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An Introduction to Terrorism Part I: Terrorist objectives, methods, and their psychological impact Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Department of Psychology University.

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Presentation on theme: "An Introduction to Terrorism Part I: Terrorist objectives, methods, and their psychological impact Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Department of Psychology University."— Presentation transcript:

1 An Introduction to Terrorism Part I: Terrorist objectives, methods, and their psychological impact Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Department of Psychology University at Buffalo

2 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Terrorist’s Objective l To affect political, social, economic, or religious change through the use of fear and intimidation unable to accomplish objectives through legitimate or democratic process unable to directly confront their opposition militarily

3 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Difference Between Terror & Terrorism l Terror involves inflicting fear and anxiety on the victim(s) l Terror can be goal oriented or gratuitous produce “positive” political, social, economic, or religious change extortion for financial gain pathological desire to inflict suffering

4 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Motivational Dimension financial gain TERROR inflict suffering “positive” societal change Criminal Terror Pathological Terror Terrorism

5 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Terrorism & Criminal Terror l Terrorism is directed towards “positive” change for a larger group seldom ‘self-serving’ often ‘sacrificing’ l Criminal terror benefits the individual extortion for financial or social gain often involves frank or borderline psychopathology

6 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Terrorism & Pathological Terror l Terrorists seek change through the use of fear and intimidation but this seldom involves mentally disturbed individuals l Some people use terror gratuitously this usually involves mentally disturbed individuals

7 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Types of Terror Type Motivational Attributes

8 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Terror & Psychopathology

9 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Terrorist’s ‘Weapons’ l Kidnapping & hostage taking l Assassination l Improvised Explosive Device (IED) l CBRN (cf. NBC) chemical (e.g., sarin gas) biological (e.g., anthrax) radiological dispersal (e.g., dirty bomb) nuclear (i.e., mass destruction)

10 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Terrorist’s Method to Accomplish Goals l To instill “terror” in target audience to force capitulation by using the most terrifying means available, including kidnapping, assassination, IEDs, CBRNs by affecting many more people than directly affected by physical actions media and government-response play a critical role in the impact of terrorism

11 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Terrorists’ Targets: Hard and Soft l Hard targets high-ranking government officials military bases fortified police stations (e.g., Northern Ireland) l Soft targets individual civilians shopping areas schools cultural, sporting, & religious venues

12 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Widening the “Target” to ‘Hit the Mark’ Level 1: Government Leaders Level 2: Police & Military Level 3: Government Workers Level 4: Civilian Supporters Level 5: All Civilians Terrorists increase their range of targets to achieve their goal. Most terrorist organizations include civilian targets, often preferred over hard targets.

13 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Target Impact-Value l Most people probably believe that hard targets have a higher impact value than soft targets l This is generally true for conventional military campaigns but this is not true for terrorist campaigns against democracies

14 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Freedom’s Paradox: You can surrender it to terror! Terrorist tactics probably work best against democracies, where targeting civilian populations has the greatest effect (i.e., civilians elect the government which sets the policy the terrorists wish to change)

15 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Terror Value of Soft Targets In addition to being easier to attack, soft targets actually have a higher terror value for the average citizen than do most hard targets (e.g., killing people “like me” makes the threat more personal and increases the individual terror value)

16 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Tokyo Subway Attack (Sarin gas attack by Aum Shinri-kyo cult, 20 March 1995) 12 Killed 5,700 physically injured 9,000+ psychologically ‘injured’ 10,000’s terrorized

17 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Beltway Snipers (Washington DC region, October 2002) 10 Killed 3 physically injured 100’s psychologically ‘injured’ 100,000’s terrorized

18 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. 911 Attack on America (World Trade Center & Pentagon, 11 September 2001) 3,025 Killed 1,000’s physically injured 10,000+ psychologically ‘injured’ A nation terrorized

19 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. l When does attacking hard targets have a higher impact than attacking soft targets? conventional military campaigns totalitarian regimes

20 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. A Tyrant’s Hard Targets Are Most Vulnerable l “Soft targets” have little influence on totalitarian government leadership l “Hard targets” can erode totalitarian control (through attrition) or even instigate a coup de tat

21 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Psychological Impact of Terrorism l Strong motivation to terminate terror l Evokes classic ego defense mechanisms and displacement l Often produces frustration-aggression reaction general increase in mental illness Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

22 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Responses to Similar Events Vary Dramatically l Response to terrorism is determined by social cognition and other dynamics Madrid train bombing (11 March 2004) elect new government withdraw troops from Iraq 9/11 attack on America solidify government support Bush doctrine: hunt & kill

23 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. End of Part I Focus Question Set #2 l What are the methods of terrorists? (e.g., targeting civilian populations) l Why do terrorists use the tactics of terrorism?

24 An Introduction to Terrorism Part II: Considerations for developing effective counter-terrorist strategies

25 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Understanding the Terrorist l “One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter” organized terrorism is seldom rooted in mental illness there is often some legitimate goal for the terrorist organization there is usually a broad support base but very few terrorists are open to compromise

26 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Understanding the Terrorist, continued l Most terrorists seek national or regional change l Some terrorists seek global change most have specific, tangible objectives (even if irrational) a few have apocalyptic motives

27 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Terrorists Are Seldom Open to Compromise l Their demands usually involve radical change in the status quo uniting Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland in the south formation of the state of Palestine overthrow of the secular Egyptian government establishment of an Islamic state in Iraq & removal of Western influence

28 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. The Terrorists’ Resolve l The more one ‘invests’ in a cause, the stronger that cause is psychologically defended l The transition from activist to terrorist (and the willingness to use violent methods) involves psychological changes that tend to dichotomize the ‘world’

29 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. The Terrorists’ View l Terrorist tend to view things as right and wrong (black & white without shades of gray) them and “us” l Terrorists tend to view their opponents as evil, inhumane (dehumanized) not like “us”

30 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Responding to Terrorist Demands (prioritized list) l Diplomacy when possible, but unlikely to work in most situations reinforces terrorist tactics l Undermine terrorist support l Direct physical confrontation hunt and kill neutralize “breeding grounds” l Temper media coverage

31 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Diplomacy and Negotiated Settlement l There are many cases in the 20th Century where terrorist tactics were effectively used to force change or to right an injustice Republic of Ireland (although the Northern counties remain in dispute) State of Israel (although national boundaries remain in dispute) De-colonization & sovereignty of African nations s & 1960s

32 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Colonial Africa c From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia at

33 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Diplomacy & Terrorism in the 21st Century l Conditions have changed radically national sovereignty is no longer the primary force behind many terrorist organizations some terrorist organizations seek global changes extending well beyond their social, political, economic, or religious spheres of influence (e.g., a “New World Order”)

34 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Responding to Terrorist Demands (prioritized list) l Diplomacy when possible, but unlikely to work in most situations reinforces terrorist tactics l Undermine terrorist support

35 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Undermining Terrorist Support l Minimize social-political conditions that spawn terrorism l Isolate the terrorists l Divide political factions l Rally allies against terrorism l Harsh and severe retaliatory action l Temper media coverage

36 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Minimize Social-Political Conditions for Terrorism l Diminish social-economic conditions that present legitimate grievances food and economic aid combat social, religious, economic, and political suppression l Provide alternative, rational plan for resolving the conflict

37 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Isolate the Terrorists l Neutralize support base foreign governments popular/civilian sympathizers other terrorist organizations

38 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Divide Political Factions in the Terrorist Movement l Exploit differences and conflicts among individual factions of the terrorist movement l Consider supporting factions willing to adopt a non-terrorist approach to achieving objectives (Historically this has usually ‘backfired,’ but it still seems to be a rational approach. At a minimum, it diminishes the number of terrorist groups that must be ultimately ‘dealt with’ and better focuses the ‘target.’)

39 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Rally Allies Against Terrorism l Show the terrorists to be irrational fanatics who threaten global peace and stability l Develop allies who have a common interest in neutralizing the terrorist threat l Develop a clear multinational plan for combating terrorism

40 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Responding to Terrorist Demands (prioritized list) l Diplomacy when possible, but unlikely to work in most situations reinforces terrorist tactics l Undermine terrorist support l Direct physical confrontation hunt and kill destroy or neutralize “breeding grounds”

41 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Harsh and Severe Retaliatory Action l When you know your target, “take it out” — “hunt & kill” collateral damage is less important when imbedded in tacit supporters act with an understanding of the psychological principles of punishment and contingency management

42 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Neutralize Terrorist “Breeding Grounds” l Minimize social-political conditions that spawn terrorism (first priority from list of responses) l Covert operations when feasible l Direct military action when appropriate (e.g., Bush doctrine)

43 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Responding to Terrorist Demands (prioritized list) l Diplomacy when possible, but unlikely to work in most situations reinforces terrorist tactics l Undermine terrorist support l Direct physical confrontation hunt and kill neutralize “breeding grounds” l Temper media coverage

44 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Temper Media Coverage l The media are (mostly unwilling) allies of the terrorists l The media need to self-censor coverage and not just push the most sensationalistic story confirm story & factual information present clear & balanced perspective consider impact of coverage

45 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Terrorism in the New Millennium l Terrorism is a global problem that is not going away without direct action terrorism affects many people far removed from the terrorist activity terrorists seldom compromise l An effective response to terrorism requires decisive and often harsh action, uncharacteristic of the traditional American Psyche

46 Copyright 2005 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. Focus Question Set #3 l What terrorist groups were active in previous generations? Did they achieve their goals? l What are some of the major terrorist groups active today? Which are the most serious concern for the United States? Most serious threat worldwide?


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