New tactic in jihadi war on US: duds

posted at 1:36 pm on June 7, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

The next wave of terrorist attacks against the US may be decidedly low-impact … by design.  ABC News reports that the FBI has warned law-enforcement agencies about a potential wave of “suspicious bag” attacks, where the bag itself contains nothing dangerous.  This may be a sign that more threatening plots simply won’t work any longer for the Taliban and/or al-Qaeda, or perhaps a way to profile American law-enforcement response:

A recent internal FBI report warns federal, state and local authorities to be alert for a potential new tool in the jihadi terror arsenal – the placing of suspicious, but harmless, bags in public places to inspire fear, disrupt public transportation and tie up police and bomb squads.

The so called “battle of suspicious bags” was encouraged by an unknown poster to a known jihadi website. On May 12th, the poster suggested an “invasions suspicious bags (sic)” in “the heart of Washington and New York,” as the FBI’s Washington Field Office Intelligence Division noted in its May 27th “Situational Information Report.” The bags would contain not bombs, but innocuous items, a tactic that has been used by other political extremists in the U.S. in the recent past.

“The stated goal of the campaign,” said the report, “was to exploit desensitization of first responders caused by response fatigue to suspicious, but harmless items.”

The FBI report did not include the full text of the jihadi forum post, but said “the poster suggested packing bags with innocuous items and placing them in public areas has the capability to occupy response assets and disrupt public infrastructure and transportation.” The poster’s credibility was not known, according to the FBI, but the site where the information was posted was listed as a “known jihadi web site.”

The information had also been shared among numerous law enforcement agencies in advance of the bulletin’s circulation. The jihadi posting came within two weeks after an attempted car bombing in Times Square. The man charged in the case, Faisal Shahzad, has alleged link to Islamic fundamentalists overseas.

There may be a risk of desensitization, but that risk comes at the expense of the terrorists.  After all, the point of terrorism is to terrorize, and that only happens when people get jolted out of a false sense of security.  Repeatedly offering “attacks,” especially duds, will have the opposite effect of making heightened security awareness the norm rather than the exception.  People will adjust and continue living their lives, as we have seen in Israel, where the citizenry had adjusted to actual bombings until their government built the wall and kept the terrorists out of the country.

As Andy McCarthy noted in his interview last week with me, the Christmas Day and Times Square attacks were successful, in that sense.  They frightened people and had them questioning their choices.  Why not just continue to push these attacks and not worry about whether the bombs actually explode, if they think that a “suspicious bag” strategy is desirable? After all, the law of averages will eventually work in their favor.  Thus, the suggestion to use duds might mean that it’s become to difficult to plant actual bombs, but in the end it may not matter so much as to give up on it entirely.

That’s why the larger concern should be both the idea of fatigue and the intelligence-gathering from the law-enforcement response.  They may have already found holes in it that allowed the most recent attacks to succeed to the activation phase, but they may be looking for ways to get around the dismantling phase.  That would be extraordinarily dangerous for law enforcement, as it might be a way to plant secondary bombs along with decoys in a manner that targets the police.  Eric Rudolph did that when he bombed the abortion clinic, targeting both the clinic and the initial response.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Maybe they are afraid that Holder will prosecute them if they actually leave a working device.

OK, it’s pretty thin, but it’s a Monday.

Vashta.Nerada on June 7, 2010 at 1:38 PM

Interesting

smart little pesky critters

blatantblue on June 7, 2010 at 1:42 PM

Not jihadi related as far as I know, but during the year of OJ, there were pipe bombs or bomb scares at least once or twice a week. Most were duds. But a few were not duds. You have tall buildings with crappy elevator service and you either had to evacuate or could not get back to your office. A lot of people just stopped evacuating. Post 9/11 – everybody gets the hell out.

Blake on June 7, 2010 at 1:42 PM

It also costs time & $ to respond to duds, making such a strategy a form of economic warfare and putting a strain on public resources.

rbj on June 7, 2010 at 1:44 PM

I’m getting sick of all these mother#%@@! Islamists in this mother#$@@* country.

aquaviva on June 7, 2010 at 1:45 PM

I’m more concerned that its a way to see what or what doesn’t work. As the character Gunnery Sergeant Highway, played by Clint Eastwood, said in the movie Heartbreak Ridge. You adapt, you overcome, you improvise.”

skatz51 on June 7, 2010 at 1:45 PM

This is completely stupid and it shows why we should take heart as far as these terrorist jackasses.

Law enforcement will be able to photograph, stop and ask ID from anyone who does this, if it happens as frequently as it would need to, to be effective.

Then their faces and names go into a database and “frequent forgetters” can be pinpointed and put under surveillance.

This is exactly why the “fly Imam” strategy of dry runs on US aircraft ended and was a failure.

Once these clowns become known, they aren’t sleepers any longer and there is a limited number of these people.

NoDonkey on June 7, 2010 at 1:46 PM

People will adjust and continue living their lives, as we have seen in Israel, where the citizenry had adjusted to actual bombings until their government built the wall and kept the terrorists out of the country.

Uh Ed, that won’t work here. We can’t build that many walls. Imagine even one or two of these “bags” being found daily in NYC or DC. Pure panic and total distruption of subways, airlines, etc. Heck they could even toss in a live one or two every now and again, just to keep things scary.

Johnnyreb on June 7, 2010 at 1:48 PM

The poster’s credibility was not known, according to the FBI, but the site where the information was posted was listed as a “known jihadi web site.”

Why does the FBI have a list of sites where Muslims engage in an internal struggle to be better Muslims?

Aquateen Hungerforce on June 7, 2010 at 1:49 PM

Obama can put 100,000 more cops on the street, we can pass laws about forgetting bags, and we can pull ol’ Lon Horiuchi out of retirement to plug holes in anyone who sets a bag of groceries down for more than 38.4 seconds.

fronclynne on June 7, 2010 at 1:49 PM

The I.R.A. did this in Great Britain. When I was in London, it was not uncommon for the entire subway to come to a screeching halt, and be still for up to an hour, because of an unattended bag.

keebs on June 7, 2010 at 1:51 PM

Sounds to me like it’s operational research in action. Plant a few fakes and watch carefully for how local and federal law officers deal with it. Then they do the real thing for maximum impact.

jwolf on June 7, 2010 at 1:52 PM

keebs on June 7, 2010 at 1:51 PM

Then why isn’t it being used more over there?

London and Madrid were actually bombed?

I don’t think this is anything to get spun up about. A few years back we heard a lot about terrorist dry runs on airlines and then nothing.

NoDonkey on June 7, 2010 at 1:55 PM

I am calling for a ban on all bags. Paper,plastic, or knit.

No More Bags.

portlandon on June 7, 2010 at 1:57 PM

portlandon on June 7, 2010 at 1:57 PM

Including burqas?

NoDonkey on June 7, 2010 at 2:00 PM

Then why isn’t it being used more over there?
NoDonkey on June 7, 2010 at 1:55 PM

I dunno. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that this is multi-pronged approach. As Ed says, certainly it does terrorize people.

keebs on June 7, 2010 at 2:00 PM

I always thought there would be more Malvo type attacks. Thankfully, I have been wrong.

tomas on June 7, 2010 at 2:01 PM

in the Helen Thomas memorial vain, “Can’t we just send all these Muslims back to the Middle East?????”

SDarchitect on June 7, 2010 at 2:01 PM

Death to all Juice.

moonbatkiller on June 7, 2010 at 2:01 PM

I am calling for a ban on all bags. Paper,plastic, or knit.

No More Bags.

portlandon on June 7, 2010 at 1:57 PM

It’s working already…Helen Thomas is gone! ;)

atlgal on June 7, 2010 at 2:04 PM

Including burqas?

NoDonkey on June 7, 2010 at 2:00 PM

Helen Thomas too.

portlandon on June 7, 2010 at 2:04 PM

It has worked!!! They planted one in the White House.

search4truth on June 7, 2010 at 2:06 PM

I am calling for a ban on all bags. Paper,plastic, or knit.

No More Bags.

portlandon on June 7, 2010 at 1:57 PM

It’s working already…Helen Thomas is gone! ;)

atlgal on June 7, 2010 at 2:04 PM

Thank you atigal for a wonderful laugh!!

skatz51 on June 7, 2010 at 2:07 PM

“The Boy Who Cried Wolf” Strategy. Very cunning.

It requires very little cost and absolutely no special expertise or tradecraft for the amateurs who will undoubtedly be sent to initiate these. We have to be lucky every time, they only have to be lucky once – and this is a crafty way to raise the probability of success for that one violent operation.

JeffWeimer on June 7, 2010 at 2:09 PM

This may be a sign that more threatening plots simply won’t work any longer for the Taliban and/or al-Qaeda, or perhaps a way to profile American law-enforcement response:

go with the latter….they WILL hit us

cmsinaz on June 7, 2010 at 2:10 PM

Overwhelm the system. How Alinsky of them.

midlander on June 7, 2010 at 2:11 PM

Huh. Unless you are really careful, you will leave forensic traces on such items, like fingerprints. Granted, that might be a substantial cost to actually look for it, but it could be a way to find terror cells.

Count to 10 on June 7, 2010 at 2:12 PM

Perhaps we could start trying our own “dud” plan in various parts of the world, using certain types of very destructive munitions.

“Nope, that one worked, not a dud.”

“That one worked too, definitely not a dud.”

“Hmmm, the last one worked also…don’t seem to be very many duds.”

Bishop on June 7, 2010 at 2:13 PM

Repeatedly offering “attacks,” especially duds, will have the opposite effect of making heightened security awareness the norm rather than the exception.

I disagree. Like the Flying Imams and the Peace Flotilla, the idea is to force the authorities to do one of two things:
1) Hassle people who can then be painted as the victims of oppressive profiling by the authorities, until they give in and…
2) Back off of the security measures to some extent.

Either way, the provocateurs hope to define a new Line up to which future terrorists can safely approach, knowing they won’t be stopped unless they cross it. They can then plan their operations accordingly.

The Monster on June 7, 2010 at 2:13 PM

As Ed says, certainly it does terrorize people.

keebs on June 7, 2010 at 2:00 PM

I’m not terrorized by an empty bag, although I would be irritated if it held me up.

I still maintain that if people started doing this often, eventually one will be caught in the act and then comes the unravelling, maybe just by letting one of them go and then engaging in surveillance.

There aren’t enough of these people in the US to sacrifice on tactics like this. Why waste one or more on what amounts to a prank?

NoDonkey on June 7, 2010 at 2:14 PM

The Monster on June 7, 2010 at 2:13 PM

“The Flying Imams” happened at least a couple of years ago and hasn’t been repeated.

Seemed like there were talks of “dry runs” almost weekly on US airlines, I haven’t heard a thing since then.

Any intel they would have gathered from the old “dry runs” is stale, since FAA tactics have changed since then. So why did they stop those?

NoDonkey on June 7, 2010 at 2:16 PM

If I was planning this form of attack, I would saturate these areas with with fake bags and every once in a while I would plant one with an actual bomb. This plan would keep the police and bomb squad engaged and cautious when dealing with each bag.

PrettyD_Vicious on June 7, 2010 at 2:28 PM

All it takes is one successful attack, and you can rest on your laurels and dud attacks for a couple of years.

Phoenician on June 7, 2010 at 2:50 PM

PrettyD_Vicious on June 7, 2010 at 2:28 PM

Sounds easy but if it were, why isn’t it happening?

That’s the more interesting question.

NoDonkey on June 7, 2010 at 2:50 PM

All it takes is one successful attack, and you can rest on your laurels and dud attacks for a couple of years.

Phoenician on June 7, 2010 at 2:50 PM

I agree – One real bomb to grab everybody’s attention (even if it doesn’t explode), and anything that appears similar will be taken seriously.

exhelodrvr on June 7, 2010 at 3:00 PM

Stricter bag control laws should fix the problem.

exhelodrvr on June 7, 2010 at 3:01 PM

Why do the terrorists keep hitting on New York. Don’t they know that those liberals are oh, so, sympathetic to the islamotards point of view. They all want to destroy America, so why pick on New York?

TimothyJ on June 7, 2010 at 3:37 PM

Is this thread about old bags……like Helen?

jbh45 on June 7, 2010 at 3:40 PM

We need to kill these people before they do it to us. Nothing more, nothing less. One positive move would be to get rid of the moron in the White House.

ultracon on June 7, 2010 at 3:51 PM

I’m getting sick of all these mother#%@@! Islamists

Line 1 OK

Line two not OK ought be back to their
in this mother#$@@* country.
Somewhat better we think.

Why do the terrorists keep hitting on New York.
They FEAR the wrath of Nancy.

Col.John Wm. Reed on June 7, 2010 at 3:58 PM

“This may be a sign that more threatening plots simply won’t work any longer for the Taliban and/or al-Qaeda, or perhaps a way to profile American law-enforcement response:”

It’s a classic boy-who-cried-wolf tactic. Put so many alarms out there that the real from the false will be indistinguishable.

AntonK on June 7, 2010 at 4:11 PM

One positive move would be to get rid of the moron in the White House.

ultracon on June 7, 2010 at 3:51 PM

Not disagreeing with you, but… careful there.
I think the best means of achieving that laudable goal would be to issue every citizen his or her own personal imp. One imp each.

Mary in LA on June 7, 2010 at 4:17 PM

AntonK on June 7, 2010 at 4:11 PM

Not buying it.

And who would have thought nearly a decade after 9/11, we’d be worried about FAKE bombs.

This is truly a success, this is what they are reduced to and they probably won’t even do this.

As much as those of us on (and in) the right, I believe too many of us buy the media narrative that Islamists cannot be defeated and they are outwitting us at every turn.

NoDonkey on June 7, 2010 at 4:28 PM

We track cattle better than we do overstayed visa border jumping ragheads.

Col.John Wm. Reed on June 7, 2010 at 4:35 PM

We track cattle better than we do overstayed visa border jumping ragheads.

Col.John Wm. Reed on June 7, 2010 at 4:35 PM

+100

There has got to be some “high crimes and misdemeanors” in there somewhere!

Who is John Galt on June 7, 2010 at 4:50 PM

Why do the terrorists keep hitting on New York. Don’t they know that those liberals are oh, so, sympathetic to the islamotards point of view. They all want to destroy America, so why pick on New York?

In a very real sense, New York is fairly easy to get into and remain “unnoticed” for as long as you desire.

It would be much harder to operate in someplace, like, say. . . Jackson, Miss. because the little slip ups that go unnoticed or the BIG azz dots don’t get connected in the background noise of New York. If a Pakistani immigrant walked into a hairdresser supply company in Jackson and bought an extraordinary amount of chemicals, a call would probably be made. In fact, if an unknown person of any characteristic did that in Jackson, a call would probably be made and I.D. would probably be checked.

In New York, you could purchase enough chemicals to build twenty bombs without ever having to so much as make eye contact with a clerk.

Of course there are plenty of other reasons, but a very real one is the difficulty of plotting/operating in America’s heartland versus the megacity of megacities.

Jason Coleman on June 7, 2010 at 5:06 PM

No more bags??!!

It’s started with Helen Thomas. Next Nancy Pelosi and Babara Boxer?

Oh wait. These are not being left (heh) behind nor abandoned. Just the first round of useful idiots discarded by the Regime.

Caststeel on June 7, 2010 at 5:42 PM

The placing if bags in various places is a way of testing us. But the reader who called for a ban on all types of bags should feel pretty good the ban is working — Helen Thomas resigned ;-)

flameofjudah on June 7, 2010 at 5:59 PM

Wanna bet if the NY fire dept inspected Mosques what they would find?Take the dog with you to get a whiff.
To be fair one of each religious brand so that it would be PC.
Bet the dog finds the preachers Jack Daniels and a lot more.

Col.John Wm. Reed on June 7, 2010 at 5:59 PM

The old anecdote in law enforcement/EMS:

Police and EMTs head into the simulated scene of a bomb blast to rescue and stabilize victims and in doing so proceed to walk right past the simulation prop clearly marked “SECONDARY DEVICE”…

Boom.

Vatican Watcher on June 7, 2010 at 6:08 PM

We track cattle better than we do overstayed visa border jumping ragheads.

I just had a lovely vision of illegals being herded to the border, all of them wearing one of those bright yellow tags in their ears. Can anyone say “enemy combatant”?

oldleprechaun on June 7, 2010 at 7:48 PM

Part of the Economic Jihad.

Islam simply sucks, from start to its inevitable finish… sometime in this century.

profitsbeard on June 7, 2010 at 8:56 PM

Just what the Jihadist wants, create a deep sense of Paranoia into the minds of everyone so we will scare ourselves to death over nothing – all Jihadist have to do now is just go BO and watch U.S. scurry around trying to find something in the shadows.

P.C. is the hiding place of this evil. Allow open and truly free communications to let U.S. uncover these suicidal idiots and send them to Allah.

MSGTAS on June 8, 2010 at 9:49 AM

A list of Suspicious Bags
-
One
-
two
-
three
-
I know I’m freakin fraid….. Very fraid.

RalphyBoy on June 8, 2010 at 5:32 PM