Coordinated Vehicle Borne IED (VBIED) attack
AQI and IS have repeatedly shown that they can conduct large-scale coordinated attacks using VBIEDs. Just a little over a year ago, in May of 2013
“A wave of 11 VBIED attacks and seven additional explosions struck urban centers across Iraq on Monday, May 20 resulting in at least 60 deaths and 178 injuries. Two other VBIEDs were defused before they could explode on their targets.”
A week later:
“AQI launched a second wave of 13 VBIEDS and one additional explosion on May 27 that killed 36 and wounded 147. This time, all 14 attacks occurred in the vicinity of Baghdad, indicating a deliberate shift to focus upon the capital region.”
With IS’s military leadership, who understand the finer points of warfare, from compartmentalization and OPSEC to support and logistical consideration, they would be able to identify and train multiple teams who could be infiltrated into America with the mission of hitting one specific location, at a designated time.
The teams would not know about the others, or even the fact that there would be more than one team conducting operations. These teams, once in America, would identify targets and buy the supplies needed for construction of their weapons. They would be able to be in place in order to initiate their VBIED at the proper time. With their knowledge of modern American surveillance practices, they would conduct their training overseas, and would be given their mission right before they depart.
Personally, I would have an advanced team and an operational team for each target. The advance team could take care of the logistics, recon and construction, and when everything was in place, the operational element would come in. They would do a handover and the reconnaissance team could either exfil or move on and prepare another target.
The teams would be the equivalent of “fire and forget” weapons, as there would be no communications once they were gone. With the resources and money that ISIS has, each team would be well-funded. Coordination with the Mexican Cartels and America’s open border would ensure that they could safely arrive at their target location. Due to the compartmentalized aspect of the operation, even if one of the teams were captured or unable to complete the mission, enough would be available that they would cause significant damage.
Coordinated Vehicle Borne IED (VBIED) Attack, Part 2
The next step up in sophistication and lethality would be to conduct a simultaneous multi-pronged attack using all of the aforementioned methods. Imagine attacks like “Mumbai, Nairobi, Beslan and multiple VBIED/IED/Suicide Vests” all happening on a Monday morning during rush hour. VBIEDs detonating in NY, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta focusing on soft targets, public transportation, airports and infrastructure (water, electricity and transportation). Whole schools being hit and held hostages in Baltimore, Denver Seatle, and Houston. Gunmen running through the casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, high-end malls in Los Angeles and New York gathering up hostages to be held for the long standoff. Secondary, prepositioned VBIED/IED along likely avenues of approach, or potential staging areas targeting first responders.
Throughout the following weeks, secondary teams will continue to hit soft targets and first responders. Expect fire and police stations to be targeted by individuals wearing suicide vest and more VBIEDs. Police will be ambushed with IEDs and small arms, which will force them to change how they respond, thus reducing already slow reaction times. Churches, Synagogues and other places of worship will be especially dangerous; historically; when extremist get strong, they target religious institutions.
Islamic cells not associated with the primary group will be activated, causing even more chaos and death. (These separate groups may at times form alliances, but just as likely may fight each other, which is a weakness that could be exploited.)
Criminal elements will use the chaos and lack of law enforcement to their full advantage, increasing territory, taking out rivals, or doing anything that will increase their power and prestige.
Lone Wolfs who normally wouldn’t have the courage to act, will feel empowered and initiate their own attacks. Expect mass shootings in gathering places like subways, buses and churches.
All these players with different motivations, beliefs and organizations will make law enforcement infinitely more difficult. You can’t take down an organization if none of them are connected or know about each other.
Could an attack like this take place? Maybe, maybe not, but in my role of thinking like the enemy, these are some of the things that I would look at or consider. The sad thing is that this plan is more complex, difficult to conduct and would have fewer casualties than my MDCOA.
This article first appeared in The Havok Journal on 25 July, 2015.