US Special Forces Prepare ‘Preemptive Strikes’ Over Terror Threat

Units Located in CENTCOM, AFRICOM Areas

As speculation continues to fly about the “imminent” threat of a terror attack, apparently centering on al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri ordering an attack by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the US is preparing to strike first.

Having closed embassies across the region and issued a global travel warning over a very specifically timed, but very non-specific plot, US Special Forces are said to be on high alert across AFRICOM and CENTCOM with an eye toward preemptive strikes on any targets they believed to be involved.

That the deployments span two distinct military commands covering the bulk of two continents reflects how little is known about the target, a fact underscored by White House statements saying that while they think the plot “emanates” from the Middle East it may extend well beyond that.

Which is a potentially huge problem about “preemptive” strikes, as they seem as likely as not to hit targets with little to no relation to the current plot, and with speculation that the would-be attackers are already deployed to wherever the target is, they may not actually preempt anything.

The lack of specificity coupled with the apparent scramble to prove that they’re doing “something” about it may even encourage the US to hit some potential targets in both theaters of operation just to prove they made an effort, even if those targets aren’t related to the current plot. But absent details, such strikes may create even more problems in the long run, and rather than preemptive really amount to instigatory strikes for other incidents to come.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.