The United States has done a very good job of compromising al Qaeda’s ability to plan any meaningful attack since September 11, 2011. We have precluded bin Laden’s command and control over al Qaeda and as a result, al Qaeda has been reduced to scattered one-off attacks versus coordinated, high impact attacks, with mass casualties.
Bin Laden’s actual death doesn’t increase our overall safety in the near term, however it does remove the singular emotional appeal and communicates to the world that we are not as vulnerable as we may appear. It is highly doubtful that al Qaeda has the organizational capacity to set up some synchronized operation to be activated in the event of bin Laden’s death. Al Qaeda is truly a shard of what it once was, thanks to the worldwide intelligence community and the U.S. military.
However, that doesn’t mean that the risk of attack is any less than it was yesterday. In fact, the risk level to the average person in the United States has not changed, but people, especially those abroad, need to be vigilant and try to think the way a terrorist would. The attack last week in Marrakesh, Morocco is case in point. We’ve been cautioning clients about visiting Morocco for years and one has to question the wisdom of sitting in a cafe in an open, crowded tourist area (in a country that is sympathetic to the U.S.) has to be questioned.
Remember to be aware of your surroundings and keep in mind basic security precautions during this emotionally time charged time. If you see something suspicious, don’t hesitate to say something or reach out to a security official nearby.