Pathways to terror: finding patterns prior to an attack

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Authors
Freeman, Michael
Tucker, David
Merten, Steffen
Subjects
Advisors
Date of Issue
2010
Date
Publisher
Taylor and Francis
Language
Abstract
To ascertain whether terrorist attacks follow an observable pattern in their pre-attack activities this study first divides the terrorists’ pre-attack activities into nine phases: networking, training, general planning, attack-specific recruitment, financing, operational planning, weapons procurement, logistical preparation, and operational preparation. With these phases in mind, we then examine a range of terrorism events and identify when each of these phases occurred. We have found that the cases follow a general pattern, yet there are outliers to the pattern. In general, however, the phases we identified do seem to represent a necessary order. Some broad plan, along with networking and general training occur usually more than a year before an attack and are necessary before recruiting and financing can occur, which usually happens between six months and a year before an attack. Finally, operational planning, weapons procurement, logistical preparation, and operational preparation occur closest to the attack, typically only a few months before it occurs. This general progression is robust across types and scales of attacks and suggests that it might be used as an indication of the timing of possible future attacks.
Type
Article
Description
Series/Report No
Department
Defense Analysis (DA)
Organization
Naval Postgraduate School (U.S.)
Identifiers
NPS Report Number
Sponsors
Funder
Format
11 p.
Citation
Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism. v. 5, No.1, 2010 pp. 75-85
Distribution Statement
Rights
This publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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