the terrorist will say, ‘I don’t care.’ " However, if the US and its allies can show how a terrorist act may make a Muslim woman destitute and perhaps force her into prostitution to live, it will have a greater deterrent effect, Hamid says.
“For a Muslim, a Muslim woman’s honor is vital,” he explains. “It will make [potential terrorists] think twice.”