Al Qaeda Is "Selling Wolf Tickets"

John blueoval at 1SMARTISP.NET
Thu Sep 8 10:19:28 MDT 2005



Report Warns of Terrorists' 'Great Ramadan Offensive'
By Sherrie Gossett
CNSNews.com Staff Writer
September 8, 2005

(CNSNews.com) -- Al Qaeda's plans for a series of spectacular 
terrorist strikes in October, targeting American interests as well 
as U.S. allies in Europe and the Middle East and said to be 
coordinated by Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenant in Iraq - 
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- are the subject of a non-public report 
issued by terrorism experts this week.

The attacks, planned to coincide with the Muslim observance of 
Ramadan and dubbed the "Great Ramadan Offensive," are designed to 
create a "fateful confrontation" with the U.S. and Israeli forces 
in the Middle East, according to a May 30 letter from Zarqawi to 
bin Laden. The contents of the letter are referenced in the report 
written by Yossef Bodansky, the former director of the U.S. 
Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare.

The Sept. 2 report is accessible only to government officials on 
the Global Information System (GIS) database. Cybercast News 
Service obtained the report on the same day as its release. It 
warns of planned attacks in Western Europe, Russia and perhaps the 
continental U.S. The specific targets are believed to include 
airports at Schiphol in the Netherlands and Fiumicino in Italy.

Italy remains on high alert and barricades have been placed around 
Rome's Colosseum. "Terrorism is coming home," the GIS report 
quotes one unnamed German senior official. "And it's coming home 
to those countries whose governments may have believed they were 
immune from terror because for years they have provided safe haven 
to notorious Islamic extremists."

An associate of Zarqawi named Abu Abdul Rahman al-Jazaeri, was 
said to be in Italy, but could not be located by authorities, 
according to Bodansky, who added that Jazeiri was believed to have 
recently received from a Zarqawi messenger "the definitive mandate 
to plan and carry out a major terrorist operation in Italy."

In late August Italy announced that it was at an elevated risk for 
a terrorist attack. The country expelled 700 suspected militants 
and arrested 141 others. News organizations reported that locks to 
the entrances of 49 subway stations had been changed and metal 
barricades erected around the 2,000-year old Colosseum in Rome.

Piecing it all together

Details of the planned attacks were pieced together from 
intercepted communications between top al Qaeda leaders in the 
latter part of August, analysis of what counter- terrorism experts 
described as a dramatic increase in the volume of communication 
among jihad forces and the observation of an unprecedented 
movement of jihadists and messengers around the world apparently 
delivering instructions.

Zarqawi, linked to numerous bombings and the beheadings of several 
Western hostages in Iraq, reportedly titled his letter to bin 
Laden, "A Message from a Soldier to His Commander." According to 
the GIS report, Zarqawi's letter to bin Laden alluded to "the 
forthcoming grand offensive comprised of escalation in the Middle 
East and a series of spectacular terrorist strikes" meant to 
overshadow the impact of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist strikes in 
New York City and Washington, D.C.

The letter also indicated Zarqawi was expecting bin Laden to 
approve and authorize the escalation: "I think that the plan for 
the next stage that was drawn up has reached you or is on its way 
to you. O God. Make the expedition of Osama proceed toward its 
goal ... We await your orders as to the next stage of the plan," 
Zarqawi wrote.

An Aug. 8 televised message from bin Laden's overall 
second-in-command -- Ayman al-Zawahiri - is now viewed as the 
approval Zarqawi was anticipating. "What you have seen, O 
Americans, in New York and Washington and the losses you are 
having in Afghanistan and Iraq, in spite of all the media 
blackout, are only the losses of the initial clashes ... You will 
see the horror that will make you forget what you had seen in 
Vietnam," Zawahiri said.

The al Qaeda official's threat, according to the report, wasn't 
delivered until the jihad forces were organized and ready to 
strike.

The GIS report also cites an Aug. 21 message recorded by Zarqawi, 
which references the next phase of the terrorist jihad. "The 
[mujahedeen] in Iraq, have, praise be to God, moved the battle 
from the ground (in Iraq) to the land of the cross."

Zarqawi's message claimed that "[J]ihadist units have been founded 
in all of Western Europe, to defend the powerless within the 
nation. For the crimes the Crusaders have committed against the 
Muslims, they will reap in their own homes, God willing."

A few days later, according to GIS, a doctrinal statement from 
Zarqawi emerged, which stressed the priority of al Qaeda in Iraq 
establishing "another base that will export jihad to all parts of 
the world the same way the mother al Qaeda in Afghanistan was."

'The heart and lair of the Great Satan'

Bodansky's report states that "concrete preparations for the 
consolidation of Islamist-jihadist springboards against the heart 
and lair of the Great Satan are being completed -- for Western 
Europe in the Balkans, for Russian and Eastern Europe in Chechnya, 
and for the United States in the tri-border area in Latin 
America."

Widespread anticipation throughout the Muslim world of the Great 
Ramadan Offensive was being picked up by intelligence analysts in 
August and then was reinforced by a slew of theological statements 
-- all buttressing what the GIS report calls "a forthcoming, 
well-coordinated global onslaught."

The marked increase in the volume of communication, both encrypted 
and open, exceeded that of the months prior to September 2001, the 
report states.

Bodansky said there is a growing awareness among Western European 
intelligence services of the "chatter" and activation of jihadist 
units, led by veterans of Iraq and Chechnya. In early August 2005 
Pakistanis arrested a senior operative called Osama bin Yussaf who 
had detailed maps of Italian, German and British cities stored in 
his computer.

Germany faces the challenge of second and third generation 
immigrants inspired by the idea of a global jihad, the GIS report 
notes. Such young jihadists often hold down a regular job, have 
European passports and are valued assets due to their low profile, 
and easy mobility.

Bodansky also points to the Aug. 23 decree by Islamist rebels in 
Chechnya establishing an "emergency government." Details of the 
decree, not previously reported, inidcate that a "war leadership 
council" was established and would likely "implement the next 
cycle of terrorist strikes against Russia" as part of the 
coordinated global attacks.

Hurricane Katrina's message

Terrorist leaders may also have taken the devastation wrought by 
hurricane Katrina as a symbol that God is pleased with their plans 
to launch the "Great Ramadan Offensive," according to the GIS 
report.

"Allah has punished America with winds and water," said one imam 
quoted in the report. America is under "the curse of the Jews," 
said another.

"It's clear the jihadists regarded Katrina as a sign from God 
they're doing the right thing," said Gregory R. Copley, president 
of The International Strategic Studies Association in Washington, 
D.C.

In a separate analysis, Christopher Brown, research associate with 
the Hudson Institute's Transitions to Democracy project, warned of 
the strategic opening that the hurricane aftermath offers 
jihadists.

"If this attack is launched soon, the devastation to the American 
economy alone could easily far exceed that of the September 11th 
attacks and could be equivalent in terms of economic impact to the 
detonation of a small nuclear device on American soil," Brown 
said.

He also suggested that the timing of Zawahiri's past video 
messages indicates a terrorist attack may be imminent.

His first messages, on Sept. 9 and Nov. 9 of 2004, preceded the 
Dec. 6, 2004 attack on the U.S. consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. 
Feb. 20 and June 17, 2005 video messages by Zawahiri preceded the 
July 7 series of bombings in London. A third set of messages - on 
Aug. 4 and Sept. 1 - also creates cause for concern, Brown 
contends.

"If the pattern that has been outlined holds true," says Brown, 
"then al Qaeda is very likely about to launch a new major or 
series of major attacks within the next month."

Copley agreed, telling Cybercast News Service that, "I think 
Europe is going to be a prime target, but I think there's no 
question the U.S. is very much on the schedule.

"There will be big things happening over the next few months," he 
added.

Ramadan, a religious observance which includes a period of 
fasting, is scheduled according to the Islamic calendar. This year 
it is scheduled from Oct. 4 to Nov. 2. Muslim soldiers on the 
battlefield are exempt from Ramadan.

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