Understanding the Organizational Failures of Terrorist Organizations

New research: Max Abrahms and Philip B.K. Potter, "Explaining Terrorism: Leadership Deficits and Militant Group Tactics," International Organizations.

Abstract: Certain types of militant groups -- those suffering from leadership deficits -- are more likely to attack civilians. Their leadership deficits exacerbate the principal-agent problem between leaders and foot soldiers, who have stronger incentives to harm civilians. We establish the validity of this proposition with a tripartite research strategy that balances generalizability and identification. First, we demonstrate in a sample of militant organizations operating in the Middle East and North Africa that those lacking centralized leadership are prone to targeting civilians. Second, we show that when the leaderships of militant groups are degraded from drone strikes in the Afghanistan-Pakistan tribal regions, the selectivity of organizational violence plummets. Third, we elucidate the mechanism with a detailed case study of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a Palestinian group that turned to terrorism during the Second Intifada because pressure on the leadership allowed low-level members to act on their preexisting incentives to attack civilians. These findings indicate that a lack of principal control is an important, underappreciated cause of militant group violence against civilians.

I have previously blogged Max Abrahms's work here, here, and here.

Posted on March 19, 2015 at 8:09 AM • 32 Comments

Comments

Marcos El MaloMarch 19, 2015 9:41 AM

You see the same or similar behavior when Mexico targets drug cartel leadership. There is a vacuum at the top and a corresponding lack of focus and discipline regarding bigger, long range goals. The lack of strong leadership means that lower level groups struggle violently amongst themselves for dominance, and to support these shorter range fundraising goals they resort to expedience, such as attacks on the general population (kidnapping and shakedowns).

The Mexican government must decide if this violent chaos is worth it, and if they can ever get a handle on it, given that the extremely lucrative U.S. market is not going to go away. The other option would be to allow a new equilibrium to form, a return to the old system of corruption. Poor Mexico. So far from God and so close to the U.S.

Wes ReynoldsMarch 19, 2015 10:14 AM

Speaking of God, the only long-term answer to the problem is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The "lucrative US market" will go away, and so will the desire to patronize it, when people see their bodies as something that primarily belong to God, not them. We are, at best, merely stewards of the gifts that God gives us.

We all will face God directly one day. On that Day, the most important security concern -- for any of us -- will be our eternal security.

vas pupMarch 19, 2015 10:15 AM

"because pressure on the leadership allowed low-level members to act on their preexisting incentives to attack civilians. These findings indicate that a lack of principal control is an important, underappreciated cause of militant group violence against civilians."
My guess (logical - put moral aside for politicians) is that foot soldiers and leaders of those groups do have not the same motivation/goals. For leaders violence towards civilians is more instrumental and used as a tool to reach their goals, but for foot soldiers violence towards civilians is primary motivation, and violence towards civilians give them kind of sense of superiority and satisfaction itself (here and now). That is psychological differences. When leader is in charge, he understood that senseless violence towards civilians is counterproductive in the long run and harmful for their goal(political/philosophical). Leader resort to violence towards civilians as the last resort. Basically, their vision of violence is mapping Napoleon vision during the war time. Use violence as the last resort, but when using it - use it to full extend. And last but not least: for leader amygdala is under control of thefrontal cortex (otherwise he is not a leader). For foot soldier leader's authority controls their amygdala outbursts. No leader - no control. Just my humble opinion.

Rich BrauerMarch 19, 2015 10:50 AM

Fascinating.

Bruce, I have a question related to the subject matter.

Back around 2004-2005, the US military commissioned a couple of outside researchers to study the effect that aerial bombing was having on the insurgency.

Their conclusion, which I recall seeing in the public domain, was that aerial bombing was a disaster — regardless of whether the bombs killed insurgents *or* civilians, each bombing death produced something like 1.2 insurgents. In other words, even killing an insurgent from the air ended up creating 1.2 more. In short, not only was aerial bombing not effective, it was actually counterproductive.

I've never been able to find that study again. I've assumed the Air Force made every effort to remove it from circulation — certainly not good for their business.

If you ever come across it, please let us know!

MarcusMarch 19, 2015 10:51 AM

These are great links you provided. Thanks for the h/t and intro to this guy's work.

twitterMarch 19, 2015 11:04 AM

Twitter-friendly abstract: taking down some terrorist leaders leads to more civilians victims in the short term.

anti-theistMarch 19, 2015 11:40 AM

@Marcos El Malo: "So far from God …"

@Wes Reynolds: "… the only long-term answer to the problem is the Gospel of Jesus Christ"

*PLEAE*, keep your imaginary friend and related delusions to yourself.

Marcos El MaloMarch 19, 2015 12:28 PM

@anti-theist

It's a well known saying in Mexico, and was meant humorously. I beg your pardon if you've never heard it before or if the joke escaped you. Unlike Mr. Reynolds, I'm not running for political office, (or what ever he is doing). You'll note that I didn't prescribe belief in something that might or might not exist as a solution for anything.

timMarch 19, 2015 12:50 PM

@Reynolds

Because people with a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ" are never known to lie, steal, take drugs, cheat, or murder. Never.

The Great CynicMarch 19, 2015 1:15 PM

These findings indicate that a lack of principal control is an important, underappreciated cause of militant group violence against civilians."

Underappreciated?! Seems to me like working as intended. Killing the leaders results in more attacks on civilians. Killing more civilians increases demand for security and portection by the populace out of fear. More security means more money for the military-industrial complex.

Isn't that the black humor in the dark joke on the internet about killing al-Qaeda #2s? Looked at from a certain angle the primary function of terrorist organizations to the Five Eyes is to produce an enemy so to keep the in-group in-line. Funny how it happens that every time the USA needs a bad guy to serve as a foil, one randomly pops up.

John MacdonaldMarch 19, 2015 2:32 PM

This is true as a general tendency, but of course, when a specific doesn't match it can be significant. A leader that wants significant civilian disruption can use a large organization to do so very effectively - genocides, war crimes, etc. A private who doesn't have any interest in civilian disruption (probably a majority in most cases) without strong leadership is simply not news.

Robert.WalterMarch 19, 2015 6:01 PM

Whether terrorists, US Army jailers at Abu Garib, or employees in a company, individual foot soldiers when not receiving a clear tone and orders from the top, or an ability to do what they want with impunity or non-accountability, contrary to orders from the top or expectations of the larger society, are going to do that which springs forth from their darker-side of themselves.

Starship Buzzing ByMarch 19, 2015 8:19 PM

@tim

Because people with a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ" are never known to lie, steal, take drugs, cheat, or murder. Never.

When your 'president' is invisible, can be in multiple places at once, and is globally known; you can expect a lot of false claims of people who are all buddy-buddy with him.

That said, nothing wrong with some good, old marijuana, and even a drink here and there. And, unless they have a magical and massive army of superintelligent, superpowerful, superancient angels backing them, their claims probably are not very substantial.

On the topic:

So, if killing leaders is productive against terrorism, then drone strikes are useful. If not, then drone strikes are not useful. I do not have much opinion about drone strikes, except that I do not see that as a 'wave of the future' technology for a variety of 'other' reasons.

However, from the top of my head, I have zero problem immediately coming up with case after case where strong leadership in organizations which perform terrorism does lead to civilian deaths.

You do also need to scope out: what other sorts of organizations are known to cause massive civilian casualities. Well, governments. For one. And they definitely tend to cause more civilian casualities when there is strong leadership, then when not. On a far greater scale then any literally labeled "terrorist" organization.

However, curing the problem of government sponsered terrorism (no America, not just considering you, of course) requires substantially more then just targeting their primary leaders. As amusing of a mental image as, say, Putin running from a drone homing in on his ass may make. (For instance.) (Oh, even more amusing would be imagining the religious leaders of Iran or Saudi Arabia in that situation. Okay. Cancel that image. Too much lulz.)

No, to behead a government, like to behead a substantial terrorist organization, requires cutting off the entire uppermost power structure. So, that is how I think.

Drones need not apply.

(Yes, drones have a problem with pencils and pens, and I am sure are already very frustrated.)

Good example? "Killing Pablo". Sure, the US government dismembered Pablo's cartel by tracking down and jailing Pablo Escobar. But he was merely replaced. By the Cali cartel, who was instrumental in helping to take him out in the first place.

Hate to bring up a word which reminds me all too painfully giggly of my deadpool graphic novel, but such organizations are invariably hydras. Cut off the head, and another one takes its' place.

The reason Hitler assassinations never worked because even Hitler, if killed, would have just been replaced by someone else. The Soviet Union is a good example, there. Yes, Lenin was really, really bad, but Stalin was right there to take his place. And let us not forget these men replaced the really, really bad Czar to begin with.

(Well, Alexander was ineffective, more then "really, really bad", but still...)

Wesley ParishMarch 20, 2015 4:37 AM

Should be interesting to take a close look at the randomness of drone strikes in that context. Since "foot soldiers" taking out civilians is the consequence of lack of control from recently-deceased higher-ups, where does that leave drone pilots who randomly (and regularly) take out civilians (such as wedding parties)?

Might make an interesting study when applied to "Bomber" Harris' multi-bomber raids against German cities, USAAF raids against Japanese cities, and the like. Ditto for USAF bomber raids against North Vietnam, Iraq, etc.

Clive RobinsonMarch 20, 2015 9:12 AM

I think the first thing to consider in the current context is "Why do drones exist?" and "Why are they being used unlawfully under international law?"

Overly simply the rational for drones goes back to the Vietnam conflict and the way it was televised in the WASP nations. War especialy the type fought in Vietnam, is very close, quite personal and extreamly visceral. Thus the pictures appearing night after night in the very late 1960's through early 70's was an eye opener for the majority of civilians in WASP nations.

The problem was it was not a war that could be won by conventional soldiers against near invisable very low tech irregular combatants. The frustration within not just the lower command structure but the troops as well gave rise to what many considered significant war crimes. But worse the senior control structure was very much out of step with reality, with their computer models based on faux stats, and as such were not effective in either command or prosecuting action on the ground.

The result was a very significant political issue back in the WASP nations. In the US political protest no mater how peacefull was usually "beaten down upon" by the authorities. Released documents of the time sugest that the implementation of full martial law was considered not just in small areas but state and even nation wide.

What tends to get taught however is the "body bag" issue not the political issue, as it is a subject that politicaly was the closest near miss the US has had to significant civil rebellion for a century or more. Thus it scared not just the political class but those who fund them and to a certain extent showed weak political leadership.

Thus the faux view propagated during the first gulf war of clean surgical air strikes with smart weapons was the way to win wars, and no body bags on prime time news (the actuality of it was Sadam had already started withdrawing forces and armaments in order to protect them for defence against other regional aggressors).

Thus the logical step was finding ways to deploy smart weapons at lower cost and not have downed pilots being paraded and used as human shields.

However there is also ambiguity of remotely operated weapons in that the "directing mind" is far far away several legal jurisdictions distant... It's become quite clear that with Iraqi and Afghanistan the US troops were not subject to war crimes oversight, unless they became unavoidably public as front page photos etc, and then only under US military codes.

Thus it's probably fair to say that if a drone pilot blows up a wedding party etc the chance of having them brought to justice is on the far side of no chance.

Then there is also the question of commiting a primary or initiating act of war... neither the controling mind or body has crossed the border into another nations sovereign territory they are safe at home and can pop off after duty to go gamble etc. Thus the chance of them being actually identified with their crimes is again on the far side of no chance.

But also the sovereign nation that has been attacked contrary to international convention has little or no chance of getting any redress in the formal manner through the UN because the US can veto it in the security council.

Arguably it's the US's notion of "invulnerability" to the consequences of their military actions overseas that gave rise to the idea of using US technology as guided missiles against the US military and civilian status symbols, to send the message that there is vulnerability and to a certain extent accountability on 9/11. The only thing that appears in doubt was who originaly thought it up and who ultimately funded it.

Thus it can be seen that it is not just irregular forces where lack of suitable leadership gives rise to abuse aganst civilian populations, the same is true for all military forces.

However with irregular forces there is another aspect to consider and that is who will be, and how they will be selected new leader.

An increase in violence against civilians usually requires little planning and thus can be seen as a way to quickly get attention and thus to rise within the organisation. Maybe not to the top job but certainly to show they can be effective lieutenants to a new leader, who will probably want to clear out the old guard.

Such "earning your spurs" actions have been common in both regular and irregular military forces fo centuries.

BobMarch 20, 2015 9:16 AM

@Wes Reynolds

This makes no sense. If we are "merely stewards of the gifts that God gives us" then all the incentives that cause the problem in the first place still exist. As God creates a clear hierarchy and allows people to move up and down the hierarchy, all the pressures of betterment exist. Your statement achieves nothing other than making God look heartless.

ScottMarch 20, 2015 11:47 AM

This paper is junk. This isnt even a real study. I hate all of these clickbait "studies" that form a conclusion based on nothing but correlation between two things.

Did Al-Qaeda suffer from lack of centralized leadership when they murdered thousands in NY/DC?

albertMarch 20, 2015 6:48 PM

@Everyone, or no one in particular,
.
1.The US is not subject to "international law".
2. Drones are a boon to the US defence industry.
3. Killing 'leaders' of _any_ organization is useless. The more ruthless an organization is, the more likely there are underlings ready, willing, and able to take over.
4. Generally, the 'leaders' never do the dirty work; they always have others do it. They don't mind sending thousands to die, as long as their heads aren't on the block; they are hypocrites and spineless invertebrates. If 'leaders' had to fight, war would virtually disappear.
5. Applying 'logic' to the issue of 'leadership' in this arena is a fools errand. Since when are civilian deaths relevant to anything? Is ISIS worse than the US or Israel when it comes to killing civilians? Political leaders (I'm including everyone involved on both sides) obviously don't give a rat's ass about civilian deaths.
6. If something isn't worth dying for, then it's not worth killing for.
.
As the old saying goes, "What if they gave a war, and nobody showed up?"
.
...

Coyne TibbetsMarch 20, 2015 9:33 PM

The quick lesson: Bad management makes everything worse--even terrorism.

X10March 21, 2015 9:53 AM

So elites are not targeted, but the sheople are, this is entirely intentional, the mayhem supports the police state, who work for the elites,
consider that general petraeus admitted lying to the fbi and passing blackbooks with the names of undercover agents, high level policy briefings and intelligence methods to his journalist girlfriend, and gets to plead guilty to a mis deameanor, while whistle blowers are proscucted if they are low level, but not secretary of defence people who took home classified information to intending to capitalize on it for $$$
Elites are protected by cannon fodder. lives are spent like small change if they are not rich or connected, I learned this as a grunt medic in 68 and 69 americal division

SkepticalMarch 21, 2015 3:10 PM


@Coyne: lol

Generally:

The paper is good. In addition to Schneier's links, for background on this type of analysis of terrorist organizations, an excellent and fascinating read is Jacob Shapiro's The Terrorist's Dilemma.

Actually, that book may shed some light here.

The terrorist's dilemma is one of control vs. security (the insight is not original to Shapiro, but he develops it very impressively - it's worth reading for anyone interested in understanding the problem of terrorism).

Control: there are organizational benefits associated with hierarchical control. These range from ensuring that funds are used as efficiently as possible (e.g. if 800 Kr. are handed out to an operative or unit, a total lack of accountability increases the chances that the operative or unit will use some of the funds for personal, rather than organizational, ends), to directing efforts towards operations that best achieve the organization's strategic objectives.

Security: communication, stored information, prior training, close association, all reduce security for the terrorist.

These two desired qualities are at odds with one another. To maintain control and accountability, leadership needs to communicate with operatives. Operatives need to account for what they're doing, what they're spending, etc. But every communication is an opportunity for compromise.

Shapiro actually raises in his book the possibility that reducing control (by killing leadership, by reducing their ability to communicate, etc.) might actually spark an increase in less discriminate violence by operatives. One factor may be that, in the context of terrorism, those operatives most likely to volunteer for violent, high-risk operations are also those operatives most likely to be familiar with the use of violence in other contexts, or to themselves be attracted to the use of violence in itself. Another may be greater difficulty faced by these operatives in understanding the strategic picture while locked into a paranoid world of threats and targets.

The above is a simplification of a much more complex array of considerations and arguments. But it's all strongly supported with documentary evidence and other forms of argument, from the struggles of early 20th century anarchist and communist groups to the various components of the IRA to al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The paper provides some level of additional confirmation of this line of argument, though I'd want to read it more closely again. Good link.

All that said, the real crux of the paper's argument is that the targeting of civilians can be a proxy for target discrimination generally. More target discrimination -> less targeting of civilians. But to the extent an organization's strategy calls for the targeting of civilians as such, that goes out the window.

A few comments have mentioned 9/11. Viewed in terms of target discrimination, it was actually highly selective. They did not aim simply to maximize casualties, but chose targets for their perceived military, economic, and psychological value as well. As Shapiro - I believe - points out in his work, the key operatives used in 9/11 were well screened by AQ, carefully selected, trained, and received continued funding and instructions over the course of years. Without the control structures in place, ranging from training camps to a network of financing and communication, an operation like 9/11 would be even more difficult to accomplish.

Also mentioned but dismissed in the paper is the LeT attack on Mumbai in 2008. Although the author notes that the leader of LeT attempted to ascribe the attack to "rogue elements," in fact that attack was well controlled from a communications center in Pakistan, and the operatives involved all received extensive training. Tactically it was a well planned operation with tight control from a leadership structure (also a horrifying and disgusting operation). This would be another example where, if the organization's strategy is to attack civilians, then civilian deaths are a poor proxy for target discrimination.

@Clive re UAVs/"drones" & Vietnam: Obviously any party to a conflict will want to limit their own casualties, and to the extent UAVs simply extend the range and increase the precision of fire, the rationale for drones is as old as war itself.

Clive RobinsonMarch 21, 2015 9:27 PM

@ Skeptical,

Obviously any party to a conflict will want to limit their own casualties, and to the extent UAVs simply extend the range and increase the precision of fire, the rationale for drones is as old as war itself.

Err no, maybe and no.

Until just a hundred years ago the aim of war was to seize land and resources by what essentialy was still close quaters warfare. The party initiating a war would make a calculation as to "acceptable losses -v- prize won". Whilst minimizing one's own losses was one of the desirable outcomes it was usually not as high a priority as maximizing your opponent's losses. Hence the reason for the use of overwhelming or better trained and equiped armed forces in set piece battles.

However the Boer war that gave us the wrist watch was an interesting example of asymmetric irregular warfare. Where very small numbers of Boers who were highly skilled at long distance riflemanship used hit, hide and run tactics against numerically superior and better armed regular forces, similarly were the tactics of the native Americans against the European invaders. In both cases it was the deep knowledge of the land and how to use it to advantage that alowed very small numbers to fight an overwhelming force to a stand still. The simple idea was that you would kill an opposition soldier and retreat out of harms way, and repeat this at odd times thus grinding numericaly superior forces down by maximising their losses with little thought about your own losses.

UAV's don't necessarily bring extended range, and don't bring anywhere near the same fire power or accuracy of maned platforms. The only real advantages are no armed forces to be captured if UAV's are downed and that the expensive pilots can do shift work in Nevada flying multiple on target missions in one shift, whilst less valuable ground forces near target push the UAV platforms up on auto pilot to be taken over by the Nevada jocks as and when they get on target.

Before the real involvement of science in WWI nearly all battles were fought at close quaters. WWI was odd because it was the first war to seriously "dig in" in trenches and use the "magic of science to design new war engines and munitions, nearly all of which were permanantly baned by international commities.

Back then the thought of long range weapons was reserved for the artillery and their insufficiently acurate and mainly ineffective field or track pieces. Planes let alone pilotless planes were not considered to be of any use other than flying observation posts... thus were not realy considered as weapons untill much later in the war.

SkepticalMarch 22, 2015 12:34 AM


@Clive: Until just a hundred years ago the aim of war was to seize land and resources by what essentialy was still close quaters warfare. The party initiating a war would make a calculation as to "acceptable losses -v- prize won". Whilst minimizing one's own losses was one of the desirable outcomes it was usually not as high a priority as maximizing your opponent's losses. Hence the reason for the use of overwhelming or better trained and equiped armed forces in set piece battles.

It depends on the war. During the American Revolutionary War, the primary goal of General Washington was simply avoid the destruction of the Continental Army. His strategy was as much political as military.

Napoleon, with his ability to raise immense armies, and a strategy that called for closing with the enemy at the point of greatest advantage for a decisive, if incredibly costly, battle. His strategy and tactics were designed for his particular strengths and wekanesses, as were those of Washington.

From Napoleon's perspective, certainly, the objective was to close with and destroy enemy forces. But from Washington's perspective, the objective was to survive until other events would force a British withdrawal. War rationally conducted is always merely a continuation of policy by other means - it may involve conquest, self-defense, etc.

However the Boer war that gave us the wrist watch was an interesting example of asymmetric irregular warfare.

I agree.

Where very small numbers of Boers who were highly skilled at long distance riflemanship used hit, hide and run tactics against numerically superior and better armed regular forces, similarly were the tactics of the native Americans against the European invaders. In both cases it was the deep knowledge of the land and how to use it to advantage that alowed very small numbers to fight an overwhelming force to a stand still. The simple idea was that you would kill an opposition soldier and retreat out of harms way, and repeat this at odd times thus grinding numericaly superior forces down by maximising their losses with little thought about your own losses.

The last part is incorrect. You cannot give "little thought to your own losses" if you have limited manpower and are facing a numerically superior enemy. Everything is relative.

UAV's don't necessarily bring extended range,

They certainly do over many other weapons.

and don't bring anywhere near the same fire power or accuracy of maned platforms.

Firepower yes, accuracy... I don't think that's the case any longer. At this point they can fire munitions that will penetrate a building to a particular location, detonate in a particular room, and manage to confine the lethal radias to that room, for the most part. Pretty remarkable.

The only real advantages are no armed forces to be captured if UAV's are downed and that the expensive pilots can do shift work in Nevada flying multiple on target missions in one shift, whilst less valuable ground forces near target push the UAV platforms up on auto pilot to be taken over by the Nevada jocks as and when they get on target.

UAVs enable persistent aerial coverage of an area unrestricted by the endurance of a particular pilot, and they can be deployed without the need to consider the contingencies of SAR operations. These are fairly important advantages.

Before the real involvement of science in WWI nearly all battles were fought at close quaters. WWI was odd because it was the first war to seriously "dig in" in trenches and use the "magic of science to design new war engines and munitions, nearly all of which were permanantly baned by international commities.

Well... no, I wouldn't go that far. The Russo-Japanese War saw trench warfare and the type of immense bombardments later experienced in WW1 in Europe. Indeed, European observers at the time wrote of the absolutely remarkable fortitude of the Siberian troops who, through the use of deep trenches, manage to survive (God knows in what condition) unbelievably heavy fires from the Japanese, while inflicting grievous casualties upon Japanese forces as they launched offensives against the Siberian position.

In fact, the combination of the Boer War and the Russo-Japanese War led to a vehement debate as to the proper tactics to use, with far more suitable techniques being adopted at one point - and then unfortunately dropped under pressure from the old guard, who considered "fighting morale" the key factor in achieving victory, resulting in the utterly and inhumanely absurd formations utilized.

Indeed, the American Civil War also involved the use of elaborate fortifications (up to that point, American military education was largely centered on military engineering) which were resilient to fire.

Back then the thought of long range weapons was reserved for the artillery and their insufficiently acurate and mainly ineffective field or track pieces.

Eh, from the longbow at Agincourt to the long halberds of the Swiss to the greater range of rifles in the American Civil War, it's always been an advantage for the enemy to be in your effective range while you remain outside his. The unpleasant shock that English armies received upon repeated attempts to invade Wales also comes to mind - though eventually the English employed a more considered strategy and prevailed. No one in his right mind wants war to be a fair fight. If you're in a fair fight then something went wrong (aka situation normal).

Planes let alone pilotless planes were not considered to be of any use other than flying observation posts... thus were not realy considered as weapons untill much later in the war.

Look up Giulio Douhet.

Sancho_PMarch 23, 2015 7:00 PM

@ Clive Robinson, Skeptical, re war and drones:

I think the issue here is that the term “war” is often (wrongly) used in context with violent actions (e.g. drugs), not related to classical warfare (national conflicts).

White man shoots, red man is dead, let’s hiss the flag, the land is ours == classical war.

Drones are not typical weapons of war but instruments to terrorize people. Using them you can’t wipe out peoples or “convince” the opponent to surrender (Hiroshima), as it is nearly impossible to kill someone using a needle. It may motivate them to fight back.
It would need thousands of drones to be effective as a weapon of war.

The U.S. use of drones is torture and will just create more deadly motivated terrorists.
Injustice (killing bystanders) is a much stronger motive than $$$ (e.g. for the drone pilot).
The terrorist’s motive will go on for generations (well, not longer than 2050).


Back to the topic:
“Terrorist organizations” (e.g. AQ) must not be confused with militant groups (IS).

Clive RobinsonMarch 24, 2015 12:02 PM

@ vas pup,

Another waste of resources...

The chance of being in another "US based terrorist attack" is rather less than geting hit by space debris...

The other thing is that "Battle Field" first aid is quite a bit different to all other types of viable first aid. It realy is shoveling guts back in and tying of limbs to prevent fatal blood loss in minutes, it's nasty fast and shocking. Most people would be incapable of dealing with the aftermath of an explosion fast enough to make a real difference, and that includes many civilian first responders.

You've probably heard of "the golden hour" or "platinum ten minutes", well for quite a few the first minute is the 50/50 point.

Most would people would still be in blast shock after five minutes...

vas pupMarch 26, 2015 9:30 AM

On hacking plane computers:
http://www.dw.de/the-automated-airplane/a-18341317
"There are several computer systems on board the plane, such as interfaces for navigation and communication. They are all connected to the central system that controls the aircraft. This means that each A320 is carrying a huge network of computers with highly complex software.
The software is provided directly by Airbus and is updated regularly to meet the necessary technical and security standards. What’s more, everything in the plane's computer systems is "triplicated," Stupples explained.
"It's not a single computer that controls everything, because if that computer failed, you'd have a real problem," the electronic systems expert said. "They have three computer systems doing the same job for most of the time. And they work on a voting system. That means that two computers have to "agree" on an action. If the third one differs, it is ignored."
"With these precautionary measures, the computerized aircraft seems safe. But, says Stupples, it could still be hacked. According to the professor, there are two opportunities to feed malware into the closed computer system.
First, hackers could upload a virus during the plane's software update, because for this, an external data-line has to be established. The second way is even more direct:
Professor David Stupples says it's difficult but not impossible to hack an airplane
"The Airbus has an electronics bay beneath the cockpit where all of the navigation computers are located," Stupples said. "So if you could get in there with a USB-stick, you could inject malware into the system."
And it would be impossible for an outsider to gain the necessary levels of access, Stupples said. So the hacker would have to be an employee.

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