Thursday, July 12, 2007

Covering His Back

The US Homeland Security Chief, Michael Chertoff, has this week said he's got a "gut feeling" the US will be attacked by al Qaeda this summer. His comments in an interview with the Chicago Tribune are pretty surprising. It's one thing for politicians and others to warn people to be on their guard against terrorists, as they do all the time, but quite another to pretty much predict an attack's going to happen.

Mr Chertoff is simply covering his own back here. It's been six years since the last al Qaeda attack on US soil, and the law of averages suggests there's got to be another one sometime. He just doesn't want anyone to say to him after it happens that he didn't do enough to warn the public.

In many ways it's much harder for al Qaeda to attack the US than, say, Britain. Here we've got larger Muslim populations in many cities, and a traditionally more relaxed approach to Islamist preachers spouting extreme views. That means it's easier for would-be terrorists to blend in here, and indeed convert others (including whites such as Anthony Garcia from the Crevice plot) to the Islamist cause. But as Mr Chertoff knows, that doesn't mean America is safe. Nobody will be too surprised if his gut feeling turns out to be accurate.

No comments: