View Full Version : Spanish Bombs: Will Al Qaeda try a terror attack to affect US election?
03-16-2004, 09:05 AM
Having achieved some success in affecting the election in Spain, do you suppose that al Qaeda will try a terror attack timed to affect US elections in the fall?
And what do you suppose the effect would be of a large attack just prior to elections? Would Americans rally around the flag and re-elect Bush (deciding that to do otherwise would be to "Let the Terrorists Win")?
Or would the electorate re-think the effectiveness of the War on Terror, as Spanish voters did? Is that even an option in the US election, given that Kerry generally supports the War (though disagreeing on the manner in which it has been waged)?
I'm inclined to think the rally-round-the-flag mentality would prevail here, and that al Qaeda would be making a mistake to think that US voters would react to a terror event by ousting Bush. (Though al Qaeda has misjudged us before. And they might again.)
03-16-2004, 10:02 AM
A terrorist attack in the United States prior to the election gives GWB another term. Poll after poll give the perceived national security advantage to the republicans. If an attack doesn't happen, then GWB can say "See how we are protecting you?" If it does, he can say "They slipped one past us, but we'll find them and kill them. Don't change course now." Either way is an advantage to Bush, it seems to me.
03-16-2004, 10:16 AM
Perhaps Al Qaida would want another 4 years of Bush. Our Commander-in-Chief has done a fairly decent job at alienating other countries, and perhaps they would want the trend to continue. Push the Bush admin to become more and more aggressive and eventually unite the world against the Great Satan and all that.
03-16-2004, 10:23 AM
I believe Al-Qaeda would have been already planning "pre-election surprises" anyway for Spain, the US, Britain and whatever other major coalition player would have an election in the near future. The idea of gloating "ha, ha, your governments cannot protect you" probably satisfies them as much or more than actually effecting any policy change.
03-16-2004, 10:59 AM
I agree. Objectively, the logically "correct" Al-Qai'da strategy should be to radicalise the situation further.
Attacking Spain was likely to knock them out of the Alliance as they never had secured any popular base of support for their involvement - indeed 90% against.
The US/UK Iraqi invasion has been a major plus for AQ, a secular regime has been toppled, the Arab civilian opposition to America has been increased, a wedge has been driven between America and much of the rest of the free world who were supportive after 9/11, plus a new front has been opened for terrorists to operate in Iraq. Additionally the US are focused on Iraq to the exclusion of nation-building in Afghanistan or pushing fresh peace initiatives in Israel/Palestine which might gain them cudos, the Bush administration have fewer options generally (hampered by not being able to try any initiatives that might be seen to be backing down, especially after US reaction to the Spanish election).
Bush is clearly a long term asset to AQ. As the voters in the US seem on the whole in favour of the War in Iraq a further attack will probably strengthen that will. Therefore AQ will attempt a further attack on the US mainland or US interests overseas failing that prior to the Nov elections. If that helps Bush win re-election that is a gain for AQ.
The UK is more difficult to call, partly because the electorate are evenly split on the War in Iraq issue. They have probably more expertise than any other nation at terrorism prevention given the IRA struggle over the last 30 years and are thus a more difficult target than most. Also Blair does not come up for election until 2005. My guess will be they will hold off until after the US election.
If Bush loses then Blair is probably in deep trouble which a terrorist attack will only increase. Such an attack then would be the AQ next aim, although probably unnecessary for their aims. If Bush wins - well my crystal ball goes cloudy then.
My best guess would be that if Bush wins in absence of an attack on the US, then it will be worth it to attack the British. AQ will want to isolate Bush further and try to knock out his last major ally. If the US is attacked again, then I suspect even if Bush wins Blair will be out (pushed out by his party before the election) on the basis that his policies will have been seen to be failing - the world having become a more dangerous place. Labour would win in any event though, due to the absence of any credible alternative, but would PM Gordon Brown take the UK out of the Iraq Alliance? Hmmm possibly, but probably not out of the War on Terror IMHO. He would try to focus it on the underlying sources - going big on pushing the US toward increased Israel/Palestine and Afghanistan nation building initiatives.
I do not know enough about Australian or Eastern European politics to express an opinion on what effect attacks on them would be. I would guess that at least the latter are so dependent on US goodwill that they might tolerate mass casualties in exchange for closer US alliance.
Destabalising Pakistan must be very high on the AQ hit list - I give high odds on a successful assassination of their President Mushareef (spelling?) before the end of 2004.
None of the above does anything other than make me quake in my boots, being of the opinion that until the US abandon their military response to the terrorist threat there can be no end in sight ever. I pray for a Bush election defeat but know enough about the Democratic Presidential record of overseas aggression to hold my judgement of what happens then. It cannot be worse that what we currently have.
03-16-2004, 11:26 AM
I don't see how the upcoming American elections would affect Al Queda strategy at all. Isn't their plan pretty much to hit us whenever and wherever they can, causing the maximum amount of carnage, casualties and damage? With their limited resources, they pretty much have to find an opening and exploit it. I don't think they have very much leeway in picking the timing of their attacks because the longer the planning for the operation takes, the better chance it has of being detected. It's perfectly legitimate to speculate on what affect an attack would have on the election, but I just don't think the election is going to be a big factor in their planning, such as it is. Both the Republicans and the Democrats will go after Al Qaeda--it's not like one side or the other is going to surrender.
03-16-2004, 11:35 AM
While Al Queda's "success" in Spain will certainly give Al Queda ideas and the motivation to use terror to affect the United States elections, it certianly will not have the same affect as it did in Spain. In fact, I would expect the exact opposite affect. So, it that sense, yes, it will have an affect on the elections but one that will unite a vast majority of Americans behind the sitting president. Not that it matters to Al Queda since I would be surprised if their business is more about killing innocents to make their point. So, when the opportunity presents itself again they'll certainly do something that kills and mains a bunch of people. And if those murders occur within, what they consider, a meaningful timeframe or location, all the better.
03-16-2004, 01:23 PM
Vibrotonica... when they attack depends on if they sucessfully manage to get terrorists into the US. Once inside the USA naturally its better not to delay too much or the law enforcement might catch 'em. The greatest difficulty is still getting in though... once inside the risks are smaller of getting caught. They could wait for quite a while then.
If they can't manage an internal attack they will probably target US embassies or assets abroad.
I'm with other posters in that AQ and ObL prefer Bush in power. If Bush is about to lose they might attack in order to try scaring americans into voting Bush. Naturally we could all be wrong and they are mindless pshycos... not likely though.
Independently of their intentions... pulling off an attack similar to the Spanish one days before the US election would certainly be a major propaganda sucess for AQ. (Which might demoralize Bush in fact...)
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