For the first time in years, the issue of terrorism is again near forefront of the minds of voters most likely to head to the polls in November. The rise of the Islamic State in the Middle East and the statements of American officials who warn that the nation is less safe today than at any time since 9/11 have made for an anxious electorate. The party in power, however, will not benefit from this increased apprehension – polls indicate that Republicans are most trusted to handle matters relating to foreign affairs and national security. This is perhaps why you haven’t heard much about a specific mass-casualty plot which was likely to be executed against North American targets in Canada had it not been preempted by Canadian authorities.
According to an exclusive report via NBC News, “ISIS-inspired” prospective terrorists plotted a specific plan to execute “knife and gun” attacks against American and Canadian targets in Canada.
An earlier version of the NBC report indicated that the plot was particularly specific; terrorists had surveilled an unidentified shopping mall and sought out methods of entry and exit, were planning to use knives and firearms on people jammed up on escalators, and planned to martyr themselves when authorities arrived to put down the attack.
Both U.S. and Canadian officials fear the beheading of an innocent person in a public place, or the slashing of citizens on a crowded street until police arrive to shoot and “martyr” the terrorists.
In the mall terror plan, the group discussing the attack allegedly did a walk-through of a Canadian mall, scoped out its exits and focused on an attack that would mow down people on crowded escalators. The mayhem would last until police arrived. Authorities became aware of the alleged plan and disrupted it before it could go any further.
That report was later amended significantly, and all of the operational details of the nascent terror plot reproduced above were edited out. In their place, NBC noted that officials stressed there was no immediate threat to the United States and the terror plot was merely at the “aspirational” stage.
“Canadian officials are weighing increased security around public buildings in coming days, government officials there say,” The NBC News report still reads. “The increased concern is prompted in part by Tuesday’s vote in the Canadian parliament to join the coalition of nations carrying out airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq.”
NBC further reported that Canadian officials are monitoring “hundreds of people” who either traveled to Syria in order to link with Islamist militants or attempted to main the trip but failed. “The unknowns, those inspired by ISIS but as yet on no radar, add to the worry, helping to make this what U.S. and Canadian officials have said is the most dangerous time since 9/11 for a domestic terror attack,” NBC added.
There are many innocuous reasons why NBC News might have scrubbed the specific details of the emerging terror threat from their original report. Officials may have requested NBC remove that language as it revealed an excessive amount of detail about the nature of Western counter-terrorism intelligence gathering practices. Authorities may simply not have wanted to start a panic. Regardless, the effect of the scrubbing is the same: The public loses faith in the press, and the dangers posed by radical Islamist terrorism are sanitized.