Unbeknownst to me, ABC ran a story yesterday saying that al-Qaeda will release a new tape about WMD attacks on the West. A little later in the evening, Evan Kohlmann wrote at the Counterterrorism Blog that ABC and the FBI had been duped by fringe reporting about a silly AQ fan video posted online that showed scenes of nuclear annihilation. He rightly observes that such a video is not an AQ product. But he goes beyond that to say the following:
For the record: there is no indication whatsoever that Al-Qaida’s As-Sahab Media Foundation is preparing to release anything in the next 24 hours. There has been no notification posted on the usual channels, there are no glitzy advertisements, and there is no credible electronic chatter, period. Rather, the intel community appears to have (once again) fallen victim to poorly researched open source news reporting.
If you read Jihadica yesterday, you know that this statement is incorrect. There has been a lot of “electronic chatter.” Evan may quibble that it’s not “credible,” which is fine (although I don’t know what metric he’s using). But he makes it sound like there has been no discussion at all of nukes online, when actually the opposite is the case.
As I said yesterday–without having seen the ABC story or Evan’s commentary–I don’t think that the chatter is in any way indicative of AQ’s capabilities or plans. Yet there is an unusually large amount of it. I gave my theory yesterday and invite others to do so as well.
For the record, here are some of the more interesting posts from yesterday (Arabic). One of the threads starts in April, but was picked up again in the past few days. I left out one about internet strikes on nuclear reactor computers because it seemed a little too operational: