by DEBKAfile, 8 December
"Osama bin Laden has packed his entire family out of Afghanistan ... Those sources interpret this step as supporting the volume of credible evidence of a major terrorist strike in the offing, which has prompted heightened terror alerts in the United States, Israel and the United Kingdom in the last three days.
Target dates range variously from December 12 and the Christmas period (December 23-26) to the first half of January.
The US government Saturday morning advised American citizens to postpone traveling to Israel and Palestinian-ruled areas, including parts of Jerusalem. The earlier White House maximum alert announcement, the third since September 11, warned against attacks on American soil and against US interests around the world ...
Bin Laden’s move has more than one key implication for the ongoing
war against terror:
1. US and British intelligence and special forces, though present on the ground, came short of thwarting the crossing of the large bin Laden clan into Pakistan ...
2. Bin Laden’s motives. The obvious one was that American military pressure has got him cornered and he wanted his family out of harm’s way.
But he may have unloaded them to keep himself free and untrammeled for launching the biggest terrorist attack of his life. Some intelligence authorities, including those of the United States, Britain and Israel, are warning against a strike of a nuclear, chemical or biological nature. A senior Israeli military source spoke this week about a world-scale assault, hinting at a multiple-targeted assault.
American intelligence sources postulate simultaneous strikes in New York and/or a second big US city, plus London and/or Tel Aviv and another Israeli town.
Saturday, December 8, British Interior Minister David Blankett issued a caution against a terror attack on London or another major city in the kingdom on the scale of the September 11 World Trade Center suicide atrocity in New York. British intelligence advises especial vigilance on the 12th and 27th days of Ramadan, which covers the Christmas period.
If they are all right, bin Laden will expect his family to be discovered and its movements and communications subjected to the glaring spotlight of hostile intelligence. He will therefore have resigned himself to a long, and possibly final, separation.
C. If the wanted terrorist can still mount the sort of monstrous terror offensive predicted, then the American-led war on terror still has a long way to go, as US leaders keep on saying – even in Afghanistan, where the United States has chalked up signal successes.
But even without that strike capability, one man is effectively keeping much of the world gritting its teeth in fear and dread, helpless against an unspeakable though undefined peril. This may be the ultimate goal of his brand of terrorism.
In dislodging the Taliban regime in Kabul, America has taken only the first step, although that too may not be absolute. The Afghan way is to fall back in the face of superior strength and wait for the chance of a comeback. The main body of the Taliban army – 40-50,000 strong – has survived, whether by removing their black turbans and melting into the population or retreating to the mountains and next-door Pakistan. There they can spend the harsh winter months, making guerrilla sorties against US and interim government forces, emerging again in the spring for a second round of warfare.
This the pattern recurred in one battlefield after another and again in Kandahar on Friday. Taliban and al Qaeda fighters crept out of the beleaguered city, heading for the mountains and the Pakistani frontier, others “surrendered” and a third group fought on. It was still not clear Saturday December 8 whether the town had fallen and who would eventually take control. The situation at the US Marines Rhino base south of Kandahar is equally undecided ..." [Emphasis added]