Tags: War on Terrorism | Iraq | Al-Qaida | Afghanistan | al-Qaida | FBI | counterterrorism

Al-Qaida Becoming More Desperate

By Ronald Kessler   |   Monday, 20 Jun 2011 09:54 AM

Successful strikes against al-Qaida have made the terrorist organization more desperate and more likely to take risks to kill Americans, FBI officials tell Newsmax.

“The decapitation of al-Qaida leadership and the killing of a senior al-Qaida commander in Pakistan earlier this month are making them more desperate,” one FBI official says. “When they are desperate, they may be willing to change tactics. They might try something more risky.”

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As a result, “We believe they are going to start being more active, willing to take more risks with communications or plotting, with shorter timelines on their actions, as opposed to long extended conspiracies,” the official adds.

“Now that they feel more pressure on them, it’s harder to plan long-term conspiracies. You could see more, but smaller-scale, attacks. They will shotgun their opportunities, hoping one or two of them are successful.”

In addition, “They know there is talk of drawdowns in Afghanistan and Iraq,” the official says. “They may be watching until that happens. That will allow them to operate a little more freely.”

At the same time, the official says, “Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has become more active. They actively recruit westerners who have western passports.”

The FBI’s greatest concern is lone wolf, self-radicalized individuals who hear the radical message through the media or internet.

“They get enough information to do something and initiate on their own,” an FBI official says. “That’s what we fear because they’re so hard to detect. They have to make a critical mistake. They talk to people and try to get some support. That’s why we put trip wires in place and try to develop informants and have relationships with state and local police who pick up tips from citizens.”

As described in my new book “The Secrets of the FBI,” the FBI has devised trip wires that might tip off the bureau to terrorist activity. For example, chemical supply companies are urged by the FBI to develop profiles that pinpoint large or suspicious purchases of chemicals that can be used to make explosives.

“We set these trip wires, and when people come across them, we have abilities to report that . . . someone is buying dual-use technology or the precursors to make nerve gas or industrial-strength peroxide,” says Arthur M. “Art” Cummings, who headed FBI counterterrorism and counterintelligence investigations until last year. “Someone does that, boom! We have an alert, either a HUMINT [intelligence from a human] alert from an individual or a technical alert.”

Besides lone wolves, the FBI is focusing more on insurgents from Iraq who come to this country to support efforts to kill U.S. troops there. Last month, the FBI announced the arrests of two such Iraqi citizens in Bowling Green, Ky.

According to indictments unsealed on May 31, Waad Ramadan Alwan, 30, and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 23, allegedly participated in the construction and placement of improvised explosive devices in Iraq and more recently attempted to ship money and weapons from the U.S. to insurgents in Iraq.

“Although there is screening of individuals who come to this country to live, no system is foolproof,” an FBI official says. “If you don’t have any derogatory information on them, they’ll slip through the cracks.”

In the case of the Iraqis who were charged, the FBI learned about their plans and introduced a source to record conversations in which they discussed their activities.

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. He is a New York Times best-selling author of books on the Secret Service, CIA, and FBI. His latest, "The Secrets of the FBI," is to be released in August. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via email. Go Here Now.

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