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Shifting Battle Lines Yael Shahar Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict Why terrorism?

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1 Shifting Battle Lines Yael Shahar Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict Why terrorism?

2 © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict Converging trends Terrorism has three primary target audiences: u The enemy homefront u The friendly homefront u The international arena All of which are classed as civilians

3 © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict Terrorism follows conventional warfare Terrorism tends to follow conventional warfare in terms of methods and tactics. What differentiates the terrorist from the conventional soldier is not his choice of weaponry or tactics, but rather his choice of target. While the soldier fights his enemy on the battlefield, and chooses his targets according to their military value, the terrorist targets the civilian population; his targets are often chosen for purely symbolic value.

4 © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict Terrorism follows conventional warfare But the weapons and tactics are of the same type as those employed by conventional armies on the battlefield. Thus, if we wish to establish what new weapons terrorists may have at their disposal, we should first examine recent advances in weapons and tactics in the sphere of conventional warfare.

5 © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict Information as a weapon Information-based weapons relocate the strategic centre of gravity from military forces to direct attacks on civilian targets. Whether such weapons are ever used in actual warfare may prove immaterial, as the very fact of the media hype may help to draw the attention of terrorist organizations to some of these methods, as something likely to arouse fear in the general populace.

6 © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict Today's Menu …  How well do IR theories explain terrorism? How well do IR theories explain terrorism?  Conditions for Terrorism - Root causes, rational choice, and other notions Conditions for Terrorism  Terrorism as a strategy. Terrorism as a strategy  Why are “Intractable Conflicts” intractable? Why are “Intractable Conflicts” intractable?

7 © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict Summing up … Citizens of democracies, which are founded on free speech coupled with accountability, are more susceptible to media manipulation than are dictatorships, since information provided by the media is generally considered reliable (even when it isn't).

8 © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict A (somewhat cautious) estimation Terrorists are dependent on success, as failure could threaten the cohesiveness or the very existence of the group. This creates and environment of risk aversion where known and proven tactics are preferred.

9 © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

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12 What Causes Terrorism The Usual Suspects … How well do the traditional IR theories explain terrorism? u Realism Realism u Liberalism Liberalism u Institutionalism Institutionalism u Constructivism Constructivism © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

13 What are the necessary conditions u A conflict. Terrorism does not accompany every conflict, but every instance of terrorism does revolve around a conflict. However, the conflict may be only in the mind of the terrorist! Meaning that the conflict may not be a physical one.  Expectations for change. Terrorism doesn ' t happen in situations where there is no hope for change. Expectations for change u A supportive constituency. Terrorist organizations are the expression of a collective identity. A supportive constituency. u An ideological argument. But, which comes first, the ideological justification for terrorism, or the fact of terrorism? u Institutionalization of violence. There will be some sort of movement which propagates itself by taking in new members. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

14 Realism and Transnational Terrorism “… the question of what does a Realist theory of international politics have to say about terrorists? The answer is not a whole heck of a lot. ” - John Mearsheimer, 2002 Realism posits that states are the only actors within the international system. Terrorists operate within the international system, causing states to react to them and visa versa. Mearsheimer noted in 2002, “ My theory and virtually all Realist theories don't have much to say about transnational actors. ” © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

15 Realism and Religious Extremism Realism is based upon power evaluations and security. A faith, when practiced in its entirety, is absolutist. The faith is right; all else is wrong. To a religious extremist, realist power considerations most likely do not matter. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

16 Realism and Religious Extremism A religious extremist, especially those who view violence as a means of achieving the sacred, often has little fear of death as God will either protect him or reward him in the afterlife. Consider the case of Iran …. Religious extremists are rational, but they proceed from different axioms! © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

17 Realism ' s Score Card Ideology – May or may not “ short circuit ” realism. Nationalism – Does “ short circuit ” realism. Transnational Terrorism – Does “ short circuit ” realism. Religious Extremism – Does “ short circuit ” realism. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

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19 Institutionalism The motivations of the terrorist organization, considered as a "living organism", are not necessarily those of the individual recruit. In fact, once an organization reaches a certain size, the core motivations tend to diverge dramatically. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

20 Institutionalism Both Ideology and the appeal to root causes are great vehicles for recruiting, motivating, and manipulating the organization's cadre. But the organization as a whole will invariably play by other rules. It is motivated by survival, pure and simple. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

21 Institutionalism Organizations, like humans, are quite creative when it comes to survival. If one set of grievances plays out, or is addressed in such a way as to no longer serves as a motivator, then the organization will face a concrete threat. It will either have to find a new set of grievances, accept dissolution, or mutate into something else. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

22 Liberalism Democratic peace theory? What frightens regimes like Iran and Saudi Arabia isn't Israeli leaders like Ariel Sharon, but Israeli leaders like Shimon Peres. After all, Sharon made a good boogie-man with which to scare the masses, but these regimes know that Israel has no territorial ambitions. (Hell, we can't manage what we've got!). © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

23 Liberalism Democratic peace theory? But Shimon Peres and his dreams of an economic paradise in the "New Middle East" … now that's frightening! The very idea of a Western-style democracy smack-dab in the middle of the "Muddle" East is bad enough. Now the crazy Israelis want to expand their corrupt Western economic hegemony over the whole region! So, what frightens our local despots isn't leaders like Sharon; it's "Shimon Peres and Buffy the Vampire Slayer". © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

24 Score Card for Liberalism The continuing appeal and success of Al- Qaida ' s ascendancy would seem to undermine a key tenet of liberalism — the triumph of worthy ideas. A good (i.e. progressive and pro-survival) idea should prevail over a bad one, and yet al- Qaida ' s rather “ successful ” ideology is non- progressive and possibly even counter- survival. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

25 Constructivism Mearsheimer argued that while terrorism cannot be explained in realist terms, state responses to terrorism can. However, the fact that terrorism can affect the actions of powerful states proves that its ideationally-motivated actions can draw these states into its own conceptual territory — a territory where constructivists would feel right at home. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

26 Constructivism To the extent that al-Qaida is able to force states to do things that they would not otherwise have any interest in doing, it achieves state-like power without any of the traditional physical or institutional assets of statehood. Al-Qaida is very much a value-based, ideological entity, the embodiment of the idea of fundamentalist Islamic hegemony. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

27 Huntington and “ cultural peace theory ” Common governmental systems (e.g. democracy) and economic interdependence are the result of a much more fundamental unifying factor: a shared culture. Without this underlying factor, neither democracy nor economic ties would keep the peace. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

28 Huntington and “ cultural peace theory ” Cultural Peace Theory thus contends that “ kin cultures ” do not fight each other. A corollary is that culturally-allied blocs of states are likely to go to war (or at least contend) with rival blocs. Thus, we see the West, with its liberal democratic values and free-market economics, pitted against blocs whose cultural norms are fundamentally different, such as the Muslim world and the Asian bloc. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

29 Huntington and “ cultural peace theory ” “ A civilization is thus the highest cultural grouping of people and the broadest level of cultural identity people have short of that which distinguishes humans from other species. ” Nation-states should not be seen as the only actors on the international scene; the entire notion of the state is actually a recent development, and may already be approaching obsolescence. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

30 Huntington and “ cultural peace theory ” The “ clash of civilizations ” is driven by the expansionist nature of the rival cultural blocs. In the conflict between the West and the Global Jihad, both sides are driven by fundamentally “ globalizing ” ideologies. Thus, Huntington adds a constructivist element — the “ balance of culture ”— to the realist notion of the balance of power. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

31 Al-Qaida as “ norm entrepreneur ” Al-Qaida is the quintessential constructivist organization. It is neither a state nor an institution. It seeks power primarily through non-material means, as “ an idea moving across geographic boundaries carried by satellite television. ” © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

32 Al-Qaida as “ norm entrepreneur ” In fact, Al-Qaida is attempting to create something that did not exist previously: a new social and cultural norm for all Muslims. Al-Qaeda ' s rhetoric about a global Islamic identity aims at driving a self-fulfilling prophecy, constructing a collective identity rather than simply reflecting it. Al-Qaida sees itself as standing on an equal footing with the great powers of the state system. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

33 Does this prove anything? To the extent that the United States is now competing with al-Qaida head-to-head in a war of ideas, the jihadi strategy of leveling the playing field has succeeded. The fact that the United States has been forced to compete at such a disadvantage can be explained only in purely constructivist terms. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

34 Does this prove anything? While Pape argues that al-Qaida ' s talk of ideology is really a cover for realist territorial ambitions, it can equally well be argued that al-Qaida ' s espoused “ realist ” goals, such as liberating Muslim lands, are in reality just a recruiting ploy for its true ideological struggle, a tool to help create a new (or revitalized) concept of Muslim identity. Al-Qaida ' s decision to take the battle so far into constructivist territory has as much to do with the organization ' s worldview as it does with strategic concerns. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

35 Score Card for Constructivism Al-Qaida ' s decision to choose the battlefield of ideas was taken from a perceived position of strength, not weakness It was a repudiation of realism, not a surrender to it. To the extent that al-Qaida succeeds in its aims, then, it has proven a core belief of constructivism — that ideas can vie with material power for international influence. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

36 Score Card for Constructivism The extent to which the al-Qaida and its offshoots can induce various countries to oppose, or even simply to abstain from supporting, U.S. policies, shows the power of ideas; as the United States is the sole extant superpower, reducing its influence in this way is no small achievement. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

37 Score Card for Constructivism If the ideational rallying cry of “ cultural jihad ” has in fact been translated into material power — at least enough to provoke the United States into undertaking actions that would otherwise be against its own interest — then ideas have power on a par with traditional military and economic might. Ideas may not fully equate to traditional power, but they can play a major role in resource allocation and in the determination of the uses to which power is put. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

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39 Is Terrorism Economically-driven? The Minimum Line Theory says that political violence breaks out when quality of life falls below a certain minimum line. Uprising © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

40 Is Terrorism Economically-driven? The Expectation Theory says that an uprising breaks out when quality of life is on the rise, but does not rise fast enough to meet expectations. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

41 Is Terrorism Economically-driven? In the case of Israel and the Palestinians the key dates to look at here are: : The Arab Revolt : The Intifada : Al-Aqsa Intifada © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

42 Is Terrorism Economically-driven? : The Arab Revolt In the Arab Revolt, the ones making the uprising where the fedayeen, so one should look at the state of the economy for this sector. In 1936, daily wages in agriculture were rising, but fell over the summer after the uprising had started. Child survival and education were also rising. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

43 Is Terrorism Economically-driven? Intifada For the 1987 Intifada, we can also see that economic indicators were rising. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

44 Is Terrorism Economically-driven? 2000 Al-Aqsa Intifada For the intifada of 2000 this was true again. The crisis didn ' t occur in 96, when the indicators hit a low spot, but only broke out four years later. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

45 Score Card for Economy as a Root Cause? The rising expectations theory appears to be ahead on points! What sort of theory is the Expectations theory? Due to its reliance on perceptions, we would have to classify it as a constructivist theory. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

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47 Is Terrorism driven by despair or by public opinion? It is often stated that progress in the Peace Process between Israel and the Palestinians should be accompanied by a decline in support for violence among the two populations. We can get a rough idea of whether support for violence in general may be itself affected by progress in the Peace Process by superimposing some key events in the peace process on the a graph of the trends. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

48 Road Map II Peace Process Road Map IRoad Map IIISharm el-Sheikh Aqaba Park Hotel Bombing Security Fence JMCC Polls Support for Continuation of Intifada © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

49 Park Hotel Bombing Security Fence Peace Process Road Map IRoad Map IIRoad Map III Aqaba Sharm el-Sheikh JMCC Polls Support for Military Operations © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

50 Road Map II Peace Process Road Map IRoad Map IIISharm el-Sheikh Aqaba Park Hotel Bombing Security Fence JMCC Polls Support for Continuation of Intifada © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

51 JMCC Polls Support for Suicide Bombings Park Hotel Bombing Security Fence PA Elections Arafat Dies Events in PA Operation Defensive Shield Mutual Attacks ending with ceasefire Operation Days of Penitence Military Campaigns Peace Process Road Map IRoad Map IIRoad Map III Aqaba Sharm el-Sheikh Sa ' adeh & al-Arouj JadallahShehade Abu Shanab Hanbali YassinRantisi Targeted Killings © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

52 Support for Intifada R = 0.78Support for Continuation of Intifada © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

53 Support for Intifada R = 0.66Support for Continuation of the Intifada © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

54 Support for Military Operations R = 0.75Support for Military Operations © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

55 Support for Military Operations R = 0.66Support for Military Operations © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

56 Support for Suicide bombings R = 0.87Support for Suicide bombings © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

57 Support for Suicide bombings R = 0.81Support for Suicide bombings © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

58 Is Terrorism Public-Opinion Driven? There is a clear correlation between number of attacks and their severity, as measured by the number of fatalities and support for violence, with a correlation coefficient between 0.66 and Perhaps most significantly, the highest correlation was seen between support for suicide bombings and actual suicide bombings — 0.81 to This would support the hypothesis that there is a strong correlation between number of terrorist attacks in Israel and the level of Palestinian support for violence against Israel. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

59 Is Terrorism Public-Opinion Driven? Terrorist organizations do not operate in a vacuum; they are believed to be sensitive, to one degree or another to public opinion of their constituencies. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

60 Is Terrorism Public-Opinion Driven? Support for suicide attacks was highest during the period of frequent attacks leading up to the Park Hotel bombing in March Support for suicide attacks rose markedly from December 2001 to March 2002, peaking at 72% and staying constant until June This corresponded to a particularly intensive wave of suicide attacks against Israeli civilians. A survey conducted later that month showed support for suicide attacks at 60%. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

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62 A (somewhat cautious) estimation The practical and strategic assessments likely to be carried out by the terrorist make it probably that conventional explosives will remain weapons of choice for most terrorist groups. The exceptions are groups motivated by apocalyptic beliefs and have cult-like characteristics. The global jihad fits into this category.

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64 Introduction to “Conflict Memetics” Asymmetric (or “ fourth generation ” ) conflict does not normally lead to conventional victory. Both sides retain their ability to continue the fight. These conflicts are easy to get into, but hard to get out of. Some do get resolved — eventually. Others seem to go on forever. Why? © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

65 Ripeness / Readiness Theory Conflict de-escalation and fruitful negotiation depend on two principal conditions:  “ Mutually Hurting Stalemate ” (MHS) Catastrophes (real or possible) contribute to “ ripeness ”. Perception is more important than “ reality ”. An “ effective ” stalemate is one that poses unacceptable costs/risks to both sides. Adaptation to stalemate prevents “ ripeness ”.  Optimism about satisfactory conflict resolution As conflict draws on, this gets harder — but not impossible. What prevents ripeness/readiness? © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

66 Memetics: an evolutionary view of mental constructs Memes — ideas, beliefs, habits of thought, etc. — “ succeed ” by persisting, spreading, and intensifying. “ Explicit ” memes are declared openly and propagated knowingly/deliberately. “ Implicit ” memes are propagated based upon the behavior they cause, usually without intent or even awareness of their existence. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

67 “ Memeplexes ” Memes often travel in groups: groups of associated memes referred to as meme complexes, or “ memeplexes ”. Some components of a memeplex typically serve as “ guardian memes ”, promoting the memeplex ' s propagation, maintaining its integrity, etc. Religions, ideologies, nationalisms, and so on are all memeplexes. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

68 Guardian memes: a Jewish example “ You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your resources. And these things which I command you today shall be on your heart. Teach them diligently to your children, and speak of them while you sit at home, while you walk on your way, when you lie down and when you rise up. Bind them as a sign on your arm, let them be Totafot between your eyes. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. ” “...so that you will remember, and perform all My commandments, and be holy to your God. ” © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

69 Guardian memes Religions have been subject to schism, fanaticism, and other risks since before recorded history began. As a result, religions developed “ immune systems ” to protect themselves from harmful or overly rapid change. Long-term survival requires the ability to adapt while maintaining integrity, to retain enthusiasm without succumbing (too much) to extremism. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

70 Guardian memes Religions are generally very successful memeplexes: they can maintain their integrity for thousands of years. This helps explain the intractability of religious conflicts: what is considered truly holy cannot be easily conceded, and doesn ' t “ just fade away ”. (In this respect, it ' s important to note that the Northern Ireland conflict is/was sectarian, not religious!) © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

71 An implicit conflict meme: “ They All Hate Us Anyway ” Violence Security and other drivers Confirmation Bias Media Coverage What will people think? They all hate us anyway © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

72 “ They Only Understand Violence ” This is a two-host mutually reinforcing meme.  If the other side understands only violence, then we must behave violently in order to communicate.  Since the other side communicates with us only by violence, that must be all they understand! Can you make peace with someone who understands only violence? So much for optimism! © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

73 “ Takfir ” The “ Takfir ” meme was originally part of Islam ' s immune system, intended to enforce observance and orthodoxy. It has been adapted by al Qaeda and its allies as a facilitator of extremism: those who don ' t toe the line our way are infidels. This works, but at a cost! Memes that are useful and seem successful at first may not be viable long-term. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

74 “ Deterrence ” “ Deterrence ” is the charming failure of asymmetric conflict. Everybody loves it, even though it doesn ' t really work.  Paradoxically, “ Deterrence ” is reinforced by its own failures: “ They attacked us again? We need more deterrence! ”  In low-intensity conflict, “ Deterrence ” requires frequent violent acts in order to (re-)establish itself.  To the (dubious) extent that it does work, “ Deterrence ” can make stalemate less “ mutually hurting ”— and thus delay “ ripeness ” for conflict resolution. © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

75 Implications Conflict-promoting memes are (mostly) able survivors — extremely hard to eliminate. Understanding what they are and how they work may help temper their impact. Can we identify/create/promote counter-conflict memes that are as viable as conflict memes? © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

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77 Terrorism as Strategy: Is Terrorism the Peacock's Tail? An institutional/evolutionary view u We tend to look at terror organizations primarily in terms of their goals and grievances. However, to understand them properly, we need to change our viewpoint to an institutional one. u Why? Because a terror organization is, first and foremost, an organization. History has shown that terror organizations that do not devote attention to their own survival do not, in fact, survive.  This is analogous to biological evolution, where “ success ” doesn't necessarily mean being the fastest, smartest, or “ best ” but only producing viable offspring. The peacock with the showiest tail “ wins ”, as long as he can fly a little.

78 © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict Terrorism as Strategy: Is Terrorism the Peacock's Tail? An institutional/evolutionary view u The terror organizations that persist for any length of time are the ones that have managed to keep themselves going. The others may make a splash, but they don’t last long. u Just as changing climate changes the selection pressures on biological evolution, the changing political and technological climate changes the dangers and opportunities for organizations.

79 © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict What are the dangers for terror organizations? They can “ die ” in several ways:  Total defeat due to overwhelming force – the Sri Lanka model. Difficult and costly for Western democracies to carry out. Defense: decentralization and remote locations.  Decapitation – the Sendero Luminoso/PKK model. When this can be accomplished, it’s cheap and effective. Defense: don’t rely on a unitary, hierarchical leadership.  Irrelevance – the ETA model. Defence: make your demands high. Basing on something like a religion helps as well: religions don't easily obsolesce.

80 © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict What are the dangers for terror organizations? They can “ die ” in several ways:  Negotiation – the IRA model. Defence: Cosmic demands, enough violence to keep the audience from “ going soft ” on you. u Victory. Perhaps the most frightening thing for a terror organization is to achieve its (ostensible) goals! Defense: keep the goals so cosmic that full victory is virtually impossible, while using tactical victories (i.e. successful attacks) to maintain the appearance of success.

81 © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict Implications for Counter-Terrorism Before we try to end terror campaigns by resolving grievances or getting rid of “ root causes ”, we need to understand that even if “ root causes ” were crucial in spawning terror groups, their resolution will not necessarily end terrorism. The successful terror organization will do everything possible to preserve the conditions that lead to the grievances that keep it going. Example: Whenever roadblocks are opened in the West Bank, terror organizations always make sure to mount attacks; the roadblocks are one of their greatest assets.

82 © Yael Shahar, Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict Implications for Counter-Terrorism Decapitation can be effective, particularly with single-leader groups. For groups with more “ networked ” leadership, decapitation may be impossible – or may be possible, but requiring that quite a lot of “ heads ” be “ cut off ”. Negotiation/irrelevance – that is, working on traditional “ problem resolution ” – may work in some cases; but the successful terror organization will fight hard against victory.

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