An anonymous reader writes "A new study (abstract) in the journal Informational Security evaluates the U.S. military's strategy for killing off al-Qaeda's leadership using remote drone strikes. The study argues that the strategy is ineffective, calling into question both the military's rationale for doing so and the allocation of defense funds to run it. Essentially, there are two different types of terrorist organizations: those held together by a small number of charismatic leaders, and those who have developed their own bureaucracy, almost like a business. 'Companies don't fall apart when they lose their CEO or CFO; other people are being trained to do that job and there are institutional mechanisms preserving the knowledge the CEO brought to the table. Also, rules create clear lines of succession, so destabilizing struggles over who gets to take over the group's leadership become less likely.'
Intelligence on al-Qaeda indicates it's more of a bureaucratic group — unsurprising, since terrorist organizations that have been around for a while tend to evolve that way. Since the drone attacks started, there has been no significant correlation between successful strikes and a reduction in al-Qaeda attacks. 'The case for the drone program, at its heart, is that killing significant numbers of underlings AND a small number of high-level leaders is severely weakening the group's operating ability. Jordan's study suggests that al-Qaeda just isn't the kind of group that can be beaten that way.'"