Friday, July 22, 2005

Psychology of Terror

At RFE/RL, Roman Kupchinsky considers the possible psychological impact of the London terror attacks:
Simply put, the fact that the terrorists used nonlethal devices during a time of lower passenger usage could have been meant to create panic as opposed to injury. The 21 July attackers would have shown the British public and security forces that they are still able to strike when and where they wish, and that the mass-transit system in London cannot be fully protected, even when it is on the high alert status of 21 July.

The psychological impact these latest attacks might have on Londoners is difficult to predict, but it could have the effect of galvanizing opposition in Great Britain to the Iraqi and Afghan conflicts.

Moreover, it could also precipitate a strong anti-Muslim backlash in England, which could conceivably lead to racial tensions and increase Islamic militancy in the country.

If that is the intent of the organization behind the attacks in London, then the tactic could indeed be a powerful tool that might be used in other countries with large Muslim populations.

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