Terrorist groups have staged a growing number of spectacular jail breaks in the last few months. Al Qaeda has even boasted about this. But the reality was that these major assaults on prisons were a sign of failure for al Qaeda. Over the last few years nations dealing with Islamic terrorism had tightened security on their prisons because of the terrorist’s ability (in many Moslem countries) to bribe guards to get their cohorts out. This was embarrassing to governments, especially as it happened so often. So began the trend of the guilty guards being caught and punished (often fatally so) and the terrorists were finding that there were far fewer bribery opportunities among the prison guards and other staff. The only alternative was breakout by direct assault. This was expensive in terms of cash and lives (of terrorists making the assault). In some cases al Qaeda has boasted about how much these breakouts cost (a month of preparations and over $110,000 in one case), but the fact is that money and lives spent on breakouts would not be spent killing civilians, government officials, soldiers, or police.
Governments are already responding to the “break in/break out” trend. For one thing, the death penalty is being used more frequently. Death is a prison no one escapes from. The prisons themselves are getting increased security, and intelligence agencies are finding it easier to detect preparations for the more extensive breakout operations. The terrorists can spin this any way they like, but it still spells defeat.