Friday, November 4, 2016

US warns of possible al-Qaeda terror attacks on Monday before election.

New York City. Reuters. 

US intelligence officials have warned local governments in New York, Texas and Virginia that al-Qaeda may be planning attacks on Monday, the day before the election. Reuters. No specific threats have been mentioned, but the Joint Terrorism Task Force has been notified. The FBI did not confirm or deny the report, which originally appeared on CBS News. The government often give warnings about possible terror attacks before major events and holidays. The CBS report also mentioned that there are worries that lone wolf terror attacks could occur at polling places on election day. 

My Comment:
One the one hand, these kinds of terror alerts are routine. I've posted about several in the past then ended up being nothing, most notably the 4th of July, during the summer of ISIS attacks. Nothing materialized then and I doubt anything serious will happen now. I only decided to cover this because of the obvious impact it would have, not because I think anything will come of it.

On the other hand, with how completely insane this election is right now, I wouldn't be surprised if a terror attack occurs. It would be the perfect end to a very, very insane year. Not that I want it to happen, of course, but from a thematic sense it works. Again, I don't think it is likely at all, but then again, what has been likely this year? 

I do find it interesting that the articles mentioned al-Qaeda specifically. Al-Qaeda has largely gone silent since the Charlie Hebdo attacks and they really haven't pulled off anything since then. Though they have a large and powerful affiliate in Yemen, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, they have mostly been focused on fighting against the Saudis and their allies in the war there. They have had some serious terror cred though, with the Charlie Hebdo attacks merely being their most famous. 

What worries me about al-Qaeda is that they have had a different style of attacking for quite some time. While ISIS has been focusing on the "guns and suicide bombs" mass shooting hybrid attacks, and lone wolf stabbings, al-Qaeda has always tried to focus more on spectacular 9/11 style attacks. If something does go down on Monday and it's al-Qaeda that is responsible, I worry it could be horrible. 

Al-Qaeda has also focused on assassinations as well. The Charlie Hebdo attack was essentially an assassination attempt on a large group of individuals. An attempt on either of the presidential candidates would be very difficult but even a failed attack would dramatically change the outcome of the race and would cause massive panic throughout the world. 

Of course, even a minor terror attack could have a disproportionate impact on the election. Forget about who it helps and who it hurts, turnout would be affected. People will be afraid to go to the polls if a major terrorist attack happens and even a minor one would be devastating if it happened at a polling place. I know people think this election is important, but is it so important that they would risk their lives?

It's a strong argument for voting early. Unfortunately, with as crazy as this election cycle is, that has it own downsides. New leaks are happening everyday now and some of the stuff coming out is just bizarre and disturbing. If you vote early, and don't live in a state where you can change your vote, you might be out of luck and vote for someone that disqualifies themselves at the last moment. But if you don't vote early and their is some kind of terror attack, you might lose your chance to vote.

It's a hell of a catch-22. My personal plan is to vote on election day. Even if there is a threat of an attack, I don't think it's a very large one. The chances of some crazy leak happening and derailing the election seems a lot more likely to me, especially considering everything that has happened this week. Vote early if you are scared, but keep in mind, you might regret you choices. 

And keep in mind, that this is all extremely unlikely. The government always releases these kinds of warnings before major events, just in case. It doesn't mean that the threat is massively greater then normal, just that we should be cautious and think about the possibility. If I had to put money on it I would be comfortable betting that nothing will happen. 

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