Suspect In Attempted Airplane Terror Bombing Arraigned In Detroit

There’s an old trope in intelligence circles that defenders have to be right all the time, while the terrorists only need to get lucky once to execute a successful attack. The knowledge that no one is right all the time makes most counterterrorism experts cautiously pessimistic about the likelihood of another successful terrorist attack on the U.S. homeland.

The fact that terrorists have succeeded in a series of recent terrorist attacks overseas that the intelligence community failed to detect, however, suggests that something other than luck is at play. Increasingly, senior U.S. intelligence officials believe that a blind spot has been identified in U.S. defenses by ascendant Al Qaeda-linked terrorist groups. If these experts are right, then the risk of another major attack on the U.S. homeland has increased significantly.

“Imagine if the United States was under attack by a wave of warplanes that we had on our radar, and then those planes turned off their transponders and suddenly became invisible to us. That’s the analogy I would use to explain what is happening with terrorist plots,” General Keith Alexander, the former director of the National Security Agency, said in an interview. He cites statistics released by the State Department earlier this year showing that the numbers of terrorist attacks and resultant deaths worldwide spiked nearly 40 percent between 2012 and 2013. “Believe me, those terrorists didn’t just decide one day to give the United States and Europe a pass. They are still trying to kill us. Only now, thanks in large part to Edward Snowden revealing our intelligence collection techniques and procedures, the terrorists know better how to get around our defenses.”

One of the first indications of that intelligence blind spot was a massacre last year by the Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group al-Shabab in Somalia. Though unfamiliar to most Americans, al-Shabab has been the subject of a “hard stare” by the U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism community in recent years, a campaign that includes regular U.S. surveillance flights over Somalia, both manned and unmanned, as well as occasional lethal strikes on al-Shabab leaders by U.S. Predator drones and Special Operations Forces. So granular was the U.S. picture of al-Shabab operations that ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) experts in U.S. Africa Command boasted of knowing the number of militants in a given area by counting the fires in their campsites.

Yet last September an al-Shabab terrorist cell attacked the upscale Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, killing more than 67 civilians and wounding more than 175 others – and U.S. intelligence experts had no warning. No warning, either, of an al-Shabab attack on a Kenyan coastal town just last month that killed at least 48 civilians.

“I was asked by a Kenyan official why U.S. intelligence didn’t warn them of these attacks, and the answer is because we didn’t see them coming,” said Alexander. “The fact that there were two major terrorist attacks by the same group that we didn’t see coming tells me and a lot of other people in the intelligence community that something is fundamentally not right. Revealing to adversaries how they can avoid our scrutiny by disclosing the details of our intelligence collection methods will have a serious impact. If I am right, the US and our allies will certainly pay a price for those revelations.”


  • Don Bacon

    The Just So Failed Program is the reason why we are flying blind to these plots. Heard of Milestone C? What about Milestone D? And E? and F? and G?

  • FedUpWithWelfareStates

    All we have discovered so far, whether by accident, by civilian observation, or just plain luck, has been small fish & lone wolf actors. Out much vaunted Police State has done nothing but target law abiding citizens in their frustrations at not being able to detect any major terrorist plots, which is the same actions the U.S. military reverted too against U.S. civilians in Iraq in order to vent their frustrations of not being able to root out the bad guys utilizing conventional forces/TTPs. By NOT labeling terrorist actions actually committed here as just that, instead of “Work Place Violence,” our nation has bent over & spread ’em for future terrorist acts against us & they are coming…Hell, ISIS, among other terrorist organizations has even told us they are coming, but what do we do? Incorporate even more harassment against American citizens, militarize our so-called civilian Law enforcement, dress everybody all up in Black gear & allow these Clowns to call their selves Operators, thus insulting those of us who are/were actually one. Completely ignore & currently encourage overt organizations here telling us that they want part of our country for their own delusional Azatlan state. Kowtowing to Muslim organizations who are telling us up front that they will eventually destroy America & the world, instituting Sharia Law upon everyone & either enslaving all infidels, beheading them or taxing them to death. Completely destroying our military by implementing such disgusting social reform never seen in the history of our nation. All assisted by this current administration, our less than stellar congress & our weak-kneed career protecting military officers, who have shown us that no matter what, we do not deserve to exist as a country under our constitution…so Yes, the Tangos are a coming & woe to those not prepared.

  • jgelt

    In the world where we don’t ask the deep questions your options become limited to, how much do we want to spend on the GWOT, how are we going to spend it and who are the lucky contractors that will get the lion’s share of the loot? Why not ask more complicated questions? Why was Kenya targeted and why should it matter to the U.S.? Are there countries that don’t get attacked by terrorists and why is that? Becasue if you ask and answer those questions, you get answers that will break rice bowls. There are wealthy and free countries that have no terrorism. If wealth and freedom were the reasons for terror they should be taking a pounding from terrorism, yet they do not. How is it that some western countries avoid terrorism and others are frequent targets? The answer is foriegn policy. U.S. foriegn policy assumes that the U.S. pretty much has an interest in every country on the planet. It’s our business as to how every country conducts trade, who the people elect and what laws they pass. That level of constant interference creates enemies. The real questions that need to be asked (on a country for country basis) why is the U.S. taking the sides the are taking, how much is it costing us black budgets and all, what benefits are we getting for the expenditure and, most importantly, what special interest in the U.S. is going to gain the most from our action?

  • Don Bacon

    American citizens typically worry about and talk about life’s dangers: cancer, heart disease, auto accidents, but who has ever heard anyone, except the people who profit from it, talk about terrorist threats? As far as taking lives it ranks below lightning strikes and bath-tub slips.

    General Alexander, after his government career violating his oath to protect the Constitution, is now making big bucks advising corporations so who cares what he says? Nobody.

    • Patriot

      Not all American citizens. There are many of us in the heart land that talk daily and plan for the coming invasion. This president, yours not mine, is a Muslim and bringing them to our shores. Not all Americans are such ignorant dumbasses to be fooled by his lies.

  • Commander Khan

    The main problem is that the West has allowed large numbers of enemies inside our own gates in a way that is historically unprecedented and strategically insane. Muslims can operate freely in the West, but we can’t do the same in their lands. What successful civilization in history ever had so many “citizens” so culturally hostile and willing to wage war against their host nations as we see today? The real issue is that the multicultural West is a hopeless, doomed construct, and represents a terminal stage of our civilization’s accelerating collapse. The real solution is to create a new, sustainable civilization, to abandon our current ideological delusions, and to stop trying to police the world and be universalist do-gooders. Great, lasting nations and empires must be feared and exclusionary, or they die!