This is Part 1 of a three-part series by former Special Forces soldier Loren Schofield.
As a Special Forces Intelligence Sergeant (18 Fox), it is part of the job to understand the enemy and learn everything you can about him so you can try to predict what they will do. Part of this is playing Red Team during Course of Action (COA) development, and some of it comes into play during the planning for the mission.
In preparing the Concept of the Operation (CONOP) and planning, one of the 18F’s duties is to come up with the enemies Most Likely COA (MLCOA), and Most Dangerous COA (MDCOA). It could focus on a specific target that you are going after, the Tactics Techniques and Procedures (TTP’s) that have been historically utilized, the location of these attacks, personal knowledge of the target and numerous other factors. MLCOA is usually not as dangerous as the MDCOA which, by its nature, usually takes the “worst case” option.
I would like to consider these two COAs on what a terrorist attack on the United States by Islamic Militants would look like. The point of this article is not to say they are coming right now, or that any of these attacks will certainly take place. This is simply an analysis of what a potential attack would look like, period.
The MLCOA will have a few categories, from unaligned Jihadist working on his own, to professionally trained cells working under direction of a State, or Non-State actor, under a unifying strategic plan. The MDCOA is actually the scariest, not only by the amount of casualties it could potentially account for, but the ease with which it could be done, plus there are some indicators that point to a test run that was done last year, but the authorities still don’t know who was behind it.
Many people will claim that I’m being a “fear monger,” “moon-bat,” “wing-nut,” or that “I’m living in fear of some all-powerful Muslim Super Army” and that “this is all just war machine propaganda.” To those people, I will say that this is just an intellectual exercise I played to keep my skills sharp. I always enjoyed being the Red Team, and writing this allowed me to use my analysis skills and given me a reason to do something that I enjoy.
Check out this article from the guys at Havok Journal about the beheading of James Foley. The amount of disdain ISIS has for us, and their many open declarations of war toward us, should at the very least get us talking about the security of the United States, especially since Britian raised their threat level to “severe”, one step below “critical,” which is their highest security level:
Alarmed by the suspected presence of hundreds of British jihadists among Sunni militants in Syria and Iraq, Britain increased its assessment of the terrorism threat on its own soil on Friday and said new laws would be introduced to counter what Prime Minister David Cameron called “a greater threat to our security than we have seen before.”
Lone Jihadist terrorist attack
How many Americans are fighting in Syria or Iraq right now?
“As an intelligence community, it is a challenge for us,” the official said. “Once an American arrives in this no man’s land, our ability to track them clearly diminishes. That’s why it’s best to stop them before they go because we lose insight on where they’re fighting and with who.”
In fact, FBI Director James Comey said last week that his agency cannot be certain of even the range of Americans who’ve traveled to Syria.
“When I give you the number of more than 100, I can’t tell you with high confidence that’s a 100 of 200, that’s a 100 of 500, that’s a 100 of a 1,000 or more, because it’s so hard to track,” Comey said in remarks at the Dallas FBI Field Office.
American Jihadis recently arrested this year
- Adam “Fadi Fadi” Dandach, 20, who was arrested by FBI at Los Angeles International Airport in early July 2014 and later told agents that he was trying to travel to Syria to join ISIS.
- Donald Ray Morgan, 44, of North Carolina, who was arrested by the FBI for firearms violations on Aug. 2. Investigators found he had posted numerous pro-ISIS messages on social media and believe he was seeking to join ISIS.
- Shannon Maureen Conley, 19, of Colorado pleaded guilty on April 8 to federal charges that she attempted to fly to Turkey on the first leg of a journey to join ISIS.
American’s killed in Syria
- Troy Kastigar, killed in 2009 fighting in Somalia for al-Shabab
- Nicole Lynn Mansfield, an American female convert to Islam, was killed last year in Syria while reportedly fighting with a group called AQ affiliated Ahrar al-Sham (“Free Men of Syria”).
- Moner Mohammad Abusalha, from Florida, fighting with Al-Nusra, drove a truck loaded with munitions up a hillside in northern Syria.
- Douglas McAuthur McCain, of San Diego, California, was killed over the weekend, fighting for ISIS.
- Another American is reportedly killed just days after McCain.
Lone Wolf terrorist attack in the U.S.
- Nidal Malik Hasan – killed 13, wounded 32 other at Ft. Hood. Hasan recently wrote a letter to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi requesting his acceptance into the group’s self-declared caliphate.
- Dzhokhar and Temerian Tsarnaev: Boston Marathon bombing.
MLCOA – Lone Wolf terrorist attack
The most likely threat from the lone wolf, who may or may not be aligned with any specific group, is using the information and how-to instructions from the Internet to plan and conduct an attack. They would probably use hometown knowledge and advice from extremist websites on what type of targets to look for, and TTPs to use for pre-mission planning, intelligence gathering and OPSEC. These sites will also offer proven strategies and tactics to use during the attack. AQAP did just that a few weeks ago, attempting to recruit “Lone Wolves.”
(continued on next page)