CHARLOTTE, N.C., August 15, 2017 – Although Charlottesville, Virginia is in the news as the latest trouble hot-spot on the global map, Al-Qaeda has been busy letting the whole world know about its likely next target. In Issue 17 of the terror magazine “Inspire,” the latest terrorist focus seems to be American rail networks. Not so much Amtrak, but the subway systems of major cities throughout the country.
In an article entitled “Train Derail Operations” Al-Qaeda provides detailed instructions about creating havoc in America’s underground transportation systems. Having far less robust security procedures than airports, the real question is why Islamic terrorists didn’t think of this before.
In recent months, the weapon of choice for terrorists has been the act of driving large, motorized vehicles such as vans into large crowds of people where it is practically impossible for most to get out of the way. That has been a popular ISIS-inspired tactic of late, and may even have served as an inspiration for this past weekend’s similarly-styled auto attack in Charlottesville that left one civilian dead and many others injured.
Modern terrorism has progressed into a competition between which group can create a strategy that does the greatest amount of damage while
- Killing the most people; and, at the same time
- Creating the most disruption to a given nation’s economy.
With passenger trains and subways now added to the list of weaponry and targets of opportunity, security services will be further strapped for personnel, having already been weakened by a thin supply of manpower.
In a report published last week by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Al-Qaeda titillated its followers with a video on Internet app channels. The film clip explains how simple it is to perform a derailment using materials that are easily obtained and readily available.
It’s notable that a similar article about how to create a bomb using a homemade pressure cooker appeared in “Inspire” just prior to the Boston Marathon attack.
Al-Qaeda and its various terrorist competitors are continually seeking the easiest, most effective methodologies geared toward creating physical and economic chaos in Western cities. That means everyday citizens as well as members of Homeland Security and other security services should be closely monitoring the terror methodologies laid out in the current “Inspire” article.
Though Islamic extremists prefer to kill and maim as many non-Muslims as possible, the ultimate goals are to create confusion, distract media attention and cause economic pressures that add further negatives to the death toll.
With more than 100,000 miles of track in the United States alone, the primary focus of the Al-Qaeda video is American underground systems. Meanwhile, European rail networks have even greater vulnerability thanks to that continent’s generally superb passenger train networks as well as the massive subway systems in most metropolitan areas.
Rather than attempting to blow up a moving train, the video focuses upon the simplicity of using some innocuous device to damage a rail line and cause a derailment.
With most of the international security focus in recent months being devoted to ISIS, Al-Qaeda is currently portraying itself as the “comeback kid” after fading from the primary terrorism spotlight for a couple of years, as its latest Terrorism 101 article seems to prove. Now headquartered in Yemen, this one-time most notorious terror group in the world has established alliances with North African nations. At the same time, Al-Qaeda is using social media as its primary source of recruiting.
Al-Qaeda and its then-top dog, Osama bin Laden, were responsible for the multiple airline attacks of 9/11/01, which far exceeded their wildest expectations when the twin towers tumbled to rubble in the streets of New York City, taking with them thousands of innocent lives.
Since then, bin Laden has been retired to the Land of 72 Virgins. But one of the difficulties in dealing with such terrorist organizations is that once the head has been decapitated, another, like Medusa, quicily sprouts up in its place.
So far, major American and other Western cities have not been forced to deal with an attack on their underground systems. But New York’s vulnerable subways are vast as are those of Paris and London, two cities that have already borne the brunt of multiple attacks which should, at the very least, put those two cities on permanent high alert. Other urban areas in Europe also have large underground systems that can be unwieldy to monitor.
Should Al-Qaeda operate as effectively as it has in the past, expect subway attacks plus more than one explosion in a variety of places elsewhere, whether in a single city or more than one city. As always, the idea is to create mass murder, mass terror and mass confusion amid an already chaotic environment.
So far, nothing on this horrific scale has happened in the U.S. since 9/11. That’s cold comfort, however, since terror organizations of all kinds have always possessed the advantage of patience, which is not a traditional Western trait.
Islamists are all-to-familiar with the Western tendency toward complacency. Right now, chances are good that we’re approaching the time when some part of the world is once again plunged into another massive terrorism catastrophe.
About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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