Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Statistical analysis of terrorist groups’ longevity, aims, methods and successes reveal that groups are self-contradictory and self-sabotaging, generally ineffective; common stereotypes like terrorists being poor or ultra-skilled are false. Superficially appealing counter-examples are discussed and rejected. Data on motivations and the dissolution of terrorist groups are brought into play and the surprising conclusion reached: terrorism is a form of socialization or status-seeking.

There is a commonly-believed “strategic model” of terrorism which we could describe as follows: terrorists are people who are ideologically motivated to pursue specific unvarying political goals; to do so, they join together in long-lasting organizations and after the failure of ordinary political tactics, rationally decide to efficiently & competently engage in violent attacks on (usually) civilian targets to get as much attention as possible and publicity for their movement, and inspire fear & terror in the civilian population, which will pressure its leaders to solve the problem one way or another, providing support for the terrorists’ favored laws and/or their negotiations with involved governments, which then often succeed in gaining many of the original goals, and the organization dissolves.

Unfortunately, this model, is in almost every respect, empirically false. Let’s look in some more detail at findings which cast doubt on the strategic model.


From “What Terrorists Really Want: Terrorist Motives and Counterterrorism Strategy”, Max Abrahms 2008:

Does the terrorist’s decision-making process conform to the strategic model? The answer appears to be no. The record of terrorist behavior does not adhere to the model’s three core assumptions. Seven common tendencies of terrorist organizations flatly contradict them. Together, these seven terrorist tendencies represent important empirical puzzles for the strategic model, posing a formidable challenge to the conventional wisdom that terrorists are rational actors motivated foremost by political ends…The seven puzzles…are:

terrorist organizations do not achieve their stated political goals by attacking civilians;

terrorist organizations never use terrorism as a last resort and seldom seize opportunities to become productive nonviolent political parties;

terrorist organizations reflexively reject compromise proposals offering significant policy concessions by the target government1;

terrorist organizations have protean political platforms;

terrorist organizations generally carry out anonymous attacks, precluding target countries from making policy concessions;

terrorist organizations with identical political platforms routinely attack each other more than their mutually professed enemy; and

terrorist organizations resist disbanding when they consistently fail to achieve their political platforms or when their stated political grievances have been resolved.

How to Spy the 9/11 Lie

A recent book written by veteran CIA officers describes how deception can be identified by simple observational techniques. In Spy the Lie: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Detect Deception, authors Philip Houston, Michael Floyd, and Susan Carnicero outline a number of verbal and visual behavioral clues that are demonstrated by people who lie in response to questioning. These proven techniques for recognizing deception can be easily applied to see that U.S. leaders have lied repeatedly about the attacks of 9/11.

The authors make clear that there are two important guidelines to employ when analyzing these verbal and visual clues. First, timing is important. Due to the fact that people think ten times faster than they speak, the behaviors are more important when the first one occurs within five seconds of the question. Secondly, when the behavioral clues occur in groups of two or more, called clusters, they are more indicative of deception on the part of the person being questioned. The more clues exhibited, the more clear the deception becomes.

Let’s take a look at some examples.

In a December 15, 2001 press conference, President George W. Bush was asked an unexpected question about 9/11. In a remarkably delayed response, Bush exhibited both a verbal clue for deception, the failure to answer, and a visual clue called an anchor-point movement. The latter is when the anxiety raised by the question causes the person questioned to shift his body to relieve physical instability. As Bush replied, he shook his head, moved his hands, and seemed to be shuffling his feet uncomfortably.

Reporter: Do you agree or disagree with the RNC that [a question of your advanced knowledge of 9/11] borders on political hate speech?

Bush: Uh, yeah, there’s time for politics and, uh, you know… time for politics and, uh… I, uh, it’s an absurd insinuation.”

If the reporter had been a CIA interrogator, like any of the three authors of the book, this response would have raised an immediate red flag that the issue needed further examination...

Friday, October 2, 2015

About the NIST World Trade Center Investigation


    On August 21, 2002, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced its building and fire safety investigation of the World Trade Center (WTC) disaster.1 This WTC Investigation was then conducted under the authority of the National Construction Safety Team (NCST) Act, which was signed into law on October 1, 2002. A copy of the Public Law is included in AppendixA.

    The goals of the investigation of the WTC disaster were:

    To investigate the building construction, the materials used, and the technical conditions that contributed to the outcome of the WTC disaster after terrorists flew large jet-fuel laden commercial airliners into the WTC towers.

    To serve as the basis for:

    Improvements in the way buildings are designed, constructed, maintained, and used;

    Improved tools and guidance for industry and safety officials;

    Recommended revisions to current codes, standards, and practices; and

    Improved public safety

    The specific objectives were:

    Determine why and how WTC 1 and WTC 2 collapsed following the initial impacts of the aircraft and why and how WTC 7 collapsed;

    Determine why the injuries and fatalities were so high or low depending on location, including all technical aspects of fire protection, occupant behavior, evacuation, and emergency response;

    Determine what procedures and practices were used in the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of WTC 1, 2, and 7; and

    Identify, as specifically as possible, areas in current building and fire codes, standards, and practices that warrant revision...

    ...NIST found no corroborating evidence for alternative hypotheses suggesting that the WTC towers were brought down by controlled demolition using explosives planted prior to September 11, 2001. NIST also did not find any evidence that missiles were fired at or hit the towers. Instead, photographs and videos from several angles clearly showed that the collapse initiated at the fire and impact floors and that the collapse progressed from the initiating floors downward, until the dust clouds obscured the view...

    Why It Matters: Turning the Tables on Human Traffickers (DARPA's "Wait, ...

    Wednesday, September 30, 2015

    HOPE 9: William Binney Keynote

    Judge dismisses 9/11 charges against Saudi Arabia

    By Julian Hattem - 09/30/15 09:51 AM EDT

    A federal judge has dropped Saudi Arabia from a lawsuit brought by family members of people killed during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack who had sought to implicate the country in the attack.

    U.S. District Judge George Daniels in New York declared that the families had failed to provide enough evidence linking Saudi leaders to the incident, closing one chapter in what has been a years-long legal effort to implicate the kingdom.

    “The allegations in the complaint alone do not provide this court with a basis to assert jurisdiction over [the] defendants,” Daniels wrote in a filing on Tuesday.

    “The broad allegations turn in large part on speculative opinions.”

    The families failed to show that people acting on behalf of Saudi Arabia funneled money to al Qaeda ahead of the attack, Daniels concluded, and as such could not overcome the country’s sovereign immunity.

    Daniels also dismissed charges against the Saudi High Commission for Relief of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a charity group controlled by Saudi Arabia.