- Feds warned of possible ‘lone wolf’ attack in bulletin released Wednesday
- Said three terrorist organisations could retaliate for May 1 killing of Osama bin Laden
- President Obama must face anniversary delicately
By Beth Stebner
PUBLISHED: 01:07 EST, 26 April 2012 | UPDATED: 08:20 EST, 26 April 2012
U.S. authorities say they remain concerned over a possible ‘lone wolf’ attack on the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death.
While there are no concrete threats in retaliation for the Al-Qaeda leader’s death on May 1 last year, the Department of Homeland Security warns against possible solo attacks against the country and its citizens.
These attacks are often carried out in the name of a terrorist organisation, but are committed by only one person.
In a bulletin issued late Wednesday night, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued warnings of possible retaliations from Al-Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, as well as Somalian terrorist group Al-Shabaab.
All three have called for revenge in the May 1, 2011 death of bin Laden.
All three terrorist networks would consider an attack on the anniversary of bin Laden’s death a ‘symbolic victory,’ FoxNews.com reported.
The bulletin also detailed terrorists’ fixations with launching attacks on symbolic dates. In testimony given earlier this week, a British man who trained to be a shoe bomber a decade ago said bin Laden told him after the September 11 terrorist attacks that he hoped more attacks would follow.
Speaking at Harvard University last week, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano reinforced the need for vigilance, saying: ‘We’re on guard against dangerous individuals or groups who would use violence, often on behalf of a grievance.
‘We’re on guard against dangerous individuals or groups who would use employment to gain access to public places like airports, malls, and train stations, or sensitive infrastructure like water treatment, chemical, or energy plants.’
She also warned of possible cyberspace threats, but did not elaborate on any known plots.
The anniversary of bin Laden’s killing presents an election-year challenge for President Obama and his Republican opponents.
Mr Obama is expected to acknowledge the May 1 anniversary of the daring Navy SEAL raid on bin Laden’s Pakistan compound.
But he will not overdo it, a senior White House official said, reflecting perhaps the dangers of hyping an event that speaks for itself – and is still controversial, particularly among Pakistanis who saw the U.S. attack as a violation of their country’s sovereignty.
Republicans, especially presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, must decide if the occasion is an opportunity to attack Mr Obama’s foreign policy record – or talk about something else.
National security has not been a major theme in a 2012 campaign dominated by economic worries, but that could change – at least temporarily – in the days ahead.
On Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden will use a New York speech to contrast Mr Obama’s foreign policy record with what the president’s partisans see as Romney’s inexperienced rhetoric.
Mr Biden will inevitably recall bin Laden’s demise and other successes against al Qaeda over the last three years.
In a hastily called speech from the White House on May 1, Obama said U.S. special forces had killed bin Laden in his compound near Islamabad. The United States had not informed the Pakistani government before launching the raid, which took place before dawn local time on May 2.
The killing of bin Laden, who was behind the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, sent Americans into the street in late-night celebrations and revived the image of a country that would find its enemies – even if it took a decade.
For Mr Obama, ‘this is a moment to be presidential and not worry so much about the campaign,’ Clyde Wilcox, a professor of government at Georgetown University, told Reuters. ‘The emphasis is that America will avenge itself, and we do take action when we are attacked. Not to be gloating, but to be strong.’
A senior White House official said that in addressing the anniversary, Obama ‘will give credit where credit is due,’ in a nod to the work done by the administration of Republican President George W. Bush to track bin Laden down, as well as the U.S. forces who carried out the mission.
Bin Laden’s killing in a compound just a few hours drive from Islamabad was a severe embarrassment to Pakistan, worsening relations with Washington and fanning anti-American sentiment in the country.
Analysts acknowledged the anniversary had an unavoidable resonance on the U.S. campaign trail, but cautioned that glorifying bin Laden’s killing may not serve American interests in Arab and Islamic countries.
‘It’s a difficult minefield given Pakistani sensitivities and continued questions about al Qaeda’s Pakistani support network,’ said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst who has advised Obama on counter-terrorism issues.