CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 8, 2016 — There was a time before 9/11/01, when threats of Islamic jihad were largely bluster intended to create panic. Times change. Today, when ISIS says it plans an attack in the West, chances are good that they mean it.
The challenge is trying to figure out when, where and how.
The Clarion Project reports that the Islamic state has warned President Obama of its intentions to strike the United States in a similar way in which they carried out an attack in Paris several months ago. As evidence of their intent, ISIS has produced another of its slick, disturbing videos filled with highly graphic images and dire warnings.
Though the Islamic State has often followed through on its promises, complacency about the threat permeates Western thinking. When the attacks occur, the media jump on the story with their usual “why do they hate us,” or “how did this happen” angle, with analysis that resolves nothing.
The video, which was produced by “Islamic State Supporters”, makes the claim that “We will kill, slaughter and burn your people. Inshallah (if God wills it), we will attack you very soon.”
According to The Clarion Project, the video concludes with a standard beheading scene, although this particular production is said to be even more brutal than its predecessors.
Obama is warned by the narrator that an attack will be forthcoming soon on American soil, using the example of the slaughter in Paris last November.
Often, though not always, major terrorist events fall on dates with some historic or symbolic significance. The series of four hijackings on 9/11 was the anniversary of the date that a Muslim army was soundly defeated at the gates of Vienna centuries ago.
The killing of four Americans in Benghazi took place on 9/11 in 2012.
Attempting to determine whether there are any significant anniversaries or major events that can create maximum panic and devastation is a major factor in preventing jihadist attacks. Unfortunately, Western skills at analyzing and understanding the mindset of Islamic extremism lags far behind the jihadists’ knowledge of how we think.
Mark Rowley, the Assistant Commissioner to the head of counter-terrorism policing in Great Britain, says that similar attacks are also likely in the works for the United Kingdom.
Rowley believes that whatever is being planned by ISIS is far larger than anything that has actually been foiled so far. Rowley suspects that terrorists are organizing something with “big ambitions” that will not only be enormous but spectacular as well.
Part of the SOP for ISIS has been a call to carry out simultaneous attacks on different Western targets, but Rowley believes that terror cells are now moving beyond that goal with something broader and more sophisticated.
When al-Qaeda brought down the Twin Towers in New York, the plan was to execute four separate, well coordinated incidents in order to establish more chaos and confusion in the wake of the attacks. Attacks that followed incorporated many of the same methods, with synchronized multiple events confusing efforts to combat and control them.
Given the apparent internal concern for potential new attacks, it is possible that either ISIS or an ISIS-style terror network is planning significant attacks in several Western countries at the same time.
Such a plan might have been unthinkable even a decade ago, but the growth of the Islamic State and its homegrown operatives make it a distinct possibility today.
Yet another strategy might be to strike lesser known targets rather than a major city in order to send the message that nowhere is safe, even Main Street America.
With the United States in the middle of its presidential campaign season, whatever is in the planning stages now could also be timed to gain maximum benefit from a strike that could result in a dramatic effect on the election process.
Now is the time to be proactive, rather than wait until something happens and be reactive followed by asking the same, tired questions that bring us no closer to solutions.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News. Follow Bob on Twitter @MrPeabod