While the United States has been the victim of several smaller-scale terror attacks over the course of the last 2 decades, nothing will ever compare to the horror we faced on September 11th, 2001.
Or will it?
Radical Islamic terrorism has taken a backseat to violence of the domestic variety in the United States over the course of the last 16 years. Lone wolf-type attacks have dominated the national security picture throughout the U.S., and the safeguards put into place after 9/11 have certainly deterred more than a few would-be jihadists from carrying out their dastardly plans. Such has not been the case in Europe, as France, England, Germany, and others have all been inundated with large scale, coordinated attacks involving vehicles and explosives over the course of the last year.
Is there a return to the bombastic tactics of the previous generation of terrorists on the horizon for America? Some experts believe so.
“Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL) and Al-Qaeda terrorists are plotting to take down a plane and carry out a devastating explosion on the scale of 9/11, senior US security official Elaine Duke warns.
“’The terrorist organizations, be it ISIS or Al-Qaeda or others, want to have the big explosion like they did on 9/11. They want to take down aircraft, the intelligence is clear on that,’ the acting US secretary of homeland security said during a visit to the UK, as cited by British media.
“The threat is still severe,’ she stated on Wednesday in London following her meeting with Home Secretary Amber Rudd, where the officials discussed terrorist content online.
“The terrorist groups are using smaller attacks to keep their members ‘engaged,’ remain visible and provide the flow of finances, according to Duke.
“At the same time smaller plots can be followed with major ones, she warned.
“’Creating terror is their goal. A bladed weapon attack causes terror and continues to disrupt the world, but that does not mean they have given up on a major aviation plot,’ she said.”
The terror attacks of 9/11, while certainly devastating to human life in unprecedented ways, were also highly symbolic.
In that case, Al-Qaeda’s motives were clear: They attacked American financial symbols and the Pentagon, home of the U.S. Defense Department. The crashed airliner in Pennsylvania’s intended destination may never be fully known, but it is almost certain that it too was headed for a landmark of sorts. Should these new threats come to fruition, we could see a return to the literal and figurative terrorism that the world hoped to have eradicated with the death of Osama bin Laden.