Trends in Modern International Terrorism
Trends in Modern International Terrorism Boaz Ganor Abstract This chapter examines some of the most widely researched trends and developments within the phenomenon of modern international terrorism, providing policy recommendations on how to counter its emerging threats – particularly that of the Global Jihad movement and “homegrown” terrorism. The magnitude of the modern terrorist threat was demonstrated by the attacks of September 11, and ever since, the field has experienced a renewal of sorts, attracting unprecedented attention by both scholars and the mainstream public.
This chapter will introduce readers to the main schools of thoughts within the academic field that explain terrorism.
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It will also present the many disciplines applicable to the study of terrorism, demonstrating that the phenomenon is multifaceted in nature, requiring a cohesive international and broad-based response. In covering a number of dilemmas facing terrorism experts, the chapter explores the debate over a definition of terrorism, providing a proposed definition that distinguishes acts of terrorism from criminal acts.
The chapter continues on to explore the phenomenon of modern terrorism, the role of traditional crime within the terror sphere, and the growing threat of Global Jihadi terrorism – including terror networks and homegrown cells and activists who have emerged as a result of the spread of radical Islamic ideology. The role of terrorism in democratic states and the economic ramifications of terrorism are also explored. Finally, the chapter ends with recommendations on how governments should effectively respond to terrorism and discuses room for further research.
Trends in Modern International Terrorism In recent years, the academic world has witnessed a surge of research and academic programs in the field of homeland security and counterterrorism. After the attacks of 9/11, the threat of global terrorism immediately topped the international agenda. B. Ganor Lauder School of Government, International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT), Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya, Israel e-mail: [email protected] ac. il D. Weisburd et al. (eds. ), To Protect and To Serve: Policing in an Age of Terrorism, DOI 10. 007/978-0-387-73685-3_2, © Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009 11 12 B. Ganor Growing recognition of the threat, combined with an increase in government spending, spurred the development of academic research institutions, think tanks, and new higher education programs in the study of homeland security and counterterrorism. The trend was particularly prominent in the United States, as researchers sought a basic understanding of the characteristics of terrorism and agencies sought ways to effectively cope with the phenomenon.
This trend was accompanied by a significant increase in the number of researchers focusing on the phenomenon of terrorism. These researchers came from a wide array of academic disciplines, applying varied quantitative and qualitative research tools and methods in their analysis of the threat. In understanding the phenomenon and preventing future terrorist attacks, researchers have focused primarily on understanding the rationale of terrorist organizations in general and Global Jihad organizations in particular – their cost-benefit calculations and their decision-making processes. Trends” in terrorism have also been explored – often focusing on the introduction, transition, or prominence of a specific modus operandi or a method, such as suicide bombings, the Global Jihad movement, or the use of unconventional weapons. Reviewing these trends and themes in terrorism – and the academic research that has accompanied them – is crucial in determining how far we have come and how far we have to go, both in terms of the governments designing and deciding on counterterrorism policy and the academics informing such decisions.
In exploring the phenomenon of modern international terrorism, this chapter will first introduce readers to the various schools of thought and academic approaches used in explaining terrorism – drawing on a wide range of disciplines and theories. Discussion will then move to one of the most basic components of the terrorism dilemma, with implications on how the term – and thus phenomenon of terrorism itself – is treated, applied, and understood by the international community – the debate over defining terrorism.
As will be demonstrated, definitions of terrorism vary widely – with equally as wide implications – yet there is still a general consensus among most leading scholars as to the essential nature of the threat. “Modern terrorism,” the next theme that will be explored in this chapter, is regarded as a form of psychological warfare intended to spread fear and anxiety among the target population. This fear is translated into political pressure on decision makers to change policies in such a manner that will serve the terrorist’s interests.
As such, modern terrorists attempt to exploit the liberal values of democratic states, forcing governments to adhere to their demands as a result of the physical, psychological, and economic ramifications of terrorist attacks. The nature of terrorism in relation to the democratic state will be explored in a later section of this chapter as well. As terrorist groups are usually engaged in a long war of attrition, terrorist organizations need ongoing support and funds to ensure they can maintain their activities.
In fact, one of the main sources of funding for many terrorist organizations is criminal activity: smuggling, counterfeiting, extortion, and narcotics. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the threat of international terrorism grew with the spread of Global Jihad terrorism. Made up of complex networks of hierarchal terrorist organizations, proxy and affiliate organizations, local and international terror 2 Trends in Modern International Terrorism 13 etworks, sleeper cells, and indoctrinated radical activists, all these actors share a common extreme ideology and the readiness to use violence in general – and terrorism in particular – in order to achieve their goals. The economic ramifications of these activities only further exacerbate the damage posed by terrorist attacks, another focus of terrorism research. This dynamic terrorist phenomenon has threatened an increasing number of states while involving more terror organizations, networks, activists, and supporters worldwide.
The growing level of the threat, its international scope, its lethality,1 and the possible use of nonconventional terrorism (CBRN – chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons) necessitate future multidisciplinary research in the field and a more cohesive, international response. Explaining Terrorism In general, two schools of thought explaining the phenomenon of modern terrorism have emerged out of the collection of academic work within the discipline – the “psychological-sociological” school of thought and the “political-rational” school of thought.
Both schools maintain that terrorism seeks to achieve political goals by instilling fear and anxiety among the target population, but each stresses a different aspect of the explanation. The psychological-sociological school, represented most recently by scholars such as Dr. Jerrold Post (1998) and John Horgan (2005), stresses the phenomenon’s psychological component, maintaining that the immediate and central goal of terrorism is to instill fear and anxiety, while its political goals are long term. Terror as a clinical term refers to a psychological state of constant dread or fearfulness, associated with an abnormally high level of psych-physiological arousal. This is central to what terrorists aim to achieve, since after all, while they have some ultimate set of political objectives, it is an immediate goal of most terrorist groups to cause terror” (Horgan, 2005:14). The psychological-sociological school addresses both the desired effect of terrorism and its root causes, relying primarily on social group dynamics and the psychological profile of an individual terrorist actor.
Some early psychological explanations of terrorism have focused on the disruptive or psychopathological personalities of terrorist operatives, analyzing terrorists based on characteristics or disorders associated with violent or aggressive behaviors (De la Corte et al. , 2007). Some of the common psychological characteristics that have been attributed to alleged terrorists Analysis of terrorist incidents over the last 35 years confirms that terrorist attacks, while arguably decreasing in quantity, are growing more deadly over time, as the number of fatalities per attack has increased (LaFree and Dugan, in this volume).
Such data, however, rely on a definition of terrorism that LaFree and Dugan themselves note is relatively “inclusive. ” The Global Terrorism Database (GTD), on which their analysis is based, excludes “attacks on the military by guerilla organizations,” but includes military targets attacked by substate actors motivated by political, economic, or social motives (See LaFree and Dugan; in this volume). 1 14 B. Ganor re paranoia, antisocial and narcissistic personalities (Millon, 1981; Post, 1987), lack of empathy with victims, hostility toward parents, dogmatic or ideological mentality, or a simplistic or utopian worldview (Victoroff, 2005). At one end of the spectrum within such literature is the assertion – and at times assumption – that terrorists are to some degree psychologically “abnormal,” possessing personality disorders that qualify them as insane or psychopathic (as discussed by Cooper, 1978; Hacker, 1976; Lasch, 1979; Pearce, 1977; Taylor, 1988).
Despite early research providing psychological profiles of terrorists, other terrorism researchers have come to the general conclusion that there is no universal terrorist personality pattern; most terrorist operatives are not necessarily “psychopaths” (Silke, 1998), nor do they show traces of being clearly or consistently mentally ill (Crenshaw, 2000; Post, 1998; Stahelski, 2004). Early studies on the topic have been largely disproved or debunked, in fact, even within the psychological-social school of thought.
Further research has shown that terrorists rarely meet the criteria for insanity,2 but rather may possess some “particular personality dispositions” related to psychological conditions or disorders (Post, 1987). Dr. Jerrold Post, an expert in political psychology, maintains that even though terrorists fit within the spectrum of “normality,” a large number have demonstrated specific personality characteristics that indicate a minor psychopathology, such as aggression, activism, thrill seeking, an externalist psychological mechanism and factionalism.
These are characteristics of narcissistic disorders and borderline personalities (Post, 1998:25–27). While Post stops short of actually diagnosing terrorists with such disorders or characteristics, he does claim they tend to have high frequency among terrorists, contributing to a uniform rhetorical style and logic (Silke, 1998:65). According to Post, there is a unique logic that characterizes a terrorist’s thought process – a “terrorist psycho-logic. Post claims that terrorists are motivated by psychological influences when they choose to conduct violent acts, as expressed in rhetoric that relies on “us versus them” and “good versus evil” dichotomies. He further claims that lodged in a terrorist’s permanent logic is the notion that the regime must be toppled, which is a result of the terrorist’s search for identity. In an attack against the regime, a terrorist is actually trying to destroy the inner enemy within him.
However, even as some researchers cite it as the primary cause, a terrorist’s individual psychological profile is not the only significant explanation for the phenomenon of terrorism. Rather, group psychology and sociology may be significant explanatory factors behind terrorist attacks. Various researchers have cited group pressure as a variable to explain recruitment, methods of operation and involvement in terrorism (Merari, 2004). Others have applied the cult model to terrorist organizations (Morgan, 2001). Studies by Heskin (1984), Rasch (1979), and Taylor (1988) have all cited evidence discrediting the assumption that terrorists are psychologically “abnormal. ” 2 Trends in Modern International Terrorism 15 It is in this context that Post emphasizes the group as a framework in which a sense of belonging and importance for its members is created. He claims that ideology plays an important role in supporting a unifying environment for the group.
Shared ideology justifies the group’s activity and quickly transforms into the group’s moral guide. The psychological-sociological school relies, therefore, on psychological and sociological characteristics, motives, and grievances in explaining the phenomenon of terrorism. In contrast, the “political-rational” school of thought views terrorism as a rational method of operation intended to promote various interests and attain concrete political goals (Crenshaw, 2000; Hoffman, 1998; Shprinzak, 1998).
Rational choice theory has been adopted by a number of terrorism researchers within this school, and maintains that terrorist action derives from a conscious, rational, calculated decision to choose one route of action over another (Crenshaw, 1992; Sandler et al. , 1983; Sandler and Lapan, 1988; Wilson, 2000). 3 Leading researcher Martha Crenshaw explains that an organization chooses terrorism among several operational alternatives in order to promote their mutual values and preferences.
In making a rational calculation of the costs and benefits, terrorism is deliberately chosen as the preferred method of political activity because it is perceived to be the most effective of the operating alternatives – the benefits exceed the costs. In this context, Ehud Shprinzak similarly stressed that the phenomenon of terrorism is not the result of disturbed human activity or a random thoughtless attack. This is a process that almost always begins without violence or terrorist activity (Shprinzak, 1998:78).
Rand terrorism expert Bruce Hoffman further clarified the “rationalist” approach: “I have been studying terrorists and terrorism for more than twenty years. Yet I am still always struck by how disturbingly ‘normal’ most terrorists seem when one actually sits down and talks to them… Many are in fact highly articulate and extremely thoughtful individuals for whom terrorism is (or was) an entirely rational choice…” (Hoffman, 1998:7)
The dispute between the rationalist and psychological approach is important in understanding the root causes of terrorism, allowing experts and security professionals to identify characteristics of the threat and formulate effective counterstrategies. While the two schools may seem to fundamentally clash, an interdisciplinary explanation of terrorism may actually be the most effective way to approach the phenomenon. In a sense, these two schools can complement and complete each other.
In the Israeli setting, for example, the case of a suicide bombing is likely motivated by a combination of the rational calculations of the organization, a cost-benefit analysis made by the attackers themselves, social pressure from the attackers’ peer group, and personal psychological, social, cultural, and religious motivations. The decisionmaking process functions on a number of levels, in which both political-rational 3 For an overview of psychological, social, and rational choice theories, see Victoroff, 2005. 16 B. Ganor Psychology H ci ol og ist or y So Law Why Terrorism ? Economics Media & Communication Political Science Fig. 2. 1 Explanatory disciplines to terrorism and the psychological-sociological explanations have their place, demonstrating the multidisciplinary nature of terrorism. As Crenshaw noted, even though an act of terrorism may not be wholly the result of a psychological disorder, that is not to say “the political decision to join a terrorist organization is not influenced or, in some cases, even determined by subconscious or latent psychological motives” (Crenshaw, 1998:386).
It seems that only multivariable explanations based on methodologies and theories from different disciplines can adequately address the complex phenomenon of terrorism, provide explanations for the growth, development and characteristics of the phenomenon, and suggest methods for effectively dealing with terrorism (Fig. 2. 1). Explanatory Disciplines to Terrorism Different research disciplines may be able to provide answers to fundamental questions at the core of terrorism research, such as:
Psychology The field of psychology can provide answers to such questions as: Do terrorists have common psychological characteristics? Do terrorists have a psychological profile? Why do people become terrorists? Which people might become terrorists and which will not? Why do people join a terrorist organization and why do they leave it? When, why, and how does the personal radicalization process take place? (See Post, 1998; Raine, 1993; Hubbard, 1971). 2 Trends in Modern International Terrorism 17 Economics How important are economic variables in explaining the development and motivation of terrorism?
To what degree can terrorists’ financial situation explain the motives for their behavior? How much does the economic factor determine the scope and characteristics of terrorism activity? 4 (See Abadie, 2004; Kahn and Weiner, 2002; Krueger and Laitin, 2008; Krueger and Maleckova, 2002; Piazza, 2006). Sociology How much influence does one’s peer group have on the decision to join a terrorist group or the motivation to conduct acts of terrorism? How much can processes of socialization and delegitimization by society – ostracizing, discrimination, alienation, etc. serve as variables explaining the motives of terrorism? Why does a certain population at a specific time tend to carry out terrorist attacks while another population with similar characteristics does not choose this course of action? What is the extent of the connection between terrorism and different cultures? 5 (See Bandura, 1973, 1998; Gibbs, 1989; Merari, 2004; Morgan, 2001; Webb, 2002). Criminology To what extent should terrorism be treated as a phenomenon in the criminal sphere? What are the differences between the characteristics of criminal and terrorist activity?
What are the similarities and the differences in the organizational characteristics between terrorist and criminal organizations? 6 (See Klein et al. , 2006; Klein and Maxson, 2006; Lafree, 2007). 4 Several studies have focused on refuting the widely claimed link between poverty and terrorism (Harmon, 2000; Hasisi and Pedahzur, 2000; Schmid, 1983). In fact, a 2003 study by Krueger and Maleckova showed that higher-earning Palestinians were more likely to justify the use of terrorism to achieve political goals; and a 2002 study (Krueger and Maleckova, 2002) did not find a link between Hezbollah fighters and impoverished conditions – ather, they were richer and more educated than their counterparts. Another study looked at the biographies of 285 suicide bombers and found them to be richer and more educated than members of the general population (Victoroff, 2005:21). 5 Until September 11, there were few academic studies of terrorism from a strictly sociological viewpoint. However, Bandura (1973, 1998) used social learning theory to suggest that violence follows observation and imitation of an aggressive model. Friedland (1992) cited the “frustrationaggression hypothesis” in understanding why terrorists turn to violence (as cited in Victoroff, 2005).
Morgan (2001) applied the cult model to understand individual actors and group dynamics within terrorist groups. 6 For the role of policing in counter-terrorism strategies, see Chaps. 3–5 of this volume. LaFree and Dugan (Chap. 2) also briefly discuss the comparison between rates of terrorist attacks and other types of criminal violence. The interplay and linkages between organized crime and terrorism are explored in several anthology volumes, such as Holmes (2007), among many others. 18 B. Ganor
Political Science and International Relations To what extent should terrorism be understood in rational terms (cost-benefit calculation) as an effective method intended to achieve political goals? To what extent can political terms such as sovereignty, power, authority, and social justice serve as variables to explain the phenomenon of terrorism? To what degree is the phenomenon of terrorism connected to certain ideologies or a certain form of government? To what degree does modern terrorism aim to take advantage of the liberal democratic form of government’s values and traits?
To what extent is the media component essential in order to explain the strategy of modern terrorism? How are the decision-making processes different in terrorist organizations than other organizations? Can terrorism be understood as a means for states to achieve their interests in the international arena? To what extent can terrorism be dealt with by using deterrent measures in general and deterring state-sponsors of terrorism in particular? (See Crenshaw, 2000; Ganor, 2005; Hoffman, 1998; Nacos, 1994). Theology To what extent is modern terrorism a result of religious extremism?
How is incitement to terrorism carried out with the use of religious rationalizations and how can this incitement be dealt with? (See Atran, 2006; Hoffman, 1995; Juergensmeyer, 2003; Ranstorp, 1996; Rapoport, 1984). Hence, nearly every academic research discipline has been, and will continue to be, critical in providing answers to some of the central issues that lie behind understanding the phenomenon of terrorism and the methods for dealing with it. Only this multidisciplinary approach can provide a profound understanding of the phenomenon. The Definition of Terrorism
Growing interest in the field of terrorism and increased funding allotted to academic research and teaching budgets post-9/11 has spurred and supported the publication of hundreds of books and articles in the past few years, many professional and academic conferences, and a general flourishing of the field. Yet, six years after the world recognized the magnitude of the terrorist threat on 9/11, researchers, security professionals, politicians, jurists, and others have still not been able to agree upon its most fundamental component – what is terrorism?
Moreover, and somewhat surprisingly, the only consensus these individuals have reached is that it might be impossible, or even unnecessary, to reach an internationally 2 Trends in Modern International Terrorism 19 accepted definition of terrorism. 7 Those who hold this opinion – in fact the majority in the field – usually cite the cliche “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter,” in order to imply that, in their opinion, the issue of definition is subjective. As such, even partial agreement regarding its content cannot be reached. Louis Henkin (1989) captured this entiment in 1990 when he said that: “Terrorism… is not a useful legal concept. ” Those who do not regard a definition as critical believe that the international system – and the security establishment in particular – can manage without consensus on the issue. They claim that terrorists, in a sense, commit regular crimes – extortion, murder, arson, and other felonies already covered by conventional criminal law. Therefore, they can be tried for committing these felonies without the need for a special criminal classification, and thus definition, for terrorism.
Needless to say, there is no shortage of proposed definitions for terrorism. Every researcher, expert, security professional, NGO, country, and politician espouses their own definition, one that likely represents a distinct world view and political stance. By the early 1980s, Schmid and Jongman had already listed 109 definitions of terrorism proposed by researchers in the field (Schmid and Jongman, 1998:5). In their chapter in this volume, LaFree and Dugan touch upon the difficulty in reaching a consensus on a definition of terrorism given its controversial and highly politicized nature.
It is within this context that they note the U. S. was reluctant to define the attacks by Contra rebels in Nicaragua as terrorism, while regarding practically all violence in Iraq and Afghanistan as such. They further note that more inclusive definitions of terrorism are often preferred by businesses or private think tanks that are collecting data for the purpose of risk assessment, as such an approach ultimately benefits their clients (LaFree and Dugan, in this volume). Among the hundreds of definitions of terrorism that have been accepted throughout the years, some contain conceptual and phrasing problems (Hoffman, 2004:3).
Many researchers note that the only certainty regarding terrorism is the pejorative manner in which the word is generally used and associated (Hoffman, 2006:23; Horgan, 2005:1). As such, when scholars, politicians, or activists describe and analyze the activities of alleged terrorist organizations, they very often use alternative terms that bear more positive connotations, such as guerilla or underground movements, revolutionaries, militias, militants, commando groups, national liberation movements, etc. (Hoffman, 2006:28).
Many in the Western world have accepted the premise that terrorism and national liberation are located on two opposite ends of a spectrum legitimizing the use of violence. The struggle for “national liberation” is, allegedly, located on the positive 7 In a presentation on the definition of terrorism to the UK Parliament in March 2007, Lord Carlile quoted David Tucker from Skirmishes at the Edge of the Empire, stating that: “Above the gates of hell is the warning that all that enter should abandon hope. Less dire but to the same effect is the warning given to those who try to define terrorism” (See http://www. amilnation. org/terrorism/ uk/070317carlile. htm); for a reporter’s perspective see Kinsley, 2001; see also Levitt (1986), in which he claims a definition for terrorism is no easier to find than the Holy Grail. 20 B. Ganor and justified end of the violence spectrum, while terrorism is its unjust and negative polar opposite. Within this framework, it would be impossible for a specific organization to be considered both a terrorist group and a national liberation movement, as Senator Henry Jackson claims: “The thought that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter is unacceptable.
Freedom fighters or revolutionaries do not blow up buses with noncombatants; terrorists and murderers do. Freedom fighters do not kidnap and slaughter students, terrorists and murders do…” (As cited in Netanyahu, 1987:18) There is little basis for the claim that “freedom fighters” cannot carry out acts of terrorism and murder. This approach unintentionally plays into the hands of terrorists, who claim that since they are acting to expel who they consider to be a foreign occupier, they cannot also be considered terrorists.
However, many freedom fighters in modern history committed crimes and purposely targeted innocent civilians. The difference between “terrorism” and “freedom fighting” is not a subjective distinction based on the observer’s point of view. Rather, it derives from identifying the perpetrator’s goals and methods of operation. Terrorism is a means – a tool – for achieving an end, and that “end” can very well be liberating the homeland from the yoke of a foreign occupier. An organization can be, at the same time, both a national liberation movement and a terrorist group.
It is not the specific goal – whether “freedom fighting” or another legitimate political objective – that distinguishes a group as a terrorist organization or justifies its activities. Many groups, however, such as the Muslim World League, do not clearly make this distinction. In a special publication from 2001, the Muslim World League states that: “Terrorism is an outrageous attack carried out either by individuals, groups or states against the human being (his religion, life, intellect, property and honor).
It includes all forms of intimidation, harm, threatening, killing without a just cause… so as to terrify and horrify people by hurting them or by exposing their lives, liberty, security or conditions to danger… or exposing a national or natural resource to danger” (Al-Mukarramah, 2001). In presenting the activities that constitute terrorism as being committed “without a just cause,” the Muslim World League’s definition infers that such acts committed with a just cause are not considered terrorism.
Such definitions are typical of attempts to create confusion between the means and the end, ultimately foiling any possibility of reaching a consensus on a definition. Since September 11, international terrorism has emerged on the top of national and international security agendas, widely perceived as a severe and very real threat to world peace. It is a threat that necessitates international alignment and cooperation on an unprecedented level. Such a high degree of cooperation cannot be established or sustained however without agreement over the most basic common denominator – the definition of terrorism.
Outside intelligence and military circles, the effectiveness of other apparatuses essential in countering the terrorist threat is dependent upon a clear, broad, and objective definition of terrorism that can be accepted internationally. Such a definition is essential in order to: disrupt the financing of terrorism, respond to states and 2 Trends in Modern International Terrorism 21 communities that support terrorism, prevent recruitment and incitement of terrorist operatives, and establish legal measures and guidelines to both outlawed terrorist organizations and activities, and arrest and extradite alleged terrorists.
Above all else, the international community must establish a binding normative system to determine what is allowed and not allowed – what is legitimate and not legitimate – when violence is used for political objectives. A definition that would address all these requirements is: Terrorism is the deliberate use of violence aimed against civilians in order to achieve political goals (nationalistic, socioeconomic, ideological, religious, etc. ) In defining terrorism within the above framework, it is important to note that a terrorist act would not be classified as a “regular” criminal activity warranting the application of criminal legal norms.
Rather, terrorism would be viewed as an act of war, and the countermeasures mounted against it would too be conducted in accordance to the norms and laws of war. The Israeli High Court of Justice has itself struggled with the distinction between criminal acts and acts of war, reflecting the tension facing those studying and responding to terrorism today. According to Justice Cheshin, “a judge’s job is difficult. It is sevenfold as difficult when he comes to deal with a hideously murderous attack such as we have in front of us.
The murderer’s action is inherently – though not within the framework of or as part of the formal definition – an act of war, and an act that is inherently an act of war is answered with an act of war, in the ways of war” (Abd Al-Rahim Hassan Nazzal and others vs. the Commander of the IDF forces in Judea and Samaria, 1994). In a different verdict, the judge ruled that a “criminal code created for daily life in human society does not have an answer for the question” (Federman and others vs. the Attorney General, 1993).
The debate over whether terrorism should be considered a criminal act or an act of war remains strong among academics, NGOs, and counter terrorism professionals. Without consensus on the issue, states have applied their own policies in trying and convicting alleged terrorist suspects – whether as criminals or combatants. Despite the fact that criminal acts can consist of the same actions as terrorism – murder, arson, and extortion – terrorism, unlike an average criminal act, threatens the internal social order, personal and national security, world peace, and the economy. As previously noted, acts of terrorism are intended to achieve various political goals and could thus be considered arguably more severe than criminal violations. In addition, as international law expert and terrorism prosecutor Ruth Wedgwood has argued, criminal law may be “too weak a weapon” to counter terrorism, as destroying terrorist infrastructure and networks requires diplomacy, use of force, and criminal 8 Resolution 1566 (2004) adopted by the Security Council in its 5053rd meeting, on Oct. 8 2004: “…Reaffirming that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to peace and security.
Considering that acts of terrorism seriously impair the enjoyment of human rights and threaten the social and economic development of all states, they undermine global stability and prosperity. ” (See: http://daccessdds. un. org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N04/542/82/ PDF/N0454282. pdf? OpenElement. ) 22 B. Ganor law combined. She adds that the restrictions embedded in a criminal justice system make sense in civil society where deterrence is a factor, but this may not apply in a fight against a highly networked terrorist organization (Wedgwood and Roth, 2004). Bruce Hoffman points to a fundamental difference between a criminal and a terrorist when he asserts that while a criminal seeks personal material goals, a terrorist usually sees himself as an altruist acting for and in the name of many others (Hoffman, 2006:37). Therefore, a terrorist may be perceived as posing greater danger through his actions, since he is significantly more willing than a criminal to sacrifice in order to achieve his goals – even to the point of self-sacrifice in certain situations. The criminal code in itself does not serve as an adequate platform to define terrorism.
The laws of war are better suited as a framework for defining and dealing with terrorism, since the phenomenon is a violent action intended to achieve political goals, often involving the use of pseudo-military methods of operation. By basing the definition of terrorism on an established system of norms and laws, already included in international conventions and accepted by most of the countries in the world, the international community is more likely to reach a broad international agreement on the definition of terrorism – a basic tool in the joint international struggle against terrorism.
At the core of the Geneva and The Hague conventions are rules differentiating between two types of personnel involved in military activity: “combatants,” military personnel who deliberately target enemy military personnel; and “war criminals,” military personnel who, among other actions forbidden by the laws of war, deliberately target civilians. Currently, the moral differentiation between a legitimate combatant and a war criminal is based on the attacked target (military or civilian), and, at least in principle, only applies to state entities and their armies and not to substate entities.
In the Israeli setting for example, a Palestinian, considered part of a subnational group, who is involved in a deliberate attack against an Israeli military target, will receive the same treatment and punishment as a Palestinian who deliberately attacks a civilian target. Since there is no distinction made between the two, despite the difference in their targets, the degree of international legitimacy or condemnation of both cases will likely continue to be dependant on the supporter or condemner’s political stance and not necessarily on the character or target of the deliberate operation – its legality under applicable rules and norms.
The American government, for example, classifies attacks against its troops in Iraq as terrorist attacks, as it does the October 2000 attack against the USS Cole or the attack against the American military barracks in Dhahran (June 1996). In fact, in an attempt to expand the definition of terrorism to include attacks against soldiers, the U. S. State Department’s definition states that terrorism is the Ruth Wedgewood and Human Rights Watch Director Kenneth Roth debate the US’s treatment of terrorist suspects – as combatants versus criminals – in a series of articles in Foreign Affairs (See Roth, 2004; Wedgwood and Roth, 2004). 2 Trends in Modern International Terrorism 23 deliberate use of violence against “non-combatant targets,” which includes both civilians and military personnel not on the battle field. 10 While it is natural for victims of terrorism to adopt this broad-based definition, terrorist organizations and their supporters can legitimately argue that in seeking to achieve their political goals, they cannot reasonably be required to either not confront military personnel entirely, or do so only when they are fully armed and prepared for war.
They claim that they must be given the right to attack and surprise soldiers whatever the circumstances. In applying these considerations, the U. S. State Department’s definition of terrorism could not successfully serve as a common denominator leading to international agreement. It is only in reducing the scope of the definition to the deliberate targeting of civilians – as opposed to “non-combatants” – that may solve this problem, enabling the establishment of a clear moral boundary that should not be crossed. A terrorist act would be considered, in a sense, the equivalent for a substate entity to a war crime committed by a state. 1 During a state of war, normative principles and the laws of war forbid the deliberate targeting of civilians but allow deliberate attacks on an enemy’s military personnel (in accordance with other applicable regulations). Similarly, in modern asymmetric warfare, a normative rule must be set to address limitations on substate actors, differentiating between guerilla warfare (violence against military personnel) and terrorism (violence against civilians) – just as the rules of war differentiate between legitimate combatants and war criminals.
For the purpose of defining terrorism, it is not significant what goal the organization aspires to achieve (as long as it is political); both the terrorist and the guerilla fighter may aspire to achieve the same goals. However, they each chose a different path – a different means – in order to realize these goals. Defining terrorism is critical in ensuring that the same normative standards currently enforced on states are applicable to nonstate actors, defining when their use of violence is permissible and when it is prohibited.
Paradoxically, what is currently prohibited for states is not yet prohibited for organizations. Defining terrorism does not raise or lower the obligation of states to behave normatively and certainly does not place additional legal burdens upon them. It simply makes organizations accountable for their actions under the same value system currently obligating states. Terrorism is defined by the U. S. State Department as: “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents. (from the 22 U. S. C. , 2656f(d)(2); See http://www. state. gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2005/65353. htm. ) 11 The UN short legal definition of terrorism, proposed by terrorism expert Alex P. Schmid, states that an act of terrorism is the “peacetime equivalent of a war crime. ” While such a definition does not consider terrorism an act of war, in drawing a parallel with a war crime it notes the importance of the target (civilian vs. military) in legitimizing acts of violence. (See: http://www. unodc. org/ unodc/terrorism_definitions. html. ) 10 24 B. Ganor
Reaching a broad international agreement regarding the definition of terrorism may require the international community to apply laws of war that forbid the deliberate targeting of civilians, but allow for the deliberate attack (in accordance with the other regulations) of an enemy’s military personnel. The definition proposed in this chapter may be capable of eliciting a broad base of support from many countries and organizations, both because it is based on already accepted international norms, and because it seemingly provides subnational organizations the possibility of legitimately using violence in order to achieve their goals.
Such a definition would not allow for the artificial distinction that is often made between “bad” terrorism and “good” or “tolerable” terrorism. It instead adheres to the principle that “terrorism is terrorism is terrorism,” no matter who carries it out – a Muslim, Christian, Jew, or member of any other religion. Terrorism would be considered an illegitimate and forbidden method of operation in all cases, under all circumstances. The ideological or cultural background of the perpetrators; and the religious, political, social or economic motives of the act; would all be irrelevant in classifying an act of terrorism.
Many view the effort to achieve a broad international agreement on terrorism as hopeless and naive. However, Security Council Resolution 1566, which was unanimously accepted by Council members in October 2004, may be a basis for hope that countries will overcome prior disputes, rise above their own interests, and reach an agreement in the near future regarding the international definition of terrorism. Resolution 1566, without serving as the definition itself, already establishes one basic principle on which an international definition can be built.
It stipulates that terrorism is a crime against civilians, which in no circumstance can be justified by political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious, or other considerations. 12 Modern Terrorism Descriptions of typical terrorist operations and their common characteristics are often included in proposed definitions of modern terrorism – particularly in those that address the fear and anxiety created by terrorist acts. In such definitions, terrorism is presented as a form of violent activity (or threat of violence) that 2 Resolution 1566 (2004): “Condemns in the strongest terms all acts of terrorism irrespective of their motivation, whenever and by whomsoever committed, as one of the most serious threats to peace and security…Recalls that criminal acts, including against civilians committed with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury or taking hostages with the purpose to provoke a state of terror in the general public or in a group of persons or particular persons intimidate a population or compel a government or an offences within the scope of and as defined in the international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism, are under no circumstances justifiable by considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic religious or other similar nature and calls upon all states to prevent such acts…”. (See: http://daccessdds. un. org/doc/UNDOC/ GEN/N04/542/82/PDF/N0454282. pdf? OpenElement) 2 Trends in Modern International Terrorism 25 intends to frighten a group of people beyond the actual victims (Horgan, 2005:1).
After reviewing the development of the definition of terrorism and examining a variety of definitions, Bruce Hoffman reaches the following conclusion in his important book, Inside Terrorism: “We may therefore now attempt to define terrorism as the deliberate creation and exploitation of fear through violence or the threat of violence in the pursuit of political change… terrorism is specifically designed to have far-reaching psychological effects beyond the immediate victim(s) or object of the terrorist attack…” (Hoffman, 2006:40). Definitions that refer to terrorism as an act intended to instill fear and anxiety in the public are generally based on the literal meaning and historical use of the term “terrorism,” its application dating back to the French civil war. 13 Such definitions also rely on what is perceived to be the primary operational tactic of modern terrorism – psychological warfare – which seeks to achieve political goals by instilling fear and anxiety among its target population.
While definitions vary widely, there is a general consensus among most leading scholars as to the essential nature of the terrorist threat; researchers will rarely dispute the importance fear and anxiety play in understanding the phenomenon of modern terrorism. However, it is important to note that resulting fear and anxiety may not be an essential variable in defining a terrorist attack. In order to ensure that acts are objectively classified as terrorist attacks, an accepted definition must, in application, serve as a checklist of components. Based on the definition proposed in the previous section, if an act is not violent, does not deliberately target civilians, or does not attempt to achieve a political goal, then it is not a terrorist attack.
Adding the element of fear and anxiety to the definition – essentially putting it on the checklist of required components – significantly changes the term’s application. If an attack, which would otherwise be considered an act of terrorism, does not aim to frighten, but rather only seeks to achieve concrete, tangible objectives – such as the release of prisoners or the assassination of a leading political figure – would the action not be considered terrorism? Similarly, a nuclear attack aimed at eradicating the majority of the population or contaminating an extensive area – which ultimately seeks to disable the state and prevent it from operating as an independent political entity – would be widely considered a terrorist attack, even though instilling fear and anxiety is not its primary purpose.
Since such circumstances and scenarios can reasonably exist, the “fear and anxiety element” may not be necessary in defining terrorism; rather, it is valuable in explaining the modus operandi of a significant portion of modern terrorist attacks. 13 The term “terrorism” comes from the Latin terrere, “to cause to tremble. ” The term became popularized during the “Reign of Terror” carried out by the revolutionary government in France from 1793 to 1794 (Juergensmeyer, 2003: 5). 26 B. Ganor Indeed, modern terrorism is not necessarily about the numbers. In fact, most modern terrorist attacks, while violent in nature, generally produce limited damage or casualties. 4 Instead, they rely on psychological warfare as a tool in achieving their goals, creating fear and anxiety among the general population. In many cases, a terrorist attack is random, aimed not at someone specific, but rather a group that shares a common trait and symbolizes the organization’s broader target (Americans, Israelis, “infidels,” Westerners, etc. ). By simultaneously transmitting several messages, these attacks intensify the sense of anxiety felt by the target group, which leads civilians to pressure decision makers and their government into changing policies and agreeing to terrorists’ demands. Some of the messages terrorist organizations aim to send through their attacks include: 1.
Uncertainty – The randomness of the attack is supposed to instill a sense of uncertainty in the public regarding “safe behavior,” prompting fear that anyone could be the next victim (Horgan, 2005:3). 2. Vulnerability – A terrorist attack can take place anywhere, anytime, making all citizens feel vulnerable. 3. Helplessness – The state’s security apparatus cannot foil or prevent attacks, or protect civilians. 4. Personalization – You or someone close to you may not have been hurt in a recent attack, but it could very well be you the next time, since the victims have the same pro? le as you (Ganor, 2005:256). 5. Disproportional price – The price the individual must pay due to his government’s policy is very high. For that reason he must act to change national/international priorities in a way that will serve the terrorist’s objectives. 6.
Vengeance – The citizen suffers due to the government’s actions against the terrorist organization and its supporters, and for this reason it is in his best interest to pressure the government to avoid this activity. Such attacks aim to create anxiety among the target group at a level disproportionate to the actual capabilities of the terrorist organization, forcing members of the target population to reprioritize and shift their concerns from that of national security to personal security. The target population perceives a growing threat from terrorism, which may be viewed by the public as largely fueled by the government’s supposedly dangerous policies.
As political tension and criticism against the government in the target country mount, according to the strategy of modern terrorism, the public will pressure decision makers to change their policies in a manner that will suit the interests and goals of the terrorist organizations, or call for a change in administration that will establish policies more favorable to terrorist groups. In order to create this effect of fear, terrorist organizations often choose to escalate their activity in such a manner as to shock the public. According to Crenshaw, a review LaFree and Dugan note that over 53% of terrorist organizations from the Global Terrorism Database included in their study (1974–2004) have never produced a single fatality (LaFree and Dugan, in this volume). 14 2
Trends in Modern International Terrorism 27 of the history of terrorism reveals that terrorists have purposely chosen targets considered taboo or unpredictable in order to attract international media coverage (Crenshaw, 1998:14–15). The media component is central to modern terrorism’s strategy. Without media coverage, a terrorist organization has little opportunity to convey its message, let alone shock or scare its target population. The success of a modern terrorist campaign is arguably dependent on the amount of publicity it receives; the “journalist and television camera are the terrorist’s best friends” (Laqueur, 1987). Terrorism and Traditional Crime
In seeking funding to support ongoing operations or infrastructure, terrorist organizations in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East have increasingly come to rely on “traditional” criminal activities, such as drug trafficking, counterfeiting, petty crime, human trafficking, and extortion (Vidino and Emerson, 2006; Mili, 2006). In fact, over the last three decades, law enforcement agencies have reported increased cooperation between terrorist organizations and criminal actors and activities – including attacks that have been financed through illegal crimes and suspects who have been prosecuted for crimes in which proceeds were directed to international terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda (Noble, 2003).
Growing expenses associated with terrorist activity, such as payments to organization personnel, transportation, accommodation, training, and procurement of weapons, have served as incentive for terrorist organizations to get involved in common crime. These activities only further exacerbate the danger posed by terrorist organizations to the global economy and to the safety and wellbeing of the world’s population. By counterfeiting currency, for example, a terrorist organization can damage a country’s economy while it raises funds. Similarly, by producing and smuggling drugs to certain countries, an organization can cause considerable harm to the local population and simultaneously finance its activities.
In the early 1970s, terrorist organizations, particularly those not supported financially by states, funded their activities through criminal activities such as bank robberies, kidnappings for ransom, and blackmail. Terrorist organizations, such as the Red Brigades in Italy, cooperated with criminal elements, enlisting them into the ranks of their organization. However, in the late 1970s and more so in the early 1980s, terrorist organizations realized that drug trafficking was far more lucrative than other routine criminal activities, leading to a phenomenon known as “narco-terrorism. ”15 Terrorist organizations have been involved in producing and selling narcotics throughout the world – in Latin America (Colombia, Peru, Cuba, Bolivia); in Asia and 5 To illustrate the amount of money involved, a survey conducted by the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention described the production, trafficking, and sales of illicit drugs to be an estimated $400-billion-a-year industry. A 2005 UN report estimated that global drug trade generated an estimated $322 billion in 2003, greater than the gross domestic product of 88% of the countries in the world (Pollard, 2005). 28 B. Ganor the Middle East (Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Afghanistan, India, the Philippines, Pakistan); and even in Western countries such as Italy, Spain, Ireland, and the United States. Drug trafficking by terrorist groups in Columbia is of particular concern to western governments. According to reports from the U. S.
Bureau of Narcotics and Law Enforcement affairs, revenues earned from narcotics cultivation, taxation, and distribution have accounted for at least half the funding used to support terrorist activities by two of the country’s largest terrorist groups – the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the United Self-Defense Groups of Colombia (AUC). The State Department estimates that the FARC receives $300 million a year from drug sales to finance its terrorist activities. 16 The tri-border area (TBA), or “triple frontier” as it is known, centered along the borders of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil, has been widely recognized as another hotbed for terrorism financing and activity, particularly to groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas. Without strict border controls, the area serves as a haven for drugs and arms trafficking, counterfeiting, smuggling and other illegal activities.
Tens of millions of dollars are estimated to have been transferred to groups through illegal remittances and other illegal activities, according to investigations by local police forces (Madani, 2002; Tri-border Transfers “funding terror,” 2006). Most terror organizations, however, are not directly involved in actually growing or producing drugs. They are tasked primarily with protecting the drugs and ensuring the safety of growers and producers. They also are active in smuggling narcotics to the marketing centers in countries where the drugs are distributed (Hudson, 2003:24). These organizations usually have a diverse network of contacts, enabling them to cross borders via indirect routes and smuggle weapons, ammunition, and various other products.
Terrorist organizations can use the same routes and network used by their supporters in order to smuggle drugs. In some cases, drugs have been used to recruit foreign activists, in a sense bribing them to execute terrorist attacks. In these cases, the activists, who are not members of the organization, are enlisted in order to carry out attacks on behalf of the terror organizations, sometimes unbeknownst to the activists themselves, in return for a regular supply of drugs. 17 In other cases, terrorist organizations supply their members with drugs in order to increase their dependence on the organization and encourage obedience to its leaders. 8 Some terrorist organizations refer to the distribution of drugs as an alternative form of attack, since drug consumption can harm the national morale and weaken the ability of the population to cope with crises. 16 See Deborah McCarthy’s testimony before the Committee on the Judiciary United States Senate, May 20, 2003, “Narco-Terrorism: International Drug Trafficking and Terrorism – A Dangerous Mix. ” 17 For example, On August 28, 1971, a Dutch citizen, Henrietta Hundemeir, was arrested in Israel with a suitcase containing a timer-activated bomb with a barometric altimeter. The bomb was meant to explode in the El Al aircraft in which she herself was flying to Israel.
Hundemeir was enlisted in Yugoslavia by a member of the “Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine,” who became her close friend by supplying her with drugs and using them with her. 18 One example is the “Weatherman” organization, which was responsible for terrorist attacks in the U. S. at the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s. The group perceived drug use as a part of the revolutionary process. 2 Trends in Modern International Terrorism 29 Global Jihadi Terrorism Terrorism is a dynamic phenomenon that develops over time, gradually changing its shape and activities. It is carried out by various organizations in the service of different ideologies.
Despite the fact that various local terrorist groups have operated in the international arena in the past decade, there is growing recognition by scholars and the intelligence community that the current international terrorist threat does not come from organizations motivated by nationalist grievances or separatist goals (such as the IRA, ETA, Fatah, LTTE, PKK, and others). Instead, the main threat is that of radical Islamic terrorism primarily aimed at promoting a radical religious world view. 19 Such groups are motivated by what they perceive as a divine command, making them potentially more dangerous than groups motivated by other causes. Hoffman stresses that while religion was an inseparable component of many terrorist organizations in the past, the dominant motivation for their actions was political rather than religious.
This is not the case with Al-Qaeda and other radical Islamic organizations today. For them, religion is the most important component defining their activities, ideology, characteristics, and recruitment methods (Hoffman, 2006:82). According to James Thomson, “religions are very effective at guiding in-group morality and out-group hatred. They permit the take-over of groups by disenfranchised young males, they minimize the fear of death by spreading the belief in an afterlife reward for those who are dying in a holy war, etc. ” (Thomson, 2003:82). Radical Islamic terrorism, part of the Global Jihad movement, includes acts perpetrated by many organizations, groups, and cells around the world.
The movement is headed by Al-Qaeda, which, despite the many setbacks it has endured since September 11, 2001, is still capable of carrying out “direct attacks” through activists reporting directly to its authority or “indirect attacks” through proxy organizations – radical Islamic terrorist organizations and networks that share a similar fundamentalist Islamic ideology, aspirations, and interests. Some of these organizations, such as Egyptian, Bangladeshi, and Afghan Jihadi groups, were established by Osama bin Laden under the umbrella of his “International Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders” (February 1998). Some of these organizations have made pacts or commitments to bin Laden over the years, such as the Egyptian Al-Jama’a Al-Islamiya and the GSPC (currently referred to as Al-Qaeda of the Maghreb). However, the most significant trend of the past several years has been the phenomenon of “homegrown terrorism. Lone activists and local radical groups of Muslims, who either immigrated to Western countries There are also terrorist organizations that combine religious grievances with national-political motivations, such as Hamas. On the one hand, Hamas derives its ideology from the same narrative and background as Al-Qaeda, based on the early religious global ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. At the same time though, Hamas seeks to achieve the nationalistic goal of destroying Israel and creating a Palestinian state in its place. 19 30 B. Ganor (first, second, or third generation) or converted to Islam in their country of origin, become inspired by the Global Jihad movement, leading them to carry out terrorist attacks.
Al-Qaeda, its allies in the Global Jihad movement, other radical Islamic terrorist organizations, and the radical Islamic networks and cells of the West, all believe in one divine mission, which calls upon them to spread their radical beliefs throughout the world (Sageman, 2004:1). In seeking to achieve this mission, they believe it is permissible and necessary to make use of violence and terrorism, and that they are fighting a “defensive war” that allows them to use drastic measures. One perspective shared by several researchers is that this defensive war is not actually pitted against American or Western imperialism, as Global Jihad organizations commonly claim. Rather, the “fight against the West” is used to help mobilize and recruit activists, arguably acting as “lip service” by Al-Qaeda.
It also serves to at least express their concern over every aspect of modernization, including democratic forms of government, liberal values, and even modern technology that threaten the way of life they strive for – a radical Islamic caliphate governed by Sharia law. It is also important to note that the threat of Global Jihad is not, as many tend to think, a war between Islam and other religions. Rather, it can be understood as a war of cultures – the culture of radical Islam against the outside world; or the culture of radical Islam against the culture of the “infidels,” as Islamists call all those who do not share their world view. Many in the radical Jihadi movement recognize that they will not be able to succeed in their worldwide campaign in the near future. Therefore they aim, as a first stage, to create localized radical Islamic revolutions, primarily in Arab and Islamic countries.
In fact, the majority of Global Jihad attacks over the past several years occurred in countries of the Arab or Islamic world,