Sunday, August 08, 2010


TheTerrorWonk Plus: Terrorists: Nitwits or Masterminds?: "Recently, in the Atlantic Monthly Daniel Byman and Christine Fair (two first-rate analysts) argue that the reality is that the terrorist enemies of the United States are not highly disciplined religious fanatics – but in fact are a bunch of nitwits. The article is interesting, provocative, and makes some important points. But we cannot dismiss the terrorists as nitwits quite yet – they’ve had failings in attacking the U.S. homeland directly, but they have also had some important successes.

Byman and Fair point out the many cases of terrorist incompetence such as the Times Square bomber, the UK doctors, and the Miami jihadis. In many regards, I agree with them. Terrorist groups are extremely constrained in their efforts to hit “far targets.” I’ve argued that this is a logistical issue. With intelligence agencies worldwide on high alert it is increasingly difficult to move operatives long distances. This complicates long-range terror strikes."