WHAT’S NEXT?….The Washington Post says the police investigation of the airline bombers began shortly after the London transit bombings in July 2005:

By late 2005, the probe had expanded to involve several hundred investigators on three continents.

….”It’s not like three weeks ago all of a sudden MI5 knew about this plot and went to work,” added a U.S. law enforcement official, speaking of the British security service. “They’d had a concern about these guys for some time ? for months.”

….British officials suspect that as many as 50 participants and accomplices were involved, U.S. law enforcement officials said.

So British and American counterterrorism agencies have been tracking 50 al-Qaeda (or al-Qaeda-ish) terrorists for over a year. They were under intensive surveillance the entire time and never had any chance of pulling off their plans. What’s more, the investigation has probably provided us with hundreds or thousands of additional leads to keep tabs on.

I wonder: what lesson will al-Qaeda draw from this? Osama bin Laden may be a religious fanatic, but he’s not stupid, and my guess is that he’ll conclude that in a post-9/11 security environment it’s simply impossible to keep a plot this big a secret. There are too many entry points and too many ways for a single mistake to derail the whole thing.

Bin Laden may be fond of big statements, but I wonder if this failure will convince him and his compatriots to think smaller? Is our future now more likely to be full of lots of little attacks rather than the occasional big one?

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