Qioptiq logo Raytheon Global MilSatCom

THREAT ANALYSIS – CHRISTMAS TERROR WARNING

26 Nov 02. The last week has seen a number of potentially critical developments in regard to the on-going U.S.-led War against Terror. These events between them would appear to make the possibility of some form of serious terrorist attack much more likely, particularly during the period to the year’s end.

On 6 November 2002, the U.S. Department of State issued an updated World-wide Caution. This warned that on 14 November, the State of Virginia is scheduled to execute Mir Ahmad Kasi, also known as Mir Aimal Kansi, a Pakistani national, who was convicted in 1997 of the murders of two CIA employees four years earlier. It went on to conclude, “the potential exists for retaliatory acts against U.S. or other foreign interests in response to the execution”. There is considerable confusion still surrounding the Kansi affair but what is known is that:

He is a member of the Pathan – or to be accurate Pashtun; tribe from the NorthWest Frontier. Sunni Muslims they are renowned as fierce, independent and deeply conservative. The tribes rule themselves according to their ancient code of honour – the Pashtunwali – based on revenge, war and hospitality to a guest. All three combine with Islam in the loyalty these men feel towards bin Laden and the support they have offered Al-Qaida;

No evidence exists linking him directly to Al-Qaida. More likely he was in the employ of the CIA and may have been betrayed by the Agency leading him to carry out the revenge killing of those he deemed responsible. An old Pashtun saying states that “one hundred years is too short a time to wait for revenge”;
He was handed over to the US authorities for a considerable reward by unknown individuals in Afghanistan (where he had been hiding).

His death may then be seized upon by Al-Qaida as a further casus belli and, mindful of the Pashtun emphasis upon revenge, retaliation would seem most likely.

There is also the effect of the tape warning from an individual believed to be Osama bin Laden. This specifically identified citizens from a number of Western countries aside from the US including the United Kingdom and Australia – as being vulnerable to attacks for their support of the Bush administration. Aside from confirming the spiritual head of Al-Qaida is still alive, it is believed that such media broadcasts carry within them hidden activation messages and, if it were bin Laden, a broadcast from him may will precursor a major attack. This may be delayed by Ramadan, currently not due to end until 2/3 December. During this period “from dawn to sunset Muslims deny themselves the normal needs and pleasures of this world to build within them fortitude and self-discipline. This enables them to develop the most prized virtue of patience (if Allaah wills)”. An attack afterwards, during the run up to the Christian celebration of the birth of Christ would, therefore seem more probable. Al-Qaida has attempted attacks before during December. Also an attack during December 2002 would mark the anniversary of the US attacks on the Tora Bora cave complex in Afghanistan which, at the time, was hailed as completing the destruction of Al-Qaida.

(NB in 2003 Ramadan ends on or around 22 November; Thanksgiving is scheduled for 27 November. Maybe too obvious a correlation but one to consider nearer the time).

Finally senior figures in the United Kingdom, France and Germany (in addition to the US which issues warnings most weeks) have all pointed to increased radio communications between suspected terrorist individuals. This it is believed indicates an attack is becoming more imminent.

Targets remain difficult to pinpoint although a number of factors remain common including high profile, mass casualties and media attractiveness. Al-Qaida seeks to create maximum terror, both real and psychological. Added to this it maintains a real interest in symbolism and the start of the Christian nativity period must be of obvious attraction. Recent messages have also highligh

Back to article list