By Dr. Peter Vincent Pry
As the War on Terrorism winds down against ISIS in Syria and the Taliban in Afghanistan, as Americans forget the years of unity following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York City and the Pentagon that killed 3,000, and embrace the new politics of divisive hyper-partisan quarreling, obsessed to distraction by our cold civil war — the conditions are ripe for another act of spectacular terrorism, another 9/11, that may well exceed the first in mass destruction.
According to The 9/11 Commission Report, the September 11 holocaust resulted from President Bill Clinton’s failure to retaliate for the Oct. 12, 2000, terrorist attack on the USS Cole in Yemen. The attack killed and injured 56 sailors and nearly destroyed a sophisticated guided missile cruiser worth nearly $1 billion.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) achieved its high-profile blow against USS Cole and the West with simple technology — a rubber dinghy armed with plastic explosives and suicide bombers, employed like a torpedo. Likewise the 9/11 attacks themselves would use low-tech means to achieve spectacular results.
For the next 9/11, look to Yemen’s “Houthis” so-called by the Western press for their late leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi — which misnomer displays the same kind of ignorance that blinded Washington to the threat from al Qaeda, before 9/11.
“Houthis” implies they are tribal, loyal to and identifying chiefly with interests of the Houthi tribe. In fact, they are radical Islamist fanatics, like al Qaeda, their Sunni enemies, with whom they are at war in Yemen.
The “Houthis” call themselves “Ansar Allah” (“Supporters of God”) and are a Zaydis/Shiite version of radical Islam dedicated to the universal triumph of their apocalyptic creed “uber alles” to borrow a phrase from Nazi Germany.
Ansar Allah’s motto, displayed on their flag, says it all: “God is great! Death to the U.S.! Death to Israel! Curse the Jews and victory to Islam!”
Just as in 2001, the United States was largely oblivious to the magnitude of al Qaeda threats from their safe-haven in Afghanistan, so today the United States is largely oblivious to threats from Ansar Allah to the U.S. homeland from their incubator in Yemen.
Whereas al Qaeda in Afghanistan were guests of the Taliban, Ansar Allah has conquered most of Yemen, a nation more strategically significant than Afghanistan. Yemen, located at the mouth of the Red Sea, can threaten the trade and oil artery to the Suez Canal, and neighboring moderate Arab states who are U.S. allies.
Brainwashed children serve as Ansar Allah soldiers. About one-third of their fighters are children, according to Human Rights Watch
Ansar Allah’s closest allies — Iran and North Korea.
According to Phillip Smyth of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Iran regards all Shiites in the Middle East, including Ansar Allah, as “integral elements to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).” Ansar Allah leaders receive ideological education in Iran. Iranian and Hezbollah military advisers help train Ansar Allah fighters.
Iran uses Ansar Allah to fight a proxy war against moderate Arab states allied with the United States, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and others. Arab moderates are understandably fearful of strategically located Yemen become a terrorist state.
Iran and North Korea have provided Ansar Allah with increasingly advanced weapons:
- In 2013, the U.S. Navy intercepted a sophisticated class of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile not previously known to be in the possession of any terrorist group.
- In April 2016, the U.S. Navy intercepted a massive shipment of arms, including thousands of rocket-propelled grenade launchers and AK-47 assault rifles, shipping from Iran to Ansar Allah.
- In August 2018, the United Nations condemned North Korea for arming Ansar Allah.
Ansar Allah is one of the few terrorist organizations in the world armed with ballistic missiles. They regularly make missile strikes on Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh.
In June 2015, Ansar Allah used a Scud missile strike on King Khalid AFB to kill the commander of Saudi Arabia’s Air Force, Gen. Muhammad al-Shalaam.
The Saudis are trying to protect themselves from Ansar Allah missiles with U.S.-supplied Patriot anti-missile batteries.
Al Qaeda killed thousands of Americans and started a global war on terrorism — armed only with box cutters and four hijacked airliners.
Ansar Allah has ballistic missiles and allies nuclear-armed North Korea and near-nuclear Iran. Iran successfully launched a Scud missile off a freighter — a technique that could be used for a nuclear strike on Washington.
Will the next 9/11 be nuclear terrorism?
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, former chief of staff of the congressional Electromagnetic Pulse Commission, served on the House Armed Services Committee and the CIA.