US domestic & transatlantic flights vulnerable to terrorists – former CIA #2

Former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell (AFP Photo / Win Mcnamee)
Al-Qaeda terrorists could attack an American flight any time, the former CIA deputy director confesses in a new book. Michael Morrell also said that if they aren’t dealt with, the Islamic State is likely to stage another 9/11 attack.

The Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and its notorious chief bomb maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri remain probably the biggest threat to the US, claims the retired number two at the CIA, Michael Morrell, in a new book: The Great War of Our Time: the CIA's Fight Against Terrorism from Al-Qaida to ISIS.

The Yemen-based AQAP, an offshoot of Al-Qaeda, has enough resources to crash a passenger jet, Morrell said.

“To put it bluntly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula tomorrow brought down a US airliner traveling from London to New York or from New York to Los Angeles or anywhere else in the United States,” the Telegraph cites Morrell’s book.

The US hasn’t been exactly effective so far in dealing with another terrorist entity, the Islamic State, Morell said, because “it's very hard to do.”

“If we don't get ISIS under control, we're going to see that kind of attack,” the kind of attack Al-Qaeda launched on 9/11, Morell told USA TODAY.

The former CIA executive served during the most tragic terror events of the last two decades: both 9/11 attacks on American soil and the London bombings on July 7, 2005. Morrell used to be the CIA's chief liaison with British intelligence (2003-2006).

He considers AQAP’s explosives expert al-Asiri, the man who once turned his own brother into a walking bomb and attempted to bring down a flight to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, a primary menace to international air travel.

“He may well be the most dangerous terrorist alive today,” Mr Morrell said. “He is a master at his craft and he is evil.”

READ MORE: Al-Qaeda mag urges ‘lone wolf’ terror attacks on major Western airlines

Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri (Reuters / Saudi Interior Ministry)

When in 2003 both American and British intelligence began to receive information about a "fiendishly clever" plot to attack British Airways flights, he faced “a classic ethical problem”: should he advise family friends against taking London flights? But opted not to, Morrell wrote.

On the day of London terror acts in 2005, Morrell was in the UK capital meeting with British intelligence. Though threats about more bus bombs were coming in all day long, the Britons Morrell talked to went home on the bus as usual, something that made a deep impression on Morrell.

“What struck me when I boarded was how absolutely normal all the passengers were acting,” he said. "This was the legendary British 'Keep Calm and Carry On' attitude at work - borne of surviving the Blitz by Hitler and hundreds of IRA bombings over the years."

Michael Morrell took part in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden and used to attend the “Mickey Mouse meetings”, the secret gathering in the White House, which discussed capturing “Terrorist #1”. When President George W. Bush was advised to negotiate with Al-Qaeda and get them to hand Bin Laden over, he reportedly replied “F*** diplomacy. We are going to war.”