2 Окт 2012 Kagahn 5
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Threat interactions One of the most common frameworks for risk assessment is to consider a threat in terms of the value27 and vulnerability of the asset under threat, the nature of the harm agent and the capability and motivation of the potential attacker see Figure 1. In the mids, early official responses to concerns about CBRN terrorism generally tended to focus on preparing for the consequences of a CBRN attack situated at the nexus of value, vulnerability and harm agent and were thus weighted heavily toward worst-case scenarios.
Fortunately, by the end of the s scholars had drawn attention also to consideration of the motivations and capabilities of potential perpetrators. What have received far less emphasis, however, are some of the potential interactions between the different branches of the CBRN terrorism tree. Figure 1. These represent the subjective 20 G. Ackerman beliefs about each element of the tree on the part of the attacker.
Where this becomes more interesting is in the perceptual interactions between the consequence branch and the intention to attack. If, for instance, the attacker does not perceive that the asset holds much value for the defender usually the target government , then he is much less likely to expend his scarce resources on attacking it, assuming that his goal is to coerce or hurt the defender.
This is the same principle behind the home-security camera boxes with blinking lights that seem to be working but are in fact empty and do not record anything. This may make an attack using that agent less attractive to terrorists since it denies them the terror they seek to engender. Whether any such interactions are relevant and the circumstances under which they would have deterrent value will of course require further research, but ignoring such interactions can make us blind to a host of possible measures to dissuade potential attackers from engaging in CBRN terrorism.
Dangerous dynamics and nebulous negatives Terrorism and technology development are inherently dynamic phenomena. CBRN terrorism, which is situated at the nexus of both, can thus be expected to be anything but static. If recent trends in terrorism have taught us anything, it is that terrorists are nimble actors who can be innovative when necessary. Capability of attacker Gaps within CBRN terrorism research 21 This is not to mention the number of new discoveries and applications being made almost daily in fields such as biology, chemistry and engineering.
So, even if terrorist groups may lack the capability to engage in successful, largescale CBRN attacks today, one would be foolish to assume that the situation will remain so forever. Even if one believes that terrorists will eventually succeed in using WMD to cause mass casualties, the timing and rapidity of such an attack are important questions.
Will this occur within the next five years or within the next 50? Still another set of issues relates to the possible demonstrative effects of a future large-scale CBRN terrorism event. If it is successful, will it encourage a string of copycats or even escalations? If its consequences are mediocre, will it have an inhibitory effect on future attacks using CBRN? Or will it merely encourage a redoubling of effort or a shift to another type of CBRN from the one that was used in the attack?
One example of promising research in this area is closer study of the possible behavior of CBRN-armed terrorists. Charles Blair has proposed research into one element of this behavior, namely Islamist terrorist command and control of nuclear weapons. For instance, would a particular strain of jihadists pre-delegate the use of nuclear weapons?
What utility would they find in non-yield i. Such research would draw on in-depth qualitative study of various Islamist terrorist networks, as well as the extensive prior body of knowledge on nuclear strategy, command and control gained during the decades of the Cold War. In our case, this would mean analyzing not only those groups or individuals who have pursued CBRN weapons, but also those who have not.
Is it a matter of insufficient capability, a satisfaction with conventional weapons or merely luck? Hypotheses abound, but very little serious research has been carried out in this area. Ackerman Conclusion This chapter has outlined a series of aspects of CBRN terrorism to which I believe insufficient attention has thus far been paid by the research community. These range from rather abstract questions of the predictive value of CBRN terrorism research to very concrete details about the specific nature of the threat.
I am certain that I have been given the lesser task in this volume — it is far easier to identify gaps than it is to fill them. Yet I maintain that nothing mentioned here is beyond the reach of a concerted research effort and encourage the research community to join in moving beyond the current boundaries of CBRN terrorism research.
Notes 1 See, e. Asal, Gary A. Ackerman and R. Tauris, Pilat, Jessica Stern and Richard A. Others disagree on the probability of a nuclear terrorism event within the next decade, cf. Ferguson et al. Rittel and M. Kurtz and D. Even though the recipe might not be genuine, it could be constructed to seem plausible and particularly easy to make and to provide specific signatures such as a peculiar ingredient or process that could be observed in the broader system. Counter-terrorism authorities could then trace the movement of the recipe through jihadist virtual and physical networks, thus increasing their information about the dissemination of this CBRN knowledge, and also identify any would-be CBRN terrorists who might try to follow the recipe.
Hype or Reality? Scott Armstrong ed. DECiDe merely offers a rigorous set of guidelines and will leave the ultimate conclusions in any particular case to the analysts themselves; it is a tool to facilitate and enhance, rather than replace, human analysis. Tucker ed. Stimson Center Report No. Leslie W. Kennedy and Cynthia M. Many experts now suggest that it is only a matter of time before al-Qaeda or some other group uses chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear CBRN weapons against a Western target.
Countering this threat requires a clear understanding of the technical nature of catastrophic weapons and their distribution around the world, along with a comprehensive understanding of the intentions and strategy of groups and individuals that might carry out such attacks. A comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy must restrict both the capabilities of terrorists and minimize their willingness to attack. The discussion begins by highlighting the importance of ideology in any analysis of terrorism.
Finally, we use this analytical framework to assess the types of CBRN attacks most attractive to each of the four dimensions of al-Qaeda. Understanding the contemporary threat of weapons of mass destruction WMD terrorism requires multiple frames of analysis, including capabilities, intended outcomes and environmental opportunities.
This chapter seeks to add granularity to those assumptions with specific regard to the four dimensions of al-Qaeda. Fishman and J. Forest Ideologies of terrorism Terrorism is an ideologically-driven phenomenon: a type of violence that transcends criminal or other motivations. Individuals and groups resort to terrorism because they have a political or religious vision of the future that they do not believe will materialize without the use of violence.
Often, this vision of the future is articulated through a set of ideas and values meant to inspire individual action and rationalize the use of violence in pursuit of this envisioned future. These ideologies are often intellectually and emotionally appealing because they prescribe and explain a notion of social organization, but they also imbue individual believers with a sense of moral righteousness.
This is particularly true with religious ideologies. These ideas add a spiritual dimension to the overall appeal to violence, and can thus be a more powerful motivator for extraordinary action by justifying pain and brutality via the appeal to a higher power.
Setting aside the capabilities of an organization, the potential threat of a terrorist group is largely a function of how drastic the change they wish to effect is and their preferred strategy for achieving that vision. All sorts of organizations aim to change social, political and religious reality.
Most eschew violence entirely, but a small subset embraces violence for strategic or ideological reasons. An even smaller group embraces the use of massive levels of violence and unconventional weapons. It is important to recognize how ideologies that espouse mass violence represent only one small end of an ideological spectrum see Figure 2.
At one end of the spectrum are groups that desire dramatic changes, but do not see the necessity of violent means to bring about those changes. At various points toward the middle of this spectrum are a variety of groups willing to use some level of violence in pursuit of their objectives, ranging from a desire for religious governance e. Islamic militants seeking to establish a caliphate, where sharia law reigns supreme to Maoist communism e.
Earth Liberation Front. Threshold of catastrophic violence Apocalyptic terrorism Non-violent protests Groups that want to change the world, but reject the need for violent means Figure 2. Groups that want to change the world, and see a need for violent means Groups that want to destroy the world for various reasons WMD and the four dimensions of al-Qaeda 31 At the opposite end of the spectrum from the non-violent protestors are individuals and groups whose ideologies articulate a desire for the end of the world, or at least the end of all mankind.
Examples include extreme environmentalist cults such as the Church of Euthanasia and the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement both of whom call for the elimination of the human race in order to save the planet , and apocalyptic doomsday or final judgment cults.
Among the latter category, the most prominent in recent years has been Aum Shinrikyo, whose leader Shoko Asahara came to believe that a catastrophic world war was imminent, and that only his followers would survive. Regardless of the underlying monotheistic faith, groups that adhere to an apocalyptic ideology see their mission in two general ways: They either want to accelerate the end of time or take action to ensure that they survive the millennium.
For example, Aum Shinrikyo wanted to hasten the end of the world and thus sought nuclear weapons and developed their own chemical and biological weapons programs in pursuit of this objective ,2 while other groups have built compounds like that of the Branch Davidians near Waco, Texas in order to survive the apocalypse. At a certain point along the spectrum of ideologies there is a threshold separating groups willing to engage in catastrophic terrorism from those that are not.
Relatively few groups have chosen to cross that threshold. Indeed, a significant majority of terrorist groups have recognized the need to impose constraints on their violence, not only for moral reasons, but in order to maintain the popular support necessary for financing their operations and recruiting new members to their ranks. Others calibrate their violence in order to do harm and bring political change but avoid provoking an overwhelming counterattack by superior forces.
Further, many terrorists pursue a vision of the future in which they will someday be in charge of a particular governable space, and this vision may require them to overthrow an existing government but ensure that the space and people they seek to govern are left relatively undamaged. However, if the envisioned governable space is geographically separate from the hostile population of a nation-state like a separate Basque country, a Tamil homeland, a Chechen or Kurdish state, etc.
Forest Among the groups that have already crossed the threshold of catastrophic terrorism, many see themselves as fulfilling the mandate of a higher power that justifies any level of violence — in essence, they reject any moral constraints on their violence. A common thread among these groups is the need for mass destruction and death indeed, the elimination of all humans in some cases in order to bring about a better world envisioned and articulated through some form of catastrophic ideology.
However, there are also important differences. Some terrorists who adhere to catastrophic ideologies only seek reward in the afterlife, while others also want their followers to dominate this world. Members of al-Qaeda are included in this latter category. Led by Usama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, this organization has global reach, uses the rugged Afghanistan—Pakistan border region as a safe-haven and has demonstrated the ability to organize and implement catastrophic terrorist attacks.
All of these organizations have collaborated with AQ Central in some sense, though the level of cooperation varies widely. Although these organizations often espouse global goals, most have focused their militancy within the borders of a single state or region.
Hoffman describes two sub-categories of AQ Locals: individuals that have some experience in terrorist organizations or training camps, and individuals that developed their own cell, but reached out to AQ Central before making their cell operational. These individuals are often poorly trained and poorly equipped; there are numerous examples of AQ Networks deriving operational concepts and technical expertise from open-source materials found online.
But first, it is important to recognize that while each of these four dimensions operate in very different strategic environments, they are united by the same basic ideological approach to their violence, and thus understanding this ideology is critical for accurately assessing the WMD threat posed by al-Qaeda.
WMD and the four dimensions of al-Qaeda 33 The ideology which unites, inspires and motivates the various forms of al-Qaeda stems from an extremist interpretation of Sunni Islam called SalafiJihadism. Within the 1. Finally, some Salafis embrace violence as the preferred method of uniting Muslims around the world and imposing a version of Islam that reflects their understanding of Islam.
This unique Salafi-Jihadi interpretation of Islam draws on a number of sources. He also embraced the concept of takfir — the expulsion of Muslims from the community of believers in order to make them legitimate targets of violence.
In the early twentieth century, an Egyptian named Hassan al-Banna the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood carried forward the argument that much of the world had fallen away from true Islam and encouraged Muslims to use violence against the corrupting influences of the West including occupying military forces and apostate regimes. During this same period, Abu al-Ala Mawdudi — an Indian journalist — gained broad support for his argument that Muslims should not be afraid to use force in their quest to establish a more just society.
Finally, another Egyptian named Sayyid Qutb expanded the argument that Islam is the one and only way of ruling mankind that is acceptable to God, and called for the abandonment of all human-created concepts, laws, customs and traditions — even by force where necessary. He argued that Muslims should resist the influences of Western institutions and traditions that have poisoned mankind and made the world an evil place Dar al-Harb — house of war or chaos.
These and other prominent figures have contributed significantly to what has become known as the Salafi-Jihadist movement. Jihadi articles 34 B. Forest advocating the use of such weapons tend to focus on the moral acceptability of using such weapons, whereas articles protesting catastrophic terrorism argue that they are strategically unwise. It is worth briefly surveying the internal jihadi debate over the use of catastrophic terrorism and CBRN because it illustrates both the moral and strategic calculations Salafi-Jihadi terrorists of all stripes must consider.
AQ Central and its followers have demonstrated a willingness to kill thousands of people in a single blow, which indicates they have overcome moral objections to the use of mass-casualty attacks, at least on a Western target. More pragmatic arguments suggest al-Qaeda should reply with the same weapons the United States used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In al-Qaeda received some modicum of religious sanction for the use of WMD against the enemies of Islam by Saudi cleric Nassir bin Hamad al-Fahd, who issued an important and detailed fatwa on the permissibility of WMD in jihad.
Shaykh Nassir al-Fahd stated that since America has destroyed countless lands and killed millions of Muslims, Muslims are permitted to respond in kind against the United States. He was adamant that jihadi use of WMD represents a form of symmetry with the West. As he argued that hijacking planes represents little more than a jihadi air force, Shaykh Nassir al-Fahd claimed that the US use of nuclear weapons against Japan justified using such weapons against the United States. AQ Central spokesman Suleiman Abu Gheith stated in that we have the right to kill 4 million Americans, 2 million of them children.
Furthermore, it is our obligation to fight them with chemical and biological weapons, to afflict them with the fatal woes that have afflicted Muslims because of their chemical and biological weapons. Some jihadi have suggested that the timing of a WMD attack must be chosen carefully so that it achieves the political effect of controlling and intimidating the United States.
Followers of this ideology — and particularly members of AQ Central, who are most concerned with attacking the far enemy — believe that WMD will advance their strategic objective of exhausting the United States economically and militarily by forcing the United States to expend massive amounts of money on protecting its critical infrastructure, borders and ports of entry, and on military deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Furthermore, AQ Central are convinced that acquiring WMD will allow al-Qaeda leaders to achieve military and strategic parity with the West, bestowing credibility on the mujahidin that might encourage more recruits to join the movement.
Perhaps most importantly, acquiring and delivering WMD remains a difficult task even for an organization with global reach. Critically, some al-Qaeda leaders have protested the strategy of directing large-scale attacks against the West because the provocation inevitably results in setbacks for the movement. Although a massive nuclear or biological attack would be much worse, little short of a 36 B. In the final calculation, even WMD do not confer al-Qaeda or any other terrorist group military or strategic parity with a Great Power.
In fact, many CBRN weapons — especially chemical and radiological weapons — only moderately increase the destructive power of a traditional kinetic attack. A terrorist group may obtain a tremendously destructive new weapon, but it still must make the fundamental strategic calculation of all practical political organizations: Are the benefits of this operation worth the costs?
Will it alienate my supporters? Will it inadvertently empower my enemy? For al-Qaeda, there is no single answer to those questions. The numerous formulations of militancy within the global al-Qaeda movement and the varied circumstances in which individual cells operate means that they all have unique strategic calculations. Despite this broad strategic latitude, al-Qaeda-linked groups must balance their violent ambitions against the capabilities of their cell, the feasibility of various attack options, and groupspecific strategic considerations.
The strategic calculation of WMD Before executing any kind of attack, all terror groups must first weigh the optimal level of complexity of their attack and the kind of impact they hope to achieve. Increased complexity offers cells more operational options and, importantly, can demonstrate to a target society and observers the sophistication of the planners. Nonetheless, a complex attack is not necessarily more destructive than a simple one.
Destroying a train car carrying chlorine gas in a populated area would be a relatively simple effort to release chemicals that could kill tens of thousands. Similarly, acquiring and deploying a radiological device would likely require a very complex operation to procure radiological material and develop an optimal distribution device, but the physical impact of the attack might not exceed that of a simple explosive.
Just as importantly, complex attacks are much riskier than simple operations. Long logistical chains, large organizations and complex tactics increase the possibility that something in an attack cycle will go wrong.
The impact of an attack is a function of its physical and psychological effects on the target society and on observers, most importantly supporters and potential supporters of the attackers. Al-Qaeda-linked groups will assess this problem differently based on their resources and strategic circumstances. Nonetheless, we can make broad judgments about how different types of cells will approach this question and gain insight into when a cell may opt to use CBRN methods.
WMD and the four dimensions of al-Qaeda 37 Complexity The complexity of any terrorist attack is a function of several factors: weapon, target, delivery system, simultaneity and logistics. The complexity of these factors can be measured on technological and organizational spectrums. Weapon: Obviously, some weapons require more complex logistical operations than others: acquiring a functional nuclear weapon likely requires more planning, funding and expertise than does a simple chemical weapon that could easily be assembled with household items.
Of course, most weapons fall somewhere in between the two extremes. Even different kinds of attacks employing similar weapons can vary widely in their complexity. Acquiring smallpox would be extremely difficult, whereas introducing Hoof and Mouth disease to American cattle would be an extremely simple, yet economically damaging, attack.
Of course, different cells may measure different challenges associated with very similar weapons. A cell founded by a biological scientist will likely find the challenges of developing and delivering a biological weapon less onerous than a cell without such expertise.
Target: Attacking some targets is easier than others. Distributing a biological weapon in the US Capitol, though it has been done in the past, is now much more difficult than it would be in a major shopping mall. Generally speaking, targets with increased symbolic value are better defended than other potential targets.
Population centers, although they likely have more security than rural areas, remain largely undefended from weapons designed to indiscriminately kill rather than explicitly target a specific physical location. Delivery: Identical weapons can have vastly different effects depending on how they are delivered.
The anthrax attacks on the US Capitol are a good example. The anthrax used in the attack would have been disastrous if the attacker had aerosolized the spores rather than delivering them through an envelope in the mail. Likewise, a nuclear weapon detonated in the air — perhaps in an airplane, which might require training a pilot — will have a much wider blast radius than one detonated in the back of a truck at ground level. Simultaneity: Planning simultaneous attacks in varied geographic locations also requires increased sophistication.
Such attacks usually require a larger organization to develop and deliver multiple weapons; and effective coordination demands more planning and, often, a skilled leadership figure that may not be necessary for a single attack. Logistics: Acquiring, transporting and securing materials for a terror attack is often the most difficult aspect of a terrorist operation.
For sensitive or unstable materials, like some biological weapons, transportation and storage may require specific technological devices. Likewise, some attacks demand organizational creativity to acquire explosives or other critical materials. Figure 2. The Aum Shinrikyo sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway was a moderately complex attack focused on physically killing as many people as 38 B.
Forest possible as a means to bring about the end of the world. The attack was only moderately complex because sarin is relatively simple to make and the delivery vehicle was an operative puncturing a plastic bag in a subway car. The sarin was manufactured in large amounts by people other than the actual executors of the attack, all of which introduced more complexity and risk into the operation.
Only a skilled — or very lucky — technician would be able to refine anthrax to the level found at the Capitol. Targeting a government facility in such a manner seems to indicate that the attacker was more concerned with sending a message rather than actually causing destruction. WMD and the four dimensions of al-Qaeda 39 London.
Although Bourgass was described as a member of al-Qaeda by one of his co-conspirators, Mohammed Maguerba, all evidence suggests that he was working independently and only discussed his plans with a few close associates. The Rajneeshees distributed salmonella in salad bars in The Dalles, Oregon in order to depress turnout in a local election.
The Rajneeshees ordered their weapon from a medical supply depot and disseminated it by manually distributing on local salad bars. The purpose of the attack was not to frighten victims but to physically prevent them from taking part in the local election. In all four of these attacks, it is important to assess the purpose of that attack from the perpetrators point of view. Why did they choose to use a CBRN weapon?
The Aum sarin attack followed several previous attempts to employ chemical and biological weapons in an effort to kill large numbers of people. The delivery mechanism was simple, but the vulnerability of individuals at the target suggests that Aum hoped to kill as many people as possible. In the anthrax attacks on Capitol Hill, the attack seems to have been designed to attract as much attention as possible while minimizing casualties.
The delivery of the attack was designed to maximize the perpetrators chance of avoiding detection, rather than ensuring a successful attack. It is important to distinguish between the psychological and physical effects of an attack because an attacking group may try to alter their attack plan in order to achieve different kinds of effects. Obviously, large attacks that kill numerous people have dramatic psychological impacts, but terrorist attacks can be designed to create psychological results without causing much destruction.
Forest of their bombs before they detonated in order to minimize casualties. The unconventional nature of CBRN weapons — even those that do not cause extraordinary destruction — will likely increase the psychological impact of a CBRN attack on the target society. Most terrorist groups seek to circumscribe the level of destruction they cause for moral and strategic reasons — escalation of physical violence creates negative political repercussions.
Conversely, millenarian groups are often solely focused on physical destruction, rather than producing psychological effects. AQ Central values the psychological impact of its attacks, but it is not afraid to produce massive casualties.
The four attacks shown in Figure 2. Although operational factors — such as risk of detection, technological proficiency and logistics — shaped the way these operations were conceived, all of the attacks reflected the core strategic goals of the offending group.
Their expansive strategic goals and ideological willingness to kill means that the primary restrictions on their level of violence will be a function of resources and timing. WMD and the four dimensions of al-Qaeda 41 that they will aim to conceive of attacks that would maximize both physical and psychological harm. Our linguistic and analytical imprecision often lumps together groups with similar ideologies, but vastly divergent strategic capabilities and circumstances.
This is particularly true regarding CBRN weapons. In addition to considering the moral and strategic consequences of an attack, every al-Qaeda-linked cell considering a CBRN attack must consider the costs associated with procuring and delivering the weapon. The framework and models described above allow us to more effectively analyze the fundamental strategic challenges and opportunities of each of the four dimensions of al-Qaeda, and then assess which of the four categories of WMD attack is likely to be most amenable to each dimension.
As described earlier, each of these four dimensions bring the same basic though there are some important differences ideological approach to their violence, but they operate in very different strategic environments. Forest following discussion examines each of these in-depth.
Obviously such judgments are broad and inevitably flawed to some degree, but they represent a best effort to understand how various al-Qaeda-supporting groups will assess the costs and benefits of various kinds of attacks. That operation required moderate technical skill — the ability to steer an airplane — and an extensive logistical and coordination capability that seems far out of reach for AQ Locals or the AQ Network.
AQ Central must make a complex strategic calculation to determine whether the benefit from developing and deploying CBRN weapons is worth the risk and cost associated with them. AQ Central has advanced three operational missions for itself: first, inspiring the community of Muslims Ummah to join their movement; second, dragging the West into fights where it can be attacked and confronted over the long-term; third, bleeding the United States economically to weaken it in the long-term.
Part of the rationale for this decision seems to be that AQ Central is loathe to target Muslims for fear of losing its reputation as the vanguard of Muslim resistance to encroaching Western cultural and political imperialism. Indeed, a variety of al-Qaeda-linked groups have used attacks in order to provoke misguided retaliation from the target society.
In the past, AQ Central has tried to manipulate such responses, but experience has shown that to be more difficult than they originally hoped. AQ Central hoped to provoke an American invasion of Afghanistan that would be as detrimental to the United States as it was to the Soviet Union 20 years before.
That invasion came, but it was small, carefully calibrated and — in the short-term — very successful. Like all sophisticated terrorist organizations, AQ Central understands that timing and targeting are important to the success of an attack and that mass killing alone is unlikely WMD and the four dimensions of al-Qaeda 43 to produce the political effects they desire. Even a relatively small chemical attack on an American city would almost certainly provoke a large American response of some sort; AQ Central will want to be sure the benefits of its attack outweigh the costs.
The minimal details available about the al-Ayiri attack suggest casualties could easily have been in the hundreds, or even thousands, but that the attack would not have debilitated New York city the way a nuclear or large-scale biological attack would. Apparently, al-Zawahiri believed that AQ Central will only get a few shots at the US homeland and must make the most of each. Although AQ Central likely understands the psychological impact using CBRN weapons would have on a target society, their primary audience is not the victim society, but the hearts and minds of Muslims around the world.
A chemical attack in the New York subway would certainly terrify an American population, but might not provide appropriate visible evidence for al-Qaeda supporters to justify the inevitable retaliation from such a deadly and frightening attack. Previous AQ Central attacks have been simultaneous attacks on symbolic and hardened targets. Such attacks require increased complexity because of the intelligence challenge of inserting attackers and weapons onto hardened targets and the need to understand the tactical environment around multiple targets.
Taking on and meeting such challenges is an end in itself for AQ Central because the group wants to demonstrate to potential supporters that it is capable of meeting such challenges and serving as the vanguard of Muslims. AQ Central would likely not risk the inevitable retaliation from a WMD attack unless it could credibly be expected to garner massive attention around the Arab and Muslim world.
Although AQ Central would certainly be amenable to simple CBRN tactics, such as destroying chemical facilities, they are likely to complicate such a mission by attempting to strike multiple targets simultaneously. Al-Zarqawi planned for five truck-borne bombs to target several government targets around Amman.
Analysts suggest that the attack, if successful, would have released a poison cloud that could have killed up to 20, people. The chemicals were primarily designed to enhance the explosion itself and were to be dispersed mainly by the force of an explosion rather than a dedicated dissemination device. The Jordanian government claimed that al-Zarqawi had planned to use chemical weapons in the attack — a charge that al-Zarqawi later claimed was designed to discredit him.
CBRN weapons are so frightening and novel that even a terrorist as brutal as al-Zarqawi feared the public backlash he expected from using such weapons on a Muslim country. Although these attacks have successfully killed numerous people, the kinetic blast rather than latent chemicals killed most victims. Such attacks have been relatively simple, mostly just large improvised explosive devices attached to a chemical tanker truck.
Large CBRN attacks will likely be aimed at Western targets because such attacks on largely Muslim targets would likely produce unhelpful backlash in the local population. The need to moderate violence to avoid a dramatic backlash from the local population and the pressures of continued tactical operations will encourage AQ Affiliates to aim for simpler operations designed to enhance the impact of conventional attacks.
AQ Locals Although cells in both AQ Central and AQ Locals have succeeded in pulling off deadly attacks against civilians, such cells are just as notable for their failures — see the recent propane bombs in London and at Glasgow airport — as their successes. For example, individuals living within a target society may be able to identify targets more easily and almost certainly have a better understanding of how to frighten and intimidate the local population.
To be successful, this kind of cell will almost certainly avoid complex operations, focusing instead on low-tech, logistically direct operations designed to create chaos and fear. From a strategic standpoint, a cell of AQ Locals embedded within its target society stands little chance of remaining operational after a major CBRN attack, although it might be able to wage a low-level campaign using discreet chemical or biological weapons designed to inspire fear over a sustained period of time.
Bourgass had a history of operating in militant organizations, but was not directly coordinating with or taking orders from more organized elements of al-Qaeda. He understood his technical and logistical limitations and, if London police are to be believed, determined that the best way to have a major impact was an operation designed to frighten people rather than cause destruction. A CBRN attack by a cell of AQ Locals will likely be very simple and designed to use the comparative advantage of such cells — extensive knowledge of the target society, both physically and culturally.
The limited resources and tactical expertise available to AQ Locals represents an inherent limitation on 46 B. Forest their ability to develop a complex, massive physical attack. AQ Network Al-Qaeda supporters without ties to any militant organization will have limited operational choices because they lack tactical training and logistical support. Rather than being driven by a desire to optimize their strategic impact while minimizing the strategic costs associated with an attack, an AQ Network cell will probably take advantage of whatever resources it finds available.
The strategic dynamics of an AQ Network cell closely resemble that of AQ Locals, except that its tactical capacity is probably even lower. That does not necessarily mean that the threat of a CBRN attack by an AQ Network cell is low or that such an attack would not be devastating. A chemical engineer that supports al-Qaeda for ideological reasons would be extremely dangerous, and potentially very deadly.
Likewise, unprotected infrastructure that could be attacked with simple, conventional tactics but produce an unconventional outcome — such as a chlorine rail car — would be prime targets for an AQ Network cell. Furthermore, an AQ Network cell relatively unencumbered by pressure to lead the Ummah may be more willing to attack less symbolic targets, or at least less visibly symbolic targets. Such groups are more likely to target the water supply of an apartment building, for example, than take on the harder task of poisoning water supplies of a critical government facility.
AQ Central, cognizant of the role it hopes to play as vanguard of Ummah, is unlikely to invest in such an unspectacular sort of attack unless it is on a very large scale. Conclusions Frightening people en masse is easier than killing them. It is no surprise that AQ Central is more likely than its less organized cousins to attempt complex and destructive attacks using WMD.
Expectations of AQ Central among its supporters are higher than those of other al-Qaeda dimensions; furthermore AQ Central has extensive logistical capabilities that enable it to more reasonably attempt complex operations. Conversely, AQ Network cells have minimal logistical and tactical capabilities, but may actually have better cultural and political intelligence than their more organized counterparts.
The greatest threat from CBRN among members of this al-Qaeda dimension would be simple attacks on poorly protected industrial infrastructure that will produce catastrophic results as a function of chemical, biological or radiological releases. Normative prohibitions on CBRN function even in an al-Qaeda context, albeit via a different mechanism than in traditional state relationships.
Al-Zarqawi was clearly concerned that he would be blamed for a chemical attack, and feared a backlash from an appalled Jordanian public. Western governments should work to ensure that terrorist leaders will fear a commensurate backlash if a CBRN attack is attempted in the West.
Develop informal monitoring networks. Governments cannot defend against CBRN by themselves. Informal professional and social organizations with expertise in components of CBRN weapons are critical. Biologists, chemists and physicists need to keep tabs on their own. The first warning signs that something is amiss may come when scientific community members pull back from their professional colleagues — declining to attend conferences, losing interest in research, etc.
Educate the Public. Common-sense safeguards against CBRN attacks are critically necessary, but ultimately an attack may occur. Planning to prevent a CBRN attack should be integrated with efforts to mitigate their effect. To a large degree, that means public education efforts are needed, not just to educate people about how to behave in the event of an attack, but also to limit the psychological impact of an attack on society.
Al-Qaeda — in all of its formulations — tries to optimize its political impact. Its ideology prescribes brutal violence on a massive scale, but it is not pointless or indiscriminate. AQ Central, in particular, rationally assesses the costs and benefits of every operation it conducts. Smart terrorist groups understand that they can undermine their own cause with misplaced, counterproductive violence. Less professional al-Qaeda cells may not make such careful judgments.
Exploiting the strategic miscalculation by amateurs may be one of our best weapons against al-Qaeda. Forest Acknowledgments The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the position of the United States Military Academy, the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the US government. Forest ed. Also, for a list of Aum attacks with biological agents, see David E.
Selected translation online at: www. Countering Terrorism and Insurgency in the 21st Century, Vol. WMD and the four dimensions of al-Qaeda 49 18 Ibid. See: www. They can be summarized as above. Some brothers have totalled the number of Muslims killed directly or indirectly by their weapons and come up with a figure of nearly 10 millions. Few studies, however, have attempted to interpret the fatwa in relation to what is actually taking place within the global jihadi current today.
This study is based on CBRN manuals and discussions found on radical Islamist web pages affiliated with the al-Qaeda network. This chapter will provide an overview of the nature of these manuals, as well as analyzing them in a broader context. How have these manuals developed?
Most importantly, the internet is utilized for propaganda and communication purposes, but is also used for training, recruitment, fund-raising and electronic jihad. Many of the jihadi discussion forums have specialized sub-forums in which members exchange information and experiences on a range of military and technical subjects.
However, the subject area of training remains relatively small. In one of the largest discussion forums, al-Firdaws, which at the time of access December 19, contained some 19, threads, threads or 3. A survey of other forums showed a similar pattern of distribution. The Encyclopaedia has been updated several times, and is currently in its fourth edition. Stenersen Table 3. The content of the two versions is otherwise identical except that images are left out of the HTML version. Although the original homepage of the Encyclopaedia is not active today, the collection is widely circulated on jihadi discussion forums, in addition to an unknown amount of new training material that has been produced since It seems reasonable to assume, therefore, that the ten CBRN manuals identified constitute merely a few percent of all training material available on al-Qaeda-affiliated web pages.
Another indicator of the online popularity of CBRN weapons is to look at the topics most frequently discussed in jihadi discussion forums. The analysis also showed no indication that the topic of CBRN is becoming more popular, or that new handbooks or recipes are being developed. In , 20 CBRN-related threads 4. The rest of this chapter will examine the contents of these online sources in more detail.
What is the nature of these CBRN manuals and discussions, and what can they tell us about the technical knowledge and innovative abilities of the jihadists? Chemical and biological manuals Eight of the ten manuals examined are related to chemical or biological materials.
Also, the recipes are often based on materials that are relatively easy to obtain, such as castor beans, nicotine, hydrochloric acid, potassium cyanide and so on. The recipes on how to extract ricin from castor beans, found in several of the manuals, are illustrative of the technical quality of these manuals. A Spanish laboratory which tested the above-mentioned recipe obtained extracts containing 0. Stenersen 15 gases.
Around 20 of these agents appear to have been tested on rabbits, and lab reports are included in the manual. The descriptions of the experiments typically consist of how much poison was given to the rabbit, how it was given injected, given orally or mixed with an oily liquid and applied to the skin and time until death. This testing method is not very accurate, however. The symptoms are often vaguely described, and with a few exceptions, placebo tests are not conducted.
Thus, we do not know whether the rabbit died from the poison, from the solvent or from other substances manufactured instead of the intended poison. The following excerpt may serve as an illustration. Here, the author describes an experiment in which a substance thought to be botulinum toxin is tested on a rabbit. The procedure for making the substance is well-known from English literature; it consists of mixing meat with droppings or soil, putting the ingredients in a jar, filling it with water and closing it tightly, and leaving it in a tempered place for some days.
Then I took this brown substance and dissolved a small amount of it, about 0. We took 1 ml of this solution and injected it into a strongly built rabbit, and it died eighteen 18 hours after the appearance of the above-mentioned symptoms. In reality the experiment is likely to yield a host of different bacteria, many of which may be capable of killing a rabbit. Several gases, like chlorine and hydrogen cyanide, are also tested on rabbits. These experiments are conducted by leaving the rabbit in a small, confined area and releasing the gas by simply mixing two reactants.
The manuals do not contain detailed information on how to use such poisons or gases on a larger scale, and the purpose of the experiment seems to have been merely to familiarize oneself with the gases and their effects. In general, the manuals in this category typically lack instructions on how to effectively deliver the agents. Delivery methods are sometimes suggested, but no dispersal device has been developed.
The second category manuals describe procedures requiring advanced laboratory equipment and skills. The two biological manuals listed above fall into this category, and they describe how to grow the bacteria Yersinia pestis the cause of the plague and Clostridium botulinum producing botulinum toxin. The manuals are typically copied from scientific articles and college textbooks, rather than tested and developed by the author. However, I was unable to implement it in practice, because I lacked the opportunities to do so.
There is generally little interest in these manuals, because they seem to be too advanced for the average user of the jihadi internet forums. The third category of manuals differs from the two others as it is the only type of manual that actually describes a realistic delivery mechanism for a chemical or biological agent. Only one manual of this category has been found, entitled The Unique Invention al-mubtakar al-farid.
The manual describes a crude device for dispersing chlorine and hydrogen cyanide gas. Figure 3. The idea is to break the glass bottles with a small explosive charge, causing the acid to mix and react with the two other chemicals and produce chlorine and hydrogen cyanide gas, which will be released through holes in the device.
The manual contains detailed explanations and illustrations on how to assemble it, as well as suggestions on what kind of places to target and from where to obtain the chemicals. However, in spite of its relative sophistication, the manual does not appear to be more popular or more discussed than other online CBRN material.
One should keep in Figure 3. Stenersen mind, however, that the recipe does have certain technical shortcomings, and that the actual effectiveness of the device is debatable. Another point worth noting is that there are still no known attempts by jihadists to assemble or use the device, although the manual has been available online since at least A lesson manual entitled The Nuclear Bomb of Jihad and How to Enrich Uranium appeared for the first time around ,21 and since that time it has been circulated on various forums.
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Front Matter Pages i-xii. Introduction Introduction James A. Russell Pages Theoretical Overview Front Matter Pages Hashim Pages James A. Segell Pages Bowen Pages Policy Implications Front Matter Pages
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