A new Homeland Security Threat Assessment obtained by The Associated Press, marked FOUO, considers loss of life, economic and psychological consequences, and likelihood of potential attack vectors over the next five years.
During the period of 2008-2013, terrorists will try to conduct a biological terror attack, resulting in overwhelmed regional health care systems and deep economic impacts caused by widespread workforce illnesses and deaths. Interestingly, the assessment suggests that biological agents stolen from labs or other storage facilities within the U.S. remain among the highest threats. Al-Qaida continues to focus on attacks that would generate significant economic losses, casualties, and political turmoil. Hizbollah is cited as also interested in fomenting attacks within the U.S.
Eileen Sullivan’s reporting on this new threat assessment explains that instability in the Middle East and Africa, border security, and expanding cyber terrorism capabilities drive the terrorism threat to the U.S. over the next five years.
Recall the post here about Peter Bergen’s op-ed in the New York Times, In that piece, Bergen offers four reasons why the threat posed to the American homeland is far lower now, such that it justifies a title like “Safe At Home.” This latest threat assessment explains, however, that terrorists will continue to try to evade U.S. border security measures and place operatives inside the mainland to carry out attacks, possibly posing as refugees, asylum seekers, or travelers from visa waiver program members.
I’m not sure how accurate the threat assessment is, but I’m pretty confident that this only adds to the post rebutting his article. Indeed, according to Sullivan, the assessment predicts that the number of radical Islamists within the U.S. will increase over the next five years due partly to the ease of online recruiting means. Sullivan cites that intelligence officials foresee “a wave of young, self-identified Muslim ‘terrorist wannabes’ who aspire to carry out violent acts.”