Another WMD event in Denver today, and bear this in mind: New Al Qaeda Manual Reflects Changing Face Of Terror. The manual, called "Method for Building the Personality of a Terrorist Mujahid" and written by an Islamist forum contributor nicknamed "Shamil al-Baghdadi," encourages militant followers to stop focusing on pulling off attacks on the scale of 9-11 and to start executing numerous smaller attacks.
It states that if for some reason the mission fails, the Jihadi must not abort, but instead carry on alone — as a one-man cell.
According to New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, it's a strategy of which domestic law enforcement agencies are well aware.
"If you can't do the big attacks, do the small attacks. Do smaller attacks and more of them," Kelly said.
(CBS) John McCain's campaign office in Denver, Colorado, has received a letter containing a threat and "an amount of white powder in it," a McCain campaign spokesman told CBS News' Michelle Levi.
"We immediately notified local and federal law enforcement agencies and are looking to cooperate with them," McCain spokesman Jeff Sadosky said.
The city of Denver is at a heightened security level, as the Secret Service and other officials prepare for the Democratic National Convention, which is set to begin on Monday.
And last week's terrifying WMD incident:
Death in Denver A Small Event with an Ominous Warning Ilana Freedman
Denver Police have closed their investigation into the mysterious death of an indigent man in a suite of a luxury Denver hotel. They announced that his death was suicide, and that there was no link to terrorism. An FBI spokesman has also stated that the incident has no apparent terrorism connection.
The man was Saleman Abdirahman Dirie and, the coroner's verdict notwithstanding, his death raises far more questions than have been answered by the Denver police, who seemed quite happy to wash their hands of the whole affair. But the story surrounding Dirie's death is bizarre, and needs to be unraveled.
The facts, as far as they have been released, are these: Saleman Abdirahman Dirie was a 29-year-old Canadian citizen, a Muslim, and a former refugee from Somalia with no visible means of support and no money. He came to Denver from Ottawa by bus and checked into an upscale hotel (where the least expensive rooms rent for nearly $250 a night) for which he paid cash. There are reports that several thousand dollars in cash were also found in his room. He was not seen again until his body was found six days later next to a one pound jar of sodium cyanide crystals.
If you consider that this all took place in the city where the Democratic National Convention was about to take place, suspicion becomes alarm.
The questions themselves are disquieting. Why was he in Denver? Where did he get the cash to pay for his room? Where did he get a full pound of sodium cyanide crystals, enough to poison hundreds of people, and what was he planning to do with it?
Sodium cyanide is one of several cyanide salts that are among the most rapidly acting of all known poisons. These crystals are potent inhibitors of respiration, depriving the body of its ability to use oxygen. Its effect is deadly and swift. Mixed with acid, it becomes significantly more potent as it generates a highly toxic gas. Its close cousin, hydrogen cyanide, was used by the Nazis to produce Zyclon B, the gas of choice to murder millions of Jews in the Nazis' infernal gas chambers.
In short, a little goes a long way. So no one needs a pound of sodium cyanide to commit suicide, when a mere taste will do. A more likely scenario is that his curiosity got the better of him and he opened the jar, accidentally breathing or ingesting some of the cyanide. That would make it, perhaps, an accidental poisoning, but hardly a suicide.
The more important question remains: why else would anyone need a pound of cyanide? The timing of Dirie's visit to Denver, less than two weeks before the Democratic convention, raises an alarming possibility. National Republican and Democratic Conventions have been considered a high value target since 9/11 and the last round was surrounded by heavy (if imperfect) security. Compromising the water or HVAC systems in the Convention Center is a plan that might seem quite attractive in the name of jihad. And it could kill several hundred people.
The combined circumstances make the possibility that Dirie was an operative part of a jihad plot very real. Evolving strategies among the terrorists groups seem to lean towards small cells carrying out limited attacks on prime targets. This situation could be that, with Dirie being a one man jihadi whose job was to place the poison where it would do the most damage. On the other hand, if a very large attack were planned, as seems possible in this case, he might have been one of a larger group of terrorists, each with a single role to play. In this case, he would not have known the parts of the plots or the people who would carry them out. If the accidental death scenario is correct, then his extreme incompetence, which ended in his contamination and death, would indicate that the latter situation would be the most plausible one.
And that means that there are others like Dirie still out there, taking courage in the statements of the Denver police that the case is closed. As the festivities preceding the Democratic Convention are about to begin, the time to take this possibility seriously is now.
There are terrorist cells active throughout the country, using mosques and community centers, coffee houses, homes, and street meetings to develop and carry out their plans. Despite what the Denver police have said, this appears to be far more than a dysfunctional man taking his own life.
There is a pervading opinion among our leaders that Americans need to be protected from uncomfortable and frightening truths. Instead of giving us the opportunity to protect ourselves and our families, they prefer to tell us that everything is okay and under control, even when the threat is real and current. The time to be honest with the American people began a long time ago and the time for concern is now.
Ilana Freedman is Editor of IntelAnalysis and CEO of Gerard Group International, Inc.