A terrorist organization targets America's airlines, igniting domestic panic and finger-pointing in Washington. The plot is hatched in a distant Muslim-majority nation-a country with which the United States has maintained a historically volatile relationship and in which multiple attacks against U.S. citizens originated in the past decade. A key perpetrator hails from another country where Islamic extremism is known to thrive, and he traveled to other countries en route to the United States, evading airport security. With the benefit of hindsight, the plot now appears crystal clear. Prior to the incident, multiple U.S. and foreign government agencies possessed bits and pieces of relevant information. There was no "smoking gun" that in itself could have foiled the attack. But if the disparate intelligence had been integrated properly into a coherent picture, perhaps the terrorist attempt could have been thwarted at an earlier stage.

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