I was at my usual Starbucks stop this morning and took my usual stroll through the connected Barnes & Noble to buy a magazine, when the clerk said she saw me on TV the other day, talking about the bin Laden raid. She was worried because she is going to be on a commercial flight soon and feared a counter-attack.
I asked her if she was flying domestically or international. Domestic.
I told her not to worry too much. First, there’s a slim chance statistically that she would be on a flight that has an issue, but second, because of the Navy SEAL party at bin Laden’s house last week, nothing big should be happening anytime soon. Let’s face it – al Qaeda is not stupid. The killing of their leader represents a colossal failure of intelligence on their part. Plus, the fact that the U.S. now possesses a lot of bin Laden’s planning materials will make the rest of al Qaeda sit back and get paranoid. Any major event they had in the works may already be compromised.
Al Qaeda will need to assess its own intel failures, its operational security, and try to figure out just how much we now know about their operations and their operatives.
Most terrorists don’t fear death, but they do fear giving their life up cheaply. They want the operation to work and they are willing to be patient. They will be looking at their safe houses, and their personnel in a whole new, and suspicious way. They won’t know who to trust or whether their own information is now being analyzed somewhere in Langley, Virginia.
International travel is a slightly different story. So is the lone gunman. Internationally, American’s will make easy targets for a low-level attack, such as a shooter, or hostage taking, or even a car bomb. These are easier hits because travel to the U.S. is not required for the bad guys. There is also the possibility that a lone gunman, living here in the U.S. either trained, recruited or just plain ticked off at life and has spent too much time on the Jihad websites, takes matters into his or her own hands and heads to a U.S. shopping mall with a weapon and an attitude. Hard to control that, but for the big ticket items, hijacking planes or sabotaging Amtrak, I think those are on hold for a little while.