War On The Rocks
When Does Terrorism Have a Strategic Effect?
One of the worst terrorist attacks in the post-9/11 era killed no one. When Al Qaeda in Iraq bombed the Askari shrine in Samarra in 2006, only the mosque itself was damaged. However, by striking at one of the most important Shiite shrines in the world, it enraged Iraq’s Shiite majority, inflaming sectarian tension and exacerbating that country’s civil war. Tens of thousands of Iraqis would die in the resulting violence. In contrast, a far bloodier jihadist attack a decade later, and one closer to home for most Americans, had little long-term impact beyond the deaths of innocent people. In 2016, Omar Mateen shot 49 people at the Pulse night club in Orlando in the name of the Islamic State. This attack soon faded from the headlines, and U.S. foreign policy did not change.Not all terrorism is...