Stealing the Sword: Limiting Terrorist Use of Advanced Conventional Weapons

By James Bonomo; Giacomo Bergamo et al. | Go to book overview

Summary

This book examines one manifestation of the general technical competition between terrorist groups and security organizations—the balance between the potential use by terrorists of advanced conventional weapons and the responses available to deter or counter them. Our use of the term advanced conventional weapons is inclusive and broad: any new or unusual conventional weaponry developed for ordinary military forces. Such weaponry seems a priori likely to be particularly threatening in the hands of terrorists. All weaponry is obviously designed to do damage, but new design features might enable new, or at least unfamiliar, terrorist attacks. At the same time, the usual limitation of weaponry to militaries implies that various controls could be applied, albeit less stringently than controls imposed upon nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. Consequently, the competition involving advanced conventional weaponry seems both complex and potentially important.

One example of this competition has received much attention— the balance between terrorist use of man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) and U.S. responses. The November 2002 attacks in Mombasa, Kenya, using Russian-built MANPADS against an Israeli airliner, demonstrated that terrorists are able to acquire and use that type of advanced weaponry.1 In response, the United States has negotiated a multinational agreement that calls for imposing both technical and procedural use controls on new MANPADS through an expansion

1 Bayles (2003).

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