TrapWire Director Provides Insight to WTOP on the How vs Why of Terrorism

July 25, 2016


Excerpted from:
Blame-and-claim cycle fuels terrorism
By J.J.Green
July 25, 2016

In this new era of terrorism, ISIL appears to have become an umbrella for grievances for a growing number of people. But does it matter?

Mike Maness, director of TrapWire and a former CIA covert operative, believes pinpointing exactly which terror organization claims credit for the latest attack is of little use.

“In the end, whether the attack was carried out by Daesh, al-Qaida or al-Shabaab has little bearing on our immediate, tactical counterterror efforts since many of these groups are often sharing the same attack techniques regardless of their ideological affiliation or end goals.”

Pontificating about who did it and why is dangerous in his opinion.

“While understanding the religious, social, psychological and economic motivators that may influence a jihadist is important from a long-term strategic perspective, this will do little to stop the next attack, which is already being planned somewhere right now.”

To him, these are the five key questions rooted in “how” attacks happen that are more important:

How are these groups selecting their targets?
How are they able to collect intelligence right under the noses of law enforcement and intelligence services?
How do they know exactly where to strike to cause the highest body count and most damage?
How are they acquiring and transporting weapons and explosives to the scene?
How are they communicating with each other prior to and during the attack?

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