Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Al Qaeda seen planning for 'spectacular' attack

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded recently that al Qaeda — fearing its credibility is on the line — is moving ahead with plans for a major, "spectacular" attack, despite disruptions of some operations by recent arrests in Britain and Pakistan.

Officials said recent intelligence assessments of the group, which is blamed for the September 11 attacks, state that an attack is coming and that the danger will remain high until the Nov. 2 elections and last until Inauguration Day on Jan. 20.
"They [al Qaeda] think their credibility is on the line because there hasn't been a major attack since 9/11," said one official familiar with intelligence reports on the group.
A second official said: "There isn't reason to believe that the recent arrests have disrupted their plans."
Authorities in Pakistan and Britain recently arrested key al Qaeda leaders, but the group uses tight "compartmentation" of its operations. The process, used by intelligence services, keeps information about operations within small "cells" of terrorists to protect secrecy.
Thus, details of the possible attack remain murky, but analysts say it is planned to be bigger and deadlier than the September 11 attacks, which killed 3,000 people.
Potential targets include the White House, Pentagon, U.S. Capitol and congressional buildings, as well as landmarks and business centers in New York, the officials said. The officials said that there is no specific information about targets.