National security advisers to President Obama are reportedly concerned about al-Qaeda pulling off a terrorist attack on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 in revenge for the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Global Security Newswire reports that if there is any specific intelligence indicating planning for a new attack but "administration leaders are not discussing it publicly."
However, they have said in the past that al-Qaeda would like to retaliate against the U.S. for taking out bin Laden.
"If you have an organization like al-Qaeda, it's not like they keep [bombs] around in a hangar," a senior U.S. military official told GSN in July. "So it's likely that there is a delay after having this [bin Laden killing] happen."
Daniel Benjamin, the State Department's counterterrorism coordinator, said it is unlikely al-Qaeda would strike with conventional weapons. Instead, it would have to get creative.
Just last week, the FBI and Homeland Security Department issued warnings about al-Qaeda interest in loading small aircraft with explosives as a potential means of attack. A fresh assault might alternatively be patterned after a right-wing extremist's apparently solo attacks in Norway on July 22 that killed 77, U.S. leaders are saying.
Last month Obama said we should all maintain "heightened awareness" as the anniversary approaches. He told CNN that a "lone wolf terrorist" is "the most likely scenario that we have to guard against right now."
Benjamin said it is difficult to track down these "lone wolves" because they are acting on their own and have little to no communication with others. "Those are clearly harder to collect [intelligence] on," he said.
However the news is not all grim. Larry Johnson, a former State Department counterterrorism deputy, puts the odds on a terrorist attack around the anniversary as "zero to less than zero." He told GSN that the U.S. has done a good job weakening al-Qaeda over the years.