Feature

Terrorism

Waiting for the other shoe.

We've been threatened'”again, said Kevin Sullivan in The Washington Post. In a videotape released last week, al Qaida's second in command, Ayman Zawahiri, declared that last month's London transit bombings were retribution for British and American military intervention in Iraq and other Muslim countries. Wearing a black turban signifying that he's at war, Zawahiri pledged that if the U.S. and its allies 'œgo on with the same policy of aggression against Muslims,' al Qaida will strike back with attacks that will dwarf both the London bombings and 9/11. 'œWhat you have seen in New York and Washington, you Americans,' he said, wagging his finger, 'œand the losses you see in Afghanistan and Iraq'”despite all the media blackout'”are merely the losses from the initial clashes.'

Zawahiri's threat raises a disturbing question, said Rick Hampson in USA Today. 'œWhy haven't Muslim militants executed another suicide terror attack on the U.S. home front?' The recent explosions in London and Sharm el Sheik, Egypt, which killed more than 100, have shown the vulnerability of mass-transit systems, resorts, and other soft targets. Yet on U.S. soil, 9/11 remains 'œa spectacular exception.' No one is sure why, but terrorism experts speculate that al Qaida simply does not have the necessary 'œterrorist infrastructure' here, or a pool of fanatics willing to die for the cause. It's also possible that new security measures have prohibited al Qaida operatives from entering the country, or made likely targets too hard to strike. Some experts, though, think the explanation may be that al Qaida is biding its time, painstakingly plotting another 'œspectacular' attack on the order of Sept. 11.

Robert Block

The Wall Street Journal

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