Lessons for Counterterrorism

Posted: 28 Dec 2013 Last revised: 18 May 2015

See all articles by Christopher Charles

Christopher Charles

University of the West Indies

Marie-Helen Maras

CUNY, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Date Written: April 14, 2015


This article examines a successful terrorist attack and failed missions in the United States to inform counterterrorism. Six case studies were selected based on groups of terrorists (three or more) who conducted or planned an attack within the United States. The variables measured were the organizational learning cycles of the terrorists, and the financial, community, and security institutions they used. The learning cycles revealed that success was a function of experience and training so learning deficits made detection possible. The failed cells lacked funding which increased their vulnerability when they sought financing. Supportive community institutions and their effective use made plot detection difficult. Terrorists who ineffectively used and leveraged security institutions were more likely to fail. The United States should continue the preemptive use of undercover agents/informants to detect terrorist plots.

Keywords: Terrorism and Counterterrorism, failed and successful terrorist plots,organizational learning cycles, community institutions, financial institutions, security institutions, Lessons for Counterterrorism, United States

Suggested Citation

Charles, Christopher and Maras, Marie-Helen, Lessons for Counterterrorism (April 14, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2372206 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2372206

Christopher Charles (Contact Author)

University of the West Indies ( email )

Kingston 7
Mona, Mona Kingston 7

Marie-Helen Maras

CUNY, John Jay College of Criminal Justice ( email )

695 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10021
United States

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics