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Counter Terrorism Policy

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1 Counter Terrorism Policy
© William Eric Davis. All Rights Reserved.

2 COUNTER-TERRORISM Counter-terrorism is the use of personnel and resources to deter, preempt, disrupt, or destroy terrorists and their support networks. It can include diplomacy, law enforcement, military and other options. The prefix "counter" in words such as counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, and counterespionage is intended to mean that any effort taken will be proactive, aggressive and offensive, as opposed to any reactive or simply defensive strategy which might be implied by other terms such as “anti-terrorism” or “responding” to terrorism. 

3 BEING PROACTIVE There are a variety of policy options in counter-terrorism, but outside of prevention (in the form of secondary target hardening), few experts recommend conciliation, restraint, isolationism, or ignoring the problem. 

4 Good Intelligence Analysis
“Soft” Approaches Diplomacy Negotiation Social Reform Good Intelligence Analysis “Soft" approaches are complex, complicated, and require patience, but they have the potential to be highly effective in the long run, and in the end, that is perhaps all that matters - what works.

5 “Hard” Approaches Law Enforcement Options
Military Options (including “Preemption”) CIA style “Black Bag Jobs” (“Black Ops”)

6 Terrorism & Political Violence
Evaluating Anti-Terror Policies Diplomacy Intelligence Preemption Deterrence

7 DIPLOMACY Diplomacy is defined as the ordered conduct of relations between one group of human beings and another group alien to themselves. The primary purpose of diplomacy is communications, and the ultimate goal of diplomacy is peace.  Diplomacy, as it is practiced today, can be considered a method of conflict transformation.

8 Material Conflicts & Identity Conflicts
There are two kinds of conflicts for which Diplomacy is best suited: (1) Material conflicts: which revolve around dividable assets and can usually be handled by traditional conflict resolution techniques (including warfare). (2) Identity conflicts: which involve deep-seeded feelings of hate, but a sense of legitimate grievance, and are usually handled by diplomacy techniques that frequently (but not necessarily) focus on reconciliation and/or restorative justice.

9 Diplomacy Experts are Executives, Not Legislators or Judges
Diplomacy is mostly "executive" in the sense that a seasoned team of professionals (called the Foreign Service or Diplomatic Service) are used who are dedicated to the practice of diplomacy and nothing else.  Diplomacy is also NOT about negotiation, guile, or trickery. In fact, the practice of diplomacy is often all about fixing the problems that nations got into because they were trying to deceive one another.

10 Diplomacy vs. Negotiation
When diplomats are dispatched to settle a conflict or controversy, it is not the same as sending negotiators.  The role of a negotiator is make a bargain or to distract the enemy while you are doing other things, like preparing to attack them.  With negotiation, there is usually compromise; someone wins, someone loses, or at least both parties never get all they want.  The role of a diplomat, however, is to resolve a situation (without negotiating) to the ultimate triumph for all; everyone usually wins (something), and the region is ideally transformed by peace.

11 What is a Diplomat? Diplomats carry letters of credentials and full powers signed by a President or Secretary of State to act on behalf of a nation (or group). However, this does not bind their country until any agreement has gone through an acceptance process (like passage in a legislature, signature by a President, Prime Minister, or dictator.

12 Uses of Diplomacy The most common uses of diplomacy in counterterrorism include: Developing bilateral or multilateral anti-terrorist policies. 2. Arranging for the sharing of intelligence. 3. Arranging permission for law enforcement authorities from one country to come in and arrest (or interrogate) a suspected terrorist in another country; or rendition. 4. Establishment of appropriate sanctions on sponsors of terrorism. 

13 Evaluation of Diplomacy
Diplomacy is the most frequently used and most successfully used form of counterterrorism. It requires the least amount of resources among all the counterterrorism strategies.

14 Diplomatic Successes Some famous cases where diplomacy worked in the terrorist context include: Ending the OPEC hostage crisis at Vienna in 1975. Arranging a prisoner exchange with Lebanese hijackers in 1985. Catching Carlos the Jackal in 1994. Getting the IRA to agree to a laying down of arms in 1998 (and subsequent breakthroughs). And numerous cease-fire agreements between Israelis and Palestinians from (although they always eventually failed). 

15 Diplomacy can work (w/ rational regimes), but it can also be a ruse

Conventional wisdom holds that it is never wise to negotiate with terrorists or to concede to their demands, at least while they are still engaging in violence.  In fact, the U.S. and many of its allies are “formally” committed to a policy of "no negotiation" with terrorists (although they have made exceptions, generally to their regret).

17 Democracies like to Negotiate
History shows democracies are more willing to negotiate and compromise with terrorists than not, and more than alternative forms of government. Democracy is itself a system of bargaining.  When such efforts go wrong, they only encourage the terrorists to repeat their acts and become more violent later on.  They also embarrass a nation and result in lost credibility for many years.  When such efforts go partially right, and that is all they can be - partially effective, the best that can happen is the incident goes away, and there is some closure (for awhile). 

18 Possible Concessions Payment of ransom money to terrorists
Payment of bribe or protection money to terrorists Giving weapons, food, material, technology, or information to terrorists Release of imprisoned terrorists Release of imprisoned supporters or sympathizers of terrorism Release of political prisoners, dissidents, extremists, and spiritual fanatics Provision of transport to another location intra- or internationally Provision of political asylum or amnesty within a host country Safe passage out of own country to a willing host country Provision of top-notch legal services and a public court forum to air their cause Provision of access to the news media to broadcast their propaganda

19 Examples of Negotiation
A countless number of ransom payments have been made by governments, corporations, and families to terrorists.  Numerous prisoner exchanges, prisoner releases, and even mass releases of prisoners have been made throughout history, and the U.S. has been party to it.  For all its tough talk, Israel has engaged in almost as many concessions as crackdowns.  It has gotten them little. It solves a short-term problem (like getting a hostage released), but it contributes to the long-term problem of terrorism.

20 The Iran-Contra Affair
Perhaps the most famous act of concession involving the U.S. was the Iran-Contra scandal.  During , high-ranking officials of the U.S. government sold $30 million worth of guns to Iran in hopes of getting Iranian help for releasing American hostages held by Shiite terrorists in Lebanon.  The money from the gun sale was used to support anti-Sandinista forces in Latin America.  Iran, for its part, came through and successfully pressured the terrorists to release the hostages in Lebanon.  Shortly after, however, more American hostages were seized by the same terrorist group, among others, and the U.S. suffered a major credibility problem in Latin America from which it has not since recovered.  Iran-Contra is just one example of things gone horribly wrong, but in all fairness, it is up to history to decide if short-term expediency options are worth the long-term costs. 

21 Evaluating Negotiation
The best that can be said about negotiating with terrorists is that concessions are only marginally effective (and for the most part, bad ideas), but they might be conceivably useful under some very specific historical circumstances where they don't reward terrorism or create credibility problems.

22 Signals (Electronic) Intelligence
An “Intelligence” policy means to increase intelligence budgets so as to “detect” terrorist plots before they are carried out and to help catch terrorists should they succeed in an attack. Human Intelligence Signals (Electronic) Intelligence 22

23 Intelligence Indicators of Terrorism
Indicators are usually thought of as factors of risk.  Regarding terrorism, the three primary factors of risk are: (1) Adversary Capability (2) Adversary Intentions (3) Target Vulnerability There is some debate within intelligence circles as to whether the third one is necessary (does vulnerability encourage violence?). Some experts talk about "terrorism threat assessment" (as opposed to terrorism risk assessment) as only involving the first two.  The third is controversial precisely because it sometimes involves collecting vulnerability information on an ally or friendly force. 

24 Capability Indicators
Lethal Agents: 1. Biological 2. Nuclear or radiological 3. Chemical 4. Conventional bombing/explosion 5. Hijacking 6. Hostage taking/kidnapping 7. Assassination 8. Firearms 10. Knives/blades 11. Computers Delivery Methods: 1. Ground based 2. Water vessel/scuba 3. Aircraft 4. Missile 5. Suicide/Human host 6. Mail/Postal service 7. Food/Beverage/Water supply 8. Gaseous

25 Intention Indicators 1. Weapons or material movement 2. Terrorist travel 3. Terrorist training 4. Significant events and dates 5. Increased Propaganda levels 6. Surveillance of targets 7. Tests of security

26 Vulnerability Indicators
1. Low current security posture 2. Number of people in a target area 3. Significance of target 4. Specific facility vulnerabilities 5. Inability to deter or disrupt 6. Level of cooperation with U.S. 7. Significant events and dates

27 Security on Sesame Street

28 Idealism vs. Realism Idealism: "The act or practice of envisioning things in an ideal form." As a foreign policy, it means to gauge the “intentions” of our enemies as an indication of threat to US national security. Friendly gestures by our enemies may lead to US vulnerability. It also includes a focus on advancing human rights around the world. Realism: "the inclination towards literal truth and pragmatism" ( As a foreign policy, means to gauge enemy capabilities and adjust US policy to deal with an attack, regardless of indications of the intent of another country or group. Can sometimes be seen as provocative. More willing than idealists to overlook human rights abuses and to tolerate dictators (in the interest of security), such as Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines and even Saddam Hussein. Note: Liberals (Democrats) tend to be idealists, while Conservatives (Republicans) tend to be realists. However, we are only talking about tendencies. There are always exceptions.

29 Another Way to Look at It
Idealists measure threat to the US in terms of feelings (how others “feel” toward the US). If more people hate us than before, then the US security level is lower, according to idealists (regardless of the enemy’s capabilities). Idealists tend to be optimistic. Realists measure threat to the US in terms of the capabilities of the enemy. Accordingly to realists, if we have reduced their capability, we have improved American security (regardless of how people feel about it or us). Realists tend to be pessimistic.

30 Strive for Perfection? Idealists assert we should strive for perfection. However, idealists often become lost in their dreams, and forget the real world around them; and as a result can acquire an out-of-touch aura about them. Realists on the other hand are more grounded in reality (hence the name), and as a result are often better prepared to deal with it. However, as they focus too much on reality, they often aim lower than can be reached, only aiming for what can be reached with assurance, and as a result often miss out on the (few) times humanity does reach excellence.

31 Why does a person become a realist or an idealist?
It has to do with attitudes about risk. Realists tend to be risk-averse (i.e., they don’t like it). Idealists tend to be more tolerant of taking risks. This raises the question: why does one become risk-averse (or, alternatively, a risk seeker)?

32 Idealism has a Dismal Record of Success
In 1939, the West considered Hitler rational and open to negotiation. The “Munich Agreement” resulted from it, but instead of preserving peace…it allowed Hitler to start a war with a decided advantage. In 1979, President Carter thought the Soviets meant the US no harm and negotiated the START II arms treaty (which was one-sided in favor of Soviets). The Soviets invaded Afghanistan while the treaty was in the US Senate awaiting ratification. In 1994, the Clinton administration negotiated a deal with North Korea: they would give up their nuclear weapons program and would get free fuel and food in exchange. North Korea immediately (& secretly) started violating the agreement. Clinton did not include provisions for monitoring compliance into the agreement.

33 G. W. Bush is a realist, but sometimes has idealistic policies
For example, when deciding to go to war in Iraq, he looked at Iraq’s capabilities (suspecting WMDs); i.e., realism, but Bush also somewhat concerned himself with Saddam Hussein’s intentions. Once the war was over (and the occupation began) he began to try and transform Iraq into a stable democracy believing that it would lead to peace and stability in the region (via the “Democratic Peace”); i.e., idealism.

34 2. Financial Information
Additional Profiling Indicators [Factors that identify potential terrorism] 1. Group Information 2. Financial Information 3. Personnel Data 4. Location Data

35 The Group Information Indicator
Group Information -- Name(s), ideology (political or social philosophy), history of the group, dates significant to the group, and dates on which former leaders have been killed or imprisoned. Terrorist groups often strike on important anniversary dates. Some groups also have a manifesto, which is important to obtain or confirm (such as doomsday dates).

36 The Financial Information Indicator
Financial Information -- Source of funds, proceeds from criminal activities, bank account information. Sudden influxes of funding or bank withdrawals indicate preparation for activity. It's also important to identify the group's legal and financial supporters. Technically, anyone who would write an official letter of protest or gather names on a petition for a terrorist is a legal or financial supporter. Sometimes, an analysis of support will reveal linkages and/or mergers with other terrorist groups.

37 The Locational Data Indicator
Locational Data -- Location of group's headquarters, location of group's "safe" houses (where they hide from authorities), and location of group's "stash" houses (where hide weapons and supplies). Regular attacks on "stash" houses is the most frequently used counter-terrorism technique. It's important to specify the underground that exists -- where terrorists can flee.  This is harder than identifying safe havens.  Terrorists like to live in communal homes instead of living alone. 37

38 The Personal Data Indicator
Personnel Data -- List of leaders (and changes in leadership), list of members (and former members), any personnel connections between its members and other groups of similar ideology, and the skills of all group members (weapons expertise, electronics expertise, etc.) Knowing the skills of the group is an important part of threat assessment. If the philosophy revolves around one leader, it's important to know what will occur if something happens to that leader.  Often, the analysis of family background is useful to determine how radically a leader or member was raised.  Group structure, particularly if the organization pattern is cellular, determines who knows whom.

39 Evaluation of Intelligence
Traditional law enforcement methods are not all that effective when it comes to the investigation or intelligence of terrorism. "We should not be constrained by Boy Scout ethics in an immoral world." -Kenneth Adelman- We must keep some muscle in the back alley, willing to do some ugly business, if we are going to detect and prevent terrorism.

40 DETERRENCE Deterrence is about how to get an opponent to NOT do something due to some threatened consequence for doing it or minimizing chances of a successful attack by the terrorists. Building up fortifications Improving security Threatening retaliation (or carrying it out) Very much within “Rational Choice” Approach. 40

41 How to do “Deterrence” Creation of technology based barriers
Stricter Laws and Penalties “Hardening” potential targets Building up Military Defenses All intended to reduce probability of a successful terror attack. 41

42 Evaluation of Deterrence
    While ordinary street crime is often deterred by crackdowns, target hardening, denying opportunity, and aggressive security (with known displacement patterns), terrorism frequently defies deterrence because they don't seek targets of opportunity, but symbolic targets.  As a group, terrorists are very team-oriented, and often prepared for suicide missions.  On the other hand, ordinary criminals are undisciplined, untrained, and oriented toward escape. Terrorists are just the opposite. They have prepared for their mission, are willing to take risks, and are attack-oriented.  If captured, they will usually not confess or snitch on others as ordinary criminals do.  Traditional law enforcement methods are not all that effective when it comes to the investigation or intelligence of terrorism.

43 PREEMPTION Attacking the enemy before they strike us.
It need not mean that the enemy’s attack is “imminent.” Bush Preemption Doctrine (Eligibility): Non-Democracy Have or seeking WMDs Ties to Terrorism [Eligible nations in 2001: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Syria] 43

44 Paul Wolfowitz [Architect of the Bush Preemption Doctrine]

45 Moral Superiority as Counterterrorism
Some would say that moral superiority is how to win the war on terrorism. Most terrorist movements and groups do come to an end, and even a doctrine can be defeated.  Winning a war on terrorism requires that there be a moral conviction in the justice of the fight.  A terror war must give expression to the morality involved, and fight as if it were a war of ideas.  Terrorism, in may ways, is an attack on national will.  Terrorists often count on the fact that their targets are "soft and weak" and will not be able to sustain a coordinated grand strategy.  Terrorists know that their targets will critique themselves, and debate among themselves.  They know their targets will argue among themselves about the morality of counterterrorism, and in fact, they are often counting on this kind of moral skepticism to develop before they attack again. 

46 Moral Counterterrorism Policy
The moral arguments against terrorism (that it is unjustifiable) should be forcefully restated time and time again, and by as many voices as possible, globally.  The language of morality can be powerful.  Not only does it appeal to foreign audiences, but it can also help with domestic morale. Democratic-minded and moderate leaders of organizations in the host nations for terrorists should be assisted in having their "voices" amplified by the democratic nations.   

47 American Foreign Policies
Monroe Doctrine Truman Doctrine (“Containment” of Communism) Reagan Doctrine (“Roll Back” Communism) Bush’s “Preemption” (No waiting for terror attacks). 47

48 There are Differences of Opinion on How to Best Deal with Terrorism, and often they are Partisan Differences

In Descending order of Effectiveness (According to some studies): Diplomacy 2. Intelligence 3. Preemption 4. Deterrence (Least Effective) This does not mean we should pick one to the exclusion of all others. 49

50 SUBSTITUTION EFFECT As one counter-terrorism policy (strategy or tactic) becomes successful, the enemy will switch strategies and tactics. We call this a “substitution effect.” That is, the enemy will substitute a different tactic once current one is no longer effective for them. They may also change the “structure” of their organization. The US must be on guard and watch for this. We need to stay one step ahead of the enemy. We should not get complacent once it appears we are “winning.” 50

51 Terrorist Innovation New Modes of Attack New Techniques and Tactics
New Targets New Methods of Recruitment New Types of Organization Etc. 51

52 Terrorism will Continue to Evolve
If governments want to curb terrorism they must NOT focus on just one type of event, because terrorist tactics will change and evolve to adapt to our counterterrorism strategy. Instead, we MUST target simultaneously a wide range of various terrorist attack modes. This includes “financing” as well as strategy and tactics. We should go after everything. 52

53 Allocating Resources Efficiently
Comparing the effectiveness of anti-terrorist policies is crucial in order to allocate government resources in the most efficient way in the fight against terrorism. But, it should be dynamic (changing) rather than static (unchanging) because terrorists evolve. 53

54 “INTERACTION EFFECT” The effect of “X” on “Y” will depend on the value of “Z”. This means it is possible for a policy to become the victim of its own success. That is, the effect of preemption, and deterrence, will depend on the effect of intelligence policy (which changes). Intelligence effectiveness will decline eventually because terrorists evolve, and as a result preemption and deterrence will increase in effectiveness if we turn to it once intelligence declines in effectiveness. 54

55 Predicting Growth of Terror Attacks
The “rate of growth” of terrorist attacks increases with terrorist innovations. The US government employs deterrence and preemption to reduce the growth rate of terrorist attacks. However, deterrence triggers the development of terrorist innovations, which increases the number of terror attacks (and using the new innovations). The government uses intelligence to anticipate terrorist innovations aiming at decreasing its growth rate. 55

Overall, an important regularity arises from the substitution effect: As terrorists substitute between attack modes, or substitute timing, the time series of all terror incidents are characterized by “CYCLES”. If skyjackings become difficult, they switch to port attacks, etc., until skyjackings become feasible again. 56

57 Allocating Resources As anti-terrorist resources become scarce, our government should allocate more to intelligence than to preemption, and more to preemption than to deterrence. But, we should be ready to quickly reallocate resources as “intelligence” achieves success (we should probably already be shifting resources to some degree to stay one step ahead of the enemy). There is, however, a cost for preemption (EU, China and Russia do not like it). 57

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