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According to Sun Tzu, to win a war we need to know the enemy, yet Hoffman clearly stated that terrorism is often "confused or equated with, or treated as synonymous with, guerrilla warfare and insurgency". Not only is his observation nearly prophetically correct, but also profoundly indicative of the reason terrorism is so difficult to combat. Understandably confused and often considered to be synonymous based on their similarities in tactics and their varying degree in criminal activity involvement, the factors that set terrorism apart from irregular warfare, insurgency, and crime is the motivation behind the group and the ultimate goal of their organization.
Similar to Hoffman's discussions, the Department of Defense (DOD) Directive 3000.07, Irregular Warfare (2008) shares key points regarding the differences between irregular warfare and terrorism. The DOD defines irregular warfare as a violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over a population and defines terrorism as "the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological. While irregular warfare and terrorism could be easily confused, and often are, the major differences between the two are that irregular warfare is a tactic consisting of many different techniques, while terrorism is a movement that utilizes the tactic and techniques consistent with irregular warfare in its attempt to achieve its ultimate goal.
Much like irregular warfare, insurgency is often confused with terrorism and is commonly used in the media interchangeably with the term terrorism. Hoffman points out the major difference between the two when he relates that while an insurgency shares the use of guerrilla tactics, they also coordinate "informational and psychological warfare efforts designed to mobilize popular support" and that "Terrorists, however, do not function in the open as armed units, generally do not attempt to seize or hold territory, deliberately avoid engaging enemy military forces in combat, are constrained both numerically and logistically form undertaking concerted mass political mobilization efforts, and exercise no direct control or governance over a populace". (pg. 29)
Hoffman sums up the major difference between criminals and terrorist in that while a criminal pursues "egocentric goals", or personal gain, the terrorist is "fundamentally an altruist: he believes that he is serving a `good' cause designed to achieve a greater good for a wider constituency -- whether real or imagined -- which the terrorist and his organization purport to represent". (Pg. 31) It is true that criminals may use terroristic tactics in commission of their criminal activity, so is it true that terrorist are often supporting their organizations with criminal activities. While it is impossible to know for sure, some have estimated that Al Qaeda gets between 40 and 50% of their funding from illegal drugs and other common criminal activity. Even more overt criminal activity is being used by some terrorist organizations. According to Navias (as cited by White, 2009) "investigators have found legal businesses laundering millions of dollars for terrorist organizations" (p. 56).
2. The post 9/11 environment is more robust from a security perspective, and this has caused Al Qaeda to change its targeting strategy toward less spectacular and theatrical attacks. Understandably so, due to three very specific factors as listed in the article by Rohan Gunartna.
The first of these reasons would be the unprecedented level of heightened human vigilance. The high state of alertness by both public and government agencies has resulted in the detection or defeat of numerous attempted terror attacks.
Second is the extraordinary cooperation and information sharing by law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies from the local, state and federal arenas. Gunartna reports that "As a direct result of inter and intra agency cooperation a large number of suspects have been detained and arrested and over 100 attacks by Al Qaeda and its associated groups have been interdicted, prevented or abandoned since 9-11(pg. . This is especially important in light of the transnational nature of Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.
The third, and last reason deals with the nature Al Qaeda's current situation. Being on the run does not allow for adequate time to properly conduct the required pre plan surveillance, trial runs, etc before execution. Al Qaeda and its affiliated groups are in a defensive mode where they are worried more about survival of their cause than a spectacular attack. While still a deadly and capable group, Al Qaeda will, at least for now, plan and execute smaller scale attacks as targets arise and show themselves to be an easy mark.
One point to note is that he says "Al Qaeda's capacity to conduct spectacular or theatrical attacks has diminished. While it is true that the probability of attack has decreased as well as the likelihood of the attacks being spectacular in nature, their capacity has not decreased. They are being more selective, and perhaps planning their next attack now. While they plan, they continue to grow, and spread their radical view of Islam. Make no mistake, Al Qaeda is still very capable, very deadly, and are still waging their jihad.
3. What does Howard consider to be indicators of success in combating today's terrorism?
4. Arquilla, et al, have identified three doctrinal paradigms that are the basis for terrorist organization goal setting and shaping. Those paradigms are The Coercive-Diplomacy Paradigm, The War Paradigm, and The New-World Paradigm. These general paradigms become exponentially more critical when they apply to weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
The Coercive-Diplomacy Paradigm could be considered the "classic" terrorist modus operandi. They desired a government to do certain things, or release certain "political prisoners" in return for not continuing their terror campaign. While this is still a MO it seems to have taken a back seat to the War Paradigm. WMD would be useful to a terrorist organization under this paradigm, however the risk versus reward of using WMD as opposed to other tactics might prevent their use.
The War Paradigm is the MO most often seen today. Al Qaeda is the model by which most other groups are gauged, and rightfully so as they can largely be considered the catalyst for the vast majority over the past 10 plus years. The War Paradigm takes up where the Coercive-Diplomacy Paradigm lets off. Using terrorist tactics to fight a larger (or stronger) adversary when simple coercion is not the desired end state, but rather destruction of their enemy's equipment, personnel and morale. Under the War Paradigm it would be conceivable for terrorist organizations to use WMD to destroy equipment, personnel and morale at relatively low cost.
The last of the paradigms they detail is New-World Paradigm. This is where the potential use of WMD has the most relevance. Islam preaches the need for a pure Muslim world; A world free of Christians, Jews, and all other non-believers, or infidels. The potential loss of life after WMD attacks especially if they were well coordinated and wide spread would be devastating. The period after the attacks would allow Al Qaeda the desired opportunity to rebuild the "pure" Muslim world.
5. According to Gabriel Weimann's well-known work for the US Institute of Peace entitled www.terrorism.com: How Modern Terrorism Uses the Internet (2004), recruiting is not the only thing terrorists are using the internet for these days. Weimann reports that there are eight distinct ways in which contemporary terrorists use the Internet. He lists them as Psychological Warfare, Publicity and Propaganda, Data Mining, Fundraising, Recruitment and Mobilization, Networking, Sharing Information, and Planning and Coordination.
Psychological warfare is not always as overt as blaring Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries like the scene in Apocalypse Now. It could be boasting about past attacks, or even "disinformation" where it is let slip about the next pending attack. Anything that causes the public to fear, or alter their lives One excellent example of the use of the internet for psychological warfare would be the broadcasting of beheadings including that of American journalist Daniel Pearl. Publicity and propaganda are also closely related to psychological warfare and would include the broadcasting of bin Laden's messages, or claiming responsibility of attacks. With the internet available 24 hours a day and costing very little it is a very popular source of terrorist publicity and propaganda efforts.
Fundraising (as well as nearly instantaneous fund transfers) are now possible from the comfort of home. While there are still non electronic means of fundraising such as false charities, organized crime, drugs, etc, the risk versus reward of using the internet to raise funds it makes sense why terrorists would choose this method.
Recruitment and Mobilization and Networking are also enhanced greatly by the internet. The internet has enabled terrorist organizations to act in a decentralized way never experience before the World Wide Web. By allowing different cells to remain widely separated and still communicate quickly and coordinate effectively, the internet enhances terrorists' capabilities to enhance their membership, and their organization structure with relative safety and minimal risk.
Data Mining is best summed up as looking for information about targets. The US Military has a program called Operational Security, OPSEC for short. It was found that by gathering all the unclassified information form certain Department of Defense websites, it was possible to put together operational schedules (when and where a unit would be deploying), rosters, and even some contingency plans. All of this was pieced together from data mining of seemingly harmless unclassified information. Likewise the sharing of that information gathered is in most cases instantaneous
Planning and Coordination by terrorist may perhaps be the one use that has the most deadly potential. Due to the world wide coverage of the internet, it is possible for geographically separated terrorists, even those of differing ideologies, to be connected via any one of the thousands of "jihadist" web sites. This allows them to share information, ideas, or even assist in carrying out attacks that may have previously been un-executable. Even with minimal training, they might easily find the instruction on how to construct explosive devices or gain insight into making their own campaign more effective.
Undoubtedly, the terrorist organizations have become more technological than their predecessors. With the rise of the internet and various social networking sites such as Face Book and My Space, it was only a matter of time before terror groups would dive into these emerging pools of technology and potential candidates to further their groups cause and streamline their organizations.