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Approaching Counter Terrorism: The Global War on Terror and the Problem of Metrics. Michael Stohl Department of Communication University of California, Santa Barbara March 2007. Determining the metrics of success.

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approaching counter terrorism the global war on terror and the problem of metrics

Approaching Counter Terrorism: The Global War on Terror and the Problem of Metrics

Michael Stohl

Department of Communication

University of California, Santa Barbara

March 2007

determining the metrics of success
Determining the metrics of success
  • Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?
  • Donald Rumsfeld October 16, 2003
nsct september 5 2006 successes
NSCT, September 5, 2006 Successes
  • We have significantly degraded the al-Qaida network. Most of those in the al-Qaida network responsible for the September 11 attacks, including the plot’s mastermind Khalid ShaykhMuhammad, have been captured or killed. We also have killed other key al-Qaida members, such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the group’s operational commander in Iraq who led a campaignof terror that took the lives of countless American forces and innocent Iraqis
state department annual country reports on terrorism 2005 april 2006
State Department Annual Country Reports on Terrorism, 2005April 2006
  • In 2005, we saw indications of:
  • An increasing AQ emphasis on ideological and propaganda activity to help advance its cause. This led to cooperation with al-Qaida in Iraq, the organization led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and with AQ affiliates around the globe, as well as with a new generation of Sunni extremists;
  • The proliferation of smaller, looser terrorist networks that are less capable but also less predictable;
slide5
An increased capacity for acts of terror by local terrorists with foreign ties (demonstrated in the July 7 London bombings);
  • An increase in suicide bombings. The July 7 London bombing was the first such a ttack in Europe (three of the four terrorists were second-generation British citizensof South Asian descent); we also noted a marked increase in suicide bombings in Afghanistan;
  • The growth of strategically significant networks that support the flow of foreign terrorists to Iraq.
starting points
Starting points
  • Terrorism is the purposeful act or the threat of the act of violence to create fear and/or compliant behavior in a victim and/or audience of the act or threat.
counterterrorism
Counterterrorism
  • At home, counterterrorism policy and actions must respond to the acts or the threats of the act of violence,reduce the risk of future acts, reduce fear in the audience of the risk of future acts and maintain the support and trust of the home audience.
counterterrorism abroad
Counterterrorism abroad
  • Abroad, counterterrorism policy and actions must respond to the acts or the threats of the act of violence,reduce the risk of future acts, reduce fear in the audience of the risk of future acts and maintain the support and trust of that audience.
success in counterterrorism
Success in Counterterrorism
  • The Bush Administration Approach
bush administration
Bush Administration
  • Most popular approach
    • Body counts, scorecards, events and risks
    • Announce the counterterrorism measures taken
security attacks
Security: Attacks
  • At home
    • Since 9/11 no further attacks on U.S. soil
body counts and scorecards
Body Counts and Scorecards
  • 2/3rds of the al Qaeda leadership has been captured
  • 3400 arrested
  • $200 million in assets frozen
  • Bases in Afghanistan destroyed.
nsct september 5 2006
NSCT, September 5, 2006
  • Most of those in the al-Qaida network responsible for the September 11 attacks, including the plot’s mastermind Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, have been captured or killed. We also have killed other key al-Qaida members, such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the group’s operational commander in Iraq who led a campaign of terror that took the lives of countless American forces and innocent Iraqis.
disruption and risk
Disruption and Risk
  • liberty.gov disrupted 150 terrorist plots around the world and at
  • Bush at the National Endowment for Democracy October 2005, ten plots disrupted.
  • Cole (2006) argues that this number is very much in dispute.
national strategy for combating terrorism september 5 2006
National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, September 5, 2006

to win the War on Terror, we will:

• 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.

• Advance effective democracies as the long-term antidote to the ideology of terrorism;

nsct september 5 2006 successes16
NSCT, September 5, 2006 Successes
  • There is a broad and growing global consensus that the deliberate targeting of innocents is never justified by any calling or cause.
  • Many nations have rallied to fight terrorism, with unprecedented cooperation on law enforcement, intelligence, military, and diplomatic activity.
  • We have strengthened our ability to disrupt and help prevent future attacks in the Homeland by enhancing our counterterrorism architecture through the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of Director of National Intelligence, and the National Counterterrorism Center.
some alternatives to consider
Some alternatives to consider
  • We are fighting this war on three distinct fronts: the home front, the operational front and the strategic-political front.
  • John Lehman, August 31, 2006
byman 2003
Byman (2003)
  • five “genuine measures of success” by which to evaluate counterterrorist operations:
    • the freedom terrorists have to operate (their secure geographic zone),
    • a high level of domestic support for counterterrorist operations,
    • the disruption of the adversary’s command and control structure,
    • terrorist recruitment,
    • terrorist attacks.
morag 2005 319 310
Morag (2005 :319-310)
  • seven parameters, three categories
    • human life (reduction in civilian casualties among both Israelis and Palestinians),
    • economic resources (minimization of the negative economic impact on Israel),
    • Political resources (Israeli social cohesion, international and domestic support for the Israeli government, and the extent of weakening of international and domestic support for the Palestinian leadership).
raphael perl 2005 11
Raphael Perl (2005:11)
  • Measuring trends.
  • 1. Terrorist infrastructure.
    • Is their leadership being weakened; is their recruitment base,
    • network, or target list growing?
  • 2. Terrorist tactical and strategic goals
  • 3. Capabilities
    • What are the capabilities of a terrorist group to inflict serious damage?
    • Are they increasing or decreasing?
peter probst 2005
Peter Probst (2005)
  • Statistical analysis as used by the government to assess terrorism and counterterrorism efforts remains primitive and, too often, dangerously misleading. We measure what can easily be quantified rather than what is truly meaningful. We strive to capture extremely complex phenomena in a simple sound bite, reinforced by seemingly compelling but simplistic statistical comparisons and then wonder why our instant analysis has failed to comport with reality, leaving us embarrassed and scratching our heads. Numbers, as we use them, provide a false sense of objectivity, accuracy and precision, too often leaving the decision makers frustrated and angry. And, too often, leaving the public with the feeling that somehow they have been conned.
how should we approach the establishment of metrics
How should we approach the establishment of metrics
  • Theoretically and conceptually based
  • Tied to the concepts that are most meaningful for understanding terrorism and counter terrorism
  • Understand the purpose of the metrics
how should we approach the establishment of metrics23
How should we approach the establishment of metrics
  • Importance of Validity and Reliability of measures
    • Construct validity
    • Convergent and discriminant validity
    • Internal and External Reliability
    • Multiple measures
key considerations
Key considerations
  • Security
  • The Opponent
  • The Counterterrorist Organization
  • Audience(s)
  • Fear
  • Trust

For each of the concepts we need not only define but operationalize and measure over time

body counts and scorecards27
Body Counts and Scorecards
  • Increase or decrease of terrorist attacks
  • Increase or decrease of risk of future attacks
  • Increase or decrease in terrorists, terrorist groups, range of operation, safe havens, state support
  • Increase or decrease in the capacity of the organization (s), and network
  • Increase or decrease in supporters, sympathizers, acquiescers
  • Or a simple scorecard http://www.angelfire.com/ultra/terroristscorecard/index.html
international terrorism 2001 2005
International terrorism 2001-2005
  • Incidents up in the Middle East and either flat or down almost everywhere else
  • Deaths up in the Middle East and Europe pretty flat everywhere else
domestic terrorism 2001 2005
Domestic terrorism2001-2005
  • up in the middle east
  • up in Russia and Chechnya
  • South America :Colombia accounts for 90% of the deaths since 2001
  • Eastern Europe :Russia and Chechnya account for 96% of deaths since 2001
  • Africa Uganda accounts for 56% of the deaths in Sub Saharan Africa,
  • Darfur, Congo, etc. don’t show up
more or less terrorism where
More or less terrorism?where?
  • National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC http://www.tkb.org/NCTC/Home.jsp),
  • In 2004 there were more than three times as many incidents (651/208) and three times as many persons killed (1907/625) in what they define as significant international terrorism than in 2003
  • Data impossible to assess for 2005 because of change in reporting
do these metrics help us know if
do these metrics help us know if:
  • There is a greater or lesser chance of a terrorist attack today in the United States than there was when the baseline point was established?
  • There is a greater or lesser chance of a terrorist attack against American targets abroad than there was at the baseline point?
  • George Tenet’s testimony to the Intelligence committees in February 2004
    • “Even catastrophic attacks on the scale of 9/11 remain within Al Qaeda’s reach.”
capacity of the opponent
Capacity of the Opponent
  • Capability
    • Size, structure, support, sympathy
    • Geographical scope and range
    • Tactical and strategic
the opponent
The Opponent
  • Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.
    • George W. Bush September 20, 2001
  • The Network of Terror: Implications
to study terrorist networks we need to know
To study terrorist networks we need to know:
  • What is a network?
  • Who is in the network? What are its boundaries?
  • What relations are encompassed in the network? How are nodes connected?
  • What are the relevant structural properties?
  • What types of ties are there?
  • How are networks embedded within society?
  • What network processes are associated with structure?

Stohl and Stohl (2007, forthcoming)

size and structure of al qaeda
Size and Structure of Al Qaeda
  • Estimates of the number of persons who passed through the Al Qaeda training camps have ranged as high as 25,000-30,000 dispersed to cells in more than sixty countries.
  • There is no easy way to determine the size of Al-Qaeda, the number and scale of its affiliates and proxies; or who its donors, active supporters and potential sympathizers are. Local governments often do not know, deliberately conceal, or may at times exaggerate the Al-Qaeda presence in their countries.
  • Trends? -if we don’t know the baseline it is difficult to determine if Al Qaeda or the Global Network of Terror is larger of smaller since a particular point in time.
size and structure of al qaeda42
Size and Structure of Al Qaeda
  • In the aftermath of the Afghanistan war the incentive to demonstrate success led to more conservative descriptions of organizational size, connections and possibilities. For example in June 2002, Johnson, Van Natta and Miller (2002) of the New York Times reported,
  • “that senior officials suggest that although sworn members of Al Qaeda were estimated to number no more than 200 to 300 men, officials say that at its peak this broader Qaeda network operated about a dozen Afghan camps that trained as many as 5000 militants, who in turn created cells in as many as 60 countries.”
status of al qaeda jenkins in fallows
Status of Al Qaeda Jenkins (in Fallows)
  • “The Taliban were dispersed, and al-Qaeda’s training camps in Afghanistan were dismantled.”
  • Al-Qaeda operatives by the thousands have been arrested, detained, or killed. So have many members of the crucial al-Qaeda leadership circle around bin Laden and his chief strategist, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
  • it has become harder for the remaining al-Qaeda leaders to carry out the organization’s most basic functions:
  • “Because of increased intelligence efforts by the United States and its allies, transactions of any type—communications, travel, money transfers—have become more dangerous for the jihadists. Training and operations have been decentralized, raising the risk of fragmentation and loss of unity. Jihadists everywhere face the threat of capture or martyrdom.”
status of al qaeda
Status of Al Qaeda
  • Their command structure is gone, their Afghan sanctuary is gone, their ability to move around and hold meetings is gone, their financial and communications networks have been hit hard,”
  • Seth Stodder, a former official in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
status of al qaeda45
Status of Al Qaeda
  • “The al-Qaeda that existed in 2001 simply no longer exists.
  • In 2001 it was a relatively centralized organization, with a planning hub, a propaganda hub, a leadership team, all within a narrow geographic area. All that is gone, because we destroyed it.”
  • Where bin Laden’s central leadership team could once wire money around the world using normal bank networks, it now must rely on couriers with vests full of cash.
  • Kilcullen in Fallows
status of al qaeda46
Status of Al Qaeda
  • The essence of the change is this: because of al-Qaeda’s own mistakes, and because of the things the United States and its allies have done right, al-Qaeda’s ability to inflict direct damage in America or on Americans has been sharply reduced.
    • Fallows, September 2006
  • How does he know this?
  • Does the preceding tell us this?
the counterterror organization
The Counterterror Organization
  • Building Support Amongst Diverse Audiences
capacities of the counterterrorist organization and organizational network
Capacities of the CounterTerrorist Organization (and organizational network)
  • Core membership
  • Members,geographic dispersion, deviations and trends
  • Support structures, resources, geographic dispersion, deviations and trends
  • Zone of operations, geographic dispersion, deviations and trends
size of counterterrorism coalition
Size of counterterrorism coalition
  • Nous sommes tous Américains Le Monde, September 12, 2001
size of counterterrorism coalition50
Size of counterterrorism coalition
  • What do these numbers signify?
  • The members of NATO and the Rio Pact invoked these treaties’ mutual defense clauses for the first time. Subsequently, sixteen of the 19 NATO members engaged in the Afghan theater. The UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1373 requiring all UN members to freeze terrorist financing, improve border security, clamp down on the recruitment of terrorists, share information, and deny terrorists any support or safe haven. In September and October of 2001 there was clear international community support for the United States and for a collective response to the problem of terrorism. A total of 136 countries offered a range of military assistance to the United States, including over flight and landing rights and accommodations for U.S. forces.
size of counterterrorism coalition51
Size of counterterrorism coalition
  • The initial cooperation led to “an aggressive international law enforcement effort [which] had resulted in detention of approximately 3,000 terrorists and their supporters in more than 100 countries and in the freezing of $124 million in assets in some 600 bank accounts around the world, including $36 million in the United States alone.
  • If these numbers decline … what is this evidence for?
hoffman 2006
Hoffman, 2006
  • The tragic loss of innocent life in any attack linked to al Qaeda is calculated by its masterminds to rekindle worldwide the same profound fears and anxieties that the attacks on 9/11 ignited. Al Qaeda’s stature and reception in parts of the world today is a product of the extraordinary success achieved and attention generated by the attacks that day.
metrics of counterterrorism
Metrics of Counterterrorism
  • Thus metrics are needed to evaluate
    • if different publics feel more or less secure,
    • have a more or less favorable attitude towards their governments,
    • and have a more or less favorable or unfavorable attitude towards the terrorists or the countries allied against them and so on.
measuring the support of publics in friendly and unfriendly states
Measuring the support of publics in friendly (and unfriendly) states
  • Global Audiences and Global Messages
    • Multiple message sources
lessons from the battle of algiers
Lessons from the Battle of Algiers
  • As the flier inviting guests to the Pentagon screening declared: ''How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas. Children shoot soldiers at point-blank range. Women plant bombs in cafes. Soon the entire Arab population builds to a mad fervor. Sound familiar? The French have a plan. It succeeds tactically, but fails strategically. To understand why, come to a rare showing of this film.'‘
  • NYTimes September 7, 2003
slide70
“Will this operation produce more bad guys than it takes off the street by the way it is conducted”
  • Major General David Patreus*, Commanding General 101st Airborne Division, Summer 2003
  • (Quoted in Thomas Ricks, Fiasco, Penguin 2006, p. 231)
  • Currently, Lt. General and Commanding General American Forces in Iraq
south china morning post march 7 2007
South China Morning Post March 7,2007
  • Trigger-happy West risks fostering Taliban or worse
slide73
The Great Divide: How Westerners and Muslims View Each Other:Europe's Muslims More Moderate ( Pew released: 06.22.06)
mickolus measures for determining support for terrorists by governments
Mickolus, Measures for determining support for terrorists by governments
  • permitting safe havens or bases,
  • permitting training on local soil.
  • general training by the government
  • making large monetary contributions
  • provisioning arms
  • providing nonlethal operational assistance
  • providing direct financing and training for specific operations.
  • providing weapons for specific operations.
  • adding to terrorist demands during an incident.
  • making payment of insurance/bonuses to terrorists after the fact.
the audience public support opposition continuum
The Audience (Public) Support – Opposition Continuum
  • Active support
  • Passive support
  • Acquiescence
  • Passive opposition
  • Active opposition

Goal- move your audience towards active opposition to the terrorists, hope to obtain acquiescence or passive oppostion

backlash and burnout
Backlash and Burnout
  • Increasing the difficulty of terrorist operations within the communities they purport to represent
  • Increasing the incentives for terrorists to disengage and move activities to the non-violent/ political realm
larger strategic implictions
Larger Strategic Implictions
  • three kinds of American reaction—the war in Iraq, the economic consequences of willy-nilly spending on security, and the erosion of America’s moral authority—were responsible for such strength as al-Qaeda now maintained.
  • David Kilcullen in Fallows, September 2006
george w bush july 11 2005 fbi academy quantico virginia
George W. Bush July 11, 2005 FBI Academy, Quantico, Virginia
  • We're fighting the enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan and across the world so we do not have to face them here at home.
counterterrorism consequences
Counterterrorism consequences
  • The final destructive response helping al-Qaeda has been America’s estrangement from its allies and diminution of its traditionally vast “soft power.” “America’s cause is doomed unless it regains the moral high ground,”
  • Sir Richard Dearlove, the former director of Britain’s secret intelligence agency, MI-6, told me
consequences of the counterterrorist strategy
Consequences of the Counterterrorist Strategy
  • The jihadist regime in Iran feels no reservation about flaunting its policy to go nuclear, and it unleashed Hezbollah, its client terrorist organization, to attack Israel.
  • In Somalia a jihadist group has seized control of the government. In Pakistan, Islamists are becoming more powerful, and attacks within India are increasing.
  • Governments in Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, Algeria and Jordan are under increasing Islamist pressure.
  • In the Pacific, North Korea now feels free to rattle its missile sabers, firing seven on America's Independence Day.
  • China is rapidly building its 600-ship navy to fill the military vacuum that we are creating in the Pacific as our fleet shrinks well below critical mass. Not one of these states believes that we can undertake any credible additional military operations while we are bogged down in Iraq.
  • John Lehman, August 2006
successful counterterrorism concepts and measures required
Successful Counterterrorism: Concepts and Measures Required
  • Reduce attacks
  • Reduce the risk of further attack
  • Reducefear
  • Increase the confidence of the audience(s) of the act or threat that they will be protected and the recognition that the multiple audiences must be considered.
  • Decrease the support for the violence by the supporters, sympathizers and potential supporters of the act or threat.
  • Decreaseacquiescence of the audience(s)
  • Reduce the recruitment of new terrorists
  • Increase backlash against the terrorists
  • Increase burnout of the terrorists
national strategy for combating terrorism september 5 200685
National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, September 5, 2006

to win the War on Terror, we will:

• 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.

• Advance effective democracies as the long-term antidote to the ideology of terrorism;

nsct september 5 2006 successes86
NSCT, September 5, 2006 Successes

• We have deprived al-Qaida of safehaven in Afghanistan and helped a democratic government to rise in its place. Once a terrorist sanctuary ruled by the repressive Taliban regime, Afghanistan is now a full partner in the War on Terror.

• A multinational coalition joined by the Iraqis is aggressively prosecuting the war against the terrorists in Iraq. Together, we are working to secure a united, stable, and democratic Iraq, now a new War on Terror ally in the heart of the Middle East.

nsct september 5 2006 successes87
NSCT, September 5, 2006 Successes
  • There is a broad and growing global consensus that the deliberate targeting of innocents is never justified by any calling or cause.
  • Many nations have rallied to fight terrorism, with unprecedented cooperation on law enforcement, intelligence, military, and diplomatic activity.
  • We have strengthened our ability to disrupt and help prevent future attacks in the Homeland by enhancing our counterterrorism architecture through the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of Director of National Intelligence, and the National Counterterrorism Center.
nsct september 5 2006 successes88
NSCT, September 5, 2006 Successes
  • Overall, the United States and our partners have disrupted several serious plots since September 11, including al-Qaida plots to attack inside the United States.
  • Numerous countries that were part of the problem before September 11 are now increasingly becoming part of the solution – and this transformation has occurred without destabilizing friendly regimes in key regions.
  • The Administration has worked with Congress to adopt, implement, and renew key reforms like the USA PATRIOT Act that promote our security while also protecting our fundamental liberties.
requirements for successful counterterrorism
Requirements for successful counterterrorism
  • Security
  • The Opponent
  • The Counterterrorist Organization
  • Audience(s)
  • Fear
  • Trust
  • And remember that counterterrorism policy must be linked to the larger domestic and international political strategic situations
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