Intelligence sources indicate that a 9/11 style catastrophic terrorist attack may be more likely over the next few years

Developments in the global security landscape are leading political risk analysts to change their predictions about the likelihood of a 9/11 style catastrophic terrorist attack.

Exclusive Analysis examined various indicators, including open source data and intelligence sources, to assess the probability of a catastrophic terrorist strike—which it defines as an event that kills more than 1,000 people and causes over $1bn worth of damage. The firm suggested that these indicators have changed since its last assessment, which was that a 9/11 style attack was unlikely.

A catastrophic terrorist attack requires a high level of sophistication and training. Therefore an attack, even on a relatively small scale, may be difficult to perpetrate in the West. Nevertheless, Exclusive Analysis believes more attacks are increasingly likely over the next few years.

An attack from Western home grown terrorists remains an outside possibility, said the firm. The low level of capability amongst the terrorists arrested by British police in 2008 indicated this was the case. However, a number of developments have increased the external threat.

“Intense US bombing missions in Waziristan have coalesced the warring tribal factions against their common Western enemy.

Intense US bombing missions in the tribal areas on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border, known as Waziristan, have coalesced the warring tribal factions against their common Western enemy, said the analysts.

Sentiment among Pakistani army officers has also shifted against America as it looks more and more likely that the Taliban will have to be incorporated into a political settlement. This, said Exclusive Analysis, creates a poor intelligence gathering environment for the coalition forces because Pakistani officers are less likely to hand over Taliban sources who they think may have to be incorporated into a new Afghan government when America leaves.

Intent for another attack is also rising among the remnants of core Al-Qaeda, partly this is a result of the passage of time since the group’s last perceived major victory over the West, which was 9/11 in 2001. As a result there is mounting internal pressure from within Al-Qaeda to prove it can mount a devastating attack on the West in order for it to show to the wider Muslim community that it is the main group defending their interests, said Exclusive Analysis.

The firm has identified 4,500 targets in 16 countries worldwide that it believes are the most likely to be targeted. It said risks to Western targets on the Indian sub-continent have also increased following the terrorist attack on the Sri-Lankan cricket team.