Monday, May 26, 2003

Al Qaeda’s Summer Plans
Did they include Ohio? This paragraph from the Newsweek Article indicates that there is an Ohio connection:
The Feds have identified a few Qaeda soldiers already in the United States. Intelligence sources tell NEWSWEEK that during his interrogation, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed fingered an Ohio truckdriver. In a major breakthrough, the Feds picked up the truckdriver, who began to cooperate. According to law-enforcement sources, the truck- driver was involved in plots to bring down a bridge and blow up an airliner. The truckdriver was asked by his Qaeda masters to obtain the proper tools for loosening the bolts on a suspension bridge. As for the airliner, the truckdriver said that cargo trucks could easily drive underneath passenger jets without arousing suspicion.
Cleveland has a significant Arab and Muslim population, so logically speaking the truck driver would be from the Northeast Ohio area, but he could have lived anywhere. What the article does not indicate is where the bridge or airport are located. The truck driver could simply live in Ohio, but could have been planning the attack anywhere he ran his route. Ohio has 43,075 bridges statewide, second in number only to Texas, according to this ODOT report(pdf). Most of those are small minor bridges. Logically in Ohio the bridges to attack would be on a major highway in a major city. I don't know of any major bridges in Columbus, and there are not that many in Cleveland. If you are going to go after a bridge in Ohio is would be in Cincinnati. The only other place would be trying to close down I-70, I-75, or I-90, causing the price of freight to jump in the region sky high. Gladly this person was caught, but this does mean that terrorists can target anyplace. Ohio is still much less likely to be a place where civilians would be targeted. Industry and commerce are the soft underbelly of the State and the country. I do wonder if this relates at all as to why Cincinnati and Cleveland got Federal anti-terrorism funds, but not Columbus. The more likely bottom line reason is that both Cleveland and Cincinnati have major Federal facilities to target, that Columbus does not. Targets include Federal Reserve Branches, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, a NASA facility, and an IRS processing center. Those would be bigger targets for domestic terrorism, instead of the Al Qaeda brand, which still is more likely in the this part of the country.

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