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Terrorists shifting focus to 'soft' targets: Report

world Updated: Sep 09, 2009 00:05 IST
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Terrorists are aiming for hotels and other easier-to-hit targets as security measures at military and government facilities continue to improve, says a global intelligence company.

Al-Qaida is changing from a centralised organisation with global goals to regional "franchises" with more parochial aims and strong grassroots support, according to a report Tuesday from STRATFOR.

These smaller cells get less training and less money, so they set their sights lower.

That doesn't mean they aren't dangerous, "particularly if they are attempting to prove their value or if they are able to link up with someone who is highly tactically skilled," the report says.

According to STRATFOR, the number of attacks on hotels has more than doubled since the 9/11 attacks in 2001 when compared to the eight years before. Injuries and deaths caused by those attacks have increased six times over the same comparison period.

A hotel is the ultimate soft target for Islamic extremists: a fixed location, lots of human traffic, and shallow security perimeters. Hotels also attract many Westerners, giving militants high probabilities of killing or injuring large numbers of them in a single attack, according to the report.

Although hotel security guards try to monitor suspicious people and activities, extremists know the way around this is to check in as a guest, giving them full access to the grounds.