Remember Al-Qaeda? Of course you do. Though the radical Islamic terror group responsible for the unforgettable attack on September 11, 2001 has suffered many losses in the years since, it still operates and is looking to cause more death and destruction in Americans’ lives.
Evidence of this was just recently uncovered, after Al-Qaeda’s propaganda outlet, Inspire Magazine, published a blueprint for attacking critical American transportation infrastructure. Specifically, the manifesto emphasizes that attacks on airports, sea, and train routes, The Washington Free Beacon is reporting.
“When referring to transportation we refer to air, sea, and ground transportation—both local and international. Jihad groups and organizations may have the ability to target international means of transportation,” according to the al Qaeda leader. “As for the Lone Mujahid, his abilities may be limited to targeting internal means of transportation of a country. And it is possible for him to draw a comprehensive plan so as to execute such kind of operations.”
The attacks that the propaganda magazine encourages are not the highly organized events like 9/11, but lone wolf attacks like we have seen in recent years. Lone wolf attacks are much more difficult to detect, as a single person can act with much more stealth and cover than a network of people with large amounts of resources.
Specifically important to the plan is the U.S. train infrastructure. Though most people general fly for long-distance traveling, a great deal of our daily goods are delivered by freight trains. These massive trains can surpass over a mile in length, bringing in incredible amounts of cargo across the country in just a few days.
This presents an alluring target for jihadists, especially given the fact that the train lines are so long and often secluded.
“In America, trains are considered to be among the most important means of transportation within the country,” the article states. “What becomes apparent is that it is too difficult to protect these means of transportation. And here is where we find its vulnerability—means of transportation today are considered to be a weak point which we must focus on.”
The article continued by stating “Some transport companies may get into bankruptcy if targeted regularly and are unable to secure themselves, this will make people seize using such a company for their transportation needs. These are the most important consequences that may accompany these kind of operations.”
These kinds of attacks are simple to carry out, and are cost-efficient. Hence, they are appealing to Al-Qaeda. The magazine even makes clear that security for these train systems is easy to bypass.
“It is difficult for the authorities to secure all security loopholes in these operations. The ability to use different kinds of weapons, and ways to subdue the enemy according to the conditions and circumstances at hand.”
A major attack on American train lines could cause major economic issues. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, 39.5% of all freight is moved by rail by Class I railroads (railroads with operating revenues of $433.2 million or more), 21 regional railroads, and 510 local railroads.
If the Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern, or CSX lost a line due to sabotage, or lost a train due to an attack, the economy would feel the ripples almost instantly.
Let the railroads take note: Al-Qaeda is gunning for you. Time to be on the lookout.