Daveed Gartenstein-Ross writes:
[In a March 2010 video, al Qaeda spokesman Adam] Gadahn put his finger on an important insight that AQAP [Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] is now reiterating: Even failed attacks can help the jihadists by “bring[ing] major cities to a halt, cost[ing] the enemy billions, and send[ing] his corporations into bankruptcy.” Failed attacks, simply put, can themselves be successes. This is precisely why AQAP devoted an entire issue of Inspire to celebrating terror attempts that killed nobody.
A message making this point at length was posted to the Al-Fallujah Islamic forums in December 2009. The author mockingly addressed the security services monitoring the website, asking them to write the following in their reports:
A Very Serious Threat
Source: A Radical Islamist Forum
Warn them that they must protect every federal building and skyscraper, such as: Library Tower (California), Sears Tower (Chicago), Plaza Bank (Washington State), the Empire State Building (New York), suspension bridges in New York, and the financial district in New York.
Nightclubs frequented by Americans and the British in Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia (especially our dear Bali Island), the oil company owned by the former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in Sumatra (Indonesia), and US ships and oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, Gibraltar, and the Port of Singapore.
Let us not forget any airport, seaport, or stadium. Tell them to protect [these places] no matter the cost, day and night, around the clock.
The point is clear: Security is expensive, and driving up costs is one way jihadists can wear down Western economies. The writer encourages the United States “not to spare millions of dollars to protect these targets” by increasing the number of guards, searching all who enter those places, and even preventing flying objects from approaching the targets. “Tell them that the life of the American citizen is in danger and that his life is more significant than billions of dollars,” he wrote. “Hand in hand, we will be with you until you are bankrupt and your economy collapses.”
Unfortunately, the author, and the editors of Inspire, are all too right: The economics of this fight favor the terrorists, not those seeking to defend against terrorism.