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Counterterrorism Intelligence Report
with Fred Burton

Stratfor: al Qaeda and the quiet election

Ed. Note: This special feature is reprinted in partnership with Stratfor, an influential private intelligence company. Fred Burton, the former deputy chief of the State Department's counterterrorism division, presently serves as vice president for counterterrorism and corporate security at Stratfor, and recently released his autobiography: GHOST, Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent. For a special offer to get a copy of GHOST, and to read additional information about Fred Burton and his role at Stratfor, simply click here.

As Election Day in the United States comes and goes, it appears there will be no significant al Qaeda announcement or attack against U.S. interests before most Americans record their vote. The group's silence - on both the physical and ideological battlefields - on the subject of the U.S. presidential election probably has resulted from heavy U.S. pressure on al Qaeda and its leaders.
With Election Day well under way in the United States, there has been a notable silence from al Qaeda. The militant Islamist group and its leaders previously have enjoyed a reputation for their pre-election announcements or plots.
The March 11, 2004, train bombings in Madrid, Spain, came just days before Spaniards went to the polls. A few months later, al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden addressed the American public shortly before the 2004 U.S. presidential elections. In 2006, British and American authorities uncovered an elaborate al Qaeda plot to blow up trans-Atlantic flights between the United Kingdom and the United States ahead of midterm U.S. elections. But 2008 has seen only a short blurb released Oct. 30 by senior al Qaeda figure Abu Yahya al-Libi condemning the Republican Party. Neither bin Laden nor al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri has touched on the U.S. elections in a significant way. With just hours to go before polls close, it appears no message or attack will be forthcoming.

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