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|How do terrorist groups actually innovate? The meager literature on the subject suggests that innovation in terrorist groups is exclusively a top-down phenomenon: a process driven by the senior leadership of the organization. Scholars cite the key role played by Shoko Asahara in pushing Aum Shinrikyo's development of nerve gas and point to Brazilian revolutionary Carlos Marighela's central role in devising the strategy of diplomatic kidnapping. Wadie Haddad's influence on the adoption of airline hijacking by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) is considered critical, as is Ahmed Jibril's role in pushing development of a number of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command's innovative tactics, including the adoption of barometric pressure devices used to detonate aircraft and using motorized hang-gliders to penetrate enemy territory.
The author did a study and found :
Al Qaeda's philosophy of managing terrorist activity was a doctrine imposed from the top down. Its successful execution, however, depended on the ability of highly skilled terrorist operatives who were capable of improvising and, if necessary, innovating from the bottom up. It was an integrative driver of innovation, i.e., a mechanism designed to spur innovation that is dependent on both top-down and bottom-up processes in order to generate innovation. Top-down and bottom-up drivers were necessary, but not independently sufficient, in producing innovation.