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Terrorism: Perspectives from the Behavioral and Social Sciences A Dimensions of Terrorism: Actors, Actions, Consequences Eugene A. Hammel Note: All three of the following major dimensions are complex and divide into subdimensions. Many are continua, not discretely dividable. At the lowest level (i, ii, iii, etc.), the outline gives some points on those continua, sometimes with empirical examples. Actors. Perpetrators. Identification and visibility. Invisible, dispersed, cell-like, even unidentified (Pan Am 103 perpetrators before they were identified, Unabomber, Al Qaeda). Identified, well known (Hamas, Hezbollah, Sendero Luminoso, ETA, similar groups claiming responsibility credibly). Organization. Cell-like, diffuse networks with low connectivity— no one knows the whole network (Al Qaeda, Weathermen, underground Communists, some Ku Klux Klan or white supremacist networks). Identifiable states (Iran, Libya), but not always organized or coherent (Somalia, early Libya). Belief system. Source of inspiration or legitimation. Purely anarchist, violence for its own sake, as an aesthetic experience (Sorel, Sartre, Bakunin, Nechayev). Religiously inspired, cult-like, fundamentalist, absolutist, millenarian, messianic (Mahdists, Crusaders, Al Qaeda, other Islamist movements).
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Terrorism: Perspectives from the Behavioral and Social Sciences Ethnically inspired (ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, Kurdish separatists, ETA). Politically inspired, even if with millenarian overtones (Communism, Nazism). Instrumentality (closely correlated with type of legitimation). Not instrumental—no negotiations because God has ordained their goals and behavior (e.g., Al Qaeda), or simply glorifying violence (some anarchists). Highly instrumental, negotiating for clearly defined objectives, (e.g. IRA, ETA, KLA). Victims. National identity. United States. Allies of United States. Neutral countries. Opponents of United States. Connection to the United States (“innocence”). Bystanders. Workers. Off-duty military, public safety personnel. Corporate leaders. On-duty military, public safety personnel. Government leaders, diplomats. Third parties. Same as perpetrators (organized war between states, e.g., Pearl Harbor). Sponsors of perpetrators (Iran, elements of Saudi Arabia, early Libyan terrorism). Willing hosts of perpetrators (Libya, Afghanistan). Unwilling hosts of perpetrators (Somalia). Collaborators (some French, possibly some British, Muslims). Sympathizers (some U.S. Muslims re: U.S. support of Israel). Dupes (some coreligionists, disaffected persons, etc.). Unknowingly penetrated by perpetrators (Hamburg, South Florida). Actions. Mechanism of attack. Physical.
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Terrorism: Perspectives from the Behavioral and Social Sciences Objects (ramming, etc.). Explosives. Nuclear. Other energy forms (laser, radio, electromagnetic field). Chemical. Biological. Nature of target. People. Individuals. Groups. Organizations. Government. Corporate. Other public organizations (schools, hospitals, etc.). Degree of violence. Nonviolent (protest marches, strikes, civil disobedience). Nondamaging, symbolic (burning effigies, flags, draft cards, etc.). Mild (breaking windows). Moderate (computer attacks). Extreme (murder, arson, deadly contamination). Scope of violence. Highly localized (individual), e.g., a single assassination. Multiple simultaneous or co-incidentally local, e.g., several assassinations or attacks on buildings or air flights. Widespread and continuous, e.g., a smallpox epidemic. Degree of surprise. Total. Accurately warned. Inaccurately or falsely warned. Consequences. Physical damage to infrastructure, e.g., bridges, buildings, electrical grids, including communication systems, computer networks, software, etc. Biological damage to people, animals, plants, e.g., epidemics, epizootics, epiphytics. Environmental damage.
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Terrorism: Perspectives from the Behavioral and Social Sciences Psychological damage, e.g., panic, suspicion, loss of trust in government. Social disruption, e.g., ethnic conflict, class warfare. Economic disruption, e.g., suspension of trade, banking, supply, etc. A number of diverse implications follow from such attempts to classify disasters: With some arbitrariness, the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon building on September 11 can be classified as a physical attack (II.A) by a religiously inspired (I.A.3.ii) organization (I.A.2). It was an attack based on total surprise (II.E) and involved both physical damage (III.A) and harm to people, who included corporate executives (I.B.2.d), workers (I.B.2,d), and some bystanders (I.B.2.a). Most victims were U.S. citizens (I.B.1.a) but some others were killed as well. Some attacks that differ from the September 11 attack (e.g., bioterrorism) can be equally or more dangerous to the security of the country and its population. Some others that perhaps differ in major ways on some dimensions may be less dangerous, down to the mere nuisance level, and could be tolerated or handled routinely as common criminality, or as acts of persons perhaps legally insane, or as those of people exercising their political and civil rights. It is important to examine what these variations might be in order to estimate what kinds of resources must be devoted to the defense against terrorism and how they should be deployed. Violence may be more or less extreme; less extreme violence is cheaper and simpler to exert. Violence may not be catastrophic but only intended to demonstrate the continued threat of catastrophe and thus keep terrorists visible and the target population in a state of terror or at least uncertainty. It may be applied just to prove that the opponents are still a force to be reckoned with. It may be applied with warning to generate even more panic, and it may be warned without actually being executed to create further confusion and uncertainty at even lower short-term cost to the terrorists. Indeed, the warnings of terrorist attack may actually come from U.S. officials, based on tips or evidence of varying credibility. Terrorist threats may be as effective as terrorist acts. Attacks could target less “innocent” persons, for ex-
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Terrorism: Perspectives from the Behavioral and Social Sciences ample, government officials, military personnel, or police on duty. It is important to note that the definition of “innocent” applied by the target country may not be the same definition of “innocent” applied by the terrorists. Merely being a citizen of or a worker in the United States may strip the victim of innocence in the eyes of the terrorist. Attacks can also be directed at allies of the United States, partners in the coalition against terrorism, or coreligionist states of the terrorists, even the countries from which the terrorists come, if they are regarded as complicit. It could be directed at countries that were not allies or even coalition partners. However, the exercise of terror against a country unfriendly to the United States (like North Korea, Iraq, Somalia) or now marginally supportive of it (like Libya) might be construed in the United States not as terror but rather as a liberation movement. This minor stretching of the definition suggests that the idea of terrorism has a distinct, political, “us-them” characteristic. A definition of terror that is based on who gets hit undermines any general attempts to delegitimize it. Common definitions of the “new terrorism” are problematic. Some terrorists can be domestic but may have characteristics otherwise identical to those at the core of our concern. That is, domestic terrorists’ ideology may be apocryphal, they may use extreme violence, they may target innocent persons, they may destroy in order to protest what they see as a satanic or repressive culture or government. The bombing of the Murrah building in Oklahoma City, the existence of armed, extremist, Nazi-like groups, the bombing of abortion clinics and assassination of their personnel are examples. The defense against terror should not exclude such dangers simply because they are home-grown. The terrorists at the core of our concern have been Muslim and Islamist. It is important to realize that there are Christians and Jews inside and outside the United States who have exactly the same objections to U.S. elite and popular culture, especially to secular humanism, tolerance of alternative sexual preferences, reproductive rights, equal status for women, tolerance of religious and ethnic differences, etc. Some such groups feel oppressed, and some feel betrayed. Some of these objections are shared, in whole or in part, even by people in the United States who are atheists. Ideological discomfort or moral outrage need not be strictly religious. What is important is appreciation
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Terrorism: Perspectives from the Behavioral and Social Sciences of the perception, by antagonists, that American society is morally anarchic and has spun totally out of control. It is not just some Muslims who think that, and, it is not just some Muslims who would act on it. Guru-like figures are common in a variety of religions, including both Western and Eastern ones, especially in cult-like offshoots like the Peoples’ Temple of Jim Jones, the Branch Davidians, and others. Rigid pastoral control has also been typical of some now-mainstream Protestant sects. Cynical exploitation of members, as among the Hare Krishna or the followers of Sun Myung Moon, is common and often takes the form of sexual exploitation. The scope of the goals is a function of the apocryphal vision. Because the goals are utopian, foreordained, and sanctified, they cannot be negotiated. Such visions of utopia are extremely common in religions that emphasize an afterlife. They are also typical of some millenarian and apocalyptic political movements, such as communism, nazism, and (to a lesser extent), fascism. These political cults differ from millenarian religions principally in the absence of a deity, although some may hold their leader to be a messiah.
Representative terms from entire chapter: