Author Topic: If You Were a Terrorist, How Would You Attack?  (Read 11352 times)

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The_Professor

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If You Were a Terrorist, How Would You Attack?
« on: August 08, 2007, 04:56:50 PM »
If You Were a Terrorist, How Would You Attack?
By Steven D. Levitt

The TSA recently announced that most airplane carry-on restrictions will stay in place for at least another year, until new X-ray technology has been fully installed. Surprisingly, one item that will now be permitted on board is a lighter. While it seems crazy to keep people from bringing toothpaste, deodorant, or water on a plane, it doesn?t seem so strange to ban lighters, which could be used to start fires. I wonder whether the lighter manufacturers were lobbying for or against this rule change ? on the one hand, having 22,000 lighters confiscated per day would seem good for business; but on the other hand, maybe fewer people will buy lighters if they can?t travel with them.
Hearing about these rules got me thinking about what I would do to maximize terror if I were a terrorist with limited resources. I?d start by thinking about what really inspires fear. One thing that scares people is the thought that they could be a victim of an attack. With that in mind, I?d want to do something that everybody thinks might be directed at them, even if the individual probability of harm is very low. Humans tend to overestimate small probabilities, so the fear generated by an act of terrorism is greatly disproportionate to the actual risk.
Also, I?d want to create the feeling that an army of terrorists exists, which I?d accomplish by pulling off multiple attacks at once, and then following them up with more shortly thereafter.
Third, unless terrorists always insist on suicide missions (which I can?t imagine they would), it would be optimal to hatch a plan in which your terrorists aren?t killed or caught in the act, if possible.
Fourth, I think it makes sense to try to stop commerce, since a commerce breakdown gives people more free time to think about how scared they are.
Fifth, if you really want to impose pain on the U.S., the act has to be something that prompts the government to pass a bundle of very costly laws that stay in place long after they have served their purpose (assuming they had a purpose in the first place).
My general view of the world is that simpler is better. My guess is that this thinking applies to terrorism as well. In that spirit, the best terrorist plan I have heard is one that my father thought up after the D.C. snipers created havoc in 2002. The basic idea is to arm 20 terrorists with rifles and cars, and arrange to have them begin shooting randomly at pre-set times all across the country. Big cities, little cities, suburbs, etc. Have them move around a lot. No one will know when and where the next attack will be. The chaos would be unbelievable, especially considering how few resources it would require of the terrorists. It would also be extremely hard to catch these guys. The damage wouldn?t be as extreme as detonating a nuclear bomb in New York City, of course; but it sure would be a lot easier to obtain a handful of guns than a nuclear weapon.
I?m sure many readers have far better ideas. I would love to hear them. Consider that posting them could be a form of public service: I presume that a lot more folks who oppose and fight terror read this blog than actual terrorists. So by getting these ideas out in the open, it gives terror fighters a chance to consider and plan for these scenarios before they occur.

http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/08/08/if-you-were-a-terrorist-how-would-you-attack/
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"Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for western civilization as it commits suicide."
                                 -- Jerry Pournelle, Ph.D

sirs

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Re: If You Were a Terrorist, How Would You Attack?
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2007, 05:15:50 PM »
Well, I need some parameters.  Am I a terrorist who's looking forward to killing myself in the process of killing as many citiszens of the great satan as possible, or am I a terrorist, looking to keep a track record of lives I've taken, in the name of Allah & my idol Usama?  Am I workding alone, part of a small sect of terrorists, or a member of a large contingent of AlQeada critters?
« Last Edit: August 08, 2007, 05:44:04 PM by sirs »
"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle

Richpo64

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Re: If You Were a Terrorist, How Would You Attack?
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2007, 05:44:21 PM »
I'd find a train with a chlorine tank on it. Blow up the chlorine and kill 100,000 or so people.

sirs

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Re: If You Were a Terrorist, How Would You Attack?
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2007, 05:49:21 PM »
Excellent.  Wouldn't require too many involved, 3 or 4 max to take over the engine, though someone should now how to accelerate the train for maximum effect, unless the idea is to try and "park" it somewhere then blow it up remotely
"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle

Richpo64

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Re: If You Were a Terrorist, How Would You Attack?
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2007, 05:52:54 PM »
All you'd really have to do is get the information on the particular trains route and shoot it with a grenade launcher as it passed by a populated area.

Boom.

72 virgins.

sirs

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Re: If You Were a Terrorist, How Would You Attack?
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2007, 05:56:38 PM »
You think we have some terrorists with grenade launchers here on our soil?  Or is that a needed 1st step?
"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle

Universe Prince

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Re: If You Were a Terrorist, How Would You Attack?
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2007, 06:27:29 PM »
This is great. Folks who complain about appeasing terrorists and who talk so loudly about national security above all I now get to watch plan terrorist attacks. This ought to be interesting.
Your reality, sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever.
--Hieronymus Karl Frederick Baron von Munchausen ("The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" [1988])--

sirs

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Re: If You Were a Terrorist, How Would You Attack?
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2007, 06:33:48 PM »
This is great. Folks who complain about appeasing terrorists and who talk so loudly about national security above all I now get to watch plan terrorist attacks. This ought to be interesting.

I don't get your beef, Prince.  How is this discussion appeasing anyone?  If anything it demonstrates gaping holes in our national security, which BTW is a big issue for me, if you hadn't notived.  And excuse my deflection here, but what I don't get is you have a beef about this, while your open border mentality rams a hole the size of saturn thru our national security     :-\
"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle

Universe Prince

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Re: If You Were a Terrorist, How Would You Attack?
« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2007, 07:13:50 PM »

I don't get your beef, Prince.


That's because I don't... nevermind, bad joke.

Anyway, I'm not really complaining. I'm fine with people trying to imagine how a terrorist would attack. I just think it's a little humorous that the people doing the imagining, and calling for the imagining, are the folks who complain about the New York Times and talk about how the government needs more surveilance powers and complain how doing this or that is just giving the terrorists what they want. Now I get to watch those folks brainstorm for terrorist plots. It's funny.
Your reality, sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever.
--Hieronymus Karl Frederick Baron von Munchausen ("The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" [1988])--

sirs

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Re: If You Were a Terrorist, How Would You Attack?
« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2007, 07:29:53 PM »

I don't get your beef, Prince.

That's because I don't... nevermind, bad joke.  Anyway, I'm not really complaining. I'm fine with people trying to imagine how a terrorist would attack. I just think it's a little humorous that the people doing the imagining, and calling for the imagining, are the folks who complain about the New York Times and talk about how the government needs more surveilance powers and complain how doing this or that is just giving the terrorists what they want. Now I get to watch those folks brainstorm for terrorist plots. It's funny.

Who's arguing for "more"?  I've been arguing for what's current.  And the latter part makes no sense what-so-ever, I'm afraid, regarding this appeasement reference.  But at least you have no beef, and just finding something humerus.  there are many comedians who people fawn all over and I'm wondering "he's supposed to be funny?" 
"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle

Michael Tee

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Re: If You Were a Terrorist, How Would You Attack?
« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2007, 07:39:32 PM »
My idea which never really came to fruition was for a "Fuck America" competition limited to male Americans under the age of seventeen, with a seniors' division for the 17-to-20 year olds.  The U.S. government through a panel of academic war planners hands out a $50,000 monthly first prize for the best "terrorist" idea of the preceding month, with multiple runner-up prizes of gaming software and hardware.  The top four winners each year get to participate in a cluster-fuck with four porno actresses of their choice, and share a monetary award directly proportional to the total number of Third World people killed during the preceding year by American and Israeli forces.  I think there's a lot of potential in this idea because in addition to the practical value of tricking young and destructive minds into analyzing the vulnerabilities of American homeland security, it really says a lot about what America really is all about.

Richpo64

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Re: If You Were a Terrorist, How Would You Attack?
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2007, 08:59:57 PM »
>>"You think we have some terrorists with grenade launchers here on our soil?  Or is that a needed 1st step?"<<

Do I think they do?

...

Probably.

But you laid out a scenario that would work out just as well.

Richpo64

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Re: If You Were a Terrorist, How Would You Attack?
« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2007, 09:02:08 PM »
>>Now I get to watch those folks brainstorm for terrorist plots. It's funny.<<

We didn't want you to have all the fun!

 ::)

kimba1

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Re: If You Were a Terrorist, How Would You Attack?
« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2007, 09:27:59 PM »
not that hard to get weapons
doesn`t it simply require going to any crime ridden area to buy them?
every single friend I know who lives in DC has a gun.
on explosives.
last I heard most terrorist know how to make this stuff.
we even talked about how to make it here .
I remember asking is it ok to talk about it to bt .
and don`t forget a car with several cans of gas do alot of damage
that`s why fedaeral building had those car barriers
but nothing else

The_Professor

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Re: If You Were a Terrorist, How Would You Attack?
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2007, 10:02:45 PM »
not that hard to get weapons
doesn`t it simply require going to any crime ridden area to buy them?
every single friend I know who lives in DC has a gun.
on explosives.
last I heard most terrorist know how to make this stuff.
we even talked about how to make it here .
I remember asking is it ok to talk about it to bt .
and don`t forget a car with several cans of gas do alot of damage
that`s why fedaeral building had those car barriers
but nothing else

anyone can easily make gunpowder. put some nails in a bucket or some contianer and a crude fuse and blooey!
***************************
"Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for western civilization as it commits suicide."
                                 -- Jerry Pournelle, Ph.D