Al Qaeda and Iran both represent an immediate danger, but lone wolf ISIS attacks could happen too.
CBS News reports that US intelligence has alerted terrorism task forces in three states about an al Qaeda plot to disrupt American elections next week. Though election day is Tuesday, the warning was about attacks on Monday. This could indicate an attempt to attack poll workers setting up for the election, or simply to lower turnout by terrifying people about going to public places. Texas, Virginia, and New York have received warnings of possible pending attacks.
The exact nature of the threat was not stated, though many recent lone wolf attacks have used guns instead of bombs. Texas is normally considered an unlikely target for shooting attacks, but it is one of only six states that bans firearms from being carried at polling places. As a result, the ordinary distributed defense of a well-armed population will not be available to Texans on this occasion.
Separately from this threat, a top figure in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) recently proclaimed in an interview with state media that they were infiltrating the United States and Europe with militants. “The whole world should know that the IRGC will be in the U.S. and Europe very soon,” Salar Abnoush is quoted as saying. Iran has been increasingly provocative in its conduct towards the United States, going so far as having proxy forces fire missiles at US Navy warships. The IRGC last year seized an American boat and held US Navy personnel hostage for some time.
An actual attack within the homeland, especially one targeting the elections process, would be a significant escalation. Nevertheless, the trend of Iranian attacks has been towards escalation lately. According to a source who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon, the recent influx of investment may provide Iran with a sense that it is freer than it has been to conduct such attacks without punishment:
“If we look at Iran’s previous terror attacks and assassination campaign around the world, such a statement is alarming,” Saeed Ghasseminejad, an Iran expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Free Beacon. “The Islamic Republic has killed hundreds of Iranians and non-Iranians around the world in a coordinated campaign of terror. Iran may decide to restart the project now that many western companies are going to Iran and Iran feels its action in Europe may not be punished strongly.”
In addition to these centrally-organized threats, there is of course a persistent danger of attacks by Islamic State (ISIS) inspired militants. Such attacks have been of increasing frequency across both Europe and the United States. Because they lack central planning, they are very difficult to stop before they happen.
American citizens should be aware of the dangers posed by these actors. Nevertheless, the right to vote is an act central to the life of a free and self-governing people. Citizens should take appropriate precautions, but no one should avoid voting because of any physical threat. Rather, Americans should defy those who would deny them the right to vote through terror in the manner of their ancestors.
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