Stealing the Sword: Limiting Terrorist Use of Advanced Conventional Weapons

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

CHAPTER FIVE
How Might Use Controls Deter Terrorist
Organizations?
Whether or not a terrorist group pursues a new, advanced weapon can be framed as a judgment about costs and benefits. In this context, the choice to seek a specific weapon will depend on the terrorist group’s assessment of how potential benefits compare with the costs of obtaining a weapon and on how the apparent costs and benefits of that advanced weapon compare with other tactical and technological options available to the group. This calculus may be an implicit rather than an explicit process, and decisions may be based on cost and benefit criteria that are idiosyncratic to the terrorist group. Nevertheless, a process with these basic components will underlie decisionmaking at the individual and organizational levels.Such cost-benefit decisions are further complicated by uncertainty. Depending on the information available to the terrorist group at the time, it will face two different, but complementary risks. They are
the risk that the group’s cost-benefit judgments about the technology are incorrect and it is choosing to adopt a weapon that is not, in fact, supportive of its objectives
the risk that the group’s attempt to adopt the technology will fail and it will pay the costs associated with doing so without gaining the desired benefits.

An organization can reduce these risks by seeking out more information and expertise before committing itself to an adoption effort. More information can provide more certainty about the technology’s

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