STRATFOR discusses the suicide bomb attack at Domodedovo Airport, Moscow, and in so doing raises a point that many of us have made and predicted many times: Terrorists attack soft targets, and if you put sufficient security screening in place to make airliners a hard target, they'll simply switch to a softer target — like the lines at the security check stations.
That's exactly what happened at Domodedovo.
The Jan. 24 Domodedovo attack seems to have confirmed the effectiveness of these security improvements — the militants apparently believed they could no longer smuggle their suicide device aboard an aircraft. However, they adjusted their targeting and decided to conduct an attack against a vulnerable soft spot — the arrivals hall — located in the midst of the hardened airport target.
Bruce Schneier and others, myself included, have been predicting for a long time that sooner or later, this would happen. "Sooner or later" has come. The aircraft themselves and the departure lounges have become hard targets; the security check lines, the arrivals halls, the ticket counters, the baggage carousels — all of these are still soft targets. Push the security check perimeter outward to encompass the arrival halls, the baggage carousels, the ticket counters, and all you do is create bigger and more attractive soft targets at your bigger, more crowded security check stations that take more people to staff and more money to operate.
This is the very soul of asymmetric warfare: Inducing your enemy into expending more and more resources protecting more and more targets that you aren't attacking any more, and always attacking the targets that he isn't protecting yet.