In November of 2002, U.S. intelligence officials warned al Qaeda was planning, “more spectacular attacks” that could cause “mass casualties.”
CBS News Letters were the only way Osama bin Laden communicated with al Qaeda associates for nearly a decade because he was trying to evade capture. He wrote that rather than hijacking a plane, operatives should charter one for their next attack on the U.S. And adds if that’s too difficult, they should target U.S. railways.
Al Qaeda did not anticipate that the United States would go to war right after 9/11. They thought possibly a limited airstrike, but they didn’t think the U.S. would go beyond that, believing that the American people would take to the streets, replicate the anti-Vietnam war protests and they would put pressure on their government to withdraw from Muslim majority states.
By 2010, it was bin Laden’s plan to target multiple crude oil tankers and major shipping routes around the Middle East and Africa. He details how al Qaeda operatives should integrate themselves into those port areas as fishermen. He instructs them exactly where to buy a specific kind of wooden boat to evade radar and then, once again, goes into the granular details of his plan. “The boats need to carry a large volume of explosives, preferably placed in an arch position, facing the vessel.” So he is not only telling them what explosives to buy, he’s telling them how to place the explosives.
U.S. intelligence agencies say most al Qaeda terrorist activity is now being carried out by smaller al Qaeda offshoots. Bin Laden’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, now heads al Qaeda. This month, he appeared in a new video denouncing the enemies of Islam.