Al Qaeda Cites Brooklyn Bridge as Its Next Target

In an extraordinary Web message that broke dramatically with past form, al Qaeda Monday, Feb. 6, warned American policy-makers that its next biggest attack after 9/11 is in the pipeline; the carriers of the terrorists’ coded orders are already in place.

The message cited two American cities where al Qaeda’s operatives are in advanced logistical preparations for the strike: Los Angeles is one, New York is another.

The target specifically mentioned there is Brooklyn Bridge!

DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s monitors and analysts, who plucked the unreported message from the electronic ether, note some highly significant departures.

Until now, al Qaeda’s leaders attempted to talk to the American public over the heads of its leaders. This is what Osama bin Laden tried to do in the tape aired on January 19, when he offered a truce on attacks in America if US forces quit Iraq and Afghanistan. His object was to stir up popular controversy and pressure on the Bush administration over US involvement in the two wars.

But his latest message is addressed directly to American policy-makers.

For the first time, too, the statement is not couched in traditional Islamic language but in simple terms using concepts familiar to Americans.

Text of al Qaeda’s Feb. 6 Message

In recent months, we have released many tapes of Osama bin Laden, Ayman Zawahiri and Abu Musab al Zarqawi. It seems that the people to whom these tapes were addressed do not heed what is said and even those who do, fail to read them correctly.

Americans treat our notices like scenes from a Hollywood film. They forget that America has been hit before, on 9/11. Americans must understand that our code-carriers have been sent out. Operational orders are on their way, and everything is in the process of execution.

Americans should have grasped that the Jihad-al Qaeda fighters who came to Iraq, whom the American Arabic television station Al Houra calls thugs and criminals, went there most of all to prepare themselves for operations in the United States. We therefore advise them to re-listen to those tapes and refresh their memories. We reiterate: The coded orders have been issued. But even when you do grasp that the orders have gone out, you will not know when and where the blow will fall.

Mussab Zarqawi feels he is no longer necessary in Iraq and Iraq does not need him. He is now available for other things.

America‘s borders are long and open. Your oceans are open and permeable. Just as smugglers are able to bring in almost daily thousands of immigrants from Latin America without your knowledge, so we can move our Jihadists past your frontiers.

You do not even know what American movies we watched recently in Los Angeles. We have just finished viewing Brooklyn Bridge. We decided that Brooklyn would be our next object of destruction. Know that, just as our planning for 9/11 began in 1998, our planning now has consumed years.

We have much patience. The Muslim caliphates did not fall in a night. We estimate that this time you will retaliate with small tactical nuclear bombs. Aged, worn-out Europe will take the worst damage. It, and probably you too, will try and throw the Muslims out of your midst, but Europe’s fate will be no different from that of the United States. The Muslims expelled from the West will be transformed into the vanguard of the conquerors of your countries.

Iraq‘s relevance for the US strike

DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s analysts identify the writers of the Arabic text as Egyptians who lived a while in America. In previous communications, al Qaeda sought to disguise the national identity of authors. The new message makes no effort to conceal their origin. This could be because it was produced in Egypt. If so, it would indicate that al Qaeda feels safe enough in the land of the Nile and the impregnable stronghold it has established in the central Sinai mountain range to go public on its new primary Middle East base of operations.

The message starts out by reproving its addressees for failing to heed the content of the tapes al Qaeda released in the last six months – one by Osama bin Laden, two by Ayman Zuwahari and two by Abu Musab al Zarqawi.

US leaders are strongly advised to reread and re-listen to the tapes with care and “refresh their memories.”

Our analysts interpret the subtext as resentment over US leaders’ refusal to take al Qaeda seriously enough to appreciate that the tapes were not broadcast merely for the sake of communicating with the West. Each one contained hidden instructions for teams in the field to put through different stages of preparations for attacks in the United States.

Two key phrases link al Qaeda’s campaign in Iraq with its forthcoming attack or attacks in America.

In the first, “Jihad-al Qaeda fighters'” experiences in Iraq are depicted as a key stage in their preparation for future action in America.

A second confirms DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s reporting in the last three months, which quoted Zarqawi, al Qaeda’s Iraq commander, as telling his close circle that he is ready to turn his back on Iraq and move on to fresh terror missions.

For one, he believes the terrorist and insurgent forces fighting the Americans there are capable of carrying on the war without him. For another, he claims al Qaeda has achieved victory.

In his view, the US army has lost its ability to vanquish al Qaeda and stamp out its campaign and has been thrown back on local gains where numerical preponderance and superior weaponry count. Al Qaeda’s Iraq commander chalks this up as a great personal triumph. Zarqawi feels his organization and its Sunni guerrilla allies are adequate for the smooth and systematic continuation of the war without him. He is now eager to take command of large-scale strategic mega-operations in the United States, Europe and Israel.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s counter-terror sources recall that Zarqawi is no stranger to those arenas.

In the years 2002 and 2003, before the US-led invasion of Iraq, the former Jordanian terrorist was sighted more than once moving between Iran and West. Before the Iraq war, he was employed on the development of dirty bomb, chemical and biological attacks against American and Israeli targets. The new al Qaeda message does not clearly connect Zarqawi with the forthcoming attacks, but implies his involvement.

Brooklyn Bridge – another larger-than-life American symbol

The writers assert arrogantly that even if American leaders do grasp the fact that the orders to strike the United States have been issued, they are not capable of extracting any further information to determine where and when the blow is destined to fall.

The reference to the smuggling in of operatives by sea is another break with established al Qaeda form. Bin Laden’s organization has since 2001 scrupulously observed the rule of never betraying how its terrorists penetrate targeted countries or towns, so as: 1. Not to give away operational secrets that investigators might pick up as leads; 2. To hold back any clues that might blow the perpetrators and their logistical-intelligence infrastructure in case they are wanted for reuse in future al Qaeda attacks.

These rules were observed in the Sept.11 attacks in America, the Madrid rail bombings in March 2004 and the July 7, 2005 transport bombings in London. Consequently, no one directly implicated in those attacks, including their masterminds, was ever caught and those countries’ intelligence agencies came up empty when they tried to sketch their organizational format.

Most surprising of all is the mocking reference to the actions and whereabouts of al Qaeda operatives inside America and the barefaced naming of their target.

You do not even know what American movies we watched recently in Los Angeles. We have just finished viewing Brooklyn Bridge. We decided that Brooklyn would be our next object of destruction. Know that, just as our planning for 9/11 began in 1998, our planning now has consumed years.

This is the first time al Qaeda has disclosed the date when pre-planning of the Sept 11 attacks began. The inference from this is that the next attack threatened here will be on the same scale as 9/11 – if not larger.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s counter-terror sources note that Osama bin Laden, a construction engineer himself, has long been fascinated with complicated engineering challenges. He took the time for a long, detailed study of the way New York’s Twin Towers were built when he determined in 1983 to bring them down.

After the New York Trade Center was struck by hijacked airplanes on Sept. 11, 2001, the al Qaeda leader confided joyfully to a lieutenant, identified as Sheik: “I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit and all the floors above it only. This is all that we had hoped for.”

Bin Laden’s conversation was caught on videotape in the Afghan town of Kandahar on Nov. 9 2001. The tape was found in Jalalabad by invading American troops.

Bin Laden made no secret then of his ambition to destroy the WTC, any more than today he conceals his target for 2006.

Al Qaeda expects tactical nuclear reprisal

The communication offers an inkling of the type of intelligence-gathering al Qaeda pursues in advance of a hit. In this case, operatives were sent to obtain a copy of the 1982 Oscar-nominated film documentary that chronicled in detail the enormously complicated technical problems and ingenious solutions invested in the Brooklyn Bridge.

The blurb accompanying the film lauded “the heroic human achievement” captured in this granite and steel marvel, depicting it as “a symbol in American culture of strength, vitality, ingenuity and promise.”

Al Qaeda strategists, according to the letter, expected the American reprisal they postulate for this strike to take the West a major step closer to extinction. The new message discusses two views they believe current in the American and European intelligence communities, which essentially differ over which side will be the first to resort to nuclear warfare.

According to one perception, the jihadists have run out of options for strikes on the 9/11 scale by conventional means and will turn now to weapons of mass destruction, including radioactive or dirty bombs, for a mega-attack.

The other view, as seen by al Qaeda, is that the West will be the first: “…this time you will retaliate with small tactical nuclear bombs.”

The first Western leader to mention the unmentionable out loud was French president Jacques Chirac in relation to “rogue states” using terrorists.

The targets of such nuclear attacks are presumed to be al Qaeda concentrations.

At this point, the new letter’s doomsday scenario begins: Because the largest Muslim communities are to be found in Europe, the writers of the new communications conclude: “Aged, worn-out Europe will take the worst damage.” Europe and the US will then expel their Muslim inhabitants who will return as “the vanguard of the conquerors of your countries.”

Al Qaeda fully expects an epic struggle at the end of which United States will crumble. “This may take time,” says the message. “But it will come. The Muslim caliphate which ruled the world did not fall in a single night.”

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