Officials are focused on preventing fear that could vindicate Al-Qaeda’s methods and cause economic damage. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “The best thing we can do to fight terrorism is to refuse to be intimidated by it. Just for the record, I plan to take the subway tomorrow morning and feel just as safe as I did this morning.” He emphasized that citizens should not change their daily lives while remaining vigilant. The NYPD tried to reassure the public by mentioning that it has stopped 13 terrorist attacks since 9/11.
“New Yorkers should be cautious and aware as we prepare to commemorate the 9/11 anniversary. However, there is no reason to panic or allow our spirit of freedom to be dampened as we get ready to celebrate the opening of the Ground Zero site this weekend,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
For Ayman al-Zawahiri and Al-Qaeda as a whole, it is imperative that an attack happen. The terrorist group has suffered tremendous blows this year. Osama Bin Laden was killed in May, followed by the feared “commando commander,” Ilyas Kashmiri on June 3, and the East Africa operations chief on June 11. Al-Rahman, the group’s new second-in-command, was killed on August 22. It is reported that the head of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, was recently killed in Yemen. On September 5, Pakistan claimed it captured Younis al-Mauritani, a senior operations leader overseeing plots in the West. He was planning attacks on the U.S. economy by using speedboats filled with explosives to strike dams, oil tankers and oil and gas pipelines.
These blows have resulted in a confident tone from U.S. officials, boldly saying the terrorist group faces “strategic defeat.” Al-Qaeda must prove that it is not on its way out in the wake of its huge losses. Ayman al-Zawahiri, likewise, must do something big to show he can fill Osama Bin Laden’s shoes. If an attack does not happen, even the most stalwart supporters of the terrorist group will have to recognize that it is a far cry from what it once was.
If the plot is foiled, Al-Qaeda can still hope that a homegrown terrorist will act on his own accord. Every supporter of Osama Bin Laden will want to spoil the sense of resolution that will be felt this September 11. They don’t need orders to attack, because they understand the importance of the date.
The next week is a contest for both sides in the war on terrorism. Al-Qaeda and its supporters will do their best to carry out an attack, and Western governments will do their best to prevent it. If Al-Qaeda can be stopped from doing anything significant around this anniversary, it will be yet another painful blow to add to the list of its injuries for 2011.
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