In February 1998, Osama Bin Laden published a signed statement calling for a fatwa against the United States for its having 'declared war against God'. As we now know, the fatwa resulted in the unprecedented attack of 9/11. The issue of whether or not 9/11 was in any way predictable culminated in the public debate between Richard Clarke, former CIA Director George Tenet and the White House. This paper examines whether there was any evidence of a structural change in the terrorism data at or after February 1998 but prior to June 2001, controlling for the possibility of other breaks in earlier periods. In doing so, we use the standard Bai-Perron procedure and our sequential importance sampling (SIS) Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) method for identifying an unknown number of breaks at unknown dates. We conclude that sophisticated statistical time-series analysis would not have predicted 9/11.
Terrorism, Structural breaks, Markov Chain Monte Carlo, 9/11, Osama Bin Laden,
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