On May 14, jihadi forum users Abu Kandahar and Roslan al-Shami posted a five-point scenario for the collapse of the United States and the rise of the Islamic ummah, entitled, “The Next Strikes in the Heart of America, When and How.” It appeared on the al-ommh.net forum, although at least one other jihadi forum, alhanein.com, reposted the scenario. The posting outlines a scenario for attacking the United States, although the sheer size of the operation suggests that it is jihadi propaganda and not an actual plan that could be operationalized. The alleged operation is dedicated to Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the head of the Islamic State of Iraq.
The first stage in the scenario involves multiple terrorist attacks on three major U.S. cities, preferably with nuclear weapons, using an unspecified number of trucks. The scenario places priority on attacking New York City because it is the central artery of the U.S. economy and it would prove that the mujahideen are capable of recurrent attacks on the same target. The second city to attack is Los Angeles, an important West Coast “atheist” city. The third “city” to be attacked is Florida because, they argue, it is an East Coast congregation city and has the Kennedy Space Center (considering the description, the statement’s authors probably meant Orlando). While those are the three primary cities for attack, the writers of the document suggest that if the mujahideen wish to expedite the collapse of the United States, they should also conduct attacks in Seattle since it is a strategic border city; Washington, DC, the political center of the United States; and cities in Texas, since the “biggest oil companies” are located there.
According to the writers, the purpose of attacking these specific cities is to cause a sharp decline in the U.S. economy; mass amounts of casualties; the support for the mujahideen by anti-U.S. countries such as Cuba and Venezuela; a decrease in American support for their own government; the withdrawal of the “blasphemous” U.S. military from Islamic territories; mass military desertions; and the inability to fuel U.S. military fighter jets. The document also outlines how the fallout from such large-scale attacks would cause the U.S. military to return to the United States in order to conduct massive relief operations. They refer to the example of how Hurricane Katrina overburdened the U.S. National Guard, calling the hurricane a “Soldier of God.”
After such attacks, they argue that the Islamic State of Iraq will seize the opportunity to launch mass strikes on the apostates in the Iraqi military and police, paving the way for the third stage of the scenario: the commencement of the golden era of the triumphant Islamic conquests that includes the implementation of Sharia, the liberation of the Arabian Peninsula, the removal from power of “the U.S. ruling family” in Jordan and, finally, the big march toward Palestine. In the end, even Washington DC will fall to the mujahideen and that will conclude the final stage of Islamic control of the globe.
The scenario appears less of a planned operation than a hope for the fulfillment of a prophecy. The supposed factuality of the scenario is based on various verses in the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad’s teachings. Nevertheless, some of the users on the forums who discussed the scenario asserted that all of the details to execute the operation had already been prepared. One such user, by the alias of Abu Nedal, said, “For your knowledge, the operations are ready and awaiting the orders from our leader Osama bin Laden, God protect him, to decide what he deems appropriate either to strike now or to wait.”
Islamist extremists have always fabricated factitious scenarios for victory over the West based on their own interpretations of Quranic prophecies in times of crisis and defeat. Nevertheless, al-Qaeda has shown prior interest in acquiring nuclear materials for use in an attack, and it is necessary to take such forum postings seriously as they display the mindset and the intent, although perhaps not the capability, of al-Qaeda-affiliated militants.