Wednesday, September 10, 2008 8:47 PM
By: Dave Eberhart
A major terrorist attack on the United States, probably featuring a weapon of mass destruction, is inevitable during the next four to five years, says Marvin J. Cetron, the futurist who predicted 9/11 with alarming insight. Cetron said the attack could come in as little as two-and-a-half to three years.
Cetron, who startled and embarrassed the intelligence community with his study “Terror 2000,” has let the genie out of the bottle again with his latest report, “55 Trends Now Shaping the Future of Terrorism.” When Newsmax asked how the expert and founder of Forecasting International Inc. (FI) can be so sure of the impending disasters, he said he needed to guard his classified sources.
“Terror 2000,” another FI project that was done for the Department of Defense in 1994, warned that terrorists were planning to use commercial aircraft as guided bombs to strike against a major landmark in the New York City area. It also warned that terrorists could hijack a commercial airliner, fly it down the Potomac, and crash it into the Pentagon.
Tragically, the report was filed and forgotten.
“55 Trends,” a 252-page treatise, contends that the cells are not taking orders but are free to attack when, where, and how they want.
“We’re not talking about al-Qaida running these operations,” Cetron says. “We’re talking about cells and they are self-invigorated, if you will. They run on their own.” Cetron is not talking only about cells overseas.
The Terrorists Are Already Here
He estimates that there are “a dozen or more cells in the United States and they don’t get orders from overseas. They just know what to do. They get what they need.”
“They get their funding from drug funds, they get it from money laundering, they get it from kidnapping, I can throw a whole list, but those people can give us a lot of grief,” he says.
“There are two different groups – those that cost less than a quarter of a million to attack a target and then those that cost more than a quarter of a million...”
Cetron provides some detail about these ready-to-pounce cells: “They want to make two or three or four or five operations all at the same time and shoot up a whole bunch of strip malls. They will have already planted – about 50 yards back from those malls – bombs inside cars, so when the police set up their area that they want to cordon, they will blow up the police and the people watching to see what is going on.”
As to where such zealots are coming from, Cetron notes, “Only 7 percent of the Muslim population agreed with what al-Qaida is doing, but if you take a look at 7 percent of 1.1 billion people, you are talking about over 1 million people running around here. That’s a hell of a lot of people who will be sympathizers.”
A multiple mall attack, however, could just be a warm-up, says Cetron, whose new report takes a hard look at WMD scenarios.
“But the biggest thing is that they could be using weapons of mass destruction. For instance, if anybody got into a printer where they print dollars or Euros, and they put pathogens on there, we could end up with literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, getting ill from that – and you wouldn’t even know where the hell where it came from.”
Another likely scenario, Citron says, is cyber war. “The Russians just used that in Georgia. You can literally turn off the electronics. Airplanes in the air wouldn’t be able to fly, you wouldn’t be able to communicate, you can turn off alarm systems. … They are actively looking to get into our systems…”
The Issue of Terrorists and Nukes
Cetron’s band of experts in “55 Trends” concludes that, if Muslim extremists cannot lay hands on a stolen weapon from the former Soviet Union, they soon may be able to obtain them from Islamabad. Tehran remains a more distant possibility.
This is not a guarantee that terrorists will use nuclear weapons against the United States or other potential targets, Citron’s latest report notes.
Other WMDs will be much more practical, the report says. If mushroom clouds do not appear over Manhattan or Washington, clouds of toxic gas or weaponized bacteria easily could...
And even if radiological dirty bombs are not traditionally considered WMDs, they could be equally disruptive if employed with skill in a major city, the report says.
The distinguished panel of experts and consultants behind “55 Trends” makes some grim predictions:
These attacks will combine mass bloodshed and economic impact. Now that the World Trade Center is gone, Grand Central Station at rush hour would be an obvious target for Manhattan. Coordinated attacks on shopping malls, tourist attractions, casinos, schools, churches and synagogues, and sports events also are possible.
For those who still minimize the risk of attacks, Cetron notes that the proof is in the pudding: Many foiled attempts have never reached the public domain because of concerns that intelligence sources will be compromised.
“We’ve stopped a lot of attacks,” Citron tells Newsmax. “This is all classified, but the truth is that they have stopped a lot of stuff because we’ve gotten hold of computers. We’ve had a lot of people on the ground with human intelligence.
“If you want to put it properly, we’ve been damn lucky.”
“By 2025 they are going to have more Muslims than non-Muslims,” he says.
Case in point: In deposing the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and depriving al-Qaida of a safe haven there, the United States struck a major blow against the terrorist movement as it existed five years ago. Yet by failing to follow up on that success effectively, the report concludes, we have squandered much of the benefit that should have been gained from that first step in the counterterrorist war.