Terrorists' planning of attacks: a simulated 'red-team' investigation into decision-making

  • Romyn D
  • Kebbell M
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Despite billions of dollars having been spent on counter-terrorism activities since the 9-11 terrorist attacks in the USA, there is almost no experimental research examining the methods terrorists use in planning attacks. To shed light on this 90 participants (N = 43 with military training and N = 47 without military training) took part in an exercise in which they took the role of a ‘red-team’ of terrorists planning to attack a major city. Fifteen individuals with counter-terrorism training took part as a ‘blue-team’ attempting to predict the actions of the red team. Participants were required to rank tasks in the order they would carry them out and results showed that they were consistent in their ordering. For example, they consistently ranked ‘identifying targets’ as the first step and ‘testing weapons’ as the last step. Prior military training did not influence the order that tasks were carried out in. Participants were then required to identify targets and there was a high degree of consistency in target selection preferences, particularly towards targets that were easy to access and where mass casualties would be likely. Findings are discussed in relation to using empirical evidence to prevent terrorist attacks. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved). (journal abstract)

Author-supplied keywords

  • counter-terrorism
  • red-teaming
  • simulations

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  • David Romyn

  • Mark Kebbell

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