October 13, 2004

Terrorist Scenario of the Week

Terrorist Scenarios - Power Disruption during Election

The power outage near Duluth, Minnesota brings to mind the Peruvian terrs habit of 'turning out the lights' to show their presence. They may have been using tactics right out of WWII sabotage manuals. Some European terrs of the mao-fascist type (Red Army Faction) plotted similar things, back in the day. It isn't like knocking down power lines is a new idea. The maoists in Nepal still do it, even though it must be hard for most folks in Nepal to notice.

Bad Case: The Minnesota incident could have been a test.

The object would likely be to disrupt US processes by striking numerous strategic segments of our electric power grid simultaneously. Obvious targets would be centers of transportation and government. But the most attractive process presenting in the near future is the US election in November.

It would be easy to convince a few gangs of local simpaticos or wannabe jihadists that they would be helping the cause by loosening some bolts. Jihad without having to commit suicide or do anything more dangerous than vandalism. You can find such 'dedication' in the more extreme elements of the environmental movement, for example.

Compartmented, these local operatives would not need to know they were part of a larger strategy. Perhaps they would be more easily recruited if they thought the results of their efforts would be localized and arguably non-lethal.

Properly placed and timed, power grid attacks would bring the US electoral process to a halt. The terrs would hope for chaos to ensue. Martial law and civil unrest would be their dream; a writhing, headless snake their metaphor.

Worst Case: The Minnesota test is tied to Mr. Gertz's report of Chechen suiciders entering the US.

Tough, trained "already dead" Chechens might coordinate some sort of action with a power outage. We saw what these cold blooded terrs can do when they took the school in Russia. Their most strategic targets here would be crowded polling places. They could satisfy their thirst for blood and achieve martyrdom while further destabilizing our election. Maybe they have a nuke with them, but they wouldn't need one.

Add an uncertain election outcome to a bloody mass killing of innocents and you have terror. Add this flavor of terror to the already heated status of the current political scene and the terrorists might achieve a devastating blow to our country.

As with all my worst case ruminations, I hope it doesn't happen this way.

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