Is Al-CIA-duh planning an October Surprise?
Jeffrey Goldberg: Do you think al-Qaeda is planning an "October surprise," an attack on an American target, here or overseas, in order to influence the election?
Steve Coll: AQ leaders, maybe because they spend a lot of time trapped and bored in safehouses, seem to be obsessed with calendars. They like anniversaries and they pay attention to elections abroad. So I'm sure they have the American election in mind. My last well-sourced conversation is a few weeks dated, but last I checked the US intel system was very quiet in terms of "chatter" or other indicators of any attack in the U.S. What seems more likely are more attacks against US-affiliated targets in the Pak-Afghan region, coupled with media tape releases, similar to Osama's election-eve video of 2004. They like to be heard at big moments in American politics, and this campaign is certainly such a moment.
Jeffrey Goldberg is a National Correspondent of The Atlantic. Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, he was Middle East correspondent, and Washington correspondent, for the New Yorker. Previously, he served as a correspondent for the New York Times Magazine, and New York Magazine. He has also written for the Forward, and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.
His book Prisoners has been hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Slate Magazine, the Progressive, Washingtonian Magazine, and Playboy. Goldberg is the recipient of the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism. He is also the recipient of 2005's Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize.
In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation and was appointed in 2002 to be a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.