Exploring terrorist targeting preferences
Governments spend billions to protect against terrorism. Might it help to understand what al Qaeda would achieve with each specific attack? This book examines various hypotheses of terrorist targeting: is it (1) to coerce, (2) to damage economies, (3) to rally the faithful, or (4) a decision left to affiliates? This book analyzes past attacks, post hoc justifications, and expert opinion to weigh each hypothesis.
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Some Observations on Rationality
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Affiliates Yes Potential Afghanistan Al-Qaeda Attack Consistent attack modalities Attacks Characteristic Value Ayman al-Zawahiri Characteristic Value Affiliates Claims Responsibility coercion hypothesis Conventional weapon Venue damage hypothesis Department of Homeland dirty bomb economic damage Medium effects Entertainment or commercial experts Explosive potential Medium franchise hypothesis global goal Hardness Soft Homeland Security hypothesis posits inspire Iraq Islamic caliphate Islamic world January jihad jihadist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed killed martyrdom Medium Explosive potential Medium Modality Conventional militant jihadist military Modality Conventional weapon Mombasa motivations Muslim world optimal means organization Osama bin Laden potential attack Potential casualties Medium Potential economic damage potential Medium Modality Qaeda Qaeda believes Qaeda operatives Qaeda statements radiological rally hypothesis Saudi September 11 attacks specifically strategic strikes suicide bombers target selection Target Types terrorist terrorist attack tion U.S. Department U.S. economy U.S. government U.S. homeland Unconventional United Value Affiliates Yes Western World Trade Center Yes Potential casualties