Marvin J. Cetron, the futurist who predicted 9/11, and who embarrassed the intelligence community with his study “Terror 2000,” said the State Department requested the reference to terrorists using a jet aircraft as a weapon be deleted from the report. Officials feared it might give the terrorists an idea they hadn’t already thought of, Cetron said during an exclusive interview with Newsmax.
"I no longer worry about giving the bad guys ideas. Ordinary citizens need to know where the dangers lie," Cetron said.
This analysis of several possible prime targets of terrorism is based on a new study that Cetron’s Forecasting International carried out for the Pentagon. None of this information is classified.
Although the oft-mentioned threat of a “suitcase” nuclear weapon or a dirty bomb has been discussed widely, and is a possibility, the consequences of attacking lesser, non-nuclear threats can be dire.
Members of the armed forces, the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency, and many other agencies agree that the question isn’t whether America will be attacked on its own soil again. It’s only a question of when.
Ten scenarios the report outlined:
Attack on U.S. oil refineries
Four terrorists driving minivans approach four oil refineries: The Royal Dutch Shell installation at Port Arthur, Texas; the Valero Energy refinery at Corpus Christi, Texas; the Chalmette refinery east of New Orleans; and the Chevron refinery at Pascagoula, Miss. They crash through the gates and aim for the key catalytic units used to refine petroleum. The crashes set off more than 500 pounds of dynamite in each van. Eleven workers die in the initial attacks and six more perish in the infernos that send plumes of dark smoke miles into the sky. Even before the flames can be extinguished, the price of oil skyrockets to more than $200 a barrel. The president declares a state of emergency and dispatches National Guard units to protect key infrastructure.
Casualties: 17 dead, 34 wounded.
Consequences: In a single day, America loses 15 percent of its crude-oil processing capability for more than a year. The Federal Reserve slashes the prime rate by a full point in a desperate attempt to avert a recession, as gas prices balloon. Critics bemoan the fact that, for decades, the United States neglected development of its “dirty” oil-processing infrastructure -- and now it's too late. Total economic cost: $1.2 trillion.
Bring down four high-tension wires across the west
The North American power grid has a dark secret: Of the 10,000 power substations, a loss of only 4 percent will disconnect more than 60 percent of the entire grid. But only 2 percent needs to be disrupted because downing just a few power lines can have widespread consequences. Some attacks are as easy as starting forest or grass fires under transmission lines, to ionize the air and cause the lines to fail. Others require suicide car bombs. In 12 hours, by downing just four lines, more than 60 percent of North America is without power. Power is lost from Knoxville, Tenn., to Nevada, and north to the Canadian border.
Casualties: Other than the suicide bombers, there are no direct casualties. But patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and even private homes on respirators and other life-saving devices begin to expire. The indirect death toll starts to climb rapidly. Based on previous blackouts, 100 to 300 deaths are likely. Stop lights don't work, gas stations can't pump fuel, and civil disturbances occur as crowds waiting in lines to receive ice grow restless. The president considers requesting help from the National Guard to maintain order.
Consequences: Nearly 200 million people are affected, and infrastructure damage could take several months to repair. At best, the economic impact easily could top $100 billion.
Coordinated suicide shootings at major tourist attractions
It is Dec. 1, and families across the U.S. are packing in a last Saturday of vacation fun before returning home to spend Christmas with relatives. In Anaheim, Calif., two recently hired Disneyland employees stand back-to-back and begin firing AK-47s into the crowd. To avoid detection, they smuggled the weapons into work, a few pieces at a time during the past few weeks, and reassembled them. Similar attacks take place simultaneously at Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld in Orlando, and at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Casualties: Before security personnel kill the attackers, 84 vacationers lie dead and another 103 are wounded.
Consequences: Its icons of innocence smashed, America loses hope of life returning to how it once was. Theme parks across the country lose an average of 10 percent of their business for the next year, an impact of about $1.25 billion. With many Americans afraid to resume normal lives, the economy teeters on the brink of recession.
Destroy Tennessee Valley Authority dams
The Douglas Dam stretches 1,705 feet across the Tennessee River northeast of Knoxville. The Norris Dam spans 1,860 feet across the Clinch River northwest of the city. On May 10, 2009, with water levels at their annual peak, a bomb far below the water line cracks the Norris Dam. An hour later, the Douglas Dam is hit. Both structures give way, and the water backed up behind them easily sweeps away the smaller dams at Melton Hill and Fort Loudon. About 2.1 million acre-feet of water cascade down the Tennessee Valley, sweeping away just about everything in its path. The flood plows into the Watts Bar Dam, then the Chickamauga, the Nickajack, and on down the Tennessee River. The Watts Bar and Sequoyah nuclear power plants are flooded. Debris pours out of reservoirs, flooding Chattanooga as the crest passes. No trace is ever found of the terrorists who set the bombs.
Casualties: An early alert that the dams were failing surprisingly holds the deaths to 43 people.
Consequences: Damage to the Chattanooga area is estimated at $5 billion. Luckily, there are no radiation leaks from the nuclear plants, but all the secondary hardware outside the containment vessels is destroyed. About 20 percent of the TVA’s power-generating capacity will be out of commission for at least a year, with repair costs for power facilities alone expected to run at least $2 billion. During the next five years, the Tennessee Valley will incur about $1 billion in flood damage the lost dams would have prevented. Cost to replace them: at least $25 billion.
Explode liquefied natural gas tanker and storage depot near Boston
Impact: Very high
A four-seat Cessna 172 takes off from Hanscom Field in Bedford, Mass., and turns southeast. In minutes, it passes over downtown Boston and arrives above the Distrigas liquefied natural gas depot on the far side of the Mystic River, in Everett. The small craft dives at a tanker that is unloading almost 40 million gallons of liquefied natural gas. On impact, a detonator sets off 250 pounds of explosives in the plane’s back seat. An explosion with the power of more than 50 Hiroshima bombs destroys the entire storage depot. Boston’s North End simply ceases to exist, along with parts of Chelsea, Everett, and Somerville.
Casualties: Nearly everyone within a half-mile of the terminal dies; at 1 mile, the toll averages 75 percent. An estimated 197,525 people are lost, with thousands more injured.
Consequences: Severe damage stretches for 2 miles in each direction. Several billion dollars worth of property is lost, including Boston City Hall and the Faneuil Market tourist area. The catastrophe dwarfs Hurricane Katrina by comparison. Lacking natural gas for heat, nearly 300 elderly residents die of cold during the winter. The tourists stop coming, businesses fail, and pundits sadly remark that Boston may never again be the city it once was.
Cruise the East Coast, releasing anthrax
On a night with a brisk easterly wind, two young men who had entered the country from Canada at Portal, N.D., drive from Boston to Washington, D.C. Opening the rooftop vent of their rust-bucket van, they fasten a dryer vent hose into it. Using a small air compressor and a funnel, they send anthrax spores into the wind. They have smuggled in only a small fraction of the weaponized anthrax stolen in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. But it will be enough. Driving through every rest area, with detours through downtown Hartford, New Haven, New York, Trenton, Philadelphia, and Wilmington, they finally arrive in Washington. Parking at the Iwo Jima memorial, they distribute the last of the anthrax and walk off. Throughout the Northeast, the health-care system soon collapses under the needs of the dying.
Casualties: Almost 1.6 million people up to 40 miles downwind from Interstate 95 could be affected, according to 2003 Pentagon reports. At least 95 percent of those who inhale the spores will die, even with treatment.
Consequences: Based on the 2001 anthrax scare, this scenario could make substantial areas of the Northeast unlivable for the years it will take to decontaminate an area of more than 20,000 square miles. Cleanup and medical costs could reach $1.4 trillion.
Detonate EMP bombs in the Internet-critical region of Northern Virginia
EMP means “electromagnetic pulse,” a blast of radio energy so strong it fries electronic equipment. Set off an atomic bomb at an altitude of 30,000 feet, and there won’t be a computer working for miles around. But the terrorists who strike Northern Virginia on 9/11 in 2010 do not need a nuclear weapon to shut down the region’s computers. Instead, they use homemade EMP generator-bombs that any good engineering student can build with $400 and information from the Internet. They detonate nine bombs in a triangle stretching from McLean west to Dulles International Airport and south to Chantilly. The blasts take down communications and navigation equipment at Dulles, some of the less critical computers at CIA headquarters in Langley, and data centers that carry some 40 percent of the world’s Internet traffic. With police unable to use modern communications, the terrorists escape and leave the country. It is eight months before they are identified. Two years later, only one of the six-member team has been captured. A similar bomb, detonated near Wall Street, would be a "weapon of mass disruption," bringing chaos to the world’s financial center.
Casualties: None directly. In Northern Virginia-area hospitals, 17 patients die in part because their computerized monitors no longer operate properly. Another 14 may have died when their pacemakers delivered massive shocks to the heart and then ceased working. And the chaos has just begun.
Consequences: Dulles-bound aircraft are diverted for three days until replacement gear can be brought in. About 40 percent of the world’s Internet traffic flowed through this part of Northern Virginia. Losing that capacity slows the Internet to a crawl, which complicates military, emergency, and intelligence response. Most of the 175,000 people employed in IT-intensive region will be out of work for at least a year. Repairing the electronic infrastructure will cost an estimated $40 billion. Businesses across the United States lose an additional $2 billion a month because of the loss of Internet service.
Introduce E. coli into fast-food restaurants on Wall Street and Capitol Hill
After a costly E. coli outbreak, one major fast-food chain announces that it will start testing lettuce on the farm. Another touts its program for preventing food-borne illnesses. Neither grasps the obvious, that their people are the weakest link: food preparation and delivery. Staff turns over rapidly, and it doesn’t take long to plant “sleepers” in more than a dozen fast-food outlets near Wall Street and the four within half a mile of Capitol Hill. One Wednesday morning, they start misting lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, and even buns with a spray containing E. coli.
Casualties: With the three- to eight-day incubation period, which masks the attack and puts the initial response over a weekend, five days’ worth of customers are sickened, more than 13,500 in all. At least 142 people die, many of them children and elderly.
Consequences: Lawsuits filed against the chains demand a total of $250 billion in damages. They will not be settled for years. Even more costly: Fast-food hamburger orders drop by 27 percent, on average, throughout the industry for the first six months after the incident, resulting in a loss of about $57.5 billion in revenue.
Introduce nerve gas into air intakes of crowded public buildings
A terrorist gets a low-level job servicing heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning equipment for a contractor in Manhattan. His work takes him to important buildings: Madison Square Garden, where Andrea Bocelli is in concert; and to Carnegie Hall, where Reinbert de Leeuw is conducting students from Julliard and the Weill Institute of Music. Also on his route: the studios and offices of ABC, CBS, and DowJones. Hidden in his thermos is odorless sarin nerve gas, frozen into ice cubes. All he has to do is leave the ice inside each building’s ventilation units, which he sets to “recycle” instead of drawing in fresh air from outside. As he escapes to New Jersey, the ice melts and the deadly gas spreads through each building. Other terrorists drop vials of pungent mercaptan, to simulate a natural gas leak, throughout Battery Park and South Street Seaport. This distracts police and emergency crews for hours. Chaos reigns in New York City.
Casualties: Two-thirds of the 15,000 people in Madison Square Garden are seriously ill, and 2,851 die. At Carnegie Hall, all 600 people are sick, and 127 die. The office buildings are hit during the night shift and add 86 more deaths.
Consequences: People are terrified. Tourism and event attendance drop precipitously across the country. New York City alone loses $500 million in wages and taxes for every 1 percent decline in visitor spending. The entire hospitality industry in New York hovers on the brink of collapse.
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