As tensions increase between the United States and Iran, U.S. intelligence and terrorism experts say they believe Iran would respond to U.S. military strikes on its nuclear sites by deploying its intelligence operatives and Hezbollah teams to carry out terrorist attacks worldwide.What I continue to find interesting, however, is how much preparation could be done using open source information found on the web.
Iran would mount attacks against U.S. targets inside Iraq, where Iranian intelligence agents are already plentiful, predicted these experts. There is also a growing consensus that Iran's agents would target civilians in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, they said....
But terrorism experts considered Iranian-backed or controlled groups -- namely the country's Ministry of Intelligence and Security operatives, its Revolutionary Guards and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah -- to be better organized, trained and equipped than the al-Qaeda network that carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The Iranian government views the Islamic Jihad, the name of Hezbollah's terrorist organization, "as an extension of their state. . . . operational teams could be deployed without a long period of preparation," said Ambassador Henry A. Crumpton, the State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism.
The article notes,
Citing prohibitions against discussing classified information, U.S. intelligence officials declined to say whether they have detected preparatory measures, such as increased surveillance, counter-surveillance or message traffic, on the part of Iran's foreign-based intelligence operatives.I'm thinking they could be doing massive preparation online.
Tonight, I compared the tools available at a9 Maps, Google Maps, and what used to be MapBlast. At a9, I can find street level pics from major cities; at MSN's site (the former MapBlast but now Windows Live Local or some such), I can find bird's eye views of major cities; and, at Google, I can get decent satellite imagery. Say I wanted to blow up some government building. While surfing maps, Boston's Coast Guard facility is clearly marked in the North End. Check out the three sites and you get a fairly decent overview of the major physical security presence in place. In less than 20 minutes, I had the rough details for blowing up the a government facility; I know where I'd place the car/truck bomb and I know how I'd get it there. And I haven't even left my chair. Certainly, it isn't the same as being on site, but perhaps with a dozen rough plans in place, scoped out through available tools on the internet, I can then visit them to check out whether or not the plans would work.
The problem with combatting terrorism in the US is our society is so open there's no way to harden everything. Our soft underbelly is huge...