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Title: A manpads threat to civil aviation a failure of terrorist innovation?
Authors: Singer, Ben.
Keywords: DRNTU::Humanities
Issue Date: 2013
Abstract: On November 28, 2002, an Al Qaeda cell attempted to shoot down an Israeli airliner shortly after takeoff from Mombasa, Kenya, using shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, also known as man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). The attempt to bring down the aircraft failed. Despite Al Qaeda's proof of concept in using MANPADS as a terrorist tactic, neither Al Qaeda nor any other terrorist organization has sought to make another attempt to shoot down a passenger airliner using these highly proliferated weapons. The puzzle that the paper seeks to answer is why there have not been any attempts to use MANPADS against passenger aircraft since the Mombasa operation. The paper treats Al Qaeda's use of MANPADS as a case of failed terrorist innovation within the emerging theoretical framework of terrorist innovation. The objective is to reveal barriers to terrorist innovation and diffusion. The paper concludes that the failure ofthe terrorist attack can almost certainly be attributed to operator errors, which, in turn, are best explained by failures in learning and training. Although a number of analysts have suggested that MANPADS are easy to operate, this paper will provide convincing support for the contention that MANPADS are actually quite challenging to operate and require extensive training and practice to use effectively. The paper suggests that this is the primary reason why there have been no further attempts to use MANPADS against civil aviation. Finally, the paper makes a number of recommendations for a counterterrorism strategy that targets the learning processes and training infrastructure of terrorist organizations, thereby thwarting the efforts of those organizations to improve their capabilities to make effective use of MANPADS.
Fulltext Permission: restricted
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:RSIS Theses

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