Both al-Qaeda and the Islamic State are reportedly plotting terrorist attacks on the eve of the election. Successfully carrying out a major attack on American soil on or just before Election Day would be a major propaganda coup for both groups which are currently ailing.
U.S. intelligence discovered a possible al-Qaeda terrorist plot aimed for November 7.
U.S. authorities are taking the threats seriously. This attack is threatened against New York, Texas and Virginia. Police are looking for men who may have information about the alleged plot in New York State but stressed those they are looking for are not suspects.
Meanwhile, the FBI is questioning Muslim individuals in Kansas, Oklahoma, Florida and Texas to try to find out information about the possible attacks, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Not to be outdone, the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL) called on its supporters to carry out attacks on Election Day itself in a long-winded, seven-page manifesto distributed on social media.
The manifesto, entitled The Murtadd Vote (The Apostate Vote) called on Muslims to either boycott the election or carry out terrorist attacks (preferably both). The group said they “have come to slaughter you and smash your ballot boxes.”
Making threats to carry out terrorist attacks is a form of terrorism itself. Groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS know they can only successfully kill a relatively small number of Americans in any given attack, if they can even carry out a successful attack before they are stopped by the tireless work of courageous law enforcement officers.
But they know they can spread fear by using propaganda via social media to make people doubt their own safety. If terrorist attacks might come, and you don’t know where and when, that creates a response in a person, who may feel anxious, scared, unsure and unsafe. This feeling is the entire goal of terrorism (to create terror).
Even if there is no attack either today or tomorrow, simply by threatening an attack they have achieved several objectives.
- They forced law enforcement to take security measures in response to the threats and thus wasted thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money.
- They created unease in the population, which is a psychological strike against American society.
- They created division between people who disagree about the appropriate response to the threats.
- They increased suspicion of Muslims in the eyes of the non-Muslim population, who will worry how they will be able to tell who is a terrorist and who is not.
- They garnered media attention in international outlets – television, print and other media, drawing attention to themselves and their cause.
All of this they will have achieved with only the minimal expenditure of threatening an attack. If someone actually does carry out an attack, their message will be amplified even further and they will further sow fear and discontent.
Either way is a victory.
So what can the American people do? Show up to vote for their preferred candidate and show Islamist extremists that America is not so easily cowed.