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Terrorism. “On September the 11th, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country… Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.  ~ President George W. Bush, 20 Sep 2001

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“On September the 11th, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country… Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. 

~ President George W. Bush, 20 Sep 2001

“…the American people should remain vigilant…. Those plotting against us seek not only to undermine our security, but also the open society and the values that we cherish as Americans.

~ President Barack Obama, 28 Dec 2009

  • History
  • Definitions
  • Characteristics, Objectives, & Tactics
  • US National Policy and Military Policy
  • Future of Terrorism

Hassan-iSabbah, Iranian missionary who founded the Hashshashin

  • Terrorism to achieve political agendas isn’t new
    • Jewish dissidents opposed Roman rule (48 C.E.)
    • Islamic sect called Hashshashin pursued “righteous causes”
    • Crusaders employed rape as terror tactic

Radical Shiite Muqtada al-Sadr

  • Since 1990s, religious fundamentalism emerged as primary force for terror
  • Weapons proliferation narrowed the gap between the firepower of the state and dissidents
Walter Laqueur:

“Terrorism constitutes the illegitimate use of force to achieve a political objective when innocent people are targeted.”

Department of Defense:

“The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives.”

joint pub 3 07 2
Joint Pub. 3-07.2

The unlawful use of violence or threat of violence to instill fear and coerce governments or societies. Terrorism is often motivated by religious, political, or other ideological beliefs and committed in the pursuit of goals that are usually political.

- Joint Publication 3-07.2, Antiterrorism

key criteria
Key Criteria
  • Violence
  • Political goal
  • Psychological impact and fear
  • Targeting of noncombatants

Guerilla vs. Terrorism



typologies of terrorism
Typologies of Terrorism

2004: Train bombings in Spain Group responsible for attack has link to Al Qaeda

  • Political
    • Force governments to change structure or policies, or to achieve radical societal change
  • Religious
    • Objectives/actions divinely guided; often tied to ethnic and nationalist identities
  • Social
    • “Special interest” (e.g., animal rights)
categories of terrorism
Categories of Terrorism
  • Domestic Terrorism
    • Terrorism perpetrated by the citizens of a country against their fellow citizens
  • International terrorism
    • Terrorism in which planning and execution of the terrorist act transcends national boundaries
  • Status:
    • Most from middle class backgrounds, with some from extreme wealth
  • Education:
    • Intelligent and literate, with varying levels of formal education
  • Age:
    • Operational members aged between 20-35, while suicide bombers tend to be younger
  • Gender:
    • Most are male but not exclusively

“There’s nothing wrong with being a terrorist, as long as you win.”

(Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society)

objectives of terrorism
Objectives of Terrorism
  • Attract attention for cause
  • Demonstrate group’s power
  • Show government’s lack of power
  • Exact revenge
  • Obtain logistical support
  • Cause a government to overreact
terrorist planning cycle
Terrorist Planning Cycle
  • Broad target selection: Collection of data on large number of potential targets
  • Intelligence and surveillance: Information gathering on the targets with greatest possibility of success (e.g., schedules, security, layout, etc.)
  • Specific target selection: Decision point!
terrorist planning cycle1
Terrorist Planning Cycle

Pre-attack surveillance and planning: Quantity and quality of data gathering increases, and usually is gathered over days to weeks

Attack rehearsal: Often includes relocation to target site, testing of security responsiveness and escape routes, and checking equipment performance

terrorist planning cycle2
Terrorist Planning Cycle

Action: Generally, goal is to get in, get the job done, and get out before security forces can react

Escape and exploitation: Escape plans well rehearsed and exploitation of successful attack vital to achieve desired effect

  • Assassination
  • Arson
  • Bombing
  • Hostage taking
  • Kidnapping
  • Hijacking
  • Seizures
  • Raids
  • Sabotage
  • Threat or Hoax
  • Use of WMD

“Between now and 2015 terrorist tactics will become increasingly sophisticated and designed to achieve mass casualties.” (National Intelligence Council)


Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat (top right) and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (below)

  • Assassination
    • Murder of prominent persons, symbolic enemies, or traitors who defect from the group
  • Arson
    • Requires little technical knowledge, poses low risk to terrorist, and can cause significant destruction
  • Bombing—Explosive devices commonly employed in warfare are now an integral part of the terrorist’s arsenal
    • Oct 1983: Marine barracks in Beirut; 245 were killed and 146 wounded
    • Oct 2000: Navy destroyer USS Cole attacked, resulting in the death of 17 sailors and 39 injured
  • Improvised explosive device (IED) is the terrorist’s weapon of choice:
    • Inexpensive to produce
    • Detonation techniques
    • Low risk to the perpetrator
    • Placement/concealment
    • High attention-getting capacity

Sep 2004: Chechen terrorists took hundreds of school children and adults hostage in Beslan, Russia

Oct 2002: Ingrid Betancourt kidnapped by the FARC; still missing

  • Hostage taking
    • Overt seizure of individuals with the intent of gaining publicity or concessions in return for release of the hostage
  • Kidnapping
    • Covert seizure of one or more specific person(s) in order to extract specific demands


  • Hijacking or Skyjacking
    • Normally executed to produce a spectacular hostage situation; any passenger transport can be used
  • Seizure
    • Usually involves a building or object that has value in the eyes of the audience

1976: Highjacked Flight 139 out of Tel Aviv was diverted to Entebbe, Uganda. Israeli forces, led by Col Yoni Netanyahu, rescued the hostages in Operation Thunderbolt. Netanyahu was the only military casualty.


April 2005: Insurgents led a coordinated attack on Abu Ghraib prison; intended to free detainees and kill US forces… FAILED!

  • Raids/Attacks on Facilities
    • Done to gain access to media, acquire resources, and/or demonstrate government’s inability to secure critical facilities
  • Sabotage
    • Destruction of equipment or infrastructure to demonstrate vulnerability of society and to disrupt services

1995: Terror group Aum Shinrikyo released Sarin gas in the Tokyo subway, injuring thousands and killing 12 people

  • Threat or Hoaxes
    • Threat that causes diversion of resources; can dull effectiveness of preventive or countermeasures
  • Use of WMD
    • Chemical weapons used in the past… many groups have expressed desire to acquire WMD

“Acquiring weapons (WMD) for the defense of Muslims is a religious duty.” (Osama Bin Laden)

us terror policy
US Terror Policy
  • First articulated by the Reagan administration and reaffirmed by every president since
  • Four enduring policy principles
    • Make no concessions to terrorists
    • Bring terrorists to justice for their crimes
    • Isolate and apply pressure on states that sponsor terrorism to force them to change their behavior
    • Bolster the counterterrorist capabilities of those countries that work with the United States and require assistance
national strategy for combating terrorism
National Strategy for Combating Terrorism
  • Advance effective democracies as the long-term antidote to the ideology of terrorism;
  • Prevent attacks by terrorist networks;
  • Deny weapons of mass destruction to rogue states and terrorist allies who seek to use them;
  • Deny terrorists the support and sanctuary of rogue states;
  • Deny terrorists control of any nation they would use as a base and launching pad for terror; and
  • Lay the foundations and build the institutions and structures we need to carry the fight forward against terror and help ensure our ultimate success.
us policy post 9 11
US Policy Post 9/11
  • Dept. of Homeland Security established: Third largest cabinet department after DOD and VA
  • Incorporates existing agencies, including US Coast Guard, Secret Service, and CIS
  • Coordinates capabilities of 22+ agencies to:
    • Secure borders, transportation, critical infrastructure
    • Synthesize/analyze homeland security intelligence
    • Spearheads domestic counter-terrorism efforts
us military policy
US Military Policy
  • Guiding principles:
    • US forces will continue to engage
    • Force protection will be a major consideration
  • DOD addresses terrorism from

two distinct perspectives:

    • Counterterrorism (offensive)
    • Anti-terrorism (defensive)
  • Intelligence critical component for success
us military policy1
US Military Policy
  • Counterterrorism
    • Offensive measures taken to prevent, deter, and respond to terrorism include Operation El Dorado Canyon and the GWOT
  • Antiterrorism
    • Defensive measures to reduce vulnerability include facility hardening, setting buildings back from roads/parking lots, and limiting access to military posts
force protection
Force Protection
  • Force Protection—An integrated application of offensive/defensive actions that deter, detect, preempt, mitigate, or negate threats against or hazards to Air Force air and space operations and assets, based on an acceptable level of risk (JP 1-02)
    • Relocation of deployed forces out of

heavily populated areas to an isolated base

    • Deployment of floating barriers around

warships in high-risk areas

“Asymmetric challenges can arise across the spectrum of conflict that

will confront US forces in a theater of operations or on US soil.”

(National Intelligence Council)

future of terrorism
Future of Terrorism
  • Terrorists are a dynamic enemy…and are adapting to the challenges posed by developing societies
  • Groups like Al Qaeda and Hezbollah benefit from and are exploiting globalization, even as they fight against it
  • Terrorist groups are becoming more network based, encouraging loosely organized, self-financed organizational structure
future of terrorism1
Future of Terrorism
  • International or transnational cooperation among terrorist groups is becoming the norm
  • WMD proliferation amplifies the danger of broad, network-based terrorism.
  • Terrorists increasingly display a willingness to use catastrophic violence to cause mass casualties and destruction
future of terrorism2
Future of Terrorism
  • Other trends:
    • Intense motivational extremism
    • Flexible organization structure
    • Aggressive training to improve operational capability
    • Increasing exploitation of media
    • Increasing mass casualties and chaos through use of more advanced weapons

“States with poor governance; ethnic, cultural, or religious tensions; weak economies; and porous borders will be prime breeding grounds for terrorism.”

(National Intelligence Council)

  • History
  • Definitions
  • Characteristics, Objectives, & Tactics
  • US National Policy and Military Policy
  • Future of Terrorism


“We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.” —President Bush, 20 Sep 2001

  • Prepare for Lesson 7
    • The Need for Cross-Cultural Competence