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Terrorist Groups, Strategies, and Tactics: Typology, Intro and S/I Terrorism. PO 483: The Politics of Terrorism. How Can We Hope to Classify Terrorist Groups?. Difficulties: Excessive Broadness (Conceptual Stretching) Groups can Espouse Many Causes. Toward a Solution.

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Terrorist groups strategies and tactics typology intro and s i terrorism

Terrorist Groups, Strategies, and Tactics: Typology, Intro and S/I Terrorism

PO 483: The Politics of Terrorism


How can we hope to classify terrorist groups
How Can We Hope to Classify Terrorist Groups? and S/I Terrorism

  • Difficulties:

  • Excessive Broadness (Conceptual Stretching)

  • Groups can Espouse Many Causes


Toward a solution
Toward a Solution and S/I Terrorism

  • Primary Classification Criterion: The Nature of the Primary Cause the Terrorist Group Espouses (that is, the OVERRIDING Purpose of the Group)

  • Secondary Classification Criterion: The Nature of the Other Factors Motivating the Group (Can Be Ideological, Ethnic, Religious, or Other)


A TYPOLOGY OF TERRORISM and S/I Terrorism


Terrorist groups strategies and tactics introduction
Terrorist Groups, Strategies, and Tactics: Introduction and S/I Terrorism

  • What are Strategies and Tactics?

  • Strategy:

  • A Careful Plan or Method Designed to Meet the Enemy in Combat Under Advantageous Conditions

  • A Plan of Attack that Gives You the Best Chance of Winning, Given Goals and Constraints – NOT the Actual Combat Activities Engaged


Terrorist groups strategies and tactics introduction1
Terrorist Groups, Strategies, and Tactics: Introduction and S/I Terrorism

  • What are Strategies and Tactics?

  • Tactics:

  • A Device (Activity, Use of Force, Etc.) Used to Accomplish a Particular End

  • Tactics are the Actual Activities Undertaken in Order to Enact A General Strategic Plan


Audiences of separatist irredentist groups
Audiences of Separatist/Irredentist Groups and S/I Terrorism

  • Separatist/Irredentist:

  • Numerous Audiences

    • SQ (Citizens and Leadership)

    • Remainder of Subgroup

    • International Audiences


Strategies and tactics of separatist irredentist groups
Strategies and Tactics of Separatist/Irredentist Groups and S/I Terrorism

  • Strategy – Middle-Range Goals

    • Frighten Populace

    • Convey Goals of Group, Extent of Commitment

    • Convince Subgroup of Righteousness of Cause

    • Convince International Audiences of Righteousness

    • Role of Limited Violence

      • Excessive Violence Alienates Audiences, but Moderate Violence Elicits Desired Backlash

  • Tactics: Strategically Limited Symbolic and Pragmatic Violence


Audiences of religious groups
Audiences of Religious Groups and S/I Terrorism

  • Religious:

  • Audiences Include Same as S/I (To Lesser Degrees)

  • Also Act to Court the Opinion of Deities


Strategies and tactics of religious groups
Strategies and Tactics of Religious Groups and S/I Terrorism

Generally, Different Strategic Concerns Lead to More Violent Tactical Approaches

  • Millenarian/Messianic Groups: Armageddon Requires Destruction (Severe Violence)


Strategies and tactics of religious groups1
Strategies and Tactics of Religious Groups and S/I Terrorism

  • Politico-Religious Groups:

    • Kill as Many Non-Believers as Possible to Ensure Strength of Religious Group

    • Politically, Impose Costs on SQP Severe Enough to Convince it to Halt “Intrusion”

    • Martyrdom: Highest Form of Self-Sacrifice for Cause; Often Ordained By Deity

    • Thus, Less Constrained By Sense of “Proportionality”Than S/I Groups


Separatist irredentist groups
Separatist/Irredentist Groups and S/I Terrorism

  • Overriding Objectives:

  • Separatist Groups: Separation and autonomy of geographic area from existing state

  • Irredentist Groups: Separation and joining of geographic area with existing, similar state


Strategic and tactical directives the irgun template
Strategic and Tactical Directives: “The Irgun Template” and S/I Terrorism

  • Base operations in urban areas where freedom of movement is more feasible (incognito)

  • Do not attempt to defeat the superior occupying force militarily, or even primarily try to use pragmatic attacks to thin their ranks; rather, strike with surprise at the high-profile symbols of rule of the occupying force

  • Such strikes allow the group to weaken the occupying force’s prestige, which is often the only means by which the occupying force maintains legitimacy


Strategic and tactical directives the irgun template1
Strategic and Tactical Directives: “The Irgun Template” and S/I Terrorism

  • Recognize the importance of international audiences and the domestic audiences of the occupying force. A successful group will attempt to advertise the righteousness of the cause to international audiences (both through words and actions), while using spectacular, destructive, and deadly attacks to show the cost of continued occupation and the impotence of the occupying force to that force’s domestic audience

  • Gain additional support from international audiences (and solidify support from within the entire subgroup represented by the terrorists) by eliciting a backlash from the occupying force that is harsh enough to be objectionable but not so harsh as to crush the terrorist group


Preconditions conducive to success of irgun template
Preconditions Conducive to Success of “Irgun Template” and S/I Terrorism

  • The End of Colonialism:

    • WWII sapped strength of previously dominant “oppressors”

    • Strategic value of possessions diminished

    • International reaffirmation of right to self-determination and the bankruptcy of imperialism


Preconditions conducive to success of irgun template1
Preconditions Conducive to Success of “Irgun Template” and S/I Terrorism

  • The Nature of the Polities the Terrorists Targeted:

    • Democratic tradition – extended to subgroups

    • Freedom of Association – founding, sanctuary, planning

    • Freedom of Press – conduit for publicizing message

    • Freedom of Speech – allow citizens to voice disapproval; importance of elections

    • Tradition


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