Gunaratna and others explain that there have been three basic types of Islamist jihadist terrorists: (1) Hardcore AQ, of which there were probably only ever several thousand in the world; (2) Associated Groups of AQ which number in the hundreds of thousands; and (3) homegrown terrorists, which can number in the millions. What types of terror attacks have been seen by each of the three groups? Your discussion can include both executed operations (successful) and planned but prevented ones. Have such operations (i.e., terror attacks) from all three categories been seen in the United States? If so, can you identify at least one from each category?

Can you present a viable model for predicting the types of attack methodologies that would be used by each of the three groups in future attacks? For example, how likely is it that homegrown terrorists would obtain and detonate a nuclear device? How about a dirty bomb? On the other hand, would AQ launch an Active Shooter Decimation Assault as we saw with Dr. and Major Nidal Hasan at Ft. Hood or the planned attack on Ft. Dix, New Jersey?

Do you think there would be overlap between the attack methodologies that would be pursued among the three groups? For instance, is it likely or not to see a Beslan-level school mass-hostage siege conducted by hardcore AQ, Associated Groups and homegrown terrorists? Do you see any attack methodologies that might see overlap among any of the other groups? If so, would the attacks be identical in terms of terrorist numbers, targeting, weapons, and death toll? If not, what differences could be expected? I am looking for brief discussion on these various topics only. You can address all of them succinctly or select one or two to discuss in a bit more detail.

READING:

Rohan Gunaratna, Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror (New York: Berkley Books, 2002, 2003), pp. 72-126.

Reich, ed., Origins of Terrorism, David C. Rappaport, “Sacred Terror: A contemporary example from Islam,” pp. 103-130.

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