Dramatic acts of political and social terror stagger the imaginations of most of us, normal persons not disposed to take out our frustrations by randomly killing people, including children, that we don’t even know.
We at MOM intend to explore the rare and raw psychology of terrorist acts on more than one occasion.
What caught our eye most immediately however, was the issue of predicting terrorism—perhaps the next terrorist act–how do we know when the next strike might occur?
The patterns of terrorism might hint at the psychology of the act, and the psychology of terrorism might help us anticipate patterns, help us understand when and where the next strike might occur.
Thus the lack of pattern in so many attacks gives pause to professional terrorism trackers–they see no clear, no specific rhyme or reason to the timing and locations of the attacks. The very lack of pattern is cause for extra consternation.
We need to endow acts especially dramatic acts and destructive acts with some meaning and hopefully some predictability. To cite an example coming from another species, the bizarre attack of the White Tiger that ended the long running Las Vegas show of Siegfried and Roy caused great concern in the community of the big cat tamers. It was completely unanticipated: it had few precedents and no immediate explanation, and so the boundaries of the world in which the cat tamers operate suddenly melted a bit about the edges.
(Mystery within a mystery: what really happened with Roy and the tiger that night? For years news coverage of the event has spoken of the “unpredictability” of the big cats, as if they once in a while commit a “terrorist” act to keep the authorities off balance. S & R themselves have more blandly spoken of an “accident,” then, just recently they’ve declared that no one really understood what happened. Roy was already having a stroke, a medical incident, which the cat perceived, and scooped him up in his his jaws as if carrying a cub aside for safety. Although Roy barely survived the grip in a tiger’s jaws, the cat’s motives, supposedly, were pure….At a later time M.O. Mystery will address the complex motivations of animals in much more depth.)
We will continue to look for patterns in all violence and all terrorist attacks. The industry of terrorism prediction and anti-terrorism security now numbers employees not in the thousands or tens of thousands, but in the hundreds of thousands worldwide. More than wanting to know why in relation to the last attack, we want to know where to expect the next one, where do we need to be the most vigilant. The violence of, for example, the London attacks of recent years was damned scary…the lack of a clear pattern in its own way rises as scarier still.