AMMAN, JORDAN – Why is it that terrorists often engage in six degrees of Kevin Bacon when choosing whom to attack?
Some say that everything is connected if you look closely enough. You may be familiar with the ‘butterfly’ effect: a butterfly flaps its wings in Texas and that inexorably leads to a tornado in Brazil. I suppose this suggests that very small events can have disproportionate consequences elsewhere, although I wonder if anyone ever asked the butterfly about this.
A more modern version is known as the ‘six degrees of Kevin Bacon‘. In this interpretation, every single actor is linked to the US-born thespian by no more than six levels of relatedness. Whether or not this is true I have no idea as I don’t tend to play those kinds of games (and, frankly, don’t get invited to those kinds of parties!).
Terrorists are somewhat similar, especially jihadis. They are able to concoct bizarre webs of interconnectedness in justifying their acts of violence (nation A was attacked because it helped nation B which helped nation C which in turn helped nation D which we hate and are trying to destroy and so we are ok to kill everyone in nation A).
Today’s attack is perhaps a good example.
On this day in 1976
Terrorists belonging to the Abu Nidal Organisation (ANO – remember them?) burst into the Intercontinental Hotel in Amman, Jordan and took hostages. Once the ensuing firefight between the terrorists and Jordanian security forces was over, three ANO members, two soldiers and two civilians were killed. The surviving terrorists were later executed.
Oh yes, he’s dead. He has been ill with heart trouble, you know. You can quote me. This is the end of Abu Nidal.Assistant to PLO leader Yassir Arafat in 1984
The ANO was formed to protest the Syrian invasion of Lebanon in May of 1976. What this had to do with Jordan and the Intercontinental Hotel in Amman is beyond me. Maybe the terrorists did not get invited to the Kevin Bacon parties either.
Read More Today in Terrorism
On May 31, 1906 a Spanish anarchist threw a bomb hoping to hit King Alfonso XIII, killing 24 and wounding more than 100.
On May 30, 2009 two pamphlet-bombs exploded outside an Ecuadorian TV station and ministry: no victims or significant damage ensued.
On May 29, 2016 35 civilians were wounded in an ISIS attack using rockets containing chlorine gas in Iraq’s Nineveh Province.