'High Probability' of Suicide Bomb Attacks In US, Israeli Experts Say

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:11 PM EDT

Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - Israeli experts concurred on Tuesday with American assessments that it is only a matter of time before the U.S. will experience suicide bomb attacks like those in the Middle East.

FBI Director Robert Mueller told the National Association of District Attorneys on Monday that the prospect of suicide bombers hitting the U.S. was "inevitable."

"There will be another terrorist attack. We will not be able to stop it. It's something we all live with," Mueller said.

A day earlier Vice President Dick Cheney said the possibility of future attacks was "almost certain...not a matter of if, but when."

Israel has led the war against terrorism since it became a nation more than 50 years ago. Israeli experts were equally as confident on Tuesday about the probability of future attacks in the U.S.

Boaz Ganor, director of the International Policy Institute on Counter-terrorism near Tel Aviv, said he would prefer not to use the word "inevitable," but he believes there is a "high probability, possibility" that Islamic radicals will target Western societies.

The terrorists will use "suicide bombing as a more effective method," Ganor said. The groups that support those actions are bound to have supporters and activists on American soil, he said.

Their primary motive would be revenge for the American campaign in Afghanistan, he said.

In one sense, suicide attacks already happened in the U.S. on Sept. 11, when 19 men killed themselves in carrying out attacks on landmarks in New York and Washington, said Prof. Eytan Gilboa of Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv.

It stands to reason that if American officials are predicting more attacks, they will occur in a similar way, said Gilboa, who is currently a visiting professor at Harvard University in Massachusetts.

"Since I've been here, it's my impression that security measures at the airports are pretty good, improved," Gilboa said by telephone. Therefore, terrorists are likely to hit other targets such as malls or subway stations, he added.

Gilboa said the terrorists would likely choose targets where "the damage goes beyond the destruction of a place."

"America is the most consumer-oriented society in the world," Gilboa said. If a mall were struck, "It would close the society for six months... and considerably damage the economy."

According to Gilboa's assessment, security measures in such places are not sufficient. Israel, he said, is not better equipped to defend itself, but it does have more experience.

Israel has suffered from suicide bombings for years but has been particularly plagued during the last 20 months, in a series of attacks that have killed hundreds of Israelis.

American security officials were invited by Israel's secret service this week to attend a closed conference on anti-terror measures. Israeli officials were very secretive about the conference and would not give any details or interviews about it.

Nevertheless, America has one advantage over Israel, Gilboa said. It is a superpower and it can do whatever it wants; the United Nations will not bother the U.S., he said.

"Dealing with terrorism [requires] defensive and offensive measures. It's very difficult to protect oneself on one's own soil," he said. "Deterrence is the most effective way to protect [oneself]."

Such deterrence can only be achieved by striking a country that harbors and supports the terrorist bases without which the terrorism cannot exist, he said.

According to Gilboa's assessment, "[American officials] are preparing the American public for major attacks and major responses."