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Yet decentralization also carries costs to terrorists by eroding their quality as they move farther away from the leadership. This is because the leaders of terrorist groups, like in many other organizations, have a better sense of what they’re doing than the freshest hires.
From what we know now, the alleged Boston bombers weren’t even lone wolves. They were, in the grand scheme and historical sweep of terrorism, just puppies. If they were even just a bit smarter, many more innocent Americans might be dead.
That doesn’t mean America’s national-security agencies can take their eye of the ball. But let’s not rush to accord these two alleged terrorists any more IQ points than they deserve.
Max Abrahms is a fellow in the political science department at Johns Hopkins University, where he teaches courses on terrorism and international-relations theory.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.