Doomsday Scenario Unfolding in US, Counter-Terrorism Expert Says

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:10 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - The unleashing of a series of spectacular terror attacks on New York and Washington could open the door to a "real war," a counter-terrorism expert in Israel said shortly after tragic sequence began to unfold.

The nightmare began shortly before 9:00 in New York City when an airplane, apparently hijacked, flew into the Trade Center Tower. Eighteen minutes later, to the horrified amazement of television viewers around the world, a second plane crashed into the second tower.

Shortly thereafter, there was an explosion at the Pentagon in Washington..

"It's a very, very serious event," said Dr. Ely Karmon, senior research scholar at the International Police Institute on Counter-terrorism, near Tel Aviv.

Despite the horrifying display, Karmon said no one is likely to take responsibility for the attack that within hours caused the collapse of the towers.

The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the attack on an Abu Dhabi television station but within a half hour, the group had disavowed the earlier claim.

Karmon also added that he did not believe the DFLP had the ability to carry out such spectacular attacks.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat said the Palestinian people were not responsible for the attack and expressed his shock at the grisly tale unfolding in the world's only superpower.

Karmon said the U.S. reaction to these attacks could bring about a full-scale war in the world.

"This could open a real war," Karmon said, indicating that the U.S. would have to respond militarily to the attacks.

The first name that springs to mind in such a case is that of super-terrorist, Saudi militant Osama Bin Laden. He is known for his careful planning of spectacular terrorist attacks, at unexpected times and locations. But Karmon said it is too soon to know.

According to Karmon, U.S. intelligence had been focused on the possibility of a chemical or biological terror attack, that they did not pay attention to the threat of more conventional attacks.

It was a huge operation, he said, involving so many people who were willing to be suicide bombers and could fly airplanes.

Karmon said Israel had been afraid of the possibility of a suicide airplane attack in Tel Aviv.

In May, the Israeli Air Force shot down a single-engine Cessna, which had taken off from Beirut, after the pilot refused heed repeated attempts by the Air Force to force the plane to turn back or land. The fear at the time was that the pilot intended to crash into a populated area.