This story is from the Washington Times, so I'm not sure how seriously it should be taken. On the face of it, I would think we should take it very seriously:
U.S. intelligence officials say a high-profile political assassination, triggered by the public release of a new message from Osama bin Laden, will lead off the next major al Qaeda terrorist attack, The Washington Times has learned.     The assassination plan is among new details of al Qaeda plots disclosed by U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports who, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the killing could be carried out against a U.S. or foreign leader either in the United States or abroad. The officials mentioned Saudi Arabia and Yemen, two nations that are working with the United States in the battle against al Qaeda, as likely locales for the opening assassination.     The planning for the attacks to follow involves "multiple targets in multiple venues" across the United States, one official said.     The new details of al Qaeda's plans were found on a laptop computer belonging to arrested al Qaeda operative Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan of Pakistan.     "We're talking about planning at the screwdriver level," one official said. "It is very detailed." [...]   "The goal of the next attack is twofold: to damage the U.S. economy and to undermine the U.S. election," the official said. "The view of al Qaeda is 'anybody but Bush.' "
First of all, we already know that AQ has used political assassinations as a trigger for larger attacks. I think it was two days before September 11, 2001, that the leader of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan was assassinated. They have tried numerous times to assassinate Musharraf in Pakistan, and I'm sure they would love a shot at a Saudi Royal Family member. What bothers me about this article, though, is the fact that amidst all these "details" is this quote by a "US official:" "The view of al Qaeda is 'anybody but Bush.'" That is bullshit, of course. If AQ has a preference, I'm not sure how it could be John Kerry. Bush has done more for AQ recruitment with the war in Iraq than OBL could ever had accomplished on his own. Not to mention the fact that we didn't finish the job in Afghanistan, leaving that country unstable enough for a potential re-emergence of the Taliban. Now, I don't mean to down play this report completely. I just hate to read these detailed threats and then find these political bombs within them. It is the sign of a shrewd political mind to freak people out about potential assassinations, and then throw in the subtle information that the terrorists want Bush to lose becaues he's so tough on them. Bullshit.