1 page paper on terrorist attack in new york

1 page paper on terrorist attack in new york



You will not create the graph below for your brief! This is used to demonstrate the logic of a threat matrix, which will guide the logic of your threat assessment.  It is your job, as an analyst, to determine the nature of a specific potential national security threat to the US homeland or US interests abroad.  Threats are assessed along two axes: the probability of a threat become an attack or major issue on and for the US or its interests overseas and the likely level of damage caused by such an attack or issue.  As you can see in the threat matrix, there can be threats that can be ranked 1/1.  Such a threat is a very low probability of attack or causing a problem for the US.  It is also a very low probability of causing damage to the US or its overseas interests.  So one axis (probability) is about the likelihood of attack and the second axis (consequence) is about how much damage it could do to the US and its interests.  Let’s think of an example: Britain.  The probability of Britain attacking the US or its interests is 0.   The consequences of Britain attacking the US or its interests would be around a 4 or a 5.  The country is highly capable and nuclear-armed.  As an analyst, you need to make an overall assessment of the threat that, say, Britain poses to the US.  Your overall assessment would be that while it is a highly capable actor it poses no threat to the US or its overseas interests.

Let us consider another hypothetical example: radical animal rights activists in the US.  They have attacked animal testing facilities in the past.  They will very likely do so again in the future.  So we would assess that the probability of such an attack is a 5.  But, no one has ever been killed or seriously wounded in one of their attacks and they do minor damage to the facilities they attack.  So the consequences of such an attack would be a 1.  So, your overall assessment as a smart analyst is that radical animal rights activists pose a very minor threat to the US.

The key to making a good, defensible, threat assessment is evidence for your arguments.  You cannot say, I think that such group is likely to attack the US because they look scary.  Have they attacked the US before?  Have they tried before?  Have they expressed a desire to do so?  Do they have the capability to do it?  You need to be able to point to concrete evidence for every assertion you make!

The same goes for the arguments you make about consequences of an attack.  When they have attacked before, wherever that might be, how destructive were they?  Do they have new, known capabilities?  Do they have the ability to use those capabilities against us here or against our interests overseas?  Once again, you need to provide concrete evidence.

You need to cite the evidence that you use in your brief!  This is a huge part of an intelligence analyst’s responsibility.  Obviously, not all intelligence is of equal reliability and value.  The highly-placed source in ISIL a better intel source than some farmer who saw ISIL pass through his fields.  By citing your sources, you convey what quality of information you are using.  Use the Chicago Manual of Style, APA, or APL to pick a way to cite sources.

Use Calibri 11 point font, single spaced.  It may not be longer than a page.  If it is shorter than a page, you are probably not saying much substantive.








Threat Assessment of Al Qaeda Core (AQC) to CONTUS[1]

Karl Kaltenthaler

Probability of Attack: 1

AQC was once a formidable threat to CONTUS.  The coordinated attacks of 11 September 2001 killed close to 3,000 people and injured thousands more.  Since that time, AQC has been eliminated as an organized presence in the United States due to operations by the FBI in concert with intelligence operations carried out by NSA and CIA to locate operatives through overseas intelligence collection. The last discovered AQC cell-based plot was in 2009 and consisted of a plan to attack the New York City subway system.[1]  Since that time, no other AQC cells have been discovered in CONTUS.  Also, there have been no AQC-directed or inspired single perpetrator attacks or plots in CONTUS since 2009.

One very important factor in assessing AQC to present a very low probability of attack on CONTUS is that its Command and Control (C2), which was principally located in the tribal areas of Pakistan following its displacement from Afghanistan in 2001, has been decimated by a campaign of US drone strikes between 2008-2015.  Several tier one and tier two operational commanders as well as scores of lower ranking cadre were killed during these operations.[2]  UBL himself noted the severity of the casualties in communications with his subordinates in documents found in Abbottabad.  He counseled his operatives to not travel to the Af-Pak theater because of the high likelihood that they would be killed.[3]  After UBL’s death, operational leadership of AQ operations against the West was passed to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). [4]

Severity of Attack: 3

While AQC is a shadow of its former self, it has clearly continued to envision a spectacular, mass casualty attack on CONTUS.  Its C2 has tried at least three times to use aircraft to strike CONTUS in combined, simultaneous attacks.[5]  Their best hope of achieving such an attack would come from perhaps the U.K. but the Salafi-jihadi presence in the U.K. is now almost completely dominated by ISIL.[6]  Given the continuing presence of AQ directed and inspired Pakistanis who travel back and forth between the U.K. and Pakistan, this could be a remote possibility for commandeering aircraft.  If such aircraft could be commandeered, and that possibility is remote, the threat to CONTUS would not be inconsequential.

What is more likely, although a remote possibility,  is that some AQC-inspired individual in the US will attack a soft target on his/her own volition.  The casualties from such an attack are likely to be fairly low, although a well-planned and executed bombing or shooting spree could produce substantial casualties.  We have not seen this type of attack from AQ-inspired individuals yet.  As in the UK, the imagination of would-be jihadis in CONTUS is overwhelmingly captured by ISIL and not by AQC. [7]

The overall assessment is that AQC presents minimal risk to CONTUS at this time.  That could change as the security situation in Afghanistan deteriorates.


[1] CONTUS means continental United States


[1] Jones, Seth. Hunting in the Shadows: The Pursuit of Al Qai’da since 9/11. New York:  Norton. (2012): 311-318.


[2] Byman, Daniel.  Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and the Global Jihadist Movement. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (2015):. 199-201.


[3] Rassler, Don, Gabriel Koehler-Derrick, Liam Collins, Muhammad Al-Obaidi, and Nelly Lahoud. “Letters from Abbottabad: bin Laden sidelined.” Combating Terrorism Center at West Point (2012).


[4] Binnie, Jeremy. “AQAP’s (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) Yemeni takeover.” Jane’s Terrorism & Insurgency Monitor (2012): 10-13.


[5] Silber, Mitchell D. The Al Qaeda factor: plots against the West. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011.


[6] Anthony, Andrew. “Anjem Choudary: The British extremist who backs the caliphate.” The Guardian 7 (2014).


[7] Zelin, Aaron Y. “The war between Isis and Al-Qaeda for supremacy of the global jihadist movement.” The Washington Institute for Near East Policy 20, no. 1 (2014): 1-11.

Answer Preview…………….

APA 405 words