03 May 2011

DHS, FBI Issue Alert on Security ‘Implications’ of UBL's Death

                Intelligence - OPEN SOURCE

The Kimery Report

DHS, FBI Issue Alert on Homeland Security ‘Implications’ of Bin Laden’s Death 

HSToday.us - May 03, 2011
By: Anthony Kimery

In the wake of the killing Sunday of the world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, during a covert assault by an elite US Special Forces team on the conspicuously fortified compound where Bin Laden had apparently lived for the last half-decade about an hour from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Intelligence & Analysis Production Branch and the FBI’s Counterterrorism Analysis Section quickly alerted law enforcement authorities nationwide that they are “monitor[ing] intelligence reporting for indications of threats to the homeland in retaliation for Bin Laden’s death."

The “for official use only” DHS-FBI “Joint Intelligence Bulletin” was “intended to provide a perspective regarding the scope of potential impacts of the … death of Osama Bin Laden.” 

Swiftly circulated to law enforcement authorities once it was confirmed that Bin Laden had been killed, the intelligence bulletin emphasized that “we continue to operate under the premise that terrorists not yet identified by the Intelligence Community and law enforcement may be operating in the United States and could advance and execute attacks without warning.” 

Responding to the rapid dissemination of the bulletin, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me, said “I am pleased … that DHS and the FBI took the appropriate and immediate steps to coordinate with and disseminate information to state and local homeland security officials and law enforcement to urge them to be particularly vigilant.” 

The Joint DHS-FBI intelligence bulletin cautioned that “Bin Laden’s death may increase overall threat to the homeland … We assess the death of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, in the near term, is likely to provide motivation for homeland attacks - particularly from homegrown violent extremists (HVEs),” and that “in the near term [his death] is likely to provide motivation for homeland attacks - particularly from homegrown violent extremists” who are “seeking revenge or notoriety.” 

The Joint Intelligence Bulletin cautioned law enforcement officials nationwide that DHS and FBI “expect to observe a significant increase in violent extremist rhetoric calling for retaliation, detecting and disrupting HVEs before they strike - if any attempt to do so,” and that this threat “will continue to present challenges to law enforcement, due to the often isolated nature of the threat.” 

Obtained by Homeland Security Today, the 6-page intelligence bulletin disclosed that DHS and FBI “believe that any homeland attacks by core Al Qaeda in direct response to Bin Laden’s death would be a less likely near-term threat, although existing plotting by Al Qaeda’s affiliates and allies may accelerate.”
Continuing, the Joint Intelligence Bulletin warned that “homegrown violent extremists,” or HVEs, “may view Bin Laden’s death as justifying attacks in the homeland and are unburdened by organizational constraints that can slow operational decisions by established terrorist groups [and] are the most likely element to attempt a near-term attack.” 

For the purposes of this Joint Intelligence Bulletin, “an HVE is a person of any citizenship who has lived and/or operated primarily in the United States or its territories who advocates, is engaged in, or is prepared to engage in ideologically-motivated terrorist activities (including providing support to terrorism) in furtherance of political or social objectives promoted by a foreign terrorist organization, but is acting independently of direction by a foreign terrorist organization,” according to the alert. 

“Although” the joint DHS/FBI intelligence bulletin emphasized that there are “no indicators of advanced Al Qaeda plotting in the United States, the remaining members of Al Qaeda core could accelerate any ongoing plotting in an effort to counter perceptions that the loss of their leader has crippled their organization.” 

Twenty-year CIA operations officer and jihadist authority Clare Lopez said what she ‘expects next” are “retaliation attacks, both planned and spontaneous - smaller ‘day of rage’ outbreaks across Muslim world - larger attacks vs. US. Israeli, Western targets worldwide as Al Qaeda forces recover, regroup - they've been planning for this day for a long time.” 

Authorities Homeland Security Today interviewed Monday agreed that there’s a very real concern that Al Qaeda – while admittedly decentralized – still retains an operational command and control structure such as that of Yemen-based Anwar Al Awlaki's Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Al Qaeda’s operations networks in North Africa. At the very least, the terrorist group is believed to have hundreds of highly trained operatives who can be called on. 

The world’s most notorious contemporary jihadist organization is still potentially deadly and effective, and has only been prevented from carrying out what would have been devastating mass casualty attacks had it not been for the diligent efforts of US, Western and allied intelligence services and the incredible technologies that they wield in their hunt for indications of active plotting. 

"Though Bin Laden is dead, Al Qaeda is not," said outgoing CIA Director Leon Panetta, who authorized, oversaw and monitored in real time under Presidential authority the nighttime mission that eliminated Bin Laden in a statement to Agency employees. "The terrorists almost certainly will attempt to avenge him, and we must - and will - remain vigilant and resolute." 

Panetta said it’s almost certain that both Al Qaeda and Islamist jihadists around the world will attempt to avenge Bin Laden’s killing both on US, Western and even  Muslim soil. 

The Joint Intelligence Bulletin stated “we assess that homeland attack plotting by Al Qaeda affiliates such as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), or allies like Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) - the group behind the 1 May 2010 attempted car bombing in Times Square - may also accelerate as a result of Bin Laden’s death,” counterterrorism analysts stated, adding that “on 2 May, a TTP spokesperson claimed that the group will ‘avenge’ Bin Laden’s death, according to press accounts of his statement.” 

Counterterrorism intelligence analysts expressed their worries in the Joint Intelligence Bulletin by stating "we face an increased challenge in detecting terrorist plots underway by individuals or small groups acting quickly and independently or with only tenuous ties to foreign handlers." 

Other counterterrorism officials told Homeland Security Today that there have been long-standing concerns that Al Qaeda had established so-called “sleeper” cells and/or “lone” agents in the United States who have the capabilities to carry out potentially devastating attacks across the country. 

“It’s the old axiom of intelligence – we are most worried about what we don’t know we don’t know,” as one of the officials said on background because he wasn’t cleared to talk about the DHS-FBI intelligence bulletin. “But if you read between the lines, you’ll see we have a serious gap in intelligence that has put all our counterterrorism forces on high alert, which is what we expected we’d have to do and had planned for in the event we killed Bin Laden.” 

“Whether the violent death of their charismatic inspirational figure will demoralize or energize them will only emerge in the weeks, months and years ahead. Prudence requires, however, that we prepare for the worst case,” Homeland Security Today was told by Charles Faddis, a former spy who spent most of his 20-year career at the CIA running dangerous covert operations against terrorist organizations, including heading up the National Counterterrorism Center’s unit that hunted down terrorists trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). 

And in response to specific reports that Bin Laden’s death is likely to rein in Al Qaeda's decades-long ambition to acquire and use WMDs, which Bin Laden obtained a Fatwa in the mid-1990s that gave Al Qaeda the authority to use a WMD against the US, Faddis said, “I see no correlation.” 

With regard to “potential targets” of attack in retaliation for Bin Laden’s killing, the DHS/FBI alert stated “we assess that major US cities, aviation, and mass transit will remain attractive targets for Al Qaeda and its affiliates in the wake of Bin Laden’s death; however, targets affiliated with the US Government - US Government facilities, US military personnel and installations, and US Government officials - may become of particular interest to groups and individuals seeking to retaliate.” 

In addition, and not surprisingly, “economically important infrastructure in the United States also remains a possible target as AQAP publicly called for attacks against US financial and commercial entities in 2010 and 2011 issues of its English-language magazine, Inspire,” the Joint Intelligence Bulletin noted. 

Indeed. Both Bin Laden and various Al Qaeda authorities have issued statements in which they have said one of the terrorist group's objectives is to engage in the types of attacks that would cripple the economies of the US, the West and their allies. Frequently, Al Qaeda has implied that a target is Middle Eastern and other global oil production infrastructure that would significantly reduce the daily flow of crude oil to infidel and apostate nations. 

For the last year, but especially during recent months, DHS has stepped up its efforts to educate the public, businesses and law enforcement on the importance of suspicious activity reporting. 

But “pre-operational indicators” of an attack “are likely to be difficult to detect,” the DHS-FBI bulletin stated. “Therefore state, local, tribal, Territorial and private sector partners play a critical role in identifying and reporting suspicious activities, and raising the awareness of federal counterterrorism officials.”
DHS and FBI have “encourage[d] recipients of [the joint intelligence bulletin] to report information concerning suspicious or criminal activity to the local FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and the State and Major Urban Area  Fusion Center, as well as the FBI’s 24/7 Strategic Information and Operations Center and the DHS National Operations Center (NOC). 

The remainder of the Joint Intelligence Bulletin covers a variety of sensitive matters regarding suspicious activity reporting; protective measures to help disrupt or mitigate a terrorist attack in multiple phases; indicators of pre-operational attack planning, etc. 

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