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 I PC = Precipitant Conditions O PC ET = Environmental Triggers ET GE OA = Opportunities to Act GE = Global Environment Individual and Organizational Characteristics 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 is no 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. I O i i i i i I Intersection of individual characteristics and a terrorist organization’s characteristics leads to his/her affiliation with (or at least some support for) that organization O C C i = Individual influencers like family, friends, small groups, clubs, diasporas, religious beliefs, education, etc. C C = 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 Individual Characteristics • Terrorism is an individual’s strategic choice most often driven by combination of: – Personal attributes (especially when a “seeker”) – Sense of crisis – Intense grievances (local or global) – Retribution for perceived injustices – Address a power imbalance - empower the disenfranchised – Criminal/profit motive – The ties that bind: training camps, extended family, social networks; trusted networks = key Individual Characteristics • Terrorism can also stem from a variety of psychological motivating factors, including: - 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 Organizational Characteristics Some strategic objectives of terrorism: • Recognition: Gaining national or international recognition for their cause; recruiting new personnel; raising funds; demonstrating their strength • Coercion: Force a desired behavior of an individual or government • Intimidation: Prevent individuals, groups, or governments from acting • Provocation: Provoking overreaction by a government to the attack on symbolic targets or personnel, thereby gaining sympathy for their cause. • Insurgency support: Forcing the government to overextend itself in dealing with the threat, thereby allowing the insurgency to gain support and commit further attacks against the government. Organizational Characteristics • Some view terrorism as a means to achieve strategic goals driven by a vision of the future such as: – – – – Political change (e.g., Kashmir, Tamil Eelam, overthrow govt., etc.) Social change (e.g., France headscarf ban, anti-abortionists, etc.) Economic change (e.g., stop oil exports; change resource distribution) Religious change (e.g., fundamentalist interpretations of the faith) Many different flavors of ideology: Nationalists and Ethnic Separatists (e.g., Anti-colonial groups, Chechens, LTTE) Left-wing (e.g., radical Communists revolutionaries) Right Wing (often target race and ethnicity; Nazi skinheads, Aryan nations, etc.) Religious (e.g., Christian militias, Islamic jihadists, etc.- “attack on Islam”) Anarchists, Environmentalists, Animal Rights Extremists Others (e.g., apocalyptic, charismatic cults, philosophies of “Man is evil” - Hobbes, et al.) Environmental conditions 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. PC ET 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. Environmental conditions 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 OA GE Causes of Terrorism: Unanswered Questions • Why do the same conditions exist in many places, and yet terrorism exists in only a few of those places? • If an individual is motivated by perceptions of injustice, how are those perceptions formed or influenced? • How do they lead to the kind of humiliation, anger and despair that animate many terrorists. • How do personal beliefs about human security relate to the resonance of a terrorist organization’s ideology? Causes of Terrorism: An Alternate Paradigm Individual Choices Temporal, Spatial & Interpretive Influencers Organizational Choices Environmental Conditions 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. Radicalization as a Process • Radicalization for terrorism is an interactive process that begins with communication • Radicalization is rooted in information, beliefs and perceptions, and interpretation (hence the important role of churches, schools) • Terrorism is the product of individual and organizational choices influenced by complex relationships that are dynamic, fluid and changing over time. • Using these 2 frames of analysis together as a sort of a bi-focal pair of glasses gives some structure or at least flexible boundaries to the sea of research in this area. • This research exercise led me to formulate 7 propositions about the risks of terrorism that highlight the centrality of ideas, perceptions and beliefs and how these can be influenced. 7 Propositions 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. 7 Propositions 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. 7 Propositions 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. Conclusion 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.