INTA 657: Terrorism in Today’s World. Enablers of Terrorism, Pt. 1. Dr. James Forest. Causes and Facilitators of Terrorism. OA. I = Individual Characteristics O = Organizational Characteristics PC = Precipitant Conditions ET = Environmental Triggers OA = Opportunities to Act
Enablers of Terrorism, Pt. 1
Dr. James Forest
I = Individual Characteristics
O = Organizational Characteristics
PC = Precipitant Conditions
ET = Environmental Triggers
OA = Opportunities to Act
GE = Global Environment
I - Individual characteristics
Personal motivations for action, including revenge, psychological attributes, belief systems, personal grievances, and so forth. One important note: this research indicates that there isno single, common terrorist profile.
O - Organizational characteristics
Leadership, membership, history, an ideology that articulates grievances, along with strategies to mitigate these grievances. These frame the lure of engaging in terrorist activity, joining a terrorist organization.
= Individual influencers like family, friends, small groups, clubs, diasporas, religious beliefs, education, etc.
Intersection of individual characteristics and a terrorist organization’s characteristics leads to his/her affiliation with (or at least some support for) that organization
= A terrorist organization’s characteristics (leadership, reputation, history, etc.) that contribute to the resonance of its ideology among target audiences and influence an individual’s willingness to embrace (or reject) terrorism as a reasonable course of action
- ideological absolutism (us against the world)- necrophilia (obsession with death)- self-assertion (fight against marginalization)- self-identity (search for meaning in life)- youth romantic appeal and heroism- giving special importance to the activity - conformity, standardization, society- game motivation (“one upsmanship”)- groupthink (illusions of invulnerability, one-dimensional perceptions)- excessive optimism and risk-taking
Some strategic objectives of terrorism:
PC – Precipitant Conditions
Socioeconomic, political and other issues which generate (or give legitimacy to) grievances articulated in an organization’s ideology. Examples could include poverty, corruption, dictatorship, structural disadvantages for a particular segment of the population, and so on.
ET – Environmental Triggers
Specific actions, policies, and events that enhance the perceived need for action within a particular environment; Examples include a coup, an invasion by another country, a terrorist attack by a peer competitor, even the publication of offensive cartoons in Danish newspapers. This category also includes regional events, like the impact on communities in Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan when Israel sends troops into the Gaza strip.
OA – Opportunities to Act
Facilitators like access to weapons; freedom of movement; funding; safe haven/state sponsorship; weak governments; and porous borders. Events can also offer new opportunities to act, especially events that impact perceptions of security
GE – Global Environment
Ways in which globally interdependent economies, inter-state conflicts, diaspora communities, transnational criminal networks, and the Internet can influence local grievances and opportunities
& Interpretive Influencers
Terrorism as product of choices informed by dynamic interactions between individuals, organizations and environmental conditions, influenced by time and space considerations and by whomever and whatever help us interpret the world around us.
1. Individual choice (even if reluctant or coerced) is the primary “cause” of terrorist activity. Some individuals choose direct involvement in actions that kill, while others choose to engage in support activities like providing funding, safe haven or ideological support.
2. An individual’s decision to engage in (or disengage from) terrorist activity is influenced by characteristics (like psychological traits, gender, age, socioeconomic status, religiosity, etc.) as well as by their perceptions toward and interactions with specific organizations and environmental conditions. These characteristics, perceptions and interactions change over time.
3. An individual’s perceptions toward and interactions with organizations and environmental conditions are influenced by their family, peers and personal role models, educators, religious leaders and others who help interpret and contextualize local and global conditions.
4. The members of terrorist organizations influence an individual’s decisions about terrorist activity by providing ideological justification for violence, along with training and expertise, material support, connections with others, etc.
5. Individual decisions (within and outside the organization) shape the choices and trajectory of an organization and the kinds of terrorist activity they may conduct. The organization swims in a sea of people; without individuals, there is no organization.
6. The motivations and opportunities for individuals to engage in terrorism are framed by their views toward environmental conditions and policies (domestic and foreign), some of which are used to legitimate the grievances articulated in an organization’s ideology.
7. And, of course, the actions of individuals and the organizations they comprise produce a wide range of effects that impact their surrounding environment.
Terrorism and the means to combat it requires not only contextual knowledge and intelligence, but also an ability to influence beliefs and produce tangible changes in environmental conditions that facilitate terrorism.
Please remember that your Case Study Comparison and your Research Paper topic are due on Day 1 of next week.