President Obama, speaking at the National Defense University, May 23, 2013:
That’s the current threat — lethal yet less capable al Qaeda affiliates; threats to diplomatic facilities and businesses abroad; homegrown extremists. This is the future of terrorism. We have to take these threats seriously, and do all that we can to confront them. But as we shape our response, we have to recognize that the scale of this threat closely resembles the types of attacks we faced before 9/11.
The Obama administration may ask overseas partners to enhance security measures at airports and is weighing whether to do the same here at home to address deepening concerns that terrorists in war-ravaged Syria are trying to develop a new generation of bombs that could be smuggled onto commercial planes, ABC News has learned.
“[This threat] is different and more disturbing than past aviation plots,” one source said. The issue was discussed this past week at the White House during a meeting of top-level officials from intelligence agencies, sources said…
Specifically, U.S. officials learned that associates of the al Qaeda affiliate in Syria — the Al Nusrah Front — and radicals from other groups were teaming up with elements of the Yemen-based group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which built such innovative devices as the “underwear bomb” that ultimately failed to detonate in a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.
Bolstered by more recent intelligence, U.S. analysts believe the “subset” of extreme terrorists in Syria could be looking to down a U.S.- or European-bound plane, with help from one of the thousands of Americans and other foreign fighters carrying U.S. and European passports who have joined Al Nusrah Front and other groups in the region.
The scale of that threat doesn’t seem like pre-9/11 anymore, now does it?