Edited by Harry W Richardson, Peter Gordon and James E. Moore II
Chapter 10: Analyzing Catastrophic Terrorist Events with Applications to the Food Industry
10. Analyzing catastrophic terrorist events with applications to the food industry* Hamid Mohtadi and Antu Panini Murshid ‘Forget the past: it’s a war unlike any other’, read one headline in the days immediately following the worst terrorist event in recent history.1 The subject of John Kifner’s column in the New York Times was Afghanistan; however, it could just as well have referred to the wider war on terror for it is an apt description of how 9/11 marks a watershed in the way many of us view the terrorist threat. It is rarely a good idea to ignore lessons from past experience, though in the aftermath of great tragedy rationality recedes and emotion-laden themes pervade much of our thinking. But was it all emotion? The attack on the World Trade Center was unique in its ferocity. In isolation this event redeﬁned the boundaries separating the realm of the ‘possible’ from the ‘unthinkable’. To many, 9/11 broke from earlier forms of terrorism. It challenged old ways of thinking and called for fresher perspectives with new assumptions. Much of the discussion on the terrorist threat has embraced this approach. Thus attention has centered on what terrorists could do, rather than what they have done in the past, as a model for what they are likely to do in the future.2 Risk is therefore assessed on the basis of vulnerability. Accordingly the food sector has received considerable attention, since many concede that it is not only vulnerable to a chemical or biological...
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