America has more to fear from a "lone wolf" than from a large scale attack, says President Obama. Image: DVIDSHUB/Flickr/CC BY

President Obama predicted in a CNN interview Tuesday that a “lone wolf” terror attack is much more likely than a large-scale planned assault. This speculation comes just weeks before the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 al-Qaida attack on the World Trade Center.

Possible retribution for bin-Laden

The president was asked during the interview if he feared a terrorist attack on September 11, perhaps as a retaliation for the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden by Navy SEALS in May.

“The biggest concern we have right now is not the launching of a major terrorist operation, although that risk is always there. The risk that we’re especially concerned over right now is the lone wolf terrorist. Somebody with a single weapon being able to carry out wide-scale massacres,” Obama said.

One person harder to track

The chief executive said that one deranged person, motivated by a hateful ideology, is capable of great damage and is harder to track than a large organization. He cited the recent attacks in Oslo, Norway, that left 77 dead as an example of the sort of attack he feared.

Al-Qaida continues to recruit

U.S. intelligence officials continue to report al-Qaida’s effort to enlist U.S.-born collaborators for its terror schemes, despite being crippled by the loss of its top man.

Lone wolf terror attacks

There have been several lone wolf terror attacks within the U.S. borders in recent years. Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist with alleged Islamic extremist ties, killed 13 people and left 29 others wounded in a shooting spree last November at Fort Hood, Texas. In 2010, Faizal Shahzad, a U.S. citizen, was convicted of placing a failed car bomb in New York’s Times Square. And on Christmas day, 2009, Northwest Airlines Flight 253 to Detroit was interrupted by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a passenger who tried to set off plastic explosives sewn into his underwear.

Obama vows added vigilance

“We still have to stay on top of it, though. We’re never letting our guard (down) now. That’s part of our job,” said the president. He then vowed that U.S. authorities will be extra vigilant as the anniversary of the worst-ever terror attack on U.S. soil approaches.

The president will be joined by former president George W. Bush for a ceremony at ground zero on Sept. 11.


National Journal:
The Telegraph:

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