Djihadisme: La méthode derrière la folie (There is method to the madness)

https://i0.wp.com/breakthrough.turing.com/images/elements/PlanesTrainsCarBombs_cover.jpegDe la folie, mais qui ne manque pas de méthode. Polonius (Hamlet II, 2)
Le monde moderne n’est pas mauvais : à certains égards, il est bien trop bon. Il est rempli de vertus féroces et gâchées. Lorsqu’un dispositif religieux est brisé (comme le fut le christianisme pendant la Réforme), ce ne sont pas seulement les vices qui sont libérés. Les vices sont en effet libérés, et ils errent de par le monde en faisant des ravages ; mais les vertus le sont aussi, et elles errent plus férocement encore en faisant des ravages plus terribles. Le monde moderne est saturé des vieilles vertus chrétiennes virant à la folie.  G.K. Chesterton
Il faut se souvenir que le nazisme s’est lui-même présenté comme une lutte contre la violence: c’est en se posant en victime du traité de Versailles que Hitler a gagné son pouvoir. Et le communisme lui aussi s’est présenté comme une défense des victimes. Désormais, c’est donc seulement au nom de la lutte contre la violence qu’on peut commettre la violence. René Girard
L’erreur est toujours de raisonner dans les catégories de la « différence », alors que la racine de tous les conflits, c’est plutôt la « concurrence », la rivalité mimétique entre des êtres, des pays, des cultures. La concurrence, c’est-à-dire le désir d’imiter l’autre pour obtenir la même chose que lui, au besoin par la violence. Sans doute le terrorisme est-il lié à un monde « différent » du nôtre, mais ce qui suscite le terrorisme n’est pas dans cette « différence » qui l’éloigne le plus de nous et nous le rend inconcevable. Il est au contraire dans un désir exacerbé de convergence et de ressemblance. (…) Ce qui se vit aujourd’hui est une forme de rivalité mimétique à l’échelle planétaire. Lorsque j’ai lu les premiers documents de Ben Laden, constaté ses allusions aux bombes américaines tombées sur le Japon, je me suis senti d’emblée à un niveau qui est au-delà de l’islam, celui de la planète entière. Sous l’étiquette de l’islam, on trouve une volonté de rallier et de mobiliser tout un tiers-monde de frustrés et de victimes dans leurs rapports de rivalité mimétique avec l’Occident. Mais les tours détruites occupaient autant d’étrangers que d’Américains. Et par leur efficacité, par la sophistication des moyens employés, par la connaissance qu’ils avaient des Etats-Unis, par leurs conditions d’entraînement, les auteurs des attentats n’étaient-ils pas un peu américains ? On est en plein mimétisme.Ce sentiment n’est pas vrai des masses, mais des dirigeants. Sur le plan de la fortune personnelle, on sait qu’un homme comme Ben Laden n’a rien à envier à personne. Et combien de chefs de parti ou de faction sont dans cette situation intermédiaire, identique à la sienne. Regardez un Mirabeau au début de la Révolution française : il a un pied dans un camp et un pied dans l’autre, et il n’en vit que de manière plus aiguë son ressentiment. Aux Etats-Unis, des immigrés s’intègrent avec facilité, alors que d’autres, même si leur réussite est éclatante, vivent aussi dans un déchirement et un ressentiment permanents. Parce qu’ils sont ramenés à leur enfance, à des frustrations et des humiliations héritées du passé. Cette dimension est essentielle, en particulier chez des musulmans qui ont des traditions de fierté et un style de rapports individuels encore proche de la féodalité. (…) Cette concurrence mimétique, quand elle est malheureuse, ressort toujours, à un moment donné, sous une forme violente. A cet égard, c’est l’islam qui fournit aujourd’hui le ciment qu’on trouvait autrefois dans le marxismeRené Girard
Ce que le communisme avait tenté de faire, une guerre vraiment mondiale, est maintenant réalisé, c’est l’actualité. Minimiser le 11 Septembre, c’est ne pas vouloir voir l’importance de cette nouvelle dimension. (…) Mais la menace actuelle va au-delà de la politique, puisqu’elle comporte un aspect religieux. Ainsi, l’idée qu’il puisse y avoir un conflit plus total que celui conçu par les peuples totalitaires, comme l’Allemagne nazie, et qui puisse devenir en quelque sorte la propriété de l’islam, est tout simplement stupéfiante, tellement contraire à ce que tout le monde croyait sur la politique. (…) Le problème religieux est plus radical dans la mesure où il dépasse les divisions idéologiques – que bien sûr, la plupart des intellectuels aujourd’hui ne sont pas prêts d’abandonner.(…) Il s’agit de notre incompréhension du rôle de la religion, et de notre propre monde ; c’est ne pas comprendre que ce qui nous unit est très fragile. Lorsque nous évoquons nos principes démocratiques, parlons-nous de l’égalité et des élections, ou bien parlons-nous de capitalisme, de consommation, de libre échange, etc. ? Je pense que dans les années à venir, l’Occident sera mis à l’épreuve. Comment réagira-t-il : avec force ou faiblesse ? Se dissoudra-t-il ? Les occidentaux devraient se poser la question de savoir s’ils ont de vrais principes, et si ceux-ci sont chrétiens ou bien purement consuméristes. Le consumérisme n’a pas d’emprise sur ceux qui se livrent aux attentats suicides. (…) Allah est contre le consumérisme, etc. En réalité, le musulman pense que les rituels de prohibition religieuse sont une force qui maintient l’unité de la communauté, ce qui a totalement disparu ou qui est en déclin en Occident. Les gens en Occident ne sont motivés que par le consumérisme, les bons salaires, etc. Les musulmans disent : « leurs armes sont terriblement dangereuses, mais comme peuple, ils sont tellement faibles que leur civilisation peut être facilement détruite ».(…) Cela dit, de plus en plus de gens en Occident verront la faiblesse de notre humanisme ; nous n’allons pas redevenir chrétiens, mais on fera plus attention au fait que la lutte se trouve entre le christianisme et l’islam, plus qu’entre l’islam et l’humanisme. Avec l’islam je pense que l’opposition est totale. Dans l’islam, si l’on est violent, on est inévitablement l’instrument de Dieu. René Girard
Nous ne savons pas si Hitler est sur le point de fonder un nouvel islam. Il est d’ores et déjà sur la voie; il ressemble à Mahomet. L’émotion en Allemagne est islamique, guerrière et islamique. Ils sont tous ivres d’un dieu farouche. Jung (1939)
Mein Kamp (…) Tel était le nouveau Coran de la foi et de la guerre: emphatique, fastidieux, sans forme, mais empli de son propre message. Churchill
Dans le monde moderne, même les ennemis de la raison ne peuvent être ennemis de la raison. Même les plus déraisonnables doivent être, d’une façon ou d’une autre, raisonnables. (…) En cohérence avec cette idée, les socialistes regardaient ce qui se passait outre-Rhin et refusaient simplement de croire que ces millions d’Allemands avaient adhéré à un mouvement politique dont les principes conjuguaient théories paranoïaques du complot, haines à glacer le sang, superstitions moyenâgeuses et appel au meurtre. (…) Les kamikazés étaient certes fous, mais la faute en incombait à leurs ennemis, pas à leurs dirigeants ni à leurs propres doctrines. (…) le nihilisme palestinien ne pouvait signifier qu’une chose: que leur souffrance était encore pire Paul Berman (2001)
Nous avons constaté que le sport était la religion moderne du monde occidental. Nous savions que les publics anglais et américain assis devant leur poste de télévision ne regarderaient pas un programme exposant le sort des Palestiniens s’il y avait une manifestation sportive sur une autre chaîne. Nous avons donc décidé de nous servir des Jeux olympiques, cérémonie la plus sacrée de cette religion, pour obliger le monde à faire attention à nous. Nous avons offert des sacrifices humains à vos dieux du sport et de la télévision et ils ont répondu à nos prières. Terroriste palestinien (Jeux olympiques de Munich, 1972)
Kidnapper des personnages célèbres pour leurs activités artistiques, sportives ou autres et qui n’ont pas exprimé d’opinions politiques peut vraisemblablement constituer une forme de propagande favorable aux révolutionnaires. ( …) Les médias modernes, par le simple fait qu’ils publient ce que font les révolutionnaires, sont d’importants instruments de propagande. La guerre des nerfs, ou guerre psychologique, est une technique de combat reposant sur l’emploi direct ou indirect des médias de masse.( …) Les attaques de banques, les embuscades, les désertions et les détournements d’armes, l’aide à l’évasion de prisonniers, les exécutions, les enlèvements, les sabotages, les actes terroristes et la guerre des nerfs sont des exemples. Les détournements d’avions en vol, les attaques et les prises de navires et de trains par les guérilleros peuvent également ne viser qu’à des effets de propagande. Carlos Marighela (« Minimanuel de guerilla urbaine », 1969)
Je suis et demeure un combattant révolutionnaire. Et la Révolution aujourd’hui est, avant tout, islamique. Illich Ramirez Sanchez (dit Carlos, 2004)
Lorsque Boris Savinkov, chef du parti socialiste révolutionnaire russe avant la Première Guerre mondiale, a publié son autobiographie, il n’a pas hésité à l’intituler Souvenirs d’un terroriste. Aujourd’hui, cela serait impensable – le terroriste moderne veut qu’on l’appelle partisan, guérillero, militant, insurgé, rebelle, révolutionnaire, tout sauf terroriste, tueur d’enfants innocents. William Laqueur
Cela consiste à donner de la respectabilité aux comportements répréhensibles et à réduire la responsabilité personnelle en s’y référant en termes impersonnels. C’est ainsi, par exemple, qu’Al-Qaïda parle toujours des événements du 11 septembre comme étant des attaques contre les symboles de la puissance et du consumérisme américains, en passant sous silence l’assassinat de quelque 3.000 hommes, femmes et enfants. Gabriel Weimann
More ink equals more blood,  newspaper coverage of terrorist incidents leads directly to more attacks. It’s a macabre example of win-win in what economists call a « common-interest game. Both the media and terrorists benefit from terrorist incidents, » their study contends. Terrorists get free publicity for themselves and their cause. The media, meanwhile, make money « as reports of terror attacks increase newspaper sales and the number of television viewers ». Bruno S. Frey (University of Zurich) et Dominic Rohner (Cambridge)
Les lions d’Allah qui sont présents partout de par le monde – certains les appellent les « loups solitaires » – doivent savoir qu’ils sont le pire des cauchemars de l’Ouest. Ainsi, ne sous-estimez pas vos opérations. Ne minimisez pas votre djihad. Cheikh Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi d’Al-Qaida dans la péninsule arabique, Inspire)
Nous imaginons, parce que la Guerre froide est finie en Europe, que toute la série de luttes qui ont commencé avec la Première guerre mondiale et qui sont passées par différents mouvements totalitaires — fasciste, nazi et communiste — était finalement terminée. (…) Hors de la Première guerre mondiale est venue une série de révoltes contre la civilisation libérale. Ces révoltes accusaient la civilisation libérale d’être non seulement hypocrite ou en faillite, mais d’être en fait la grande source du mal ou de la souffrance dans le monde. [Avec] une fascination pathologique pour la mort de masse [qui] était elle-même le fait principal de la Première guerre mondiale, dans laquelle 9 ou 10 millions de personnes ont été tués sur une base industrielle. Et chacun des nouveaux mouvements s’est mis à reproduire cet événement au nom de leur opposition utopique aux complexités et aux incertitudes de la civilisation libérale. Les noms de ces mouvements ont changé comme les traits qu’ils ont manifestés – l’un s’est appelé bolchévisme, et un autre s’est appelé fascisme, un autre s’est appelé nazisme. (…) À un certain niveau très profond tous ces mouvements étaient les mêmes — ils partageaient tous certaines qualités mythologiques, une fascination pour la mort de masse et tous s’inspiraient du même type de paranoïa. (…) Mon argument est que l’islamisme et un certain genre de pan-arabisme dans les mondes arabe et musulman sont vraiment d’autres branches de la même impulsion. Mussolini a mis en scène sa marche sur Rome en 1922 afin de créer une société totalitaire parfaite qui allait être la résurrection de l’empire romain. En 1928, en Egypte, de l’autre côté de la Méditerranée, s’est créée la secte des Frères musulmans afin de ressusciter le Califat antique de l’empire arabe du 7ème siècle, de même avec l’idée de créer une société parfaite des temps modernes. Bien que ces deux mouvements aient été tout à fait différents, ils étaient d’une certaine manière semblables. (…) Le fascisme en Italie est arrivé au pouvoir en 1922 et il est demeuré puissant jusqu’à ce qu’il soit renversé par les Américains et les Anglais. L’islamisme est arrivé au pouvoir en divers endroits, commençant en 1979 avec l’Ajatollah Khomeini en Iran. Le baasisme est encore une autre variante de la même chose, et probablement que dans les jours à venir, en Irak, il sera renversé par les mêmes Américains et Anglais qui ont renversé Mussolini. L’islamisme est arrivé au pouvoir en Iran en 1979, et la révolution islamique en Iran était une vraie force mondiale. Alors l’islamisme est arrivé au pouvoir au Soudan et en Afghanistan, et pendant un moment il a semblé progressé tout à fait bien. Les Iraniens sont chi’ites et les autres pays sont sunnites, donc ce sont des dénominations différentes de l’Islam. Mais, cependant, c’était un mouvement qui jusqu’à récemment semblait avancer d’une manière traditionnelle — c’est-à-dire par la capture d’Etats. (…) Ce qui s’est produit avec Al-Qaida est une situation compliquée parce que l’slamisme force politique de capture d’états est sur le déclin parce que les Taliban ont été défaits militairement. En outre, nous pouvons voir les commencements d’une révolution libérale prenant si tout va bien racine en Iran. L’islamisme au Soudan est tombé. Mais malgré cela, Al-Qaida représente une structure extrêmement puissante avec des bases sociales multiples et le soutien de banques et d’associations caritatives et de grands intellectuels, bien qu’il ne commande plus un Etat. Malgré tout, il est devenu évident qu’Al-Qaida est soutenu ou à demi soutenu par une variété d’états et d’élites régnantes. (…) Leur désir est très clairement de régner sur le monde. Ce n’est pas un grand secret. Un grand philosophe du radicalisme islamiste, Sayyid Qutb, qui a été pendu par [le président égyptien ] Nasser en 1966, ne s’en est pas caché. Le but de l’islamisme est de recréer ce que Mahomet avait fait au septième siècle, c’est à dire de fonder un état islamique et de l’imposer au monde entier. Le but de l’islamisme n’est pas de résoudre un problème social particulier ici ou là, ou de régler un certain conflit de frontières entre Israel et la Palestine ou entre le Pakistan et l’Inde ou le Tchéchénie et la Russie, bien que ce soit des questions réelles. Le but est absolument grandiose et global. (…) Le baasisme est peu un plus modeste parce que c’est explicitement un nationalisme arabe. Ainsi le baasisme veut recréer l’empire arabe du septième siècle dans une certaine version moderne mais il n’est pas tout à fait aussi global et grandiose que l’islamisme. En outre, le baasisme est dans un état d’affaiblissement profond. Il ne rend pas Saddam Hussein moins effrayant parce qu’un état d’affaiblissement profond peut être extrêmement dangereux… (…) La doctrine islamiste est que l’Islam est la réponse aux problèmes du monde, mais que l’Islam a été la victime d’une conspiration cosmique géante pour la détruire, par les Croisés et les sionistes. (le sionisme dans la doctrine de Qutb n’est pas un mouvement politique moderne, c’est une doctrine cosmique se prolongeant tout au long des siècles.) L’Islam est la victime de cette conspiration, qui est également facilitée par les faux musulmans ou hypocrites, qui feignent d’être musulmans mais sont réellement les amis des ennemis de l’Islam. D’un point de vue islamiste, donc, la conspiration la plus honteuse est celle menée par les hypocrites musulmans pour annihiler l’Islam du dedans. Ces personnes sont surtout les libéraux musulmans qui veulent établir une société libérale, autrement dit la séparation de l’église et de l’état. (…) De même que les progressistes européens et américains doutaient des menaces de Hitler et de Staline, les Occidentaux éclairés sont aujourd’hui en danger de manquer l’urgence des idéologies violentes issues du monde musulman. (…) Les socialistes français des années 30 (…) ont voulu éviter un retour de la première guerre mondiale; ils ont refusé de croire que les millions de personnes en Allemagne avaient perdu la tête et avaient soutenu le mouvement nazi. Ils n’ont pas voulu croire qu’un mouvement pathologique de masse avait pris le pouvoir en Allemagne, ils ont voulu rester ouverts à ce que les Allemands disaient et aux revendications allemandes de la première guerre mondiale. Et les socialistes français, dans leur effort pour être ouverts et chaleureux afin d’éviter à tout prix le retour d’une guerre comme la première guerre mondiale, ont fait tout leur possible pour essayer de trouver ce qui était raisonnable et plausible dans les arguments d’Hitler. Ils ont vraiment fini par croire que le plus grand danger pour la paix du monde n’était pas posé par Hitler mais par les faucons de leur propre société, en France. Ces gens-là étaient les socialistes pacifistes de la France, c’était des gens biens. Pourtant, de fil en aiguille, ils se sont opposés à l’armée française contre Hitler, et bon nombre d’entre eux ont fini par soutenir le régime de Vichy et elles ont fini comme fascistes! Ils ont même dérapé vers l’anti-sémitisme pur, et personne ne peut douter qu’une partie de cela s’est reproduit récemment dans le mouvement pacifiste aux Etats-Unis et surtout en Europe. (…) Un des scandales est que nous avons eu des millions de personnes dans la rue protestant contre la guerre en Irak, mais pas pour réclamer la liberté en Irak. Personne n’a marché dans les rues au nom des libertés kurdes. Les intérêts des dissidents libéraux de l’Irak et les démocrates kurdes sont en fait également nos intérêts. Plus ces personnes prospèrent, plus grande sera notre sécurité. C’est un moment où ce qui devrait être nos idéaux — les idéaux de la démocratie libérale et de la solidarité sociale — sont également objectivement notre intérêt. Bush n’a pas réussi à l’expliquer clairement, et une grande partie de la gauche ne l’a même pas perçu. (…) Ce dont nous avons besoin est un nouveau radicalisme contre le prétendu réalisme cynique du conservatisme américain et de la politique américaine traditionnelle, dans lequel les idées libérales sont considérées non pertinentes pour la politique étrangère. Et également contre la cécité et la tête-dans-le-sable d’une grande partie de la gauche américaine, qui peut seulement penser que tous les problèmes de par le monde sont provoqués par l’impérialisme américain et qu’il n’y a rien d’autre dont il faudrait s’inquiéter. Paul Berman
Despite the perennial warnings about exotic weapons and targets (warnings that, ironically, offer terrorists tantalizing clues about how and where the United States is vulnerable), members and allies of al Qaeda’s hirabi (AKA ‘jihadi’) movement continue to carry out the same sorts of attacks they executed in the decades before 9/11. In 1993, hirabis used a truck bomb in an attempt to topple the World Trade Center, the same tactic they used in 1996 to bomb the Khobar Towers barracks in Saudi Arabia, and in 1998 to bomb US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. In 2000, they used a different vehicle – a small boat – to approach their target when they bombed the USS Cole in the port of Aden, Yemen. A year later, they used different vehicles again, airplanes, to bomb the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon. Months later a hirabi named Richard Reid attempted to bomb a plane itself with a chemical explosive hidden in his shoe. In May 2002, a car bomb killed 14 people at a Karachi hotel frequented by Westerners. In October of that year, another bomb, placed in a Bali nightclub, killed 202 mostly Australian citizens. In 2004, hirabis detonated ten bombs on four trains in Madrid, killing nearly 200 people. A year later, hirabis attacked three trains and a bus in London. Later in 2005, bombs placed at American hotels in Amman, Jordan killed 57 people. In 2007, British police uncovered a car-bomb plot targeting Glasgow airport. In 2008, a car bomb killed six people and injured dozens more outside Pakistan’s Danish Embassy. Al Qaeda claimed the attack was retaliation for an offensive political cartoon. In September 2009, Najibullah Zazi was arrested in the final stages of a plan to replicate the Madrid attacks of 2004 in New York City’s subway system. On Christmas Day of the same year, Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted and failed to down a passenger plane over Detroit by detonating a chemical bomb concealed under his clothes. The next spring, Faisal Shahzad tried to detonate a car bomb in Times Square, but failed. Months later, in October 2010, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula placed explosive devices in cargo planes, but cooperating international intelligence agencies foiled their plans before they could detonate the bombs. Most recently, Rezwan Ferdaus has been charged with a plot to use remote controlled planes to deliver bombs to the Pentagon. All of these and other al Qaeda directed, financed, or inspired attacks have targeted planes, trains, buses, government and symbolic buildings, and western hotels with bombs (and sometimes assault weapons). The stark contrast between the hirabi repertoire of targets and tactics and the expansive and expanding concerns of journalists, politicians, experts, and academics begs explanation. We find that the pattern of hirabi attacks is not accidental. It is well-suited to their primary strategy — one attempting to iteratively grow support for their cause so they can one day gain political power and govern territory. That their goals are likely delusional does not diminish the rationality of their strategy, the tactics they use, or the targets they select, all of which are chosen to manipulate the governments they seek to change and the publics they seek to recruit. Various internal and external constraints on hirabi organizations also limit their capability, and thereby, the range of tactics and strategies they can pursue. The Breakthrough
The medical field puts a great deal of emphasis on learning lessons from events that have occurred. There has been a long tradition of conducting “M&M” (Morbidity and Mortality) conferences on a frequent basis, often weekly. During these conferences poor outcomes and near misses (often referred to as “sentinel events”) are reviewed in order to learn lessons and devise strategies for prevention and avoidance of similar events in the future. Although often difficult to foster, creating an open atmosphere to discuss errors actually serves to improve outcomes in the long run. The airline industry, also relentlessly focused on safety, has worked to create this type of environment. It is also important to note that successful efforts need to receive detailed reviews; equally important is to understand why they were successful as these evaluations assist in creating critically important best practices. (…) Quality improvement has also moved into an era that no longer focuses on blame. Where in the past a nurse or physician might be fired for a mistake that led to a patient death, a more sophisticated and nuanced understanding of errors, human nature, and systems has evolved. An environment not focused on blame is one that promotes open discussions and identification of problems and leads to productive actions for improvement. Short of malicious intent, prohibited behaviour, illegal activity, or a pattern of irresponsible behaviour, errors need to be looked at as opportunities for understanding what factors led to a mistake and how these types of errors can be avoided in the future. (…) Another core tenant of quality improvement is a relentless focus on the customer. Customers are any persons affected by an industry’s activities and should always be kept in mind in decision-making to ensure best results. Although, the identity of the customer(s) is obvious in many fields (e.g. the patient in healthcare), customers can be identified in counterterrorism, as well. Potential “customers” can be proposed for the counterterrorism field. The first are a nation’s citizens. Although many counterterrorism activities are clandestine, the public is aware of many activities (e.g. drone strikes and Guantanamo Bay) and many programs affect the public directly (e.g. 3 oz. bottles of liquid at the airport and domestic surveillance programs). For these reasons, public opinion has a large influence on how the government goes about fighting terror. A case in point is the public uproar over the detailed images of the body that airport screeners were producing that led to all scanners being removed and replaced with new ones using a different technology [92] as well as the discovery of the secret NSA phone and Internet surveillance programs that has lead to greater public discussion about how these sorts of programs should function. With consideration of the customer in decisions about security, implementation can often be better planned and potential issues dealt with up front. In addition, it is believed that one of the main impediments to creating a more proactive (vs. the typical reactive) counterterrorism response is that it is difficult to garner public support (and, in the US context, bipartisan government support for that matter) to spend money on things the public is not worried about or on something that has not happened. It is the hope that with the use of evidence-based practices, the accumulated evidence can help sway stakeholders to the acceptance of appropriate proactive approaches. Lum and Kennedy support the notion of the public as a customer by noting that counterterrorism program effectiveness is not only important in terms of outcomes but “also as to how citizens view the legitimacy of government actions.” Other critical customers are the local population where terrorists and their organisation reside and those individuals susceptible to radicalisation. The battle against terrorism is often believed to be a battle of perception and legitimacy. With this is mind, it seems quite clear that these individuals are indeed “customers” in counterterrorism efforts. Close attention must be paid to how counterterrorism tactics affect and are perceived by this group of people. Focusing consistently on the customer(s) will help the overall success and effectiveness of counterterrorism efforts. Lastly, in order for a quality improvement program to be successful, it must have full support of top leadership and direct involvement of key leadership officials. This can provide the much needed legitimacy to the program and its activities. Although strong leadership is needed, most of the more progressive organisations today are taking on a more flat (vs. hierarchical) organisational structure. This environment is conducive to quality improvement because it empowers employees. Members of the organisation at all levels can have a critical impact in identifying areas for improvement and this atmosphere drives innovation and practical solutions for many of the obstacles that will help drive the field forward. In many operating room environments, it is no longer only the surgeon who runs the show. Many hospitals are empowering everyone from medical students, to nurses, to surgical technicians to speak up if they believe something might be wrong or could be done better. Rebecca Freese
Il convient aussi de prendre en compte l’effet d’entraînement provoqué par le mimétisme médiatique. Un acte terroriste qui tourne en boucle sur les chaînes de télévision peut donner le courage à des personnes isolées de passer à leur tour à l’action. Ainsi, la méthode qui consiste à faucher des passants avec un véhicule, prônée par Daesh, a été employée à plusieurs reprises en Israël et deux fois au Canada à l’automne 2014. L’usage d’armes blanches comme à Joué-lès-Tours avait déjà eu lieu en mai 2013 contre un soldat patrouillant dans le cadre du plan Vigipirate dans la gare RER de la Défense et, deux jours auparavant, deux individus avaient assassiné un militaire britannique de la même manière à Londres. (…) L’idéologie (dans le cas des islamistes, l’interprétation maximaliste du salafisme djihadiste guerrier) n’est pas, dans la plupart des cas, l’élément déclencheur du passage à l’acte. Elle n’en n’est que le prétexte avancé pour le justifier. C’est une sorte d’« idéologie de la validation » qui permet de transférer toutes les frustrations personnelles dans la transgression des règles. Les mouvements islamiques radicaux ont toujours tenté de profiter de ce facteur pour enrôler de nouveaux activistes. Le discours consiste à affirmer que l’islam est le seul à même de résoudre les problèmes personnels de leurs futurs adeptes tout en satisfaisant leur besoin de vengeance vis-à-vis de ce qu’ils ressentent comme étant une injustice. Il est fait appel à l’esprit de compassion en montrant les « horreurs » que subissent les populations musulmanes de par le monde. La théorie du complot est aussi largement répandue avec, en particulier la diffusion des Protocoles des Sages de Sion et l’insinuation que les attaques du 11 septembre 2001 ont été commises par la CIA et le Mossad… L’ennemi est toujours désigné clairement : les « croisés » qui sont des « idolâtres car ils adorent la croix et attribuent un enfant au Seigneur des cieux et de la terre », les juifs, qui sont les « agresseurs », et les « apostats » qui sont des traîtres à l’islam. (…) Al-Qaida « canal historique » a tout d’abord utilisé des agents recruteurs que l’on pouvait rencontrer dans des mosquées, des écoles coraniques, des clubs de sport, des associations, etc. Puis, la nébuleuse, diminuée par des années de luttes, s’est servi du net qui présente l’avantage de pouvoir toucher des populations (majoritairement jeunes) bien plus importantes et ce, à moindres risques, du moins pour les recruteurs. (…) Daesh a encore davantage professionnalisé sa communication en tenant compte des attentes des jeunes dans le domaine cinématographique et des jeux vidéo. En effet, ses sites de propagande rappellent l’imaginaire, le morbide et la violence qui sont souvent présents dans de nombreux jeux vidéo. (…) Les « loups solitaires » et apparentés sont à ranger dans les « moyens » du terrorisme qui n’est qu’une technique de combat du faible au fort. Même si, par miracle, la cause de l’islam radical venait à s’estomper, la méthode terroriste serait alors employée par d’autres adeptes d’idéologies extrêmes : extrême-droite, extrême-gauche, écologie radicale, anarchisme, etc. (…) Il fut un temps dans l’Histoire où la communauté internationale n’a pas voulu croire qu’Hitler appliquerait ce qu’il éructait. Le problème avec les islamistes radicaux islamiques, c’est qu’ils disent ce qu’ils vont faire et font ce qu’ils ont dit : « Allah a jeté l’effroi dans les cœurs et ils sont terrorisés par le retour du Califat et la bannière noire du Tawhid (monothéisme) qui bientôt flottera sur la Mecque, Médine, Bagdad, Constantinople jusqu’à Rome » (…) toutefois (…) ce phénomène peut être combattu avec efficacité. En effet, les volontaires désireux de lancer un acte violent isolé souhaitent généralement laisser leur empreinte dans l’Histoire. Leur ego leur commande que l’on se souvienne d’eux car leur objectif principal est de sortir de l’anonymat et d’une vie qu’ils jugent stérile. Pour ce faire, ils préparent et diffusent, parfois à l’avance, des messages destinés à revendiquer leurs actions. Ils offrent alors ainsi l’opportunité aux services de lutte de les découvrir avant même d’avoir pu passer à l’acte. De plus, leur manque de professionnalisme est un handicap à leur dangerosité même s’ils font de malheureuses victimes. Et en aucun cas, ils ne peuvent mettre en danger les sociétés qu’ils attaquent. Au contraire, ils provoquent des sursauts d’union nationale en montrant que la Démocratie a un prix. Alain Rodier

De la folie qui ne manque pas de méthode …

Profils des recrues (psychologies sensibles, vrais « solitaires » auto-radicalisés en ligne, « loups solitaires » radicalisés par des activistes via les réseaux sociaux, « meutes de loups » par radicalisation mutuelle,  « attaquants solitaires » « télécommandés », rapatriés du champ de bataille dits « returnees ») …

Instances de recrutement (mosquées, écoles coraniques, clubs de sport, associations, prisons, internet, réseaux sociaux, journaux et recettes en ligne: le tristement fameux « Comment fabriquer une bombe dans la cuisine de votre maman » qui permettra aux frères Tsarnaev de faire, avec une simple cocotte-minute, 3 morts et 264 blessés au marathon de Boston) …

Idéologie de validation » (l’islam et le Coran dans sa version la plus littérale avec application modernisée via les théories du complot) …

Désignation de l’action (la guerre sainte) et des cibles prioritaires (juifs, croisés et apostats) …

Mimétisme médiatique pour l’effet d’entraînement (via le matraquage complice des chaines de télévision en mal de contenu et d’audience à la fois des actions et des images de propagande calquées sur « l’imaginaire, le morbide et la violence » des jeux vidéo de nos enfants) ….

A l’heure où nombre de nos dirigeants et médias, à commencer par le prétendu chef de file du Monde libre, n’ont toujours pas réussi à nommer l’ennemi

L’idéologie qui le motive …

Ou même leurs victimes désignées …

Excellente remise des pendules à l’heure avec la note d’actualité du Centre français sur le renseignement du mois dernier sur les loups solitaires …

Qui a l’immense mérite de rappeler, contre l’indécrottable culture de l’excuse de nos belles âmes, qu’il y a de la méthode derrière l’apparente folie djiahdiste …

A savoir que nous avons affaire à un projet organisé et à un choix stratégique proprement terroristes (massacrer quelques uns pour terrifier l’ensemble afin d’imposer à des populations entières leur projet de domination totale) …

Repris largement, tout en les modernisant, des groupes terroristes précédents et donc réutilisables dans l’avenir par les probablement inévitables successeurs (extrême-droite, extrême-gauche, écologie radicale, anarchisme, etc.) …

Par des groupes prêts à faire feu de tout bois pour recruter, valider et entrainer leurs tueurs et chair à canon …

Mais que si cette nouvelle stratégie pose effectivement des problèmes jusque là inédits, elle n’est pas sans parade …

A condition bien sûr, sans compter les financements de nos prétendus amis, de la prendre au sérieux tout en ne s’en faisant pas les propagateurs complices ou même en lui donnant des idées

Notamment via le désir des adeptes de marquer l’histoire et donc de laisser des traces …

Sans compter l’effet « sursaut d’union nationale » « montrant que la Démocratie a un prix  » …

NOTE D’ACTUALITÉ N°378
QU’EST-CE QU’UN LOUP SOLITAIRE ?
Alain Rodier

CF2R

01-01-2015

L’expression « loup solitaire » est souvent employée pour désigner des personnes isolées qui se livrent à un ou plusieurs actes de violence dont la majorité peut être caractérisée de « terroriste ». Différentes études ont tenté d’approfondir ce concept pour essayer de comprendre le fonctionnement de ce phénomène. Le but est d’entraver, autant que faire se peut, tout passage à l’acte. En effet, de marginal avant les années 1990, le phénomène des tueurs solitaires a tendance à se développer depuis ces dernières années.

Définitions
Tout d’abord, l’appellation de « loup solitaire » est trop réductrice. Selon les observations qui ont pu être faites, particulièrement aux Etats-Unis qui ont connu le plus d’attaques de ce type, il est possible de distinguer quatre catégories d’individus qui peuvent répondre à ce concept.

– Les « solitaires » qui n’ont aucun contact avec une organisation terroriste en dehors d’aller consulter sur le net les pages de propagande. Ils n’ont pas non plus de liaisons avec des activistes via les réseaux sociaux ou d’autres moyens de communication. Deux cas récents répondent à ces critères. Celui de Man Haron Monis, un ancien chiite iranien converti au sunnisme radical, auteur en décembre 2014, de la prise d’otages du café Lindt de Sydney qui s’est terminée tragiquement (trois morts). Peu après, celui de Bertrand « Biläl » Nzohabonano, qui a attaqué un commissariat à Joué-Lès-Tours (trois blessés et le suspect abattu par la police). L’étudiant américain d’origine iranienne Mohammad Reza Taheri qui a précipité sa jeep Cherokee dans la foule de l’Université de Caroline du Nord de Chapel Hill en 2006 pour « venger la mort de musulmans de par le monde » en est aussi un exemple (9 blessés).

– Les « loups solitaires » à proprement parler. Ces derniers ont des contacts avec des activistes, essentiellement via les réseaux sociaux. Ainsi, le major Nidal Malik Hassan, responsable du massacre de Fort Hood (13 morts, 30 blessés) en 2009, correspondait régulièrement avec le prêcheur américain d’origine yéménite Anwar Al Awlaki. Il l’avait rencontré alors que ce dernier occupait les fonctions de recteur de la mosquée Dar al-Hijrah de Falls Church, dans l’Etat de Washington. Bien qu’indirectement impliqué dans les attentats du 11 septembre 2001 (plusieurs des kamikazes fréquentaient sa mosquée), il est parvenu à quitter les Etats-Unis en 2002 et s’est installé au Yémen. En 2006, il a commencé à sévir sur le net pour le compte d’Al-Qaida dans la péninsule arabique (AQAP), un mouvement affilié à Al-Qaida « canal historique ». Sa mort, lors d’un bombardement ciblé de la CIA, le 30 septembre 2011, a interrompu ses prêches mais ses discours continuent à circuler sur la toile, influençant d’autres activistes. Il semble que cela ait été le cas des frères Dkokhar et Tamerlan Tsarnaev, d’origine daghestanaise, auteurs de l’attentat dirigé contre le marathon de Boston, le 15 avril 2013 (3 morts, 264 blessés). Ils ont également assassiné un policier sur le campus du Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) avant d’être neutralisés. Toutefois, parce que les deux frères Tsarnaev agissaient ensemble, ils sont plutôt à ranger dans la catégorie suivante : les « meutes de loups ».

– Les « meutes de loups » sont des groupuscules de quelques individus (il en faut au moins deux) qui s’auto-radicalisent mutuellement dans une sorte de fuite en avant. A cette catégorie appartiennent, en dehors du cas cité précédemment, John Allen Muhammad né Williams et Lee Malvo, qui ont tué 10 personnes au hasard en 2002 avec un fusil à lunette depuis le coffre aménagé d’une limousine. John Allen Muhammad, un vétéran de la première guerre du Golfe avait entraîné son jeune compagnon dans sa cavale sanglante. Il était l’objet de problèmes psychiatriques (« syndrome de la guerre du Golfe »). Il avait aussi connu deux divorces et des déboires professionnels (carrière ratée dans l’armée puis deux échecs dans le civil). Il a été exécuté en 2009. Son compagnon qu’il considérait un peu comme son fils, mineur au moment des faits, a écopé de six condamnations à perpétuité sans possibilité de réduction de peine. Il semble que l’intention des deux tueurs était d’exiger une rançon de la part du gouvernement américain pour ensuite financer le recrutement d’adeptes qui auraient déclenché d’autres tueries aux Etats-Unis.

– Les « attaquants solitaires » sont des individus directement activés par la hiérarchie d’une organisation terroriste avec laquelle ils n’entretiennent volontairement plus de contact par souci de clandestinité. Ils n’entrent alors plus vraiment dans la catégorie des « loups solitaires », mais dans celle des « activistes télécommandés ». En l’état actuel des enquêtes, Mohammed Merah et Medhi Nemouche, ayant eu des contacts directs avec des djihadistes – le premier au Pakistan avec Al-Qaida « canal historique », le deuxième en Syrie avec Daesh – semblent entrer dans cette catégorie. A savoir qu’il leur aurait été demandé de passer à l’action une fois de retour en Europe. Toutefois, aucune opération précise n’avait été programmée, leurs mentors leur laissant décider des modalités d’exécution de leurs crimes. Les victimes n’étaient pas choisies au hasard : il s’agissait soit de militaires, soit de membres de la communauté juive. Globalement, les returnees, ceux qui reviennent d’une terre de djihad, sont des « attaquants solitaires » en puissance même si, heureusement, tous ne passeront pas à l’action. Le rôle des enquêteurs qui les débriefent est primordial. Ce sont eux qui peuvent déterminer parmi des dizaines d’individus lesquels représentent réellement un risque.

Un peu de psychologie
Il y aurait une grande différence entre les activistes agissant isolément (les trois premières catégories évoquées ci-avant) et ceux qui vont mener le djihad à l’étranger. Les premiers cités présenteraient souvent une pathologie psychiatrique ainsi qu’une inaptitude à la socialisation. Ainsi, le passé de ces individus a révélé qu’ils se mettaient volontairement à l’écart, que beaucoup avaient été les témoins – et parfois les acteurs – de crises familiales et qu’ils étaient souvent confrontés au chômage. Certains faisaient usage de drogue quand ils ne participaient pas directement à son trafic. Tout cela provoque des désordres psychologiques importants ; ainsi beaucoup sont dépressifs et certains présentent des caractères obsessionnels-compulsifs. Les deux « conducteurs fous » qui ont percuté volontairement la foule à Dijon et à Nantes peu avant Noël 2014 semblent en être l’illustration parfaite. Celui de Dijon était passé 147 fois en hôpital psychiatrique au cours des quatre années précédentes. Quant à celui de Nantes, en dehors du fait qu’il avait 1,8 gramme d’alcool/litre de sang (quatre fois la dose minimale tolérée), il avait laissé un carnet dans lequel il exprimait sa « haine de la société […], le risque d’être tué par les services secrets […], le dénigrement de sa famille sur internet ».

Quand on regarde le parcours des personnes citées dans les trois catégories définies plus haut, il est frappant de constater que beaucoup d’entre elles présentaient des problèmes psychologiques importants. De là à affirmer que leurs actes n’étaient pas « terroristes », nous entrons dans une polémique politicienne bien franco-française… Quant au degré de responsabilité des suspects (encore en vie) en fonction de leur état mental, cela promet d’âpres batailles d’experts dans les tribunaux devant lesquels ils seront éventuellement traduits.

Il convient aussi de prendre en compte l’effet d’entraînement provoqué par le mimétisme médiatique. Un acte terroriste qui tourne en boucle sur les chaînes de télévision peut donner le courage à des personnes isolées de passer à leur tour à l’action. Ainsi, la méthode qui consiste à faucher des passants avec un véhicule, prônée par Daesh, a été employée à plusieurs reprises en Israël et deux fois au Canada à l’automne 2014. L’usage d’armes blanches comme à Joué-lès-Tours avait déjà eu lieu en mai 2013 contre un soldat patrouillant dans le cadre du plan Vigipirate dans la gare RER de la Défense et, deux jours auparavant, deux individus avaient assassiné un militaire britannique de la même manière à Londres.

Le rôle de la propagande
Au début, les futurs activistes ne sont généralement pas affiliés à une quelconque idéologie. Ce sont leurs problèmes personnels qui les poussent à en adopter une. D’ailleurs, plus leurs problèmes augmentent en intensité, plus la radicalisation s’accélère. Et plus ils se radicalisent, plus ils s’isolent et sont animés d’un mal-être qui ne peut être résolu que par le passage à l’acte. C’est un véritable cercle vicieux.

L’idéologie (dans le cas des islamistes, l’interprétation maximaliste du salafisme djihadiste guerrier) n’est pas, dans la plupart des cas, l’élément déclencheur du passage à l’acte. Elle n’en n’est que le prétexte avancé pour le justifier. C’est une sorte d’« idéologie de la validation » qui permet de transférer toutes les frustrations personnelles dans la transgression des règles.

Les mouvements islamiques radicaux ont toujours tenté de profiter de ce facteur pour enrôler de nouveaux activistes. Le discours consiste à affirmer que l’islam est le seul à même de résoudre les problèmes personnels de leurs futurs adeptes tout en satisfaisant leur besoin de vengeance vis-à-vis de ce qu’ils ressentent comme étant une injustice. Il est fait appel à l’esprit de compassion en montrant les « horreurs » que subissent les populations musulmanes de par le monde. La théorie du complot est aussi largement répandue avec, en particulier la diffusion des Protocoles des Sages de Sion[1] et l’insinuation que les attaques du 11 septembre 2001[2] ont été commises par la CIA et le Mossad… L’ennemi est toujours désigné clairement : les « croisés » qui sont des « idolâtres car ils adorent la croix et attribuent un enfant au Seigneur des cieux et de la terre », les juifs, qui sont les « agresseurs », et les « apostats » qui sont des traîtres à l’islam[3]. Ces discours connaissent un grand retentissement auprès de certains Français qui n’hésitent pas à déclarer sur Tweeter : « nous continuerons à frapper vos civils comme vous le faîtes dans nos pays en Irak ou en Syrie. L’islam se réveille malgré vous ».

Al-Qaida « canal historique » a tout d’abord utilisé des agents recruteurs que l’on pouvait rencontrer dans des mosquées, des écoles coraniques, des clubs de sport, des associations, etc. Puis, la nébuleuse, diminuée par des années de luttes, s’est servi du net qui présente l’avantage de pouvoir toucher des populations (majoritairement jeunes) bien plus importantes et ce, à moindres risques, du moins pour les recruteurs. Un des plus célèbre a été Anwar Al Awlaqi. En dehors des réseaux sociaux, il utilisait une revue en ligne dénommée Inspire. Cette dernière offrait encore une vision « journalistique » du djihad et détaillait des recettes de terrorisme et de guérilla. Le premier numéro comportait un article intitulé « Comment fabriquer une bombe dans la cuisine de votre maman », ce qui a permis aux frères Tsarnaev de confectionner un engin explosif improvisé dans une cocotte-minute.

Dans le dernier numéro d’Inspire, le cheikh Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi d’Al-Qaida dans la péninsule arabique (AQAP) parle sans détour : « les lions d’Allah qui sont présents partout de par le monde – certains les appellent les « loups solitaires » – doivent savoir qu’ils sont le pire des cauchemars de l’Ouest. Ainsi, ne sous-estimez pas vos opérations. Ne minimisez pas votre djihad ». En outre, la revue Inspire désigne les grandes compagnies aériennes occidentales comme des objectifs prioritaires.

Daesh a encore davantage professionnalisé sa communication en tenant compte des attentes des jeunes dans le domaine cinématographique et des jeux vidéo. En effet, ses sites de propagande rappellent l’imaginaire, le morbide et la violence qui sont souvent présents dans de nombreux jeux vidéo. Il utilise lui la revue Dabiq. En décembre, il a lancé via le Centre médiatique al-Hayat (son organe de propagande) sa première publication en français Dar al-Islam (« Terre d’islam »).

Moins tourné vers l’action en dehors du Proche-Orient, Daesh a comme objectif principal de faire venir dans l’Etat islamique un maximum de volontaires étrangers et des familles entières. Les premiers sont destinés à compléter les rangs de son armée dont les effectifs restent limités en regard de ses ambitions. Les secondes permettent de peupler le califat. Elles y trouvent la possibilité de pratiquer « en toute liberté » leur religion. Pour cela, selon les mots de la revue Dar al-Islam, il fait état de l’« immense bienfait qu’est celui de vivre sous la foi d’Allah au milieu de croyants. Et pour rappeler à ceux qui n’ont pas accompli l’obligation d’émigrer de la terre de mécréance et de guerre vers celle de l’Islam qu’ils sont en immense danger dans ce monde et dans l’autre ».

Selon Abou Bakr al-Baghdadi, l’émir de Daech, tout musulman doit lui faire allégeance (Bay’ah) et a le devoir de le rejoindre (Hijrah) pour renforcer l’Etat islamique qu’il est en train de fonder. Mais ceux qui, pour une raison ou une autre, ne peuvent gagner le front syro-irakien doivent déclencher des actions offensives là où ils se trouvent et comme ils le peuvent. C’est un appel clair à tous les solitaires qui souhaitent passer à l’action. Là également le message est limpide: « tuez-les, crachez-leur au visage, et écrasez-les avec vos voitures ». Il fut un temps dans l’Histoire où la communauté internationale n’a pas voulu croire qu’Hitler appliquerait ce qu’il éructait. Le problème avec les islamistes radicaux islamiques, c’est qu’ils disent ce qu’ils vont faire et font ce qu’ils ont dit : « Allah a jeté l’effroi dans les cœurs et ils sont terrorisés par le retour du Califat et la bannière noire du Tawhid (monothéisme) qui bientôt flottera sur la Mecque, Médine, Bagdad, Constantinople jusqu’à Rome ».

*

Il convient toutefois de rester prudent sur les conclusions de ces études qui ne portent que sur quelques dizaines de cas connus. Il faut aussi partir du principe que, comme ailleurs, il y a de nombreuses « exceptions qui confirment la règle ». Même si la majorité des cas d’actions terroristes relèvent de l’islam radical, il est aussi important de constater que les milieux d’extrême-droite sont aussi concerné – particulièrement aux Etats-Unis -, sans oublier le cas d’Andrea Behring Breivik qui a tué 77 personnes et en a blessé 151 autres, le 22 juillet 2011 en Norvège.

Les « loups solitaires » et apparentés sont à ranger dans les « moyens » du terrorisme qui n’est qu’une technique de combat du faible au fort. Même si, par miracle, la cause de l’islam radical venait à s’estomper, la méthode terroriste serait alors employée par d’autres adeptes d’idéologies extrêmes : extrême-droite, extrême-gauche, écologie radicale, anarchisme, etc.

Enfin, il convient de ne pas verser dans le pessimisme du style « les loups solitaires sont indétectables car non connus des services de renseignement ». En effet, ce phénomène peut être combattu avec efficacité. En effet, les volontaires désireux de lancer un acte violent isolé souhaitent généralement laisser leur empreinte dans l’Histoire. Leur ego leur commande que l’on se souvienne d’eux car leur objectif principal est de sortir de l’anonymat et d’une vie qu’ils jugent stérile. Pour ce faire, ils préparent et diffusent, parfois à l’avance, des messages destinés à revendiquer leurs actions. Ils offrent alors ainsi l’opportunité aux services de lutte de les découvrir avant même d’avoir pu passer à l’acte. De plus, leur manque de professionnalisme est un handicap à leur dangerosité même s’ils font de malheureuses victimes. Et en aucun cas, ils ne peuvent mettre en danger les sociétés qu’ils attaquent. Au contraire, ils provoquent des sursauts d’union nationale en montrant que la Démocratie a un prix.

[1] C’est un faux qui prétend que les juifs et les francs-maçons ont un plan de conquête du monde. Ecrit en 1901 à Paris par un informateur des services secrets russes, il a été repris par les nazis et par tous les antisémites voulant donner une raison « historique » à leurs abominations.
[2] A l’heure actuelle, force est de constater que la grande majorité de ce que l’on appelle « la rue arabe », croit fermement en cette thèse. La propagande islamique radicale a été particulièrement efficace pour faire passer cette intoxication.
[3] L’immense majorité des victimes du terrorisme islamique sont des musulmans. Il n’y a pas une semaine qui se passe sans que des attentats de masse n’aient lieu au Pakistan, en Irak ou ailleurs. Les chiites sont particulièrement visés car, dans l’esprit des théoriciens de l’islam radical sunnite, ils sont encore « pires » que les chrétiens et les juifs, appelés « les gens du Livre » car adeptes des religions monothéistes. En effet, ces derniers sont des « ennemis » qui peuvent éventuellement être convertis, ou payer un impôt spécifique (dhimma), sinon ils sont tués. En revanche, les chiites sont des traîtres qui doivent être massacrés.

Voir aussi:

Planes, Trains, and Car Bombs: The Method Behind the Madness of Terrorism
Michael Shellenberger, Ted Nordhaus, Nick Adams
The Breakthrough
January 13, 2012

As we marked the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, we also marked the expiration date of countless predictions that other devastating al Qaeda (inspired, financed, or directed) attacks would occur on US soil within a decade of that fateful day. Little more than a week after the atrocities, Attorney General John Ashcroft worried aloud « that terrorist activity against the United States may increase once this country responds to [the] attacks. » Ten days later, Democratic Senator Carl Levin told Fox News that « biological and chemical threats … are real. We ought to put resources there. » Republican Representative Chris Shays of Connecticut was more trenchant: « I am absolutely certain that terrorists, if they don’t have access to biological weapons now, will; and I am absolutely certain that they will use them. The expertise exists. The potential that it has been shared with a terrorist is almost a no brainer. » President Bush pushed the possibility of catastrophe to its logical extreme: « these terrorists … are seeking chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. Given the means, our enemies would be a threat to every nation and, eventually, to civilization itself. »

Such dire predictions were not confined to the political class. Terrorism experts and academics like Walter Laqueur, Jessica Stern, Bruce Hoffman, Mark Juergensmeyer, and many others had seized upon the notion that a « new terrorism » was emerging. Even before 9/11, Laqueur wrote that « yesterday’s nuisance has become one of the gravest dangers facing mankind. » Many proponents of the « new terrorism » meme became even more emphatic after the attacks, arguing that religiously-inspired terrorism had become divorced from rationality. Laqueur lamented that « until recently, terrorism was, by and large, discriminate, selecting its victims carefully… It was, more often than not, ‘propaganda by deed.’ Contemporary terrorism has increasingly become indiscriminate in the choice of its victims. Its aim is no longer to conduct propaganda but to effect maximum destruction. » Laqueur described the new terrorists as « paranoiac » and driven by « all-consuming, » « nonexistent hidden motives » leading to « a loss of the sense of reality. » « The outlook, » he concluded, « is poor; there are no known cures for fanaticism and paranoia. »

With the political and expert classes significantly aligned in their description of insane, religiously fanatical terrorists determined to kill millions with weapons of mass destruction, journalists and the public could do little but wait for the next heavy shoe to drop. As they looked around them, they saw vulnerabilities everywhere. After rumors of the potential for biological or chemical attacks on America’s water supply raced through the internet, The New York Times reported on local governments’ efforts to secure reservoirs and other sources of drinking water: « Helicopters, patrol boats and armed guards sweep across the watershed feeding New York City, enforcing a temporary ban on fishing, hunting, and hiking. Massachusetts has sealed commuter roads that run atop dams or wind down to the water’s edge. And Utah has enlisted the help of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to peer down at reservoirs from planes and satellites, hoping to spot any weak points. » By November 1st, USA Today was reporting that « scientists and politicians are growing increasingly worried about another possible target for terrorists: the food supply. » Several authors over the years have also flagged America’s vulnerability to internet attacks that could significantly disrupt the critical infrastructure upon which our economy depends. In a recent report, Washington’s Bipartisan Policy Center recommended that « defending the U.S. against such attacks must be an urgent priority. » « This is not science fiction, » they wrote, « It is possible to take down cyber systems and trigger cascading disruptions and damage. »

Even as our greatest fears have not come to pass, the drive to promote measures eliminating even the impression of risk or threat has hardly lost momentum. Despite the fact that the United States has developed enough vaccine to inoculate its entire population against the two most deadly biological agents that terrorists might conceivably learn to produce someday, The New York Times Magazine recently published a long article suggesting that more should be done — that billions should be spent developing and stockpiling vaccine for every disease that terrorists could possibly use to harm Americans. Never mind that terrorists have shown no capacity to successfully develop and weaponize any of them.

Despite the perennial warnings about exotic weapons and targets (warnings that, ironically, offer terrorists tantalizing clues about how and where the United States is vulnerable), members and allies of al Qaeda’s hirabi (AKA ‘jihadi’) movement continue to carry out the same sorts of attacks they executed in the decades before 9/11. In 1993, hirabis used a truck bomb in an attempt to topple the World Trade Center, the same tactic they used in 1996 to bomb the Khobar Towers barracks in Saudi Arabia, and in 1998 to bomb US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. In 2000, they used a different vehicle – a small boat – to approach their target when they bombed the USS Cole in the port of Aden, Yemen. A year later, they used different vehicles again, airplanes, to bomb the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon. Months later a hirabi named Richard Reid attempted to bomb a plane itself with a chemical explosive hidden in his shoe. In May 2002, a car bomb killed 14 people at a Karachi hotel frequented by Westerners. In October of that year, another bomb, placed in a Bali nightclub, killed 202 mostly Australian citizens.

In 2004, hirabis detonated ten bombs on four trains in Madrid, killing nearly 200 people. A year later, hirabis attacked three trains and a bus in London. Later in 2005, bombs placed at American hotels in Amman, Jordan killed 57 people. In 2007, British police uncovered a car-bomb plot targeting Glasgow airport. In 2008, a car bomb killed six people and injured dozens more outside Pakistan’s Danish Embassy. Al Qaeda claimed the attack was retaliation for an offensive political cartoon. In September 2009, Najibullah Zazi was arrested in the final stages of a plan to replicate the Madrid attacks of 2004 in New York City’s subway system. On Christmas Day of the same year, Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted and failed to down a passenger plane over Detroit by detonating a chemical bomb concealed under his clothes. The next spring, Faisal Shahzad tried to detonate a car bomb in Times Square, but failed. Months later, in October 2010, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula placed explosive devices in cargo planes, but cooperating international intelligence agencies foiled their plans before they could detonate the bombs. Most recently, Rezwan Ferdaus has been charged with a plot to use remote controlled planes to deliver bombs to the Pentagon. All of these and other al Qaeda directed, financed, or inspired attacks have targeted planes, trains, buses, government and symbolic buildings, and western hotels with bombs (and sometimes assault weapons).

The stark contrast between the hirabi repertoire of targets and tactics and the expansive and expanding concerns of journalists, politicians, experts, and academics begs explanation. We find that the pattern of hirabi attacks is not accidental. It is well-suited to their primary strategy — one attempting to iteratively grow support for their cause so they can one day gain political power and govern territory. That their goals are likely delusional does not diminish the rationality of their strategy, the tactics they use, or the targets they select, all of which are chosen to manipulate the governments they seek to change and the publics they seek to recruit. Various internal and external constraints on hirabi organizations also limit their capability, and thereby, the range of tactics and strategies they can pursue. This paper explores in depth all of these factors shaping hirabi activity.

Download a copy of the report here.

Read the debate surrounding our report here.

 Voir également:

Evidence-Based Counterterrorism or Flying Blind? How to Understand and Achieve What Works

Rebecca Freese

Perpectives on terrorism

Terrorism analysts

2014

Abstract

Many counterterrorism efforts in last decades, and especially since 9/11, have been plagued with doubts as to whether or not they actually make us safer. Unfortunately, the terrorism research that is needed to better plan and evaluate counterterrorism efforts has suffered from both a lack of sufficient rigour and lack of influence on policy-making. This article reviews the state of terrorism research and evidence-based practice in counterterrorism, and the challenges to both. A framework is proposed for the kind of research that needs to be conducted in order to develop evidence-based counterterrorism programs as well as the subsequent evaluative research on existing programs as part of a wider quality improvement program. The argument is made that there is a need for a concrete infrastructure of evidence-based practice and quality improvement in counterterrorism to ensure the best outcomes for national security. The components of a full spectrum quality improvement program in counterterrorism are described. Insights are garnered from the field of medicine, which has recently delved full force into evidence-based practice and quality improvement.

Keywords: counterterrorism, research, evaluation

Introduction

“Without big data, you are blind and deaf and in the middle of the freeway.”[1] This is how we need to think about the risks of not collecting and analyzing the extensive amount of data available in our modern world today. Data is the raw information that is transformed through analysis into “evidence.” And it is this evidence that paints the picture of what is truly happening in the environment so that one can make enlightened decisions to achieve the desired end results (and not get hit by that truck).

Evidence-based practice (EBP) refers to those practices, actions, and decisions that are grounded in objective evidence obtained from sound, scientific research and analysis. It works to eliminate the element of opinion, gut-instinct, guesswork, or emotion, which can be poisonous to the decision-making process. The goal of using EBP is simply to arrive at those decisions that can produce the most successful outcomes.

The concept of evidence-based practice originated in the field of medicine in the 1990s with what is known as “evidence-based medicine”[2], but its philosophical origins go back to at least the mid-19th century.[3] Evidence-based medicine is defined as the “conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients.”[4] Medical practitioners aim to treat patients with methods that have been shown to work and the concept and use of evidence-based medicine has become a deep part of the medical culture. Although there are still significant gaps within the medical field between the knowledge of evidence-based medicine and its universal use,[5] the momentum is always in the direction of using research to guide practice. Because of its importance, hospitals, training programs, and practitioners tout the use of evidence-based medicine as a badge of honor when communicating to their audiences. It has become accepted that in order to participate in the modern arena of medicine, practitioners must be focused on the application of available evidence as to what works in the daily care of their patients. This is not to say that individual patient scenarios and practitioner experience and judgment do not mix with the available evidence to ultimately lead to final decisions, but when possible, subjectivity and guesswork are removed from the equation.

Because of the benefits of this informed and structured approached to decision-making, EBP has extended to many other fields such as psychology, criminology, and education. Although each field, whether a physical or social science, has its own individual characteristics, inherent nature, and unique challenges (as is true when comparing counterterrorism and the practice of medicine), the underlying principles of EBP are the same. That is to say, in any field, one searches for and employs the “conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence” in deciding the most appropriate course of action for the purpose of arriving at the best outcomes. With the concept of evidence-based practice in mind, this article explores the state of counterterrorism (CT) efforts in relation to research, evidence, and practice and proposes infrastructure modifications that assist in EBP and the achievement of best outcomes in counterterrorism.

Counterterrorism in Action

Terrorism is not a new phenomenon and one can see prototypes, albeit with differing characteristics and tactics, throughout history. Modern terrorism of the 1960s and 1970s, which was mostly hierarchical, secular, and more discriminate has evolved and enveloped in religious ideology, become more decentralised, and manifests a greater determination to create large-scale death and destruction to achieve its goals. Unfortunately, the future of terrorism could be even more worrisome. The wave of suicide terrorism that began in the 1980s has the potential to morph into ever more destructive chemical, biological, radiologic, nuclear (CBRN), and cyber attacks. Therefore, it is prudent to understand how terrorism threats can most effectively be countered.

Although national governments have always invested in protecting their citizens’ way of life, resources and energy devoted to counterterrorism have grown substantially since the attacks of 11 September 2001 on New York and Washington DC. In the wake of 9/11, the United States government created an entirely new agency, the Department of Homeland Security, to deal with the increasing threat. The range of counterterrorism efforts fall all along the spectrum from law enforcement, security of potential targets, emergency response systems, and treatment of victims to economic aid and sanctions, international resolutions, and media relations.[6] In the United States, one can see the results of counterterrorism policies everywhere, from the security checkpoints at airports to targeted killings via drone attacks in South Asia on the Al-Qaeda leadership to worldwide surveillance programs. Yet how can one really know whether or not these counter-measures are truly effective and achieve the desired outcome – enhanced security?

Recently in Foreign Affairs, two security studies experts debated whether drone attacks actually work in achieving counterterrorism goals. The argument for the use of drone attacks focused on the benefit of eliminating key Al Qaeda leadership figures, interruption of terrorist safe havens, and the fewer civilian deaths caused by drones in comparison to alternative modes of warfare.[7] The counterargument highlighted the damage the drone program causes to U.S. legitimacy, the loss of key intelligence during a strike, the enabling of jihadi recruitment, and the short-term perspective that hinders long-term strategy.[8] What was striking about this debate is that it was not based on much more than informed opinions. Frustratingly, it seems that much of our counterterrorism policy today is based on such hypotheses and speculation. How much more productive would the conversation be if determinations of when, where, and how to use targeted killings could be supported by actual evidence produced from objective scientific research? It is much easier to make an argument for or against something when you have evidence on your side.

Analysis

Terrorism Research

Since research is the foundation for the evidence needed to make informed decisions when developing and evaluating counterterrorism programs, it is imperative to understand the state of research in the field of terrorism studies (for the purpose of this article, “terrorism research” refers to both research on terrorism and its associated counterterrorism response).

For research results to be valuable and useful to decision-makers who formulate policies that drive counterterrorism programs, the research must be of high quality, with conclusions that are informative, applicable, based on factual data, and have sufficiently high validity and reliability. Much of the research that is most useful in creating this type of evidence is empirical research. Empirical research is a form of rigorous research that is “based on observed and measured phenomena and derives knowledge from actual experience rather than from theory or belief.”[9] The remarkable shortage of studies that are empirical in nature has been one of the most salient features of terrorism research.[10,11] Based on a comprehensive literature search of all peer-reviewed articles related to terrorism or political violence, Lum et al. found in 2008 that a mere 3% involved empirical analyses (either quantitative or qualitative); 1% were case studies, and 96% were what the authors described as “thought pieces.”[12]

Other shortcomings have been noted. Reviewing literature between 1995 and 2000, Silke found in 2001 that the use of statistical analyses in terrorism research in major journals was exceedingly low while the use of inferential statistics specifically never exceeded 4% of all articles [13]. The use of inferential statistics allows predictions to be made about the entire population based on the analysis of a sample studied [14] and therefore is important for justifying whether research conclusions should be used as evidence when formulating policy. Optimistically, the amount of terrorism research using inferential statistics has slowly been on the rise, with an almost quadrupling in the 7 years since 9/11, although still representing fewer than 12% of all articles examined.[15,16] Silke has also noted a conspicuous lack of methodological range being used in terrorism research, finding the counterterrorism field to be dominated by secondary data analysis using easily accessible sources of data (e.g. books, journals, and media) [17] with the creation of new knowledge only representing approximately 20 percent of the research conducted.[18] A follow-up analysis revealed that literature reviews continue to be the main mode of research in terrorism studies.[19] Schuurman and Eijkman also note the lack of primary research in the terrorism field as an impediment for progress, describing reliable primary data as “vital if we are to truly advance our understanding of terrorism: from its causes and precipitating dynamics to the best way to counter or prevent it.”[20] This is not to say that all research needs to involve primary data, be quantitative or involve sophisticated statistical analyses but it is crucial for published research to represent a range of methodologies. Such variation produces the most meaningful insights about terrorism and therefore can best guide practice.

The quality of terrorism research can also be examined as to whether or not it qualifies as “explanatory research.” Silke, expounding on work by Psychologist Colin Robson, describes research as progressing from exploratory (which helps start the process of building a foundation of knowledge and frequently consists of case studies) to descriptive and then finally to explanatory research, the later being the most scientifically rigorous, reliable, and applicable.[21] Silke notes that, “field areas which fail to make this final transition [to explanatory research] are left with constant gaps in their knowledge base and a fatal uncertainty over the causes of events and what are the truly significant factors at work”[22] and therefore cannot make the leap to producing results that are of predictive value.[23] Thus, without explanatory research, there is little upon which evidence-based counterterrorism practice can be formulated.

Another issue of concern in terrorism research has been the researchers themselves. In 2001, Silke found that 90 percent of all terrorism research was done by a single individual, making the creation of time-intensive statistics needed for more substantive research exceedingly difficult.[24] During the entire decade of the 1990s, he found that 80% of all the researchers who contributed to terrorism journals only wrote one article pertaining to the field during that time.[25] To a large degree this can be explained by the fact that many of the articles have been written by researchers whose primary concentration was in another field, such as psychology or sociology.[26,27,28] Although, terrorism research benefits greatly from a multidisciplinary approach, researchers are needed who research repeatedly and consistently in the field. Since 9/11, there has in fact been an upward trend in these types of dedicated researchers as well as a greater degree of collaborative research.[29,30]

These weaknesses in terrorism research may be why Sageman laments that although there has been an increase in energy and commitment to terrorism research since 9/11, there are still fundamental questions about terrorism for which we have no good answers, particularly why an individual turns to political violence.[31] He argues that one of the problems is that the United States government has not provided sufficient support for the methodical accumulation of detailed and comprehensive data that is critical for answering many of these questions. Without sufficiently extensive, and varied databases and empirical, explanatory research utilizing varied methodologies, along with numerous, dedicated researchers in the field, the evidence needed for the formulation of evidence-based counterterrorism programs will continue to falter.

Evaluative Research

Not only are there weaknesses in the research needed to formulate counterterrorism programs, but there is also a lack of research that evaluates the effectiveness of these programs once they are in effect. Most research in the field tends to focus on the explanations, causes, and sociology of terrorism.[32] Lum, et al. determined that of the already small percentage of counterterrorism publications that met the criteria for empirical research, only a fraction of these were actually evaluative in nature.[33] Even as research in terrorism ramps up, it appears that very little research is being done to scrutinize whether or not established counterterrorism efforts are in fact achieving their intended goals.

By way of illustration, the University of Maryland’s START (National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism) program, which is a Center of Excellence for the United States Department of Homeland Security, states on its website that their mission is to “advance science-based knowledge about the human causes and consequences of terrorism as a leading resource for homeland security policymakers and practitioners.”[34] Evaluation of the effectiveness of counterterrorism programs is not explicitly stated in this mission statement. Horgan and Stern also do not emphasize evaluative research when discussing the goals of terrorism research. They claim that, “our role as scholars is to discover and understand what influences the changing nature of terrorism and the impact it will have.”[35] Determining whether or not implemented counterterrorism programs actually work is conspicuously absent from this statement on the responsibility of academia. In their article they defend the slowly but steadily improving field of terrorism research by citing examples of the solid research that is occurring in understanding “who becomes a terrorist, why, and how many there are in the West.”[36] None of the examples provided by them referred to evaluative research. Lum and Kennedy suggest that “even the most liberal governments are resistant to self-evaluation,”[37] which is likely due to the clandestine nature of national security and may largely account for why research remains invested in the etiologies of terrorism and not the evaluation of how we respond to terrorism. What results is an environment with less focus and interest by researchers on evaluative research despite the crucial importance it plays in overall counterterrorism strategy and its success.

Evidence-Based Counterterrorism

The paucity of research articles that address the question of whether or not counterterrorism efforts are evidence-based is in itself evidence of the lack of prevalence of this important concept within the field. The same handful of authors write repeatedly on this topic and the overall consensus appears to be that many of our counterterrorism efforts are, in fact, not effective. Sageman describes the “disappointing state of the field, largely consisting of wild speculations without foundation.”[38]

Most research that studies whether counterterrorism programs are effective has focused predominately on the effectiveness of existing programs [39,40] and not whether policy-makers are using research on terrorism as evidence to drive counterterrorism program development and implementation. Furthermore, the evaluative research that has been performed in the field of counterterrorism seems to have focused mainly on outcomes and not on processes or resource use. Very little is known about the cost-effectiveness of our counterterrorism efforts and how they can be improved.[41] It is about moving beyond whether or not our efforts work to understanding how they work. The lack of evaluation on resources and processes could be due to the fact that the data needed for this research has not been easily attainable. It is also likely that these measurements have taken a backseat to the more important measurement of outcomes as states struggle to come to grips with terrorism.

When Lum et al. performed an analysis of the limited but available evaluative research that was of sufficient rigour, it was found that most interventions either had no effect or were harmful (i.e. terrorism increased)[42], leading the authors to conclude that “programs are being used without any knowledge, understanding, or even attempts to determine whether they are effective.”[43] Interestingly, no study showed that military strikes worked. This highlights our need to better understand what works since there has been a propensity by states to rely on military means and force to fight terrorism. Another finding by Lum et al. underscores an important point. The results of studies conducted on the success of metal detectors and security screening were evenly split between either working and being harmful.[44] This disparity was likely due to how outcomes were defined in the different studies. If the outcome was defined as the level of hijackings, then the intervention was considered beneficial. However, if the outcome was defined as the level of non-hijacking attacks, then terrorism was found to increase. Once these security measures were put in place, it is likely that terrorists just resorted to different avenues for attacks. This stresses both the importance of defining goals when developing counterterrorism programs so that effectiveness can be measured against those specific goals as well as taking into account how unintended consequences can result from implementation of counterterrorism programs.

Adams et al. make the point that counterterrorism initiatives since 9/11 have focused more on questions of morality and legality (e.g. enhanced interrogation and ethnic profiling) with less scrutiny into whether the initiatives actually work.[45] The authors also note that evaluation has tended to focus predominantly on the success of overarching government policies and strategies with less attention to individual counterterrorism programs or tactics, making it difficult to decipher more precisely what works and what does not. In their own evaluative research, the authors determined whether the counterterrorism method met its particular aim as well as whether it was aligned with, or counterproductive to, overarching counterterrorism strategies such as “gathering useful information [favorable signal: noise ratio], prioritizing and coordinating intelligence, promoting state legitimacy, encouraging community-generated tips and support of bystanders, and undermining terrorists’ narratives.”[46] This second dimension of measurement is a useful way to tackle the question of effectiveness without having to necessarily measure the end goal of an increase or decrease in terrorist plots or attacks, which is often hard due to the relative infrequency of these events as well as the difficulty in determining causal relationships between interventions and levels of terrorism. In examining specific U.S. counterterrorism activities since 9/11, Adams et al. determined that there was no credible evidence that the use of controversial counterterrorism tactics such as enhanced interrogation, preventative detention, and expanded search and surveillance powers have contributed to thwarting any terrorist plots since 9/11.[47] On the contrary, the most effective measures appear to be those that are least controversial like thwarting terrorism fundraising, denying safe havens, preventing access to port and border crossings, and bolstering state legitimacy.

After publishing their initial research, Adams, Nordhaus, and Shellenberger wrote in an article that indeed many of the controversial “War on Terror” tactics of the post-9/11 era were in fact “abandoned or dramatically scaled back based on overwhelming evidence”[48] after they were found not to be promoting the overall goal of greater U.S. security. The authors describe tactics like preventative detentions, pain-based interrogation and ethnic and religious profiling as being replaced with more “discerning and sophisticated practices.”[49] The authors appear somewhat optimistic that this transition occurred although recognize the long, messy and unstructured process upon which these conclusion were finally drawn, they noted that forgetting lessons from history contributed to many of the more impulsive and reckless tactics. However, when the authors state that overwhelming “evidence” led to the abandonment of many of the controversial tactics, one must question the nature of this evidence. Certainly it does not seem that it was objective, scientific evidence that led to these conclusions but more of an overall sense that things were not working out. The problem with not relying on scientific evidence is that even if it is determined that a tactic is not working as intended, an opportunity is missed to understand why the tactic was ineffective. This understanding is what helps guide informed decisions going forward. Interestingly, the 2011 article states that, “multiple NSA data-mining programs have been abandoned as independent reports, most notably from the National Academies of Sciences, concluded that they simply push terrorist activity further underground.”[50] In light of what was learned in June, 2013 about the widespread, clandestine phone and Internet surveillance programs run by the NSA, it serves as a reminder of the extent to which little is known or understood about the use of evidence-based practices in counterterrorism. Adams et al. state that “national security is still practiced more as a craft than a science” [51] and that the “House and Senate Intelligence committees…have never established any formal process to consistently evaluate and improve the effectiveness of U.S. counterterrorism measures.”[52]

The reason that development of counterterrorism programs has not been evidence-based may be due to the lack of research of sufficient rigour and applicability to drive practice and/or that a sufficiently large disconnect remains between academia and policy-makers. It may also be due to the continued emotion-driven response to terrorism and an overreliance on unfounded assumptions based on gut-feelings about what “should” work. Furthermore, the fact that many existing counterterrorism efforts have not retrospectively been found to be effective is problematic, but not the main concern. What is more important for evidence-based counterterrorism is whether or not these finding are driving change in how one approaches the fight against terrorism.

Challenges to Conducting Terrorism Research

There are many pitfalls to conducting research in both the social and physical sciences and although researchers develop strategies to avoid these pitfalls and try to obtain results that approach the truth to the greatest extent possible, results are never perfect. There has been much criticism as to the state of research in terrorism but in discussing its shortcomings and areas for improvement, it is important to understand the additional, unique challenges faced by terrorism research that makes the search for the truth particularly difficult.

One of the main challenges in conducting terrorism research is the clandestine and adversarial nature of the object of study that makes it difficult to collect reliable and systematic data.[53] Data collection through interviews or surveys, which is common in the social sciences, is extremely challenging in terrorism research. For those who do desire to work directly with terrorists, terrorist organisations, and local populations to gather information, it can be a risky and unpredictable endeavour. Another monumental challenge is that the nature of the field is extremely dynamic and diverse. The players and environment are in constant flux, especially as terrorist organisations work to continually adapt themselves to counterterrorism efforts.[54] Rigorous studies can often take a great deal of time to complete and it is possible that by the time results are published, the environment and therefore applicability may have changed. Other challenges for conducting research in terrorism is the lack of access by researchers to classified information,[55] the continued lack of a generally accepted (legal) definition of terrorism [56,57] and political obstacles that have prevented a full commitment, including financial funding and long-term perspectives, to terrorism studies.[58,59] Despite the challenges of terrorism research, it is argued that the field still lends itself to systematic, sound scientific methodology.[60]

Looking Forward

How do we get to Evidence-Based Counterterrorism?

Charles F. Kettering, the US electrical engineer and inventor once said, “A problem well stated is a problem half solved.” With a grasp on the deficiencies and challenges of terrorism research and the pitfalls of not having sufficient formal structures to connect research and practice, many of the solutions needed are better understood. In fact, some of the solutions have already begun to emerge.

First, it is clear that a commitment to conducting quality, rigorous, scientific research in the field of terrorism with university, government, and private program involvement is required. The START program at the University of Maryland is an example of progress on this front. The START program aims to tackle many of the shortcomings that have existed in this field of research by creating new databases and developing a range of rigorous methodologies. An increasing number of universities are also focusing on research in security studies such as CREATE (National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events) at the University of Southern California, and the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies (CTSS) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.[61] In addition, the RAND Corporation is an institution that has created a significant body of knowledge in the field of terrorism to inform the public, first responders, and policy-makers.[62]

Research funding is also critical for facilitating the production of high quality research that will drive evidence-based counterterrorism. In 2011, the Department of Homeland Security awarded $3.6 million to Maryland’s START program [63] and the National Institute of Justice has also awarded a total of $3 million to 6 universities to conduct research on domestic radicalisation.[64] US federal financing of terrorism research is facilitated when academia can “demonstrate its relevance to policy and operational concerns”[65] and this connection between research and policy makers is another critical component of evidence-based counterterrorism. In order to prevent what Sageman calls “stagnation” in meaningful research on terrorism and its causes due to a disharmonious relationship between academia and government, an infrastructure of coordination, collaboration, and communication must be maintained between researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners.[66] In fact, many of the academic organisations engaging in terrorism research are aiming to influence policy with the results of their work. One of STARTS’s goals is to engage in outreach to policy and practitioner communities in counterterrorism. [67] Programs at Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts at Lowell (CTSS) are also being developed to “bridge the academic-practitioner divide.”[68] Merari, in analysing the disconnect between academia and government, stresses the importance of promoting influence not just indirectly, but with direct, consistent contact as well.[69] He also suggests the bilateral movement of professionals between academia and government as a means by which the two worlds can be better melded.

Researchers and academics themselves will also help advance the field of terrorism studies in critical ways and ensure that the research is relevant and applicable for decision makers. Merari notes that, “before we complain that the client does not appreciate our merchandise, we must be sure that the goods are good…”[70] Therefore, to improve the product, not only are more dedicated researchers, primary data and empirical studies needed, but researchers need to explore new and innovative methodologies and approaches for conducting terrorism research that will deal with many of its unique challenges. For example, Porter, White, and Mazerolle have developed sophisticated models in which to measure terrorism, accounting for both the frequency and impact of a terrorist attack as well as for determining the effectiveness of a given counterterrorism intervention.[71] Other work has included development of models for assessing counterterrorism policies by applying political uncertainty and complexity theory[72] and advances in the databases needed for evaluating both terrorism and counterterrorism. [73] English advocates the use of new procedures and technology to overcome many of the challenges in data collection to ensure “Information Quality Management.”[74] In addition, Horgan and Stern have advocated interviewing former terrorists as a way to better understand why individuals turn to terrorism as opposed to inferring motivations from observed actions. They believe that this can be done both safely and effectively.[75] Having research associations and conferences,[76] especially international conferences, are a beneficial way for the research community to learn, collaborate and innovate to move the field forward.

Christakis takes a very interesting and important view on how to advance the social sciences that would have important implications for studying terrorism.[77] Christakis argues that it is time to move past the traditional social science subjects of sociology, economics, anthropology, psychology, and political science and “create new social science departments that reflect the breath and complexity of the problems we face as well as the novelty of the 21st century” – similar to the strides already taken in the physical sciences.[78] With what he calls changing “the basic DNA of the social sciences,” new fields like biosocial science, network science, behavioral genetics and computational social science need to be created.[79] These new fields hold great promise for helping tackle many of the challenges of understanding terrorism. One can only imagine what sort of counterterrorism programs can be developed for better understanding terrorism with the assistance of input from fields such as behavioral genetics.

In order to advance evidence-based counterterrorism, a push for more evaluative research is needed. A better balance must be struck between investing efforts in research to understand terrorism and evaluative research; both are necessary for evidence-based practice and better outcomes. Evaluative research would also be facilitated if national security agencies created an infrastructure that incorporates research and researchers into clandestine programs. Processes that would allow researchers to obtain security clearance more easily could help achieve this goal.[80] In general, there needs to be a greater receptivity to research by security agencies.[81]

The Future of Evidence-Based Practice

The trend towards evidence-based practice is not going away. If anything, it is intensifying. In the field of medicine, the US government has taken strides to firmly embed itself in the world of evidence-based practice. In the field of medicine, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have begun to base reimbursements on the use of best practices developed from research evidence. The Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) is a program that uses both incentive payments and payment adjustments to promote reporting of quality information by healthcare practitioners.[82]

In a sign of things to come, the US Office of Management and Budget has now planned to put in place a process in which dispersal of funds to agencies will depend in part on how the agencies evaluate the 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facets of quality improvement would argue this mentality is counterproductive to the goal of creating effective counterterrorism measures and that in this incident, focusing on system failures is more useful than a focus on human failures. In fact, Senator Rand Paul mentioned that in investigating the incident, a review board found 64 things that could be changed about the way things were done. One of the goals of quality improvement is to proactively identify cracks in the system and fix them. It is often said that, “every system is per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[17] Silke, A. (2001). The devil you know: continuing problems with research on terrorism. Terrorism and Political Violence, 13 (4), pp.1-14.

[18] Ibid, p. 8.

[19] Silke, A. (2007). The impact of 9/11 on research on terrorism. In M. Ranstorp (Ed.), Mapping Terrorism Research: State of the art, gaps and future direction (pp. 76 – 93). New York, NY: Routledge.

[20] Schuurman, B. and Eijkman Q. (2013). Moving terrorism research forward: the crucial role of primary sources. International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The
Hague, p. 8 Retrieved from http://www.icct.nl/download/file/Schuurman-and-Eijkman-Moving-Terrorism-Research-Forward-June-2013.pdf

[21] Silke, A. (2001). The devil you know: continuing problems with research on terrorism. Terrorism and Political Violence, 13 (4), pp. 1-14.

[22] Ibid, p. 1.

[23] Ibid, p. 2.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Sageman, M. (2013). The stagnation of research on terrorism. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved May 12, 2013 from http://chronicle.com/blogs/conversation/2013/04/30/the-stagnation-of-research-on-terrorism/ .

[27] Silke, A. (2001). The devil you know: continuing problems with research on terrorism. Terrorism and Political Violence, 13 (4), pp. 1-14

[28] Merari, A. (1991). Academic research and government policy on terrorism.  Terrorism and Political Violence, 3(1), pp. 88-102.

[29] Silke, A. (2007). The impact of 9/11 on research on terrorism. In M. Ranstorp (Ed.),  Mapping Terrorism Research: State of the art, gaps and future direction (pp. 76 – 93). New York, NY: Routledge.

[30] Silke, A. (2009). Contemporary terrorism studies: Issues in research. In R. Jackson,  M.B. Smyth, and J. Gunning (Eds.) Critical Terrorism Studies: A New Research Agenda (pp. 34 – 48). New York, NY: Routledge.

[31] Sageman, M. (2013). The stagnation of research on terrorism. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved May 12, 2013 from http://chronicle.com/blogs/conversation/2013/04/30/the-stagnation-of-research-on-terrorism/ .

[32] Lum, C., Kennedy, L.W., Sherley, A. (2008). Is counter-terrorism policy evidence based? What works, what harms, and what is unknown. Psicothema, 20 (1), p. 38.

[33] Ibid.

[34] START website. (n.d.). National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. A Center of Excellence of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security based at the University of Maryland. START. Retrieved from http://www.start.umd.edu/start/about/overview/mission/ and http://www.start.umd.edu/start/publications/START_Brochure_WEB.pdf

[35] Horgan, J. and Stern, J. (2013). Terrorism research has not stagnated. The Chronicle of Higher Education, para. 4 Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/blogs/conversation/2013/05/08/terrorism-research-has-not-stagnated/ .

[36] Ibid, para. 9.

[37] Lum, C. and Kennedy, L.W. (2012). Evidence-based counterterrorism policy. In C.  Lum and L.W. Kennedy (eds.), Evidence-Based Counterterrorism Policy (p. 5). New York, NY: Springer.

[38] Sageman, M. (2013). The stagnation of research on terrorism. The Chronicle of Higher Education, para. 5. Retrieved May 12, 2013 from http://chronicle.com/blogs/conversation/2013/04/30/the-stagnation-of-research-on-terrorism/ .

[39] Lum, C., Kennedy, L.W., Sherley, A. (2008). Is counter-terrorism policy evidence based? What works, what harms, and what is unknown. Psicothema, 20(1), pp. 35 – 42.

[40] Adams, N. Nordhaus, T., Shellenberger, M. (2011). Counterterrorism since 9/11; Evaluating the efficacy of controversial tactics. Breakthrough Institute. pp.1- 64.

[41] Lum, C. and Kennedy, L.W. (2012). Evidence-based counterterrorism policy. In C. Lum and L.W. Kennedy (Eds.), Evidence-Based Counterterrorism Policy. New York, NY: Springer.

[42] Lum, C., Kennedy, L.W., Sherley, A. (2008). Is counter-terrorism policy evidencebased? What works, what harms, and what is unknown. Psicothema, 20 (1), pp. 35-42.

[43] Ibid, p. 41.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Adams, N. Nordhaus, T., Shellenberger, M. (2011). Counterterrorism since 9/11; Evaluating the efficacy of controversial tactics. Breakthrough Institute. pp. 1- 64.

[46] Ibid, p. 8.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Adams, N. Nordhaus, T., Shellenberger, M. (2011). Who killed the war on terror? The Atlantic, para. 3. Retrieved from
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/08/who-killed-the-war-on-terror/244273/?single_page=true .

[49] Ibid, para. 12.

[50] Ibid, para. 16.

[51] Ibid, para. 22.

[52] bid, para. 25.

[53] Silke, A. (2001). The devil you know: continuing problems with research on terrorism. Terrorism and Political Violence, 13 (4), pp. 1-14.

[54] Brun, I. (2010). ‘While you’re busy making other plans’ – The ‘Other RMA.’ The Journal of Strategic Studies, 33(4), pp. 535-565.

[55] Lum, C., Kennedy, L.W., Sherley, A. (2008). Is counter-terrorism policy evidencebased? What works, what harms, and what is unknown. Psicothema, 20 (1), pp. 35 – 42.

[56] Silke, A. (2001). The devil you know: continuing problems with research on terrorism. Terrorism and Political Violence, 13(4), pp. 1-14.

[57] Crenshaw, M. (1992). Current research on terrorism: The academic perspective. Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 15(1), pp. 1-11.

[58] Silke, A. (2001). The devil you know: continuing problems with research on terrorism. Terrorism and Political Violence, 13 (4), pp. 1-14

[59] Sageman, M. (2013). The stagnation of research on terrorism. The Chronicle of Higher Education, Retrieved May 12, 2013 from http://chronicle.com/blogs/conversation/2013/04/30/the-stagnation-of-research-on-terrorism/.

[60] Horgan, J. (1997). Issues in terrorism research. The Police Journal, 70, p. 193.

[61] Horgan, J. and Stern, J. (2013). Terrorism research has not stagnated. The Chronicle of Higher Education, Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/blogs/conversation/2013/05/08/terrorism-research-has-not-stagnated/ .

[62] RAND website. (n.d.). Counterterrorism. Rand Corporation. Retrieved from http://www.rand.org/topics/counterterrorism.html .

[63] Clark, M. (2011). Understanding the making of a terrorist: DHS funds vital research by MD University center of excellence. The Department of Homeland Security.  Retrieved from http://www.dhs.gov/blog/2011/12/21/understanding-making-terrorist-dhs-funds-vital-research-md-university-center .

[64] National Institute of Justice Website. (2012). Fiscal year 2012 awards. National Institute of Justice. Retrieved from http://www.nij.gov/nij/funding/awards/2012.htm

[65] Horgan, J. and Stern, J. (2013). Terrorism research has not stagnated. The Chronicle of Higher Education, para. 17 Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/blogs/conversation/2013/05/08/terrorism-research-has-not-stagnated/ .

[66] Sageman, M. (2013). The stagnation of research on terrorism. The Chronicle of Higher Education, Retrieved May 12, 2013 from http://chronicle.com/blogs/conversation/2013/04/30/the-stagnation-of-research-on-terrorism/ .

[67] START website. (n.d.). National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. A Center of Excellence of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security based at the University of Maryland. START. Retrieved from http://www.start.umd.edu/start/about/overview/mission/ and http://www.start.umd.edu/start/publications/START_Brochure_WEB.pdf .

[68] Horgan, J. and Stern, J. (2013). Terrorism research has not stagnated. The Chronicle of Higher Education, para. 16. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/blogs/conversation/2013/05/08/terrorism-research-has-not-stagnated/.

[69] Merari, A. (1991). Academic research and government policy on terrorism
Terrorism and Political Violence, 3(1), pp. 88 -102.

[70] Ibid, p. 99.

[71] Porter, M.D., White, G., Mazerolle, L. (2012). Innovative methods for terrorism and counterterrorism data. In C. Lum and L.W. Kennedy (Eds.), Evidence-Based Counterterrorism Policy (pp. 91-112). New York, NY: Springer

[72] Revilla, C.C. (2012). A complexity method for assessing counterterrorism policies.  In C. Lum and L.W. Kennedy (eds.), Evidence-Based Counterterrorism Policy (pp. 151-165). New York, NY: Springer .

[73] LaFree, G. (2012). Generating terrorism event databases: result rom the global terrorism database 1970 to 2008. In C. Lum and L.W. Kennedy (Eds.), Evidence-Based Counterterrorism Policy (pp. 41-64). New York, NY: Springer

[74] English, L.P. (2005). Information quality: Critical ingredient for national security.  Journal of Database Management, 16(1), pp. 18 – 32.

[75] Horgan, J. and Stern, J. (2013). Terrorism research has not stagnated. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/blogs/conversation/2013/05/08/terrorism-research-has-not-stagnated/

[76] Silke, A. (2001). The devil you know: continuing problems with research on terrorism. Terrorism and Political Violence, 13 (4), pp. 1-14.

[77] Christakis, N.A. (2013). Let’s shake up the social sciences. The New York Times.  Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/21/opinion/sunday/lets-shake-up-the-social-sciences.html?_r=0andpagewanted=print

[78] Ibid, para. 17.

[79] Ibid, para. 18.

[80] Lum, C., Kennedy, L.W., Sherley, A. (2008). Is counter-terrorism policy evidence based? What works, what harms, and what is unknown. Psicothema, 20(1), pp. 35-42.

[81] Lum, C. and Kennedy, L.W. (2012). Evidence-based counterterrorism policy. In C.Lum and L.W. Kennedy (Eds.), Evidence-Based Counterterrorism Policy (p. 373).
New York, NY: Springer.

[82] CMS website. (n.d.). Physician Quality Reporting System. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Retrieved from http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Quality-Initiatives-Patient-Assessment-Instruments/PQRS/index.html?redirect=/PQRS/

[83] Bornstein, D. (2012). The dawn of the evidence-based budget. The New York Times, para. 2. Retrieved from http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/30/worthy-of-government-funding-prove-it/?_r=0andpagewanted=print

[84] Ibid, para. 3.

[85] Duke University Medical Center. (2005). What is Quality Improvement? Patient Safety-Quality Improvement. Retrieved from http://patientsafetyed.duhs.duke.edu/module_a/introduction/introduction.html .

[86] Lum, C., Kennedy, L.W., Sherley, A. (2008). Is counter-terrorism policy evidence based? What works, what harms, and what is unknown. Psicothema, 20 (1), pp. 35 – 42.

[87] Silke, A. (2007). The impact of 9/11 on research on terrorism. In M. Ranstorp (Ed.),  Mapping Terrorism Research: State of the art, gaps and future direction (pp. 76-93). New York, NY: Routledge.

[88] Ibid, pp. 88 – 89.

[89] CNN website. (2013). Transcripts: Hillary Clinton Senate hearing on Benghazi. CNN. Retrieved from http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1301/23/se.01.html .

[90] URC website. (n.d.). Quality Improvement. URC. Retrieved from http://www.urc-chs.com/quality_improvement .

[91] Chang, K. (2001). From ballots to cockpits, questions of design. The New York Times, para 33. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2001/01/23/science/from-ballots-to-cockpits-questions-of-design.html?src=pm .

[92] Unruh, B. (2013). Naked-image body scanners removed from airports. WND. Retrieved from http://www.wnd.com/2013/05/naked-image-body-scanners-removed-from-airports/ .

[93] Lum, C. & Kennedy, L.W. (2012). Evidence-based counterterrorism policy. In C. Lum and L.W. Kennedy (Eds.), Evidence-Based Counterterrorism Policy (p. 4). New York, NY: Springer .

[94] As cited in Horgan, J. (1997). Issues in terrorism research. The Police Journal, 70, p.193.

[95] Lum, C., Kennedy, L.W., Sherley, A. (2008). Is counter-terrorism policy evidence based? What works, what harms, and what is unknown. Psicothema, 20 (1), pp. 35 – 42.

[96] Silke, A. (2001). The devil you know: continuing problems with research on terrorism. Terrorism and Political Violence, 13 (4), pp.1-14.

[97] Pegors, T. (2012). Over defense: Taking another look at American counterterrorism spending. Columbia Political Review, para. 9. Retrieved from http://cpreview.org/2012/12/over-defense/ .

[98] Ibid, para. 9.

[99] FamilyUSA website. (2012). Dying for coverage: The deadly consequences of being uninsured. FamilyUSA. Retrieved from http://www.familiesusa.org/resources/publications/reports/dying-for-coverage-findings.html .

[100] Marrin, S. & Clemente, J.D. (2006). Improving intelligence by looking to the medical profession. International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, 18 (4), p. 727.

[101] Jacobs, A.J. (2013). The six most important business lessons from all of history. LinkedIn. Retrieved from http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130911124325-4061630-the-six-most-important-business-lessons-from-all-of-history .

Voir enfin:

JANUARY 2012

PLANES, TRAINS, AND CAR BOMBS

THE METHOD BEHIND THE MADNESS OF TERRORISM

BY NICK ADAMS, TED NORDHAUS, AND MICHAEL SHELLENBERGER

The  science of  security

A Program of the Breakthrough Institute

436 14TH STREET, SUITE 820, OAKLAND, CA 94612, PHONE: 5105508800 WEBSITE: www.thebreakthrough.org

EXECUTIVE

As we marked the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, we also marked the expiration date of countless predictions that other devastating al Qaeda (inspired, financed, or directed) attacks would occur on US soil within a decade of that fateful day. Little more than a week after the atrocities, Attorney General John Ashcroft worried aloud “that terrorist activity against the United States may increase once this country responds to [the] attacks.” Ten days later, Democratic Senator Carl Levin told Fox News that “biological and chemical threats [ ] are real. We ought to put re-sources there.” Republican Representative Chris Shays of Connecticut was more trenchant: “I am absolutely certain that terrorists, if they don’t have access to biological weapons now, will; and I am absolutely certain that they will use them. The expertise exists. The potential that it has been shared with a terrorist is almost a no brainer.”President Bush pushed the possibility of catastrophe to its logical extreme: “these terrorists are seeking chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. Given the means, our enemies would be a threat to every nation and, eventually, to civili ation itself.”2

Such dire predictions were not confined to the political class. Terrorism experts and academics like Walter Laqueur, Jessica Stern, Bruce Hoffman, Mark Juergensmeyer, and many others had sei ed upon the notion that a “new terrorism” was emerging. Even before 9/11, Laqueur wrote that “yesterday’s nuisance has become one of the gravest dangers facing mankind.”Many proponents of the “new terrorism” meme became even more emphatic after the attacks, arguing that religiouslyinspired terrorism had become divorced from rationality.Laqueur lamented that “until recently, terrorism was, by and large, dis criminate, selecting its victims carefully It was, more often than not, ‘propaganda by deed.’ Contemporary terrorism has increasingly become indiscriminate in the choice of its victims. Its aim is no longer to conduct propaganda but to effect maximum destruction.” Laqueur described the new terrorists as “paranoiac” and driven by “all-consuming,” “nonexistent hidden motives” leading to “a loss of the sense of reality.” “The outlook,” he concluded, “is poor; there are no known cures for fanaticism and paranoia.”5

With the political and expert classes significantly aligned in their description of insane, religiously fanatical terrorists determined to kill millions with weapons of mass destruction, journalists and the public could do little but wait for the next heavy shoe to drop. As they looked around them, they saw vulnerabilities everywhere. After rumors of the potential for biological or chemical attacks on America’s water supply raced through the internet, The New York Times reported on local governments’ efforts to secure reservoirs and other sources of drinking water: “Helicopters, patrol boats and armed guards sweep across the watershed feeding New York City, enforcing a temporary ban on fishing, hunting, and hiking. Massachusetts has sealed commuter roads that run atop dams or wind down to the water’s edge. And Utah has enlisted the help of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to peer down at reservoirs from planes and satellites, hoping to spot any weak points.”By November 1st ,USA Today was reporting that “scientists and politicians are growing increasingly worried about another possible target for terrorists: the food supply.”Several authors over the years have also flagged America’s vulnerability to internet attacks that could significantly disrupt the critical infrastructure upon which our economy depends. In a recent report, Washington’s Bipartisan Policy Center recommended that “defending the U.S. against such attacks must be an urgent priority.” “This is not science fiction,” they wrote, “It is possible to take down cyber systems and trigger cascading disruptions and damage.”8

Even as our greatest fears have not come to pass, the drive to promote measures eliminating even the impression of risk or threat has hardly lost momentum. Despite the fact that the United States has developed enough vaccine to inoculate its entire population against the two most deadly biological agents that terrorists might conceivably learn to produce someday, The New York Times Magazine recentlypublished a long article suggesting that more should be done — that billions should be spent developing and stockpiling vaccine for every disease that terrorists could possibly use to harm Americans.Never mind that terrorists have shown no capacity to successfully develop and weaponize any of them.

Despite the perennial warnings about exotic weapons and targets (warnings that, ironically, offer terrorists tantali ing clues about how and where the United States is vulnerable), members and allies of al Qaeda’s hirabi (AKA ‘jihadi’) movement continue to carry out the same sorts of attacks they executed in the decades before 9/11. In 1993, hirabis used a truck bomb in an attempt to topple the World Trade Center, the same tactic they used in 1996 to bomb the Khobar Towers barracks in Saudi Arabia, and in 1998 to bomb US Embassies in Kenya and Tan ania. In 2000, they used a different vehicle — a small boat — to approach their target when they bombed the USS Cole in the port of Aden, Yemen. A year later, they used different vehicles again, airplanes, to bomb the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon. Months later a hirabi named Richard Reid attempted to bomb a plane itself with a chemical explosive hidden in his shoe. In May 2002, a car bomb killed 14 people at a Karachi hotel frequented by Westerners. In October of that year, another bomb, placed in a Bali nightclub, killed 202 mostly Australian citizens.

In 2004, hirabis detonated ten bombs on four trains in Madrid, killing nearly 200 people. A year later, hirabis attacked three trains and a bus in London. Later in 2005, bombs placed at American hotels in Amman, Jordan killed 57 people. In 2007, British police uncovered a car-bomb plot targeting Glasgow Airport. In 2008, a car bomb killed six people and injured do ens more outside Pakistan’s Danish Embassy. Al Qaeda claimed the attack was retaliation for an offensive political cartoon. In September 2009, Najibullah Za i was arrested in the final stages of a plan to replicate the Madrid attacks of 2004 in New York City’s subway system. On Christmas Day of the same year, Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted and failed to down a passenger plane over Detroit by detonating a chemical bomb concealed under his clothes. The next spring, Faisal Shah ad tried to detonate a car bomb in Times Square, but failed. Months later, in October 2010, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula placed explosive devices in cargo planes, but cooperating international intelligence agencies foiled their plans before they could detonate the bombs. Most recently, Re wan Ferdaus has been charged with a plot to use remote controlled planes to deliver bombs to the Pentagon. All of these and other al Qaeda directed, financed, or inspired attacks have targeted planes, trains, buses, government and symbolic buildings, and western hotels with bombs (and sometimes assault weapons).

The stark contrast between the hirabi repertoire of targets and tactics and the expansive and expanding concerns of journalists, politicians, experts, and academics begs explanation. We find that the pattern of hirabi attacks is not accidental. It is well-suited to their primary strategy — one attempting to iteratively grow support for their cause so they can one day gain political power and govern territory. That their goals are likely delusional does not diminish the rationality of their strategy, the tactics they use, or the targets they select, all of which are chosen to manipulate the governments they seek to change and the publics they seek to recruit. Various internal and external constraints on hirabi organi ations also limit their capability, and thereby, the range of tactics and strategies they can pursue. This paper explores in depth all of these factors shaping hirabi activity.

PAPER OVERVIEW

The paper unfolds in eight sections. We begin by reviewing common errors in previous threat assessments that have likely contributed to their incorrect conclusions, and then introduce our own sociological approach to threat assessment. Section II begins our analysis of the hirabi threat with an itemi ation of hirabi attacks planned or attempted on the United States in the last decade. The range of attack styles and targets is far more limited than that imagined by previous threat analysts.

Section III begins to explain this discrepancy by drawing on previous work and internal hirabi documents to show that the main hirabi strategy does not rely on killing tens of thousands of people at a time, but on recruiting tens of millions to support what remains a rather unpopular vision. A closer look at hirabi strategy reveals that they perform for three audiences: their potential supporters, the populations and governments whose behavior they wish to coerce, and their own membership. The most successful attacks provoke state repression policies that drive populations into terrorists’ arms.

Section IV fleshes out the relationships between terrorists and their various audiences. We find that the populations hirabis wish to recruit, at least for now, are not very sympathetic to their cause. Internal documents show hirabis’ sensitivity to their diminished popularity and eagerness to understand the lessons of past terrorist campaigns that died out due to lack of public support. Hirabis are not, contrary to some claims, interested only in the favor of a vengeful God. Their internal strategic documents show that they deliberately (and sometimes rather effectively) manipulate states and state supporters. We find that some deep-seated human psychology (related to in-group/out-group relations) exacerbates susceptibility to terrorist manipulation, but also that states and their supporters have a great deal of power to shape the outcomes of terrorist campaigns for good or bad. Their responses constitute a major factor determining the duration and success or failure of terror campaigns.

Section V applies the logic of terrorists’ polar-i ation/recruitment strategy to data describing their attacks and proposes a theory explaining the method behind the madness of terrorism. Hirabis choose their weapons and target sites with at least an intuitive understanding of how attacks will provoke target states, feed into recruitment narratives, reflect martial values that promote member morale, generate spectacular media coverage, and produce maximal psychological impact on their audiences. We find that the rather conventional weapons hirabis have used and the targets they have attacked time and again — before 9/11 and since — are better suited for their purposes than those imagined by other threat analysts, but not yet seen. And we explain, as no other analysts have, why terrorists are so enamored by planes and other transportation targets, and so disinterested in infrastructure attacks and cyber-terrorism.

Section VI reviews hirabis’ internal organi ational challenges, the counterterrorist obstacles they face, and their evolution in response to those obstacles. We find that hirabi organi ations, including the al Qaeda flagship, are chronically plagued by internal divisions about goals, strategy, tactics, ideology, resources, logistics, and even personal conflicts. In addition, the counterterrorism obstacles they face are significant. US and international efforts to deny hirabis safe haven, dry up their funding channels, secure dangerous materials, enhance screening mechanisms at ports, borders, and airports, harden optimal targets, and use increasingly surgical force that limits civilian casualties have all exacted a heavy toll on the hirabi movement. In response, al Qaeda and its affiliates and allies continue to evolve. Though their decline has not been linear, the evolution of the hirabi movement, in general, has resulted in an organi ation currently characteri ed by scattered bands of hirabis with fewer resources, lower competence, and weaker weapons.

Section VII explores, in more detail, the external and self-imposed limits on hirabis’ arsenal. We find not only that WMDs may not suit hirabis’ needs, but also that (whether they are chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear) they are exceedingly difficult to procure or develop. Hirabis are not likely to expand their range of targets either since the targets that optimi e their strategy remain relatively vulnerable. Barring a major strategic shift enabled by some highly unlikely weapons breakthrough, evidence suggests that hirabis will continue to use a limited, but strategically sufficient repertoire of attacks targeting planes, trains, and buildings with bombs and assault weapons.

A NOTE ON HIRABI VS. JIHADI

Jihad is a much-debated term that authors use to refer to a range of struggles required, encouraged, or otherwise appreciated by God. Like every other religion, Islam generates wideranging debates about God’s will, in general, andthe means to achieve it, in particular. Throughout history, countless groups in Muslim territories have purported to do their work in service of God and have endeavored to overcome obstacles through holy struggle, or jihad. Someof these struggles, many would agree, have been noble.10 Others are seen as atrocious, falsely claiming the word jihad.

While most people, including Muslims, support the repulsion of foreign invaders from their lands, few agree that the word jihad describes acts of terrorism targeting innocents.11 Self-proclaimed jihadi groups have argued thatQu’ranic verses forbidding the bloodshed of innocents12 are irrelevant because those they have killed, including Muslim women and children, are not innocent. They claim the power of takfir — the power to determine who is a trueMuslim — and then they kill apostates with impunity.13

a state.15

Many Arabic speakers or scholars of the goal of attacking the United States or Qu’ran are more likely to associate such European nationstates on their own territory.16 terrorism with the word hirabah which The Qu’ran’s “Covenantof Security” forbids refers to the killing of civilians in order a Muslim from attacking his foreign host if to sow fear, discord, or chaos. According the host society allows him to worship freely.17 to the Islamic equivalent of Christianity’s

Many fighters saw things Azzam’s way.

“just war” tradition, political violence Abu Jandal, a man who left al Qaeda shortly can only be seen as legitimate (i.e., before the 9/11 attacks, explained fighters’ as jihad) if it is used by a headofstate dissatisfaction with Bin Laden’s hirabah to against armies invading or occupying FBI interrogator Ali Soufan: “The brothers… Muslim lands.14 Citing the Qu’ran, many are fighters who fight the enemy facetoface.

In this paper, we reclaim the narrower, grounds. The highly influential muja scholars claim that al Qaeda can never They don’t understand Bin Laden’s war and wield legitimate force as long as it is not the new jihad, so they went home.” More to the point, they did not see Bin Laden’s war as proper jihad, but as hirabah. Many Others who set aside the criterion of still do not.

statehood, including some very prominent self proclaimed jihadis, reject the legitimacy of al Qaeda’s attacks on other traditional definition of jihad by using it sparingly to refer to struggles that do not intentionally kill civilians. We refer to Osama Bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam, individuals using terrorism, andespecially believed that Muslims should fight jihad those using it offensively outside of Muslim to defend their oppressed fellows and lands, as hirabis engaging in hirabah. We expel western influence from oncehope thisconvention will catch on. Using Muslim lands like Israel, but he strongly hirabis’ preferred moniker, jihadi, has only and publicly argued against Bin Laden’s served to legitimate them and their cause.

I. INTRODUCTION

THE NEED FOR UPDATED THREAT ASSESSMENT

The Navy Seals who dispatched Osama Bin Laden recovered documents indicating that he was concerned about his group’s future prospects. It had become so unpopular after failing in Iraq and killing thousands of Muslims elsewhere, that Bin Laden was seriously considering renaming and rebranding the most feared terror network in the world. Despite these well founded concerns, to say nothing of Bin Laden’s death, some American terrorism experts continue to assert that al Qaeda remains a major threat to the United States. Georgetown University professor Bruce Hoffman has continually warned of al Qaeda’s resilience and potency throughout its existence. In July 2011, Hoffman rejected CIA and Defense Department claims that al Qaeda was nearing “strategic defeat,” claiming, days after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s assessment, and well before any data could have been tabulated, that there was “no empirical evidence that either the appeal of [al Qaeda’s] message or the flow of recruits into its ranks has actually diminished.” 18

Hoffman, author of one of the canonical analyses of the inner workings of a range of modern terrorist organi ations, Inside Terrorism, has repeatedly defended his initial (rather dire) assessment of al Qaeda against the updated characteri ations offered by other scholars. For example, in the mid-2000s Hoffman engaged in very heated and public debate seeking to discredit forensic psychologist Marc Sageman’s characteri ation of al Qaeda as an organi ation transitioning to a more networked globular structure lacking clear lines of authority. One could charge Sageman with exaggerating the extent of this transition in the title of his book:Leaderless Jihad (a play on “leaderless resistance,” which is a nonhierarchical organi ational style many clandestine direct-action groups have employed to protect the anonymity of members). But virtually all analysts agree that al Qaeda evolved in the direction of Sageman’s description, including Hoffman himself, in his less polemical writings.19

Along with Hoffman, former CIA officer and Brookings Institute Senior Fellow Bruce Riedel has continued to warn about al Qaeda’s continuing strength and relevance even after the death of Bin Laden and the fundamental political shifts brought on by the Arab Spring.20 On the tenth anniversary of September 11th , Riedel even prophesied that al Qaeda’s motivating ideology “won’t die.”21

Graham Allison, of Harvard’s Belfer Center, has also emphasi ed worst-case scenarios. In his 2004 book, Nuclear Terrorism, he contended that a nuclear terrorist attack was inevitable if counterterrorism did not change course.22 In 2005, he estimated the probability of an attack with a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) at 50 percent within the next ten years, repeating that claim in 2007 in a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) online debate with CFR Fellow Michael Levi.23 He wrote the forward to a provocative 2010 white paper authored by his Belfer Center colleague, Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, that conflated al Qaeda’s frequent bluster about nuclear weapons and other WMDs with its actual capabilities.24

Such dire, but apparently incorrect, assessments may be driven by a number of factors. Humans tend to overestimate the dangers of terrorism and other risks over which they have little control.25 Experts are not immune to these cognitive errors and may suffer from others, as well. Studies show that experts may be more prone to faulty estimates and pre dictions because they have more detailed information (even if it is offset by contrary evidence) with which to bolster their prefigured conclusions.26

Overestimations of terrorist threats may also be driven by authors’ feelings of responsibility to protect targeted populations. No one wants innocent lives to be lost because he or she counseled policymakers to worry too little about a threat. More cynically, some have argued that government (and other) funders tend to handsomely reward work that raises urgent concerns not work producing sober, methodical, and ultimately reassuring assessments.27 In this regard, alarmist threat analysis may fit Richard Clarke’s description of the broader counterterrorism field as a “selflicking ice cream cone.”28

Many analysts predict doom after they have lost focus on what enemies will likely do and, instead begun to catalogue all of the fearful vulnerabilities in their midst. Thus, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), shortly after its creation, generated a list of thousands of potential terrorist targets ranging from the realistic (e.g., Statue of Liberty) to the paranoid (e.g., Amish Country Popcorn Factory) offering little explanation for why any target would be desirable from a terrorist’s perspective.29 More recently The New York Times Magazine has published a piece lamenting the government’s failure to spend billions of dollars developing and stockpiling vaccines for all the dangerous diseases known to man, while providing no analysis of terrorists’ limited intent and capability when it comes to weaponi ing the diseases.30

Such reports, itemi ing attacks that could, un-der some expansive (and often undefined) set of conditions, be carried out against US interests are actually vulnerability assessments, not threat assessments. And they are of little value because, to put it simply, every human in a public space is vulnerable to a suicide bomber or a mad gunman. Whether they are threatened by such killers is an entirely different question — one which requires an understanding of how and why terrorists choose the targets they do, and what kind of attacks they are truly capable of executing.

This highlights another problem with many previous threat assessments: the failure to adequately distinguish between terrorists’ intentions and their capabilities. Some reports conflate the two, stoking fears, for instance, that terrorists’ transparent bluffs and stated desires to procure massively destructive weapons suggest that they will successfully detonate those weapons soon.31 Such assessments not only fail to regard terrorists’ threats with any skepticism, they fail to carefully analy e what terrorists are capable of alongside an appropriate accounting of all the obstacles they face as they pursue their purported goals.

Threat assessments biased towards inflating the danger of terrorism are often defended with reference to the precautionary principle, a concept most famously demonstrated in the domain of counterterrorism as Dick Cheney’s “one percent doctrine.”32 But while it may seem “better to be safe than sorry,” inaccurately exaggerating the threat of terrorism can help terrorists achieve one of their main objectives – to frighten the public and policymakers into making decisions that actually help terrorists’ causes. Assessments that underplay the threat of terrorism, of course, may also have tragic consequences if they breed complacency.

A COMPREHENSIVE FRAMEWORK FOR THREAT ASSESSMENT

In assessing the current threat of hirabi terrorism, we have taken pains to avoid the pitfalls of previous threat analyses. We have eschewed references to political or policy lodestars, allowing the collective facts of hirabi terrorism to unfold into conclusions informed by relevant social science research. Readers will find that we start our analysis below with a very transparent and simple tabulation of data about the attacks attempted or plotted by hirabi terrorists in the United States since 9/11. There, a pattern of targets and tactics emerges showing that hirabis, to this point, have sought to execute a range of attacks far more limited than the scope of atrocities analysts have warned against. We explore, in depth, the factors limiting this range.

Accurate and useful threat assessment requires understanding how terrorist campaigns grow and how they die. Though terrorists’ lethality is an urgent concern and might seem to be the most relevant factor in any assessment of the threat they pose, evidence suggests that the long-term survival and success of terrorist campaigns depends much less on the death tolls they amass than on their ability to continually replenish and grow their ranks.33 While death tolls are easily quantifiable and often used to measure the success of terrorist and counterterrorist campaigns (probably because they are so easily measured),34 terrorist organisations are not fundamentally military groups seeking to kill or capture enemy soldiers, but rather political groups seeking to attract and inspire an audience of potential recruits and supporters while coercing targeted governments and populations to grant their demands.

This insight — that terrorist organi ations employ violence discursively (i.e., in order to secure reinforcements in an ongoing war of ideas) not just militarily (i.e., in order to wield direct control over the lives and deaths of their enemies) — is not new. It was implicit in Paul Wilkinson’s Terrorism v. Democracy and centrally placed in Audrey Kurth Cronin’s How Terrorism Ends, for just two examples.35 But it is frequently undervalued by a national security apparatus often ill-equipped to perform qualitative social scientific analysis.36 One of the things we bring to threat assessment in what follows, therefore, is an accessible application of the broader theory of social movements and discursive performance to questions about how terrorism campaigns perpetuate themselves or decay. 37 We focus particular attention on how hirabi groups, often troubled by conflicting internal organi ational imperatives, communicate and miscommunicate (sometimes directly and sometimes through violent action) to different audiences as they aim to grow their movement and its salience.

Understanding how terrorists perform for various audiences also helps us to explain why they gravitate to the use of some weapons or attack styles over others. We discuss these and other factors relevant to their targeting and weapons decisions, including their own martial values, their proficiency and familiarity with different weapons, and the various psychological impacts that weapons can have on victims. Together with strategic necessities, these factors constrain the list of weapons and attack styles terrorists are likely to employ. There is a method to the madness of terrorism.

The social sciences also have much to say about how the responses of targeted governments and populations affect the success and longevity of terrorist campaigns. This area of threat assessment has been significantly neglected by previous threat reports. But the relational (or interactive) theory of terrorist campaigns that we employ stresses the importance of the quality of targeted governments’ responses. As we elaborate below, terrorists often strategically goad states to react with policies that create a rift between the state and the people that terrorists would like to recruit. Terrorist success, therefore, often depends on the susceptibility of targeted populations and their policymaking elite to the psychological traps terrorists set for them.

It is not entirely clear why so much previous threat assessment has shied from addressing the role that state responses play in the outcomes of terror/counterterror campaigns. The failure to attend to mutually determined consequences could reflect the authors’ fundamental cognitive preference for dualistic, as opposed to relational thinking. Or, perhaps researchers have demurred from any analysis that could be misinterpreted as “blaming victims” for their lot. Maybe the men and women tasked with previous threat assessment have been directed by their superiors to focus their work on ‘them’ and not ‘us and them,’ perhaps to avoid making recommendations to civilian higher-ups uninterested in policy approaches that may disappoint their retribution-seeking constituencies. Whatever the reason for the lack of such relational analysis, we have sought to correct it here as we assess the multitude of factors affecting the capacity of, and threat posed by, hirabi terrorist groups.

First, in order to calibrate our assessment of the hirabi threat with reality, we review all of the hirabi attacks planned or attempted on the United States since September 11, 2001.

II. WHAT HIRABI TERRORISTS HAVE DONE

The tenth anniversary of 9/11 rebuffed widespread predictions that another large-scale al Qaeda (inspired, financed, or directed) terrorist attack would occur within the decade. Such predictions were actually quite modest in late 2001 — even to the point of media irrelevance — as many pundits foretold another devastating attack within five years, one year, or even a matter of months. Government vulnerability and threat reports raised concerns that terrorists might attack water and food supplies, nuclear facilities, critical energy infrastructure, bridges, and key Internet nodes, or, worse, that they might attack civilian populations using chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) weapons capable of producing casualties in the tens of thousands or more. So far, however, the decade since 9/11 has produced none of these feared attacks.38

Only two men identifying with the hirabi movement have successfully harmed targets on US soil in the last ten years. In 2009, Abdullah Mujahid Muhammad (formerly known as Carlos Bledsoe) shot two soldiers at a military recruiting station in Little Rock, Arkansas, killing one. A few months later, Nidal Malik Hassan opened fire on his colleagues at Fort Hood, Texas, killing 13 and wounding over 40 others. Both men appear to have been inspired, in part, by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) propagandist and US citi en Anwar al Awlaki.39

In some cases, Americans appear simply to have been lucky that hirabi attackers were not more skilled. Although increased airport screening can be credited with forcing Richard Reid and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to use more complicated and less reliable chemical bombs, their detonations were ultimately prevented by the interventions of alert and brave passengers. Faisal Shah ad’s truck bomb dud in New York City’s Times Square a month after Abdulmutallab’s attempt, again, showed that America’s counterterrorism successes would, at times, come down to serendipity and alert citi ens’ actions. It was a T-shirt vendor (and practicing Muslim), not a New York Police Department officer sitting in his cruiser across the street, who first noticed and reported smoke billowing from Shah ad’s SUV.

Though fortune appears to have smiled on the United States in these cases, most of the thirty-four plots foiled since 9/11 have been prevented thanks to public tips, undercover informants or officers, international intelligence cooperation, or traditional surveillance tactics that uncovered a web of hirabi interlocutors (see Table 1).40

Of the thirty-four unsuccessful plots,41 a plurality targeted symbolic and/or government buildings with bombs. Transportation targets, including trains, planes, and airports, were the second most popular targets, followed by US military personnel, facilities, and assets. Malls, synagogues, hotels, and political figures were the planned targets in three or fewer plots each. None of the plots targeted food or water supplies, or energy or internet infrastructure.

II. WHAT HIRABI TERRORISTS HAVE DONE

TABLE 1: FOILED PLOTS TARGETING OR PLANNED BY US CIVILIANS SINCE 9/11

ACTORS/ PLOT NAME HOW FOILED TARGET WEAPONS YEAR
Richard Reid Direct civilian intervention Airliner TATP shoe bomb 2001
Library Tower Plot Foreign intelligence cooperation Symbolic building Airliner as missile 2002
Jose Padilla Mis/Information from detainees (Zubaydah) Buildings in Chicago (supposedly) Nonexistent “dirty bomb” 2002
Lackawanna Six Community tip and then paid undercover informants Unspecified Assault weapons and IEDs 2002
Mohammed Jabarah Foreign intelligence cooperation

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