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Geo-strategic analyst Jeffrey Nyquist, in his recent article “Is al Qaeda Preparing a Nuclear Hit?”, says that the recent warnings of a major terrorist assault before the November elections differ qualitatively from previous warnings. He then indicates that two data points serve to explain this qualitative shift: (1) Al Qaeda has claimed that it has nuclear weapons, and that they are probably already deployed on U.S. soil; (2) steps are being taken to deal with a major disruption of the November elections.
Mr. Nyquist writes, “A new book by terrorism expert and former FBI consultant Paul Williams says that al Qaeda acquired 20 nuclear suitcase bombs from the Chechen mafia between 1996 and 2001.”
This agrees with similar statements made by Yossef Bodansky in his 1999 book, Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War On America. In saying that al Qaeda poses a nuclear threat, Williams takes his analysis a step farther. He says that al Qaeda has almost assuredly smuggled suitcase bombs into the United States. He also says that these bombs are in the 10 kiloton range, capable of inflicting millions of casualties. Williams believes that al Qaeda will use several of these devices in simultaneous attacks against urban targets in the near future.
He asks, “Is there any reason to credit this dreadful conclusion?” He then points to preparations by the U.S. administration to possibly postpone the November election, as well as a July 8th background briefing by the Department of Homeland Security that indicated threats made during the fall of 2003 for a major offensive were “underway and are near completion.”
Mr. Nyquist argues that al Qaeda would not make such statements without the means to fulfill them. He also indicates that the government cannot warn the American people, out of fear of an economic disaster in response to such a warning.
He concludes: “The most effective security measures are impossible under the present political system. As it stands the U.S. would have to undergo an internal revolution before Washington could enact the policies most needed to defend against the suitcase nuclear threat. Simply put, the country is not ready to accept such measures. The country is not convinced that such measures are absolutely necessary. Therefore, the government cannot accept the reality of suitcase nuclear bombs sitting on U.S. soil! To admit such a thing would be tantamount to admitting that our form of government must come to an end.
“The basis of our nuclear defense for half a century has been ‘deterrence.’ Unless you can pinpoint your enemy, unless you can locate him on a map, you cannot send a missile against him. You cannot retaliate. In the case of terrorists hiding in remote mountain caves, there may be no deterrence even if you threaten to locate them and nuke their cave. Since they do not care about their own lives, since they are determined to die for their cause, deterrence is ineffective.
“Here is the dilemma of the United States in the first decade of the twenty-first century.”
The dilemma? Not quite. Rather, this is part of a much bigger picture.