By DAN REYNOLDS, senior editor of Risk & Insurance®
The ink was barely dry on Aon Corp.'s annual terrorism threat map when one of the report's tangential thesis turned out to be grimly true.
"With the election of a more liberal president in the United States, it is possible we may see an uplift in activity from domestic far right and militia groups," said Craig Preston, an executive director with Aon in a release heralding the brokerage's annual terrorism report.
Leaving aside for the moment the logical imprecision of words like "liberal" and "conservative", Preston's statement couldn't have been more right on and sadly so.
Preston's statement was on June 2, the same day that Scott Roeder, a former member of a domestic terror group called the Montana Freemen, was charged with killing George Tiller, a Wichita physician who performed abortions. According to police reports, on May 31 Roeder launched a bullet at Tiller's head at the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita where Tiller was serving as an usher.
Tiller's murder offers evidence for another pillar of the Aon report; that the landscape of terrorism and terrorism risk is shifting. What should be considered a focal point of terror risk management in one year can't necessarily be considered a focal point the next.
In the case of the Wichita terrorist strike, news commentators wondered whether domestic terror groups would be goaded to action by the policies of the Obama administration: Time will tell we suppose.
Aon also points out that the Middle East, more traditionally associate with terrorist activity, might be lessening in frequency as a terror center, compared to such places as Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Thailand and Nepal.
Preston and his co-workers also point to the re-emergence of more "traditional" terrorism groups, like the Communist "Shining Path" guerillas that terrorize Peru and a revolutionary anarchist movement in Greece.
Aon's 2009 Terrorism Threat Map shows a more settled outlook for North America, Europe and Australia. Preston attributed that to better counterterrorism capability on the part of U.S. and Europe and a shift in focus on the part of terrorism groups to such places as Pakistan and Somalia, locales where there is less and less evidence of stabilizing government forces; or in the case of Somalia, no government at all.
One nugget focused on by Aon researchers is the propensity for violence among Maoists in India. Aon says there were 65 terrorism incidents in North East India alone in April.
In partnership with Janusian, a risk consultancy with offices in Dubai, London, Saudi Arabia and Moscow, Aon also operates Terrorism Tracker, an online database that records terrorism events and statements and tracks government threat warnings.
July 1, 2009
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