Contemporary terrorism. James J.F. Forest Director of Terrorism Studies. T he C ombating T errorism C enter . A t w est p oint. NJ Homeland Security Conference, 10 April 2007.
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James J.F. Forest
Director of Terrorism Studies
NJ Homeland Security Conference, 10 April 2007
The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not purport to reflect the position of the United States Military Academy, the Department of the Army, or the Department of Defense.
1990s – present
A Spectrum of Ideologies
Groups that want to change the world, but reject the need for violent means
Groups that want to change the world, and see a need for violent means
Groups that want to destroy the world, for various reasons,possibly with WMD
1990s – present
The radical neo-fundamentalists view the action as more important than the result. Thus, individual jihad becomes more important than victory. The goal is to serve God, not to achieve a certain political agenda. The results will come when God wills it. - Magnus Norell
Al Qaida and affiliated groups
Elements of the Jihadist threat
I and thousands like me are forsaking everything for what we believe. Our driving motivation doesn’t come from tangible commodities that this world has to offer. Our religion is Islam – obedience to the one true God, Allah, and following the footsteps of the final prophet and messenger Muhammad …
Your democratically elected governments continuously perpetuate atrocities against my people all over the world. And your support of them makes you directly responsible, just as I am directly responsible for protecting and avenging my Muslim brothers and sisters. Until we feel security, you will be our targets. And until you stop the bombing, gassing, imprisonment and torture of my people we will not stop this fight. We are at war and I am a soldier.
Mohammad Sidique Khan, participant in the July 7, 2005 suicide bomb attacks in London, in a video message released by the British authorities Sept. 1, 2005.
Places which bring together groups of like-minded individuals whose shared purpose and experiences build lifelong trust and a sense of “us, together against the world” among its members. (cf. Marc Sageman, Understanding Terror Networks)
Places where grievances are converted to compelling ideologies, including those that emphasize the need to kill others
Sense of Crisis
Limited opportunities/power to bring about change without use of violence
Emotions are more powerful than intellectual appeals
Images are often more powerful than words
Focus on places of ideological interpretation
Multiple dimensions required in our CT approach
Information Warfare: influencing the “street perception” of an organization is a powerful component of an overall counterterrorism strategy
Need to discredit the perception of competence and operational security of a network
Need to undermine the ideological resonance of a particular group’s message
Need to discredit the messengers . . .