"The Terrorism Delusion," a paper by John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart in this summer's issue of International Security, argues that terrorists basically suck at their jobs. They report that the best US intelligence puts the whole al Qaeda weapons of mass destruction R&D budget at US$4,000; that Americans who are "radicalized" and brought to terrorism training camps return disgusted and disillusioned and determined to put future recruits off (and then get arrested anyway); that Iraqis were so alienated from loony al Qaeda fighters that bin Laden proposed renaming the group; and that terrorists who are busted are basically dolts, fools, bumblers and delusional loonies.
But, as Mueller and Stewart write, the counter-terror forced continue to present terrorism as a grave risk brought about by super-criminal masterminds who threaten the safety of all of us, every day.
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Terrorists have proven to be relentless, patient, opportunistic, and flexible, learning from experience and modifying tactics and targets to exploit perceived vulnerabilities and avoid observed strengths.”8
This description may apply to some terrorists somewhere, including at least
a few of those involved in the September 11 attacks. Yet, it scarcely describes
the vast majority of those individuals picked up on terrorism charges in the
United States since those attacks. The inability of the DHS to consider this fact
even parenthetically in its fleeting discussion is not only amazing but perhaps
delusional in its single-minded preoccupation with the extreme.
In sharp contrast, the authors of the case studies, with remarkably few exceptions, describe their subjects with such words as incompetent, ineffective, unintelligent, idiotic, ignorant, inadequate, unorganized, misguided, muddled,
amateurish, dopey, unrealistic, moronic, irrational, and foolish.9