The next terrorist assault on the U.S. is likely to come via unsophisticated, near-simultaneous attacks — similar to those attempted in Britain last week — designed more to provoke widespread fear and panic than to cause major losses of life, believe intelligence and counterterrorism officials quoted by the Washington Post. Such attacks require minimal expertise and training and are difficult to prevent. Experts believe that al-Qaeda inspires and guides local groups from afar but establishes no visible operational or logistical links.
Security and surveillance in the U.S. have been increased in several ways, including the placement of more U.S. marshals on flights to Britain and other European destinations. On Jan. 22, the Holland Tunnel in New York was evacuated for several hours after a suspicious package was spotted after an accident. Hazardous-materials teams were brought in, and the package was blown up by a robot before the tunnel was reopened. In Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown on Saturday night, some restaurants and nightclubs were evacuated after firefighters spotted an abandoned backpack on a sidewalk. On Sunday, police set up checkpoints on the access route into Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, stopping some cars and trucks for inspection.