It's clear from the Mumbai attack that terrorist organizations are inexorably moving closer to the global guerrilla model of warfare (it was an evolutionary improvement over the example the PCC set in the 2006 Sao Paulo attacks). Extremely small teams, operating autonomously, that rapidly move to attack a flexible set of objectives to achieve a leveraged and synergistic effect. Generic improvements (that can apply to a variety of motives) in technique that we can expect to see in the near future include:
- Better use of infrastructure disruption. While panicked crowds and other forms of localized disruption of transportation hubs are effective, a strategic approach to disruption that includes strikes on communications, transportation and energy hubs would prolong the impact and slow the government response. The key point here is that attacks on strategic systempunkts can impact tactical environments at a distance (akin to the Parthian shot that distracts and depletes an enemy).
- A focus on corporations and commercial elites. Less heavily protected than government targets and more important to the economic viability of the city. Easily "taxed" through assault in order to force a shift in operations and departures. This will run in parallel, but not replace, a bevy of attacks on foreign businesspeople (which heightens media response but has less long term impact on the city's viability).
- Fear management. The combination of rapid movement and indiscriminate slaughter of civilians did achieve a high level of panic. However, in order to create panic induced casualties and prolong the psychological impact, there will be an increasing focus on channeling crowds along "fear vectors."
- Media spamming to co-opt information flows. At a minimum, several Web sites and mass e-mailings that launch in parallel to the attack. It could also include multi-channel radio/TV transmissions. In either case, rather than claims of responsibility or justification (a legacy approach), the content of the messaging will be seemingly real-time information on the attack configured to maximize fear/panic, disinformation, and confusion.