The Bureaucracy of Terrorism

Großartiger Artikel von Jacob N. Shapiro und offensichtlich ein Auszug aus seinem Buch The Terrorist’s Dilemma: Managing Violent Covert Organizations. Geht um Management-Strategien von Terroristen und die Bürokratie, die dabei entsteht. Das Buch hab’ ich mir grade auf mein Kindle geladen, macht sich sehr gut in Kombination mit Jon Rohnsons Radikal: Abenteuer mit Extremisten, das seit ein paar Jahren in meinem Regal steht.

Given that terrorists are, by definition, engaged in criminal activity, you would think that they would place a premium on secrecy. But historically, many terrorist groups have been meticulous record keepers. Members of the Red Brigades, an Italian terrorist group active in the 1970s and early 1980s, report having spent more time accounting for their activities than actually training or preparing attacks. From 2005 through at least 2010, senior leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq kept spreadsheets detailing salary payments to hundreds of fighters, among many other forms of written records. And when the former military al Qaeda military commander Mohammed Atef had a dispute with Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, an explosives expert for the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, in the 1990s, one of his complaints was that Umar failed to turn in his receipts for a trip he took with his family.

Such bureaucracy makes terrorists vulnerable to their enemies. But terrorists do it anyway. In part, that is because large-scale terror plots and extended terror campaigns require so much coordination that they cannot be carried out without detailed communication among the relevant actors and written records to help leaders track what is going on. Gerry Bradley, a former terrorist with the Provisional Irish Republican Army, for example, describes in his memoir how he required his subordinates in Belfast in 1973 to provide daily reports on their proposed operations so that he could ensure that the activities of subunits did not conflict. Several leaders of the Kenyan Mau Mau insurgency report that, as their movement grew in the early 1950s, they needed to start maintaining written accounting records and fighter registries to monitor their finances and personnel.

The Business Habits of Highly Effective Terrorists – Why Terror Masterminds Rely on Micro-Management (via Boing Boing)