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October 14, 2004



Yep, I agree with all of that. My earlier piece concluded too that it's an attack on civilisation. And then I noted my hesitation in even trying to guess what might be going on in these people's heads, or whether they even want to promote a cause.

But it would have been much more confounding to my expectations if they had done a surprise u-turn. I think it's quite good actually that they don't seem to have any mental complexity. Makes me feel a whole lot easier about wanting them killed first.

Frank McGahon

The important thing to remember is that the terrorists don't actually want to "win over our hearts and minds", they tend to be pretty explicit about this yet the fallacious notion that they do is depressingly resilient

Peter Nolan

"Game theory can be useful in this regard."

References please? I've come across some people saying they use such models for insurance pricing, but never seen any actual papers.

Peter Nolan

I'd recommend the books of Giles Keppel, a French Arabist on this topic. He has a new one out which seems to be an update of "Jihad", a comprehensive survey of pre-9/11 Islamism. He argued then that the movement was in terminal decline because the brutality and extremism of the terrorists in Algeria and Egypt and stifling autocracy of Iran had repelled the middle classes. The Indonesians, Saudis and now even the Iraqis seem to be moving in the same direction.

Les Smith of Slate is writing some very interesting pieces these days too:


Abiola Lapite

Peter, here are a few:

  1. Terrorism and Game Theory: An Economic Analysis - D.T. Siong, F.Y. Wee, W.K. Meng.
  2. Terrorism and Game Theory - Todd Sandler, D.G. Arce (full paper available for free here).
  3. Terrorism Prevention: A General Model - Franz Dietrich.
Peter Nolan

Thanks Mr L. I chase up on the references I saw in the financial press when I can. These focused on predicting actual targets and, the developers claim, flagged the Citicorp Center, Washington offices of the IFIs and the building in New Jersey that were recently the subject of an alert.

Bernie Goldbach

John Robb has some high-quality papers from War College and Pentagon appraisals that he occasionally cites here:


He has a book underway. He's got a pedigree in the space of Islamic fundamentalism as an operator and analyst.

Peter Nolan

Hi Bernie,

Thanks for the link. I think Robb looks something like a a Tom Peters or Henry Blodget of counter-terrorism. His resume looks like that's his origin rather than area studies or international relations. There's a a post on the oil industry's exposure to terrorism in the pipeline (if you'll pardon the pun) soon, so perhaps you might like to read that, when it finally comes to fruition.

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