Yeah, I know — “alarmism.” A couple of points:
1. Hamid Mir, the reporter with whom this story originated, is the only journalist to have interviewed Bin Laden after 9/11. Obviously, his sources would be in a position to know what the top ranks of AQ are thinking. He’s been consistent, too: I wrote a post in late May about an interview Mir had given in which he identified Al Qaeda’s nuclear ambitions and even the operative they’ve entrusted to mastermind the attack — Adnan al-Shukrijumah, who inspired a special national terror APB by the FBI back in 2002. Mir’s story is the same today as it was four months ago. The only difference is that now he’s got a target date for the attack. Ramadan, 2006.
2. Would AQ really leak news of a massive attack before it happened? See for yourself. It’s about 30 seconds in, right after the segment on Shanksville. I’d completely forgotten until I saw the footage again yesterday.
3. The Blotter has run not one but two stories about Shukrijumah in the past five days. The only “news” in both stories was that the FBI is looking for him but still hasn’t found him. From September 7th:
Shukrijumah is suspected to have had contacts with 9/ll hijack leader Mohammed Atta before leaving the United States shortly before the attacks…
Virtually every one of the FBI’s 56 field offices are involved in the hunt, according to Stuart McArthur, the assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami field office, who heads up the bureau’s hunt for Shukrijumah.
And from yesterday:
A one-time Florida chemistry student has the FBI worried and working overtime…
[A]s the clock ticks they fear he will help guide al Qaeda to another terrorist attack somewhere inside the United States. “He has a knowledge base of the U.S. that he can share with other al Qaeda operatives,” the FBI’s McArthur said.
Why would they run two stories when there’s no actual news to report?
The Blotter has good sources inside the intelligence community and likes to be ahead of the curve with terrorism scoops. Last month, they ran a piece on alleged UK terror plot mastermind Matiur Rehman the day before arrests were made and the plot was publicly revealed. Clearly they’d been tipped to the impending raids and wanted to get in on the ground floor of the story. The fact that they’re putting Shukrijumah’s name out there when there is, to all appearances, no new information about him makes me think their sources are very concerned about him right now, and Brian Ross and co. either don’t know why or they do know and are sitting on sensitive details while the feds try to break up the plot.
Keep your eye on this one. It’s still probably a false alarm, but I’d raise the worry meter from blue to yellow.
Update: Forgot to mention that Mir thinks the nuclear material/device is already in the U.S., and was smuggled in … from Mexico. Our friends in the undocumented community had better hope that’s not true, because if it is, not even Jorge Bush will be able to resist the political pressure in the aftermath to make the southern border airtight.
Detainees have told investigators that al-Qaida leaders plan to use new cells of second-generation immigrant Muslims who have lived in the U.S. and can blend in and not attract as much suspicion. They’re being held in reserve for larger attacks.
One such Americanized operative, Adnan El-Shukrijumah, has reportedly been scouting potential targets in New York, Washington and Chicago. He’s on the FBI’s most wanted list.
Update: Dan’s found a report that Shukrijumah was spotted in Trinidad, Guyana, as recently as a week ago.