Al-Qaeda's Future Targets
Paul Cruickshank is a Fellow at the Center on Law and Security at New York University's School of Law. He previously worked as an investigative journalist in London, reporting on al Qaeda and its European affiliates and was part of the CNN reporting team that covered the London July 7, 2005 attacks. He collaborated closely with Peter Bergen in interviewing acquaintances of Osama bin Laden for Bergen's 2006 oral history "The Osama bin Laden I Know" and worked with CNN on a two-hour Emmy-nominated documentary "In the footsteps of bin Laden." Cruickshank has written about al Qaeda and Islamist groups for a number of publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic and Studies in Conflict and Terrorism. He has provided on-air analysis to CNN, BBC, NBC, CBS, BBC, Fox News and Al Jazeera on national security issues. Cruickshank graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in history, and has a Masters degree with Honors in International Relations from the Paul. H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at the Johns Hopkins University. He has also worked in the European Parliament in Brussels and at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C.
Question: What does the intelligence community know about possible future operations?
Paul Cruickshank: Al Qaeda leaders from… to another Al Qaeda link figure, …have talked for a long time about attacking targets like commuter trains and transport infrastructure because they realize that these are the keynotes of the economic system in the West. And they feel that by attacking such targets, not only are they gonna kill people and terrify them, but they’re gonna cause a lot of economic harm. And that is . . . A large part of that war is causing economic damage to Western states. They really felt the 9/11 operation that they might be learning a knockout blow. Of course the U.S. economy proved much more resilient, even though there were billions of dollars lost …attacks. So targets which are . . . cause economic disruption but also create a lot of publicity for that link are gonna be gone after by them in the coming years. But it . . . But it’s gonna be much more difficult for them to launch the big, large operations that we saw at the time of 9/11 when they were able to put 20 operatives in the United States and organize these attacks. It’s gonna be very much harder to do that.
Recorded on: Jan 14 2008
Predicted operations aim for economic damage