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Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Threat Matrix

Threat Matrix

So I come back to NY/NJ to find that there is a major terrorist scare. What is it this time? Car bombs at certain financial institutions. Apparently an A-Q operative in Pakistan was captured with a laptop that contained relatively recent surveliance info on the Citicopr building, Wall Street and the Prudential Building in Newark NJ. Supposedly the idea is that the terrorists would use vans (and now limos) packed with explosives to target these buildings. A few months ago I told a co-worker that the only thing limiting the damage from terrorists is the terrorists imagination and that the next attack would involve ordinary vehicles. I still believe this and this recent scare is a validation of that point. And you should be very nervous.

Firstly, I doubt that the Stock exchange was a new target. Anyone who has been in the Wall Street area knows that it is impossible to take a vehicle into the immediate proximity of that building. Therefore the only way to do any real damage would be to land an airplane on it or have someone walk in there. Do I doubt that was a real target. perhaps prior to 9-11-2001, but not after. The other two buildings are indeed (until this week) way easier targets. The Citicorp building has traffic on 4 sides and a subway station underneath it. Up until yesterday you could get right up on the building with a vehicle pretty easily. The Prudential Building in Newark NJ was similarly accesible. But that isn't even important. What is important is the following:

Every day 12 million people come into Manhattan. A couple hundred thousand vehicles come into Manhattan from all north, south, east and west. It is simply impossible to stop and search all of those vehicles. Let me restate that: It is IMPOSSIBLE< with current technology and means to search every single vehicle entering Manhattan. Let's make an even more sobering observation: Vehicles are only checked when they enter Manhattan, leaving the outer boroughs completely vulnerable. What are they vulnerable to? Random bombings. I say to you that the terrorists will eventually find that for effect it would be easier to plant random car bombs all over the 5 boroughs and have them go off at random. Imagine for a minute that you are walkking down 7th Avenue and the car next you blows up and kills maybe 3 people. How nervous would you be for the rest of the day? How about multiple car explosions. all over the city? How scared would you be? How would the city react? Ban all vehicles from Manhattan? Ok. What would be the financial loss from that? Perhaps greater than bombing a single citicorp building. Let's take this further that that. What about a car bomb going off in Howard beach or Bedstuy? it is only a matter pf time and intelligence on the part of the terrorist before these things happen. How could they do this? Well as they discovered with planes, every single vehicle that gets its power from an internal combustion engine holds up to 20 Gallons of gasoline. Therefore it does not take much of a genius to figure out how to get that material to explode. I'll even give you a hint:

1) Fill tank
2) put in electrical leads to the gas tank that could create a spark of some kind to ignite the fuel. Run wires to a switch or timer of some kind in the cabin. This would allow the terrorist to leave the vehicle without poping the gas tank and manually starting a fire and thereby calling attention to him/herself.
3) With the timer set, walk away as if going about their business
4) contingency: should the terrorist get stopped at a bridge crossing and the bomb sniffing dog makes a ruckus (but it shouldn't given that all vehicles have gasoline in them). Flip the switch and blow the car right there and then (remember that many terrorists are not afraid to die). This would throw that particular crossing into chaos and halt all traffic, perhaps even at all other crossings. Citizens would be shook by the fact that they were "this close" to the car that just blew up and many will not go to work for the next few days. What would the cost of that be?

Unfortunatly, it seems that those in charge do not realize that thier current strategy is much like the body's reaction to the HIV virus. the very mechanism by which the body attempts to defend itself turns out to be the mechanism that makes it more vulnerable. Remember it's not HIV that kills the body it is the opportunistic infections that does that. Believe me when I say that there will eventually be many oppotunistic attacks happening, if they are not already occuring; and the in all probablity the pretty buldings will still be standing.

Edit: 9:43 AM:

According to the NYT, I'm correct in my suspicion that the data was old.

Quote:

SHINGTON, Aug. 2 -Much of the information that led the authorities to raise the terror alert at several large financial institutions in the New York City and Washington areas was three or four years old, intelligence and law enforcement officials said on Monday. They reported that they had not yet found concrete evidence that a terrorist plot or preparatory surveillance operations were still under way...

..."You could say that the bulk of this information is old, but we know that Al Qaeda collects, collects, collects until they're comfortable,'' said one senior government official. "Only then do they carry out an operation. And there are signs that some of this may have been updated or may be more recent.''

Frances Fragos Townsend, the White House homeland security adviser, said on Monday in an interview on PBS that surveillance reports, apparently collected by Qaeda operatives had been "gathered in 2000 and 2001.'' But she added that information may have been updated as recently as January....

...Federal authorities said on Monday that they had uncovered no evidence that any of the surveillance activities described in the documents was currently under way. They said officials in New Jersey had been mistaken in saying on Sunday that some suspects had been found with blueprints and may have recently practiced "test runs'' aimed at the Prudential building in Newark.


Information may have been updated as recently as January. Does this remind anyone of the Duct Tape scare? As I said before, anyone who has taken a stroll through Wall Street after 9-11 ( 3 years ago) would know you cannot even get close that bulding. So why would it even be a current target. I believe that this release of info was to get ready for the RNC. This new "security" provides the perfect cover for police to search the bags, vehicles and perhaps even persons in NYC much like Boston, but without the need to pass new laws. I smell a very large fish.


note: should I suddenly be incommunicado..you can assume it was because of this post which by some evaluation could be construed as giving expert advise to terrorists.

Links:
http://nytimes.com/2004/08/03/politics/03intel.html?hp

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