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How do terrorists measure success?

Highlights
  • Terrorist attacks are strategically most significant when they put pressure on fault lines and have a relatively narrow objective.
  • A combination of tactical proficiency in terrorist skills and strategic vision is rare — and extremely dangerous when effective.
  • The role of counterterrorism is not only to stem the damage to human life and property, but also to prevent attacks from upending the political order. 
222madrid-2004Like natural disasters, terrorist attacks have the potential to shape human history — if they happen at the right time and at the right place. But even then, both are more likely to leave their mark by shaping larger trends than by causing radical shifts by themselves. Unlike natural disasters, the humans who orchestrate terrorist attacks have the ability to choose the time and place, and oftentimes to exploit political or societal fault lines that can accelerate trends.
 
Technologypolitical and economic developments, and ideology and theory come together to create terrorist movements. And the terrorist attack cycle ends with the “escape and exploitation phase,” when terrorist groups cash in on their work and collect their political dividends. But what are those dividends, and why do some attacks yield higher returns than others?  Read article here