Yes, terrorists have used cameras/videos to survey potential targets, including militants in Singapore and Jakarta. Before 2001, suspected Al Qaida militants reportedly took numerous photos of the Prudential building in New Jersey, and in Pakistan, officials raiding a suspected senior Al Qaida member's home reportedly discovered laptops containing hundreds of photos of potential targets in the United States. Criminals case joints, so do terrorists.
A terrorist attack occurs at least daily somewhere in the world, and you can bet photography is involved in some of these attacks, even if just a small minority of them. Why this should be surprising is actually what is surprising…plotting an attack can be a very complex process, and visual aids help.
Moreover, if it is illegal to use a camera somewhere, it is not the authorities' obligation to assume what type of camera a potential terrorist might use, especially since DSLRs now have video capabilities. If cameras are off limits, they are off limits.
As for second-guessing the mindset of what a terrorist might do or not, I'm wondering how any of you are qualified to make such sweeping assertions. This might come as a shock, but the type of folk who would blow themselves up are not always the brightest on the block, and how they go about surveying a potential target varies.
I know this, because it was my job for more than a decade to research, analyze, and write about militant/terrorist activity.
THIS SAID!!! I shoot street, or what I like to call, outdoors; meaning my stage is the public setting. Clamping down on my right to photograph in public would kill photography for me…I don't want to do macro shots in my backyard or portraits indoors.
And I emphatically agree, paranoia, increased restrictions, and authoritative abuse play right into the hands of the terrorists. I'm not defending any draconian response by any means, and I'm personally disgusted at the bigoted anti-Islamic sentiment coursing through much of the West.
Still, whenever this discussion comes up, there's always the, "Yeah, you think a terrorist would be stupid enough to use a big, conspicuous, white lens, of course they wouldn't" as though deliberately blowing up women and children is rational. And no, Google maps doesn't reveal info on security detail and other considerations.
Again, if photography is banned (whether reasonably so or not!), it is not for authorities to decide which cameras are OK under assumptions that a terrorist would never use a large camera. Hell, after reading this site, that's exactly what I would use, because no one would expect me to do such a thing.
Said my piece, I'm out, but PM's always welcome...
In regards to the point highlighted above, often, fanatics can be and have been educated, bright and highly motivated. There have been medical students, military officers, lawyers and other "intelligent" individuals who have strapped on vests packed with explosives.
In fact, as the west finds more ways to combat such attacks, you'll probably find more and more willing attackers being recruited from the ranks of the wealthy and educated. To think that such people don't exist is to leave yourself open to attack.