Stratfor Research: Fear as Force Multiplier
Stratfor's latest terrorism update -- you can register here for their email updates -- speculates that terrorists have succeeded despite the recent bustup of the London liquid bomb plot.
|...At least 17 public incidents involving airline security have been reported in the United States and parts of Europe since Aug. 10. Most of these were innocuous, but many resulted in airliners making emergency landings off their scheduled routes, sometimes escorted by fighter aircraft.
The spate of incidents -- each of which rings up significant financial costs to the airline company and governments involved and causes inconvenience and delays for travelers -- is a reminder that terrorism, philosophically, is not confined to the goal of filling body bags or destroying buildings...
...On Aug. 25, Irish discount airline Ryanair filed the lawsuit it had previously threatened against the British Department for Transport. The lawsuit represents an effort to change the new restrictions the department placed on carry-on items following the disruption of the airline plot. Ryanair officials have publicly called the new restrictions "nonsensical and ineffective" and have called for "a return to common sense" regarding airline security. The company claims it has lost 3.3 million pounds (nearly $5.9 million) in earnings as a result of the new measures.
....With that psychological component in mind, terrorist acts do not have to be tremendously successful (in terms of physical casualties or damage) in order to be terribly effective.
...Bin Laden outlined this very clearly in his October 29, 2004 message to the American people. In that recording, he estimated that it cost al Qaeda only $500,000 to carry out the 9/11 attacks, whereas the estimated cost to the United States from the event and its aftermath was measured at $500 billion. In the same message, bin Laden also mused about how easy it was to "provoke and bait" the U.S. administration... "So we are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy..."
...To wage this war of attrition, al Qaeda's chief requirements are to survive -- or answer the bell at the beginning of each round -- issue threats and conduct an occasional strike to prove they are still relevant. The large number of media releases from al Qaeda leaders this year show that they have indeed survived. The statements also may be an attempt to overwhelm and exhaust the enemy. Obviously, the United States and its allies cannot conceivably protect everything, and attempts to do so take great tolls on human resources and finances.
Viewed through this lens, the responses to the disrupted airlines plot may, in fact, be a form of success for al Qaeda, despite the failure of the actual plot.
Stratfor: Weekly Intelligence Reports