Counter-Terrorism: The Al Qaeda Remnants Adapt

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September 7, 2011: The destruction of the original al Qaeda organization over the last decade, and the subsequent call by al Qaeda remnants for all their supporters to go freelance, has made it difficult to use conventional statistical tools and investigative techniques to study and predict when and where the next big attack will occur in the West. The good news is that major attacks, like the September 11, 2001 efforts, are considered very unlikely. The bad news is that lesser efforts, like small bombs or attempts to bring down individual airliners are still a possibility. That’s because individuals or small groups of amateurs are still a threat.

Fortunately, these amateurs aren’t too security conscious, and are regularly caught. The police are sometimes accused of entrapping the terrorists. But in every case, the suspects had ample opportunity to back off when offered the opportunity to follow through on their pro-terror threats (which got them police attention in the first place.) Few Islamic terrorists are very bright. They are obsessed with killing non-Moslems, or even Moslems who don’t agree with them, and that attitude doesn’t survive much scrutiny. You have to be pretty dim to believe that all that mayhem is going to accomplish anything.

One place where modern statistical and investigative tools still work is in Moslem countries. Here, there are terrorist organizations big enough to be predictable, especially if these groups spend most of their time killing local Moslems. The risk here is that these groups will send competent terrorists into Western countries. So far, border controls have been stringent enough keep the pros, or at least a dangerous number of them, out. Thus the threat is not great, but the potential for some additional attacks is.

 

 


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