This report explores how terrorists or other non-state adversaries could potentially facilitate an avian influenza outbreak within the United States. The report was primarily intended to assist the Secretary of Homeland Security, Chief Intelligence Officer, Deputy Assistant Secretary, and Chief Medical Officer as they consider the implications of avian influenza to the Homeland. The scenarios explored in this paper are speculative and meant only to broaden the scope of thinking. They are not based on specific evidence or intelligence about terrorists’ plans and capabilities, but are considered scientifically feasible, according to experts that were interviewed.
An independent, unclassified analytic Red Cell session, sponsored jointly by the U.S. Departments of Energy and Homeland Security, found a Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD) attack on the U.S. homeland to be highly appealing from a terrorist standpoint. The Red Cell group, which simulated two different terrorist cells, believed an RDD attack would be relatively easy to prepare and mount and could have wide-ranging physical, psychological, political, and economic impacts. The group believed radioactive materials would be easy to procure, especially from abroad, and found a variety of potential targets across the country. Participants expected that public distrust of official guidance would heighten fear and panic.
A key component of the IAIP/Competitive Analysis and Evaluation Office’s mission is convening a diverse range of governmental and nongovernmental experts who adopt a terrorist mindset to challenge traditional or existing assumptions about how terrorists might attack some aspect of our critical infrastructure. The ideas generated by these “red cells” contribute insights on potential terrorist threats to the homeland for state and local governments, law enforcement, and industry.
A Homeland strike soon after the London attacks is conceivable but unlikely, and if and when it comes, it could just as well be on other “soft targets” as on mass transit. These were the conclusions of 18 leading academic terrorism experts, former senior National Security Council and DHS officials, mass transit security specialists, and other nongovernmental experts and creative thinkers polled by the DHS Analytic Red Cell immediately after the July 7 attacks.