Monday, July 11, 2005

Terror strategies

Irish terrorists had famously left a message after a failed assassination attempt on Margaret Thatcher - "we have to be lucky only once, you have to be lucky every time". Terrorists in India seem to have gone one step ahead. They're raising the value of a successful strike. If either of the attacks on the Indian parliament and on the site of the Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi temple had succeeded, the havoc it would've caused is unimaginably huge.

The Ayodhya attack, in particular, seems like a very poorly planned operation. The terrorists gained entry into the campus through a hole in the fence created by blasting a jeep they had parked near the fence. Given the huge security presence at the site and the distance between their entry point and the temple structure, I do not see how they thought they would succeed. This leads me to believe that the terrorists were either incompetent or were willing to lay down their lives for that tiny chance that they could cause huge havoc.

Simply put, probability of success might be low but the success utility value is high enough to ensure that the
Expected value out of the operation = probability * success utility value
is significantly high.

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