12/22/11, "NY Judge: Iran, Taliban, Al-Qaida Liable For 9/11 Attack," AP via CBS News
"A federal judge has signed a default judgment finding Iran, the Taliban and al-Qaida liable in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Judge George Daniels in Manhattan signed the judgment Thursday, a week after hearing testimony in the 10-year-old case. The signed ruling, which he promised last week, came in a $100 billion lawsuit brought by family members of victims of the attacks. He directed a magistrate judge to preside over remaining issues,
- including fixing compensatory and punitive damages.
Daniels signed findings of fact saying the plaintiffs had established that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were caused by the support the defendants provided to al-Qaida. The findings also said Iran continues to provide material support and resources to al-Qaida by providing a safe haven for al-Qaida leadership and rank-and-file al-Qaida members.
During last week’s open-court hearing, family members of Sept. 11 victims sat through a four-hour presentation from attorneys who cited evidence supporting their claims that Iran actively assisted the hijackers of planes that crashed into the World Trade Center towers, at the Pentagon and into a field in Pennsylvania. Former members of the 9/11 Commission
- and three Iranian defectors also spoke.
It would be near impossible to collect any damages, especially from the Taliban or al-Qaida.
Iran has not commented on the ruling. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly denied any Iranian connection in the Sept. 11 attacks or with al-Qaida. Saudi Arabia had been knocked out of the lawsuit, but lawyers filed papers on Thursday to reinstate Saudi Arabia as a defendant.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment."
In contrast with the federal judge's opinion above, some Beltway "experts" say Al Qaeda has only a few people left and no wherewithal to launch a meaningful attack:
2011, "Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs of Homeland Security," Journal of the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security, Homeland Security Affairs, Mueller and Stewart
Sub-heading, "Inflating Terrorist Capacities"
"Glenn Carle, a twenty-three-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency, where he was deputy national intelligence officer for transnational threats, has warned "We must not take fright at the specter our leaders have exaggerated. In fact, we must see jihadists for the small, lethal, disjointed and miserable opponents that they are." Al-Qaeda "has only a handful of individuals capable of planning, organizing and leading a terrorist organization," and although they have threatened attacks, "its capabilities are far inferior to its desires."30
In evaluating al-Qaeda’s present capacity to inflict damage and its likelihood of doing so, a good place to start is with analyses provided by Marc Sageman.31 A former intelligence officer with experience in Afghanistan, Sageman has carefully and systematically combed through both open and classified data on jihadists and would-be jihadists around the world.
Al-Qaeda central, he concludes, consists of a cluster less than 150 actual people. Other estimates of the size of al-Qaeda central generally come in with numbers in the same order of magnitude as those suggested by Sageman.32 Sageman may be going too far when he argues "there is not much left of al-Qaeda except in the minds of those inside the beltway."33 But that possibility should be included in the discussion at least as much as ones that confer on al-Qaeda capacities that are at once monumental and mounting.
Beyond the tiny band that constitutes al-Qaeda central, there are, continues Sageman, thousands of sympathizers and wouldbe jihadists spread around the globe who mainly connect in Internet chat rooms, engage in radicalizing conversations, and variously dare each other to actually do something.34 All of these rather hapless — perhaps even pathetic — people should of course be considered to be potentially dangerous. From time to time they may be able to coalesce enough to carry out acts of terrorist violence, and policing efforts to stop them before they can do so are certainly justified. But the notion that they present an existential threat to just about anybody seems at least as fanciful as some of their schemes."...
10/4/2007, "Home-grown terrorism now main threat," The Australian, Paul Maley
"Dr Sageman said al-Qaeda's leaders had been all but cut off from the current crop of jihadists
- and comprised no more than two dozen people."...
5/9/11, "Bin Laden’s death likely to shatter al Qaeda," Bill Gertz, Washington Times
As a result, there has been a failure to devote enough people and resources to understanding and countering what the official said was the greater strategic threat posed by radical Islamism in general.
10/20/11, "The lost decade," Claremont Institute, Angelo M. Codevilla
"In short, homeland security has proven irrelevant to terrorism." (Sub-head, "The Home Front," parag. 2)