"Terrorists & The Media"

they indiscriminately also target civilians and use the locals as hostages or cover.

Insurgents conduct asymmetric warfare battling a larger and usually better equipped Security Forces, with a loose network of fighters lacking an effective Central Command. They display sudden bursts of activity interspersed between quiet periods, but the attacks still show grouping, which in the absence of a Central Command, seems to be dependent on the expected attention from the Media and other ways of spreading information which could be viewed as being more on days that are linked to specific Anniversaries or Festivals or Functions etc.

Mathematical methodologies usually used to try and understand, the predictive purchasing behaviour of a customer, and that of the Financial Markets have also been applied by many to Terrorist incidents (see “Mathematics of Terror” by Andrew Curry ). Plotting the severity or magnitude of the incident, measured by the number of deaths caused, against the frequency or periodicity of the incident showed a remarkably consistent pattern. A pattern that is reflected across all types of Terrorist incidents even if implemented by very different Terror groups operating over many decades in different Geographical locations.

Groups such as..........

  • The Shining Path Guerrillas of Chile
  • The Red Brigade of Italy
  • The Red Army of Japan
  • The Al Fatah of Palestine / Intifada
  • The Baader Mienhof of Germany
  • The Maoists / Pak sponsored Terrorists in India
  • The Indonesian Rebels
  • The Afghan Taliban
  • The Basques of Spain


The pattern for incidents caused by each of them forms a noticeably similar distribution, answering to a Power Law (exponential) curve instead of the expected normal or Bell curve.

A ‘Power Law’ distribution applies to all non linear phenomenon and implies that truly massive disruptive events like 'killer storms', financial collapses, major volcanic eruptions, avalanches, tsunamis, earthquakes or even major terrorist incidents etc - occur exponentially less frequently than small ones. Such distributions are surprisingly ubiquitous in sciences and social sciences and have been intensely studied. The Power Law, and the data and relationships analysis forecasts, though only generally and not specifically, the few rare (Black Swan type) events of extraordinary magnitude. The larger the event the rarer it is - But IT WILL OCCUR SOME TIME!

Such forecasts are only probabilities in a general timeframe, the actual event and its exact time and place cannot be predicted. However even such general forecasts are enough to enable us to be better prepared to respond immediately and appropriately to such events as and when they do occur. As Nicholas N. Taleb writes - “… invest in Preparedness, Plan to mitigate the consequences.”

Such near uniformity of the distribution pattern even across such diverse groups and across decades demonstrates that the differences between them, of Cause, Religion, Culture, Background funding, Motives, Strategies, Equipment and Forces disparity, or Area of Operation etc. all important in their own way and calling for a variety of response, actually seem to have nothing to do with the timing and location or type of incident. They

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The simple exananptiols you have provided along with your article make this one of the best written and best detail-oriented articles I have had the enjoyment of reading and thinking about in a long time.
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