8 dead and 500 wounded by sarin gas attack in Tokyo (June 27, 1994)

They say practice makes perfect: this applies to terrorists too.

MATSUMOTO, JAPAN — Malcolm Gladwell is a Canadian journalist and author. He is the creator of such books as The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers. In the latter he famously stated that 10,000 hours of practice really can make you an expert at anything. Anything? There has been some pushback against this claim.

Nevertheless we have long been told that we need to practice something a lot before we can get really good at it. Even if not at the level of expert. I am skeptical: I have played way more than 10,000 hours in goal in hockey and I am nowhere near the ‘big show’.

It does stand to reason, however, that if you do try something over and over again you should get better at it. If you don’t – and here I am referring to my own new hobby/life goal that does not involve stopping, or attempting to stop, pucks – you may want to look elsewhere. Just saying.

Does this also apply to terrorism? Maybe. The USS Cole attack in 2000 was preceded by another attack by the same Al Qaeda terrorists against the USS Sullivans in January of that year which failed when the boat containing explosives sank. Effort #2 killed 17 US sailors.

Developed as a pesticide, sarin can cause symptoms in humans ranging from watery eyes to paralysis and death, depending on the amount of exposure.

The Japanese terrorist group Aum Shinrikyo is best known, of course, for the 1995 Tokyo sarin attack which killed a dozen and wounded more than 1,000. But did you know that, just like the AQ attack in Yemen, it too had a precursor?

On this day in 1994, members of the cult released sarin gas in the Matsumoto area of Nagano, near the homes of several judges involved in legal cases against them. Eight people died and more than 500 were wounded.

Less than a year later the same MO was used in the Tokyo subway by the group. I guess it got better real quick.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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