Could the Seattle train wreck be terrorism?

News broke this morning of a train wreck near Seattle.  Specifically, it was an Amtrak train derailment along Interstate 5 between Tacoma and Olympia.  TV news and internet news sites are all over the story.  The number of fatalities as of this writing is unknown, but there are multiple reported injuries.

From a photo, via the Pierce County Sheriff, the train derailment was at a bridge, an easily accessible location from which to sabotage a section of the railroad track.  See the photo below.

Was this mechanical failure or something more sinister?  Not to be confused with Brian Ross and his grand pronouncements, this Brian is merely speculating.  But it's not blind partisan speculation, as the other Brian is prone to do.

Al-Qaeda has its own magazine.  Call it Vanity Fair for the jihadist.  The magazine is called Inspire.  Check out the cover of issue number 17.

They devoted an entire issue to teaching followers how to derail trains in the U.S. and Europe.  Detailed instructions.  From Business Insider:

The magazine also features a detailed 18-page-long guide on how to build a "derail tool" with cardboard, an empty plastic container, part of a rubber tyre, pipes, iron wires, screws, sheet metal, and cement. The apparatus does not require any electronic or construction tools so followers can "remove any traces for suspicion."

When placed on train tracks, the tool is expected to interfere with the train's movement and cause it to divert from its tracks.

As the perpetrator does not physically need to be on the train during the derailment, the operation "is not a martyrdom op" and "can be repeated," the magazine said. It will also be "easy to hide your tracks from forensics" after the attack, it boasted.

Below is a photo of their "derail tool."

Speculation at this point, but certainly plausible based on claims and threats from terrorist groups.  Perhaps it was not al-Qaeda, but instead ISIS, or some other affiliated group.  The magazine Inspire is readily available online with how-to instructions.

Could it be the failing infrastructure that politicians are always promising to repair?  Certainly.  But given the recent cover story from the al-Qaeda magazine, other possibilities exist.

It's early, and there will be investigations.  Given the media's reluctance to attribute mass shootings or other acts of terror to Islamic terrorists, don't expect to hear my line of speculation on the evening news.  This is why I am raising the possibility.

Brian C Joondeph, M.D., MPS is a Denver-based physician and writer.  Follow him on Facebook,  LinkedIn and Twitter.

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