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The Counsel of Fear

Testifying in early 2012, James Clapper told Congress:

While a "mass attack" was unlikely, groups like Yemen's al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula have expressed interest in acquiring the capability to carry out a limited attack using such weapons.

Recently, the BBC reported:

Al-Qaeda could gain access to Syria's stockpiles of chemical weapons with 'catastrophic' consequences, a parliamentary committee has warned.


After hearing evidence from senior members of the intelligence agencies and the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC), the committee highlighted "serious concern" among its witnesses that Syria's weapons stockpiles might be compromised.

Assessments of their contents "vary considerably", the report said, but suggest they include sarin, ricin, mustard gas and VX, which the committee described as "the deadliest nerve agent ever created".

"There has to be a significant risk that some of the country's chemical weapons stockpile could fall into the hands of those with links to terrorism, in Syria or elsewhere in the region," the committee concluded.

"If this happens, the consequences could be catastrophic."

Thus, while the underlying source of the security alert remains unclear, open source data suggests the threat of a chemical or similar attack on a Western target cannot be wholly discounted. Of course this is pure speculation, although it is consistent with the known facts.

The larger point is that the administration's counter-terrorism strategy, if such a word can be used to describe their actions so far, is not working.

It has failed to buy off the enemy and it has apparently failed to exterminate al-Qaeda to the desired degree. Now the West is facing some counteroffensive of large, but unknown, character. The terrible "ifs" accumulate, and failure may now have produced the Perfect Storm.

Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.

The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres

Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free

The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age

Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small

No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.

Storm Over the South China Sea $0.99, how China is restarting history in the Pacific

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