BLACK SWANS FLYINGJohn Robb
had a great post at Global Guerillas
entitled "CATASTROPHIC BLACK SWANS
". An excerpt:"If we follow this trend line, the path in development is clear. First, over the next decade, the size of the group necessary for global warfare will continue to decrease and decentralize (through a near term shift to systems disruption and open source organizational forms). Second, we will eventually reach a point when the weaponry available to these groups will enable them to initiate a catastrophic black swan (an event that is impossible to predict). "
I would argue that the devolution is really toward the emergence of superempowered individuals, Ted Kaczynskis
on steroids, who realize that their total anonymity and lack of prior activity or membership in known networks, renders them the best possible secret first-strike weapon.
On the other hand, there are factors that mitigate such risks. The number of individuals with the requisite intelligence, knowledge base of systems, resources and sufficient degree of alienation and task persistence to carry off a singlehanded 9/11 are relatively few. Moreover, the only way these potential superempowered individuals can be " activated" by al Qaida and retain their capacity for stealth, is by inspiration. This elevates the premium on IO, cyberpropaganda, symbolic terror operations and efforts by al Qaida to reach beyond their narrow popular base to non-Salafi or even non-Muslim demographic groups that might share al Qaida's anti-American strategic goals for their own reasons.