Sunday, October 10, 2010

How Terrorists Choose Their Targets

© 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
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How Terrorists Choose Targets
Anti-Terrorism Series: #2

This is another installment in the Anti-Terrorism Series I am putting together. There are a number of reasons why I have decided to write some of these ideas down. First of all, I am not an anti-terrorism expert. But I am cognisant and aware of many things, simply from the exposure to the concepts. Much of this is my opinion, tempered with real-world knowledge, and hard earned experience. I am open to criticism, suggestions, and any comments that will help us make our Nation more secure.
Thank You,
Albert A Rasch

** * **
Terrorists and criminals usually choose their targets based on a limited number of factors:

Symbolism, Presence, and Prestige = Media Attention

The targets that terrorists choose are not going to be hardened or well protected facilities. It is unlikely that they will attack anything of a military nature or that disrupts military operations. The targets that terrorists choose will be those that represent their enemy's presence, power, and prestige. Terrorists will choose targets whose symbolic value will elicit the greatest media reaction. Generally this is accomplished by killing and maiming as large a number of people as possible in order to generate graphic, sensational images that are guaranteed to be prominent across television screens and on the front pages of newspapers the following morning.


We are all too familiar with the heinous acts of 9/11. World wide, global terrorist organizations will continue to target singular high priority targets, but the small operator, the independent local criminal cell, will likely target open and accessible points of civilian or industrial concentration. Terrorists will select their targets based on vulnerability and lack of defenses or protection. Soft targets like our unprotected rail, mass transit systems, commerce yards, natural gas pipes, and even large hotels will be likely targets.. The American infrastructure, power, water, and transportation, are particularly vulnerable to terrorist attack, again due to their inherent vulnerability and accessibility.

Maximize Casualties

Terrorism is based on the principle that seemingly random, deadly violence will create fear and confusion in the populace. Mass casualties stretch the infrastructure, and strain the social contract among people. By killing and maiming large numbers of people, the terrorist accomplishes two goals, it guarantees world wide media coverage, and weakens the resolve of the people attacked.

As I mentioned in the first post of this series, The Range Reviews: Tactical: Infrastructure Threats: Mass Transit public transportation systems including city buses and subways concentrate people, and maximize human casualties, disrupting daily activities and sowing fear, confusion, and eventually terror.

Fear and confusion will lead to:

Physical and Economic Disruption

 Psychologically, fear induced by terror attacks will cause panic and disruption in the daily routines of people, possibly for years as terror attacks escalates. The ensuing economic strain could possibly knock out an entire city if one terrorist attack is executed properly. Political indecision, even in stable, progressive countries like the United States, due to the inability of the government to eradicate terrorism, may become the norm. This lack of direction, may lead to instability because both small and large groups of many different affiliations may act out of self preservation in the face of governmental inaction and a mounting death toll.

Those are in my opinion the core criteria used by terrorists to mount attacks. As you can see, the importance placed on symbolism and casualties leads to the selection of targets where the vast majority of victims will be civilians, people involved with nothing more than their daily lives.

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member: Kandahar Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles