Filed Under:Risk, Loss Control

Risk of 'Macro' Terrorist Strike in U.S. Lower After Changes in the Middle East

NEW YORK—The risk of a major terrorism attack in the U.S. is lower for 2013 than it was for 2012 due to changes in the global terrorism landscape including the death of Osama bin Laden and one of his deputies, according to Risk Management Solutions.

Gordon Woo, RMS catastrophist, said at a conference held here last week that bin Laden’s death and the removal of deputy Abu Yahya Libi—who RMS called a “conduit” between Pakistan’s military commanders and Al-Qaeda operatives in Iraq, Yemen, and other countries located to its west—have interrupted the planning of large-scale operations. Woo added that the Arab Spring has also temporarily affected al Qaeda’s ideological pull.

These factors have reduced the likelihood of the U.S. suffering a “macro attack,” defined by RMS as premeditated events that cause losses in excess of $1 billion, more than 50 casualties, 250 injuries, and/or massive symbolic damage, said Woo.

As a result of the lower risk for a macro attack, RMS’ 11th annual U.S. Probabilistic Terrorism Model (PTM) indicates that the predictedU.S. annual insured loss from terrorism is about 20 percent lower for 2013 than for 2012.

Woo says, “Within the standard risk outlook for 2013, there is a reduction of 19 percent in both property and workers comp  AAL [annual aggregate limit].  For the reduced risk outlook, the property AAL falls from $2.21 billion in 2012 to $1.64 billion in 2013.”

There have been a total of approximately 30 attempted macro-terror plots that led to a conviction for terrorist offenses in the past decade, including a recent plot in which five men linked to an anarchist group were charged on May 5 with plotting to bomb a bridge in Ohio.

As for the future risk of macro attacks, Woo said forces may be waiting for the opportunity to gain access to a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) arsenal; for a pass at a significant geographical region; or to attack on a culturally significant date.

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