Saturday, June 21, 2008

Guns or Bombs: The Assasin's Dilemma

The botched attempt to kill Sheikh Hasina holds valuable lessons. It shows that the Harkatul Jihad (Huji) don't do their homework, for one thing. Killing a leader with a bomb has a success rate of only 7% and killed bystanders. Of course, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto was remarkably successful, but then the bomber got sufficiently close tot he target to blow her up (as well as himself). Ditto the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.

Huji would have done better to use firearms, which have a kill rate of 30%. The killing of Sheih Mujib and sundry other public figures (Bandaranaike, Kennedy, Bhrindranwale, Indira Gandhi....) was accomplished with guns.

Killing leaders (especially if they are in power) is not easy: between 1875 and 2004, there were 298 attempts made on the lives of leaders – of which only 59 hit the bull's eye, and killed the bull.

In the 1910s, a leader had a 1% chance of being done in; today, a measly 0.3%, according to research by Benjamin Jones and Benjamin Olken.

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