One of the distinctive features of Stratfor's terrorism and security analysis is its focus on the methodology of attacks. Of course, identifying those responsible for an attack is important, especially in ensuring that the perpetrators are brought to justice. But Stratfor believes that analyzing the way in which an attack was conducted is more important because it can prevent future attacks and protect potential victims. It is likewise important to recognize that even if a terrorist is killed or arrested, other groups and individuals share terrorist tactics. Sometimes this comes from direct interaction. For example, many of the Marxist terrorist groups that trained together in South Yemen, Lebanon and Libya in the 1980s employed similar tactics. Otherwise, a tactic's popularity is derived from its effectiveness. Indeed, several terrorist groups adopted airline hijacking in the 1960s and 1970s.
The mechanics of terrorism go far beyond target selection and the method of attack. This is especially true of aspiring transnational terrorists. Basic military skills may be helpful in waging terrorist attacks in areas where a militant group has access to men, weapons and targets -- such was the case with Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi, Libya -- but an entirely different set of skills is required to operate in a hostile environment or at a distance. This set of skills is known as terrorist tradecraft.
Before an attack can be planned, an aspiring terrorist group must be organized, funded and trained. Would-be terrorists in Libya, Yemen or Pakistan's North Waziristan agency can achieve these things relatively easily. However, aspiring terrorists in New York, London and Paris encounter more difficulty. The recent arrests of such terrorists in the West, most recently the Sept. 15 arrest of a would-be jihadist in Chicago, show just how difficult it can be to find like-minded individuals to organize a terrorist cell.