An unfortunate consequence of the war in Iraq has been rapid improvements in the ability of guerrillas to disrupt modern infrastructure (oil, gas, water, telecom, etc.). The wide ranging success of these attacks has eliminated any potential economic gains from the tens of billions of dollars spent on the US reconstruction effort and seriously damaged the legitimacy of both the US occupation force and sequential Iraqi governments. The impact of this reverse "effects-based operation" has not gone unnoticed. Al Qaeda's leadership has made systems disruption a central aspect of its campaign against the West.
Recent information indicates that the concept has become the topic of widespread discussion among members of Jihadi forums. On these forums there is a growing realization that the only way to damage the West strategically (without a nuclear weapon) is through the destruction of critical global economic networks. Stephen Ulph of Jamestown summarizes recent activity on these forums. His group found detailed documents that provide explicit instructions on facilities and pipelines that are termed global "economic joints". For example, one set of instructions provided data on the Alaskan oil distribution infrastructure and recommendations for maximizing the value of the attack.
While this effort is still in its adolescence, Ulph has detected signs of the type of collaborative open source development we have seen among guerrilla groups in Iraq. If so, it will advance to maturity rapidly. As that happens, be prepared to see a growing emphasis on the selection of targets (or more accurately "systempunkts") that cause cascading system failures -- failures that maximize the scope of the damage to the scale free and tightly coupled networks we see in developed countries.NOTE: It's important to remember that in this epochal war, the guerrillas don't need to achieve either an absolute moral or economic victory. All that is needed in this hyper-competitive globalized economic environment is an effort that damages the ability of the target state to compete -- Adam Smith's invisible hand will quickly take care of the rest.