U.S. intel: Bin Laden behind Mumbai-style terror plot targeting Europe

posted at 4:58 pm on October 1, 2010 by Allahpundit

We already knew about the plot, but we didn’t know that it might — might — have come from the very top.

Alternate headline: “Hey, maybe Bin Laden’s alive after all.”

Several months ago, sources say, bin Laden used couriers to send a message to al-Qaida’s affiliates and partners: He told them that he would like to see a Mumbai-style attack on at least three strategic targets — the United Kingdom, Germany and France.

Osama bin Laden’s directive is meaningful because it suggests that the core leadership of al-Qaida still has influence over its followers and that the group has added a new style of attack to its repertoire…

“We know that Osama bin Laden issued the directive,” said an official familiar with the intelligence surrounding the plot. “And if he issued the directive, we just don’t believe that the U.S. wouldn’t be on his short list of strategic targets. It has to be.”

I’m not sure how they “know” Bin Laden gave the order. The Telegraph says they’re working on the “assumption” that he used couriers to deliver instructions about the attack; even if we have a copy of the instructions, how on earth at this point could they verify that it was Osama himself who gave the okay instead of whoever’s running Al Qaeda right now doing so in his name? Frankly, given how seriously western intel is taking this threat, the jihadis involved have every reason to invoke Bin Laden’s name in connection with it. It’s sound psychological warfare, sowing panic by making a major operation seem even more major than thought.

More details from Fox News:

This official said it’s believed Bin Laden was giving “broader guidance” in this case, citing the suggestion for attackers to go after softer targets in Europe.

This official noted the intelligence community has not made a direct link to Bin Laden in some of the more recent Al Qaeda attacks and plots.

“At a minimum, he played a role,” this official said. “But not everyone [in the intelligence community] agrees to the level of his involvement.”

One U.S. intelligence official added, however, that the details of how the plan was directed or coordinated by the group’s core leaders is not yet clear.

Leon Panetta reportedly briefed Pakistan’s intel chief Ahmed Pasha a few days ago about the plot, telling him they believe the attacks were scheduled for late November. (Given Pakistani intel’s track record of collaboration with jihadis, Pasha might have known that already.) The source who relayed information about their meeting alluded to possibly 24 or even 36(!) jihadi operatives being involved, although I suspect his count is including everyone from the top of Al Qaeda all the way down to the most tangential facilitators. According to a Pakistani intelligence official, there are thought to be 10 attackers — eight Germans and two Brits, one of whom may have been killed in a drone strike already — and they’re currently holed up in North Waziristan, dodging the near-daily thunderbolts from CIA drones that have been launched at them this month. Until they’re dead or captured, the plot remains “active” albeit “severely disrupted.”

As for the composition of the cell, two noteworthy details. One: Europeans have been training in Pakistani terror camps for years now, precisely because it’s easier for them to avoid detection once they return to the west and prepare for the attack. A vignette from Newsweek:

For weeks now, as missiles from American drones have snuffed out their leaders and terrorized their recruits in the remote mountains of Pakistan’s North Waziristan area, Al Qaeda fighters have kept their spirits up by telling each other they were about to have their revenge. “It’s like they’ve just been waiting for news, as if they were all excited about something big about to happen in the West,” says an Afghan Taliban intelligence officer known to NEWSWEEK who operates as a liaison between his organization and Al Qaeda. For security reasons he would not allow his name to be published. The source said one senior Qaeda activist told him that Europeans and Americans think “our minds and bodies are in the mountains of the [Pakistan] tribal areas, but soon we will carry out a visible offensive with long-term consequences in their own Western homes and cities.”…

The Afghan Taliban intelligence officer interviewed by NEWSWEEK this morning said that on a recent visit to the Miranshah area of North Waziristan he heard voices on Al Qaeda walkie-talkies that he could identify as speaking in English and what he believed were French and German, although he does not speak those languages himself. (Al Qaeda has learned that cell-phone signals are easy for Western intelligence to pinpoint for drone attacks. So when Al Qaeda fighters do use cell phones, they sometimes set them on speakerphone and link them to walkie-talkies. That way the people talking over them can position themselves far enough away from the phone to escape the blast if there’s a missile attack.)

Two: Both Newsweek and NPR speculate that this isn’t an exclusively Al Qaeda operation but rather one that could involve various “affiliates,” from Al Qaeda in the Maghreb (i.e. northern Africa) to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan to the Haqqani network in Afghanistan. If so, that’s good news and bad news. Good news because it corroborates CIA reports that Al Qaeda proper has been decimated by eight years of war; if they need to recruit from other organizations just to staff an attack, they’re in worse shape than thought. (The cross-org scope also raises the question of whether a directive from Bin Laden would necessarily be obeyed by everyone involved.) Bad news, of course, because ultimately no one much cares what brand a terrorist carries. Jihad is jihad, and if the Haqqani network is getting into international terrorism now, well, that’s one more headache for western intelligence. In fact, as Bill Roggio and Tom Joscelyn remind us, AQ’s cooperation with other jihadi outfits is nothing new. They’ve been working with Lashkar e-Taiba — the actual perpetrators of the Mumbai attack — for years to terrify India. Why not hook up with Haqqani’s people to kill a few Europeans?

Possibly related to all this and possibly not is the fact that a bunch of A/V messages from jihadi all-stars have been released this week. None of them deal specifically with the European plot; Bin Laden’s new one, in fact, addresses, er, climate change, which is actually nothing new for him in attempting to pander to western liberals. But this could be a response to the CIA’s drone bombardment, essentially a way of proving that the missiles haven’t worked and they’re still alive, kicking, and planning to blow things up. Anwar al-Aulaqi is set to release a new tape “soon.” Can’t wait.


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It is not possible to see this poster too many times.

BobMbx on October 1, 2010 at 5:01 PM

UBL isn’t a threat. Neither is A-jad.

That’s what I’ve heard from the White Mosque.

madmonkphotog on October 1, 2010 at 5:02 PM

Pretty good trick for fish food.

Limerick on October 1, 2010 at 5:02 PM

So when Al Qaeda fighters do use cell phones, they sometimes set them on speakerphone and link them to walkie-talkies.

Who’s the poor sucker who has to key the mic at the cell phone end?

flipflop on October 1, 2010 at 5:04 PM

Does this mean we’re going to send out a Predator to perform a hit on Bert?

teke184 on October 1, 2010 at 5:06 PM

Is he doing this because of Climate Change?

Chip on October 1, 2010 at 5:07 PM

I think we should pull our troops out of Europe. Cause that will make things better.

tomas on October 1, 2010 at 5:11 PM

“…he would like to see a Mumbai-style attack on… the United Kingdom, Germany and France.”

“just don’t believe that the U.S. wouldn’t be on his short list of strategic targets. It has to be.”

Even Bin Laden knows that a Mumbai-style attack on a U.S. population center would last about 30 seconds… because we haven’t allowed our government to take our firearms away, like the other countries mentioned largely have. The best deterrent to terrorism [and tyranny] is an armed populace.

VastRightWingConspirator on October 1, 2010 at 5:12 PM

I still believe Osama bin molding is part of the cave in Tora Bora.If he is alive he is the biggest coward in the World. Has to hide. Wow big man….

sandee on October 1, 2010 at 5:12 PM

If they do pull off an attack like this I wonder if the West will finally admit that we are at war with islam? Blowing up some trains in Europe didn’t do it. In America 9/11 didn’t do it. If they do pull it off I hope it will be enough to start a backlash.

deewhybee on October 1, 2010 at 5:13 PM

Since we’ve already learned today that bin Laden’s gone green, maybe if you put this story together with that one, you get the explanation for the mindset behind that 10.11 environmental video.

jon1979 on October 1, 2010 at 5:15 PM

“Hey, maybe Bin Laden’s alive after all.”

If he was still alive, he could easily prove it-make a video where he holds up a relatively recent newspaper or news magazine. But he’s not been able to do that in almost 9 years.

He’s dead, Jim. But keeping him alive keeps alive the myth that Chimpy Bush “let him get away”.

Mission Accomplished!

Del Dolemonte on October 1, 2010 at 5:17 PM

Even Bin Laden knows that a Mumbai-style attack on a U.S. population center would last about 30 seconds… because we haven’t allowed our government to take our firearms away, like the other countries mentioned largely have. The best deterrent to terrorism [and tyranny] is an armed populace.

It still depends on your municipality and the physical location you’re at, but it would be a bad idea here in general.

I’m not going to name cities or states where it would work, but I’d imagine that trying it in Texas would sure end like the scenario you’re describing.

teke184 on October 1, 2010 at 5:19 PM

jon1979 on October 1, 2010 at 5:15 PM

Perfect.

Vera on October 1, 2010 at 5:20 PM

Ants and worms are laughing uncontrollably.

Schadenfreude on October 1, 2010 at 5:20 PM

I thought Barry was going to capture Bin Laden?

reddevil on October 1, 2010 at 5:25 PM

One of my favorite pictures ever.

John the Libertarian on October 1, 2010 at 5:33 PM

Proof of life is a good way to start … something an audio tape just doesn’t do.

tarpon on October 1, 2010 at 5:37 PM

How can this be? We know now that Osama is an Al-Gore Warmist! Blowing things up, burning down hotels and all that is so Carbon intensive!

What a hypocrite!

slickwillie2001 on October 1, 2010 at 7:06 PM

If so, that’s good news and bad news. Good news because it corroborates CIA reports that Al Qaeda proper has been decimated by eight years of war; if they need to recruit from other organizations just to staff an attack, they’re in worse shape than thought.

Al Qaeda was a made up name given to the “shadow” enemy by America to make them tangible and target-able way back when. It took the focus off Islam as Islams friends and vassals desired. Islam is the enemy, not just rag tag mountain ghosts blowing up passers by. You could have Bin Hidin and every one whose smelled him impaled and gasping and you have only made Muslim martyrs. It is the ideology not the individual that drives the evil of Islam.

BL@KBIRD on October 1, 2010 at 7:15 PM

says an Afghan Taliban intelligence officer known to NEWSWEEK who operates as a liaison between his organization and Al Qaeda. For security reasons he would not allow his name to be published.

OK, so doesn’t this make Newsweak complicit in action against the west?

AZfederalist on October 1, 2010 at 9:20 PM

Osama,
Probably as alive as Eva Peron but useful for PR purposes.
In the USA the boys or girls might be met by CHL holders,oh, except NYC, Chicago,San Fran are gun free zones. That puts the welcome mat out.

Col.John Wm. Reed on October 1, 2010 at 9:29 PM

I’m always surprised how talkative some long-dead people are….

And shocked that Al Qaida conducts seances. I don’t remember seeing THAT permitted in the Quran.

LegendHasIt on October 1, 2010 at 11:26 PM

US Intel might as well accuse Evil Bert of being behind it. Neither he nor UBL are breathing.

theCork on October 2, 2010 at 11:32 AM

Love the picture

scotash on October 3, 2010 at 2:33 AM

Alternate headline: “Hey, maybe Bin Laden’s alive after all.”

Ummm…no, he’s been dead since he was buried under tons of rock at Tora Bora as he tried to run away. It’s tough to accept, but that’s that.

MarkT on October 3, 2010 at 8:29 AM