The Samovar

Why are there so few terrorist attacks?
November 13, 2006, 2:05 am
Filed under: Politics, Terrorism

This is a question that has been knocking around in my head for a few months now. Assuming that there are really very many people willing to die in order to create terror as we are constantly told, why are terrorist incidents so rare? Now, I can understand why incidents involving explosives are rare because they require planning and expertise as well as a death wish. But a few moments of rather perverse and grisly thought will show that there a whole load of ways of causing outrageous and shocking incidents that would genuinely inspire terror, and which don’t need you to do much plotting at all and don’t involve explosives or poisons. I’ll refrain from suggesting any actual examples – that would be somewhat irresponsible.

So why doesn’t this happen?

Are plots involving complicated things like explosives and poisons so much more ‘effective’ (in some terroristic sense) that would-be terrorists would eschew more straightforward means of causing havoc in order to save themselves for a better incident somewhere down the line? Or is that in fact there are considerably fewer potential suicide terrorists than we are led to believe? Or that there is less will to cause terror than we are led to believe?

Postscript: I just googled the title of this piece, and only found one similar thing on the internet. A rather good piece in the journal Foreign Affairs entitled Is there still a terrorist threat?

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