RAS Tanura Oil Terminal
Six percent of the world’s oil flows from this single facility in Saudi Arabia, making it an ideal target. Its destruction would cause a headline-grabbing explosion, wreak economic havoc by driving up world oil prices, and hurt the U.S. and Saudi Arabia simultaneously. (The terror network considers the leaders of the oil kingdom to be apostates.) The terminal has been attacked at least twice before and was narrowly saved by heroic guards each time. Al Qaeda likes to return to targets until it succeeds in destroying them, as the attacks on the World Trade Center (1993, 2001) and U.S. warships show.
U.S. Embassy, Amman
While U.S. embassies and consulates have been targets of Al Qaeda for almost 20 years, most have been relocated far from city centers or reinforced with rings of steel and concrete. The embassy in Jordan’s bustling capital has been slow to put all its armor on. That vulnerability has not gone unnoticed. Amman isn’t foreign territory for the terror network. Al Qaeda and similar groups have carried out bombings, kidnappings, and assassinations there in the past decade. An embassy attack sends a clear message to Washington that Al Qaeda is still in the fight.
It is an alphabet soup of vulnerabilities, partly because the world body refuses to acknowledge that Al Qaeda considers it a target, not a neutral. Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was Al Qaeda’s No. 2 until bin Laden died, has written explicitly that the U.N. is a target because it does not follow Sharia. While recent attacks in northern Afghanistan show the weakness of the U.N.’s defenses, Al Qaeda may decide on a more spectacular attack, such as one on the Food and Agricultural Organization in Rome or UNESCO in Paris.
McDonald’s, Kuwait City
U.S. intelligence analysts were surprised to learn how closely Al Qaeda studied the 2004 Beslan school massacre in the Russian republic of North Ossetia. More than 380 people died, including 180 children. While U.S. schools abroad have beefed up their security, not every child-friendly place has been hardened. The Kuwait City McDonald’s sits near a major highway and has no wall between its parking lot and its plastic playground. An attack on kids would be terrifying and generate global TV attention—two well-known targeting requirements.
Camp Victory, a U.S. military base in Baghdad
U.S. military bases are usually among the most secure places on earth, but local conditions can create chinks in their armor. Camp Victory, known more formally as the Victory Base Complex, lies a mere three miles from Baghdad International Airport. Troop drawdowns and the presence of local contractors make it an easier target, and striking in Iraq would have enormous symbolic power.
MAN U, Chelsea, or Arsenal
British football clubs have become high-profile global brands, even if Americans refer to the sport as “soccer.” A big-name club such as Manchester United, Chelsea, or Arsenal (a British football club whose home is the Emirates Stadium) would make compelling soft targets for Al Qaeda. In Arsenal’s case, the attack would even be a twofer—a blow against the far Devil, in the West, as well as the near one, in the United Arab Emirates.