Terrorism: A Frightening Problem With An Intuitive Solution CSC 1984 SUBJECT AREA Strategic Issues TERRORISM: A FRIGHTENING PROBLEM WITH AN INTUITIVE SOLUTION Submitted to Mr. R. V. Wiggins In partial Fulfillment of Requirements for Written Communications The Marine Corps Command and Staff College Quantico, Virginia Major R. Cole United States Marine Corps March 29, 1984 TERRORISM: A FRIGHTENING PROBLEM WITH AN INTUITIVE SOLUTION At a recent international convention of terrorists held in Mexico City, a central theme which emerged was "kill Americans."1 This message was reinforced by Cuba's Fidel Castro and echoed by Iran's Ayotollah Khomeini. Further, although few countries have been spared by terrorists since the mid 1960's, the recent resurgence in terrorist activity has clearly indicated that westerners, specifically Americans, are the principal targets. Contemporary terrorism is not a new phenomenon, rather it is a derivation of guerrilla warfare which pre-dates the birth of Christ. Presidents and kings throughout history have used terrorists and terrorism to help them win battles and maintain power. Assassination, execution, arbitrary imprisonment, mutilation, and the seizing of hostages have enabled ruthless leaders to achieve their political ends. In the modern world, governmental actions are subject to widespread public scrutiny. The indirect forms of warfare are surfacing more frequently as the countries of the world maneuver to achieve goals without requiring a vote of confidence. Toward this end, there is an ever-increasing number of examples of warfare by proxy, clandestine operations, governments supporting neighboring guerrillas and even their employment of terrorists. Terrorism is a debilitating domestic and international crisis with which government, military, and corporate leaders are confronted in protecting U.S. citizens and interests. There have been numerous similar definitions given to terrorism. Mr. John Daly, noted member of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy, describes terrorism as the use of violence, either random or selective to further ideological or national aims. Mr. Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General, defines it as the use of physical or psychological violence to force people, through fear, to act as one wants them to. Mr. Frank H. Percy, former Director of the Office for Combating Terrorism, puts it more simply. "Terrorism is a criminal act committed to bring about political change." Finally, Mr. Yonah Alexander, Director for Studies in International Terrorism, offers a definition analagous to the others, but adds, that what some nations identify as terrorism, other nations perceive as national liberation movements.2 The FBI describes terrorism as the politically, socially, and or religiously motivated criminal intimidation of innocent people.3 Generally, it is agreed by most that terrorism involves violence or the threat of violence in order to publicize a cause or create fear. Terrorism has been defined by many academicians and politicians, and differentations have been made between domestic and international terrorism. The "international" aspect simply involves terrorist acts conducted with the support of a foreign government or committed across national boundaries. Statistics indicate that domestic terrorism has been held in check because of this country's geographic remoteness and increased control over airport traffic. In striking contrast, international terrorism appears to be experiencing a terrifying increase, and the situation may only worsen. Statistics reveal that international terrorism is up 10% worldwide and 25% in the mideast.4 Remember, the terrorist's objective is to publicize his cause and instill fear. Have they been effective? You bet they have! What American is not aware of the tragedies at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut and at the Beirut International Airport where hundreds of unsuspecting people were murdered? Similarly, who did not read of the bombing at Britain's Herrod's Department store over Christmas and more recently of the terrorist murder of the president of the American University of Beirut, an American. Who is this modern terrorist? Edgar O'Ballance, author of Language of Violence, characterizes them as reasonably -- well educated, possessing a fairly high level of intelli- gence and devoid of the human emotions of pity and remorse.5 He maintains that today's terrorist displays a high degree of personal bravery and is extremely active in the service of his cause. While the activities of a few of the most noted terrorists, such as "Carlos the Jackal," are incompre- hensible, an analysis of the operations of an active terrorist gang, such as the Red Brigade or Red Army Faction, is even more alarming. The terrorist groups seem to fall into three separate categories. There are terrorist groups fighting for a political cause or belief, those who wish to force their own extreme political philosophy on others, and various liberation movements with nationalistic, racial, or other special interests. Much has been written concerning the strength, operations, and effectiveness of individual terrorist groups throughout the world, and, possibly more disturbing, a perceived network of terrorist groups mutually cooperating with each other in the business of terrorism. Claire Sterling, author of The Terror Network provides a cogent discussion of the interactions between some of the terrorist organizations over the past decade. It is her opinion that a typical terrorist operation could involve a Japanese Red Army member, who had been trained in Syria or South Yemen, receiving a mission, flying to France to pick up identification documents and money from one terrorist group, and then on to West Germany, where he would be assisted by members of the Red Army Faction in the execution of a Japanese business executive. Such is the extent of mutual support, which from time to time has existed among terrorist organizations.6 A detailed discussion of the numerous active terrorist groups is not included in this paper, but let it suffice to say that within each country there is at least one infamous group of terrorists who actively fight for the changes they seek. Terrorism is unquestionably on the upswing and we, Americans, have become the target. During the late sixties and early seventies, there was an epidemic of airplane hijackings. Most of these incidents involved flights going to or coming from middle east airports. Do you think people thought twice about flying? Certainly the hijackings had an unnerving affect on those who had to conduct business with companies or countries in that region. Mideast terrorism is nothing new. Hassan Ben Sabbah was a Persian, who lived in 1050 A.D., and more than any other is responsible for bequeathing us the term "assassin." A member of the Ismaili sect, Ben Sabbah, gained control over much of northern Iran and Syria through his use of political assassins. Ben Sabbah cultivated a feared band of assassins whom he called the faithful or Fedayeen, "Men of Sacrifice." The Fedayeen, as they were termed, eagerly sacrificed their lives to accomplish the mission and as a result they were feared by leaders throughout ancient Persia.7 Probably the most frightening terrorist groups today are those associated with the Shiite Moslem sect. Islamic experts say the Shiite revolution is a widespread popular movement and will eventually engulf large portions of the globe under Iran. The Shiite form of terrorism is particularly unsettling as they employ kamikaze tactics. Shiite terrorists are known to fight recklessly and even suicidally, as evidenced by the October 1983 bombing of the Marine headquarters at the Beirut International Airport. This eager willingness to give one's life is a prerequisite for a terrorist, and in the Shiite instance is closely intertwined with religious doctrine. The Shiites believe that theirs is a holy war and that to give ones life for the revolution is to guarantee immediate entrance into the Islamic equivalent of heaven or paradise. Suicidal commando raids involving car or truck bombs have recently claimed a number of lives and are a great concern for many Americans outside the continental United States. The current crisis is exacerbated by a gloomy forecast with continued terrorist activity targeted at Americans. As a world power, the United States is frequently at odds with other nations on political, economic, and military issues. A growing number of third world regimes find terrorism an effective and inexpensive means by which to undermine U.S. policies and promote anti-American sentiment. Will this tactic of intimidation continue? The United States is an open democratic society, and public opinion is a powerful tool. Public opinion is a significant factor, capable of mobilizing our society and thereby blocking or affecting change. This dynamic element has often determined the extent of employment of U.S. military forces abroad. For example, the public opinion generated by the media, concerning Vietnam, caused a president not to seek reelection and the eventual withdrawal of U.S. combat forces. For instance, if the terrorist can bomb a Marine position in Beirut, kill a tragic number of Americans, and thereby foment a public outcry for the withdrawal of the U.S. Marines, then the terrorist has been successful. Let's face it, success breeds imitation. We can expect more terrorism. The United States' comprehensive network of alliances and involvement in world affairs have created several controversial crises around the globe. For example, if the terrorist purpose is to counter the movement of U.S. Pershing II missiles into NATO countries, deter U.S. efforts to secure a favorable peace in the Mideast, or sabatoge U.S. initiatives to reinforce pro-western regimes in Central America, the terrorist is acutely aware of the power of public opinion. A parallel can be drawn between the terrorists use of intimidating violence to influence the people to bring about change and Captain Liddell Hart's well known "indirect approach." Rather than engage the superior force head on, the terrorists use selective acts of terrorism to mobilize public opinion to serve his own ends. Third World regimes and major powers such as the Soviet Union view terrorism as a less risky alternative when confronting the United States. Further, recent developments in international affairs have heightened existing tensions. The U.S. alignment with Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war will certainly accentuate our conflict with Iran and stimulate anti-American, Shiite terrorism. Also, historically, when the PLO forces have experienced periods of failure through conventional warfare, they have resorted to terrorism to achieve quick, visible success. Recently, a U.S. News and World Report article described terrorism as "The confluence of will, means, and opportunity."8 I have pointed out that the "will" exists, whether it is present in extremist groups who oppose U.S. efforts to deploy missiles in Europe or Shiites who are dedicated to destroying the enemies of Islamic fundamen- talism. The "means" are also, readily available. It does not matter whether the means are provided by our ideological enemy, the U.S.S.R., through a Soviet Connection, or by one of a number of Islamic countries. The terrorists will not lack the means. Finally, will the terrorists continue to have the "opportunity" to terrorize Americans? History reveals that the terrorist has been able to pick his target from many that were available. The United States will continue to be an open democratic society, and thereby, people will have extensive freedoms to come and go as they please. Additionally, 1984 is to be a year of spectacular events; each would be a lucrative target for a terrorist group. Will terrorists pass up the opportunity to strike at the '84 World Fair, the Olympic Games or either of the two national political conventions, all to be held in the United States? Probably not! The terrorists will take advantage of this opportunity, and the targets will be Americans. To paraphrase an old adage, "Kill one American and frighten 10,000! Kill 261 Americans and modify U.S. foreign policy! What then, should our response be to the problem of terrorism? Terrorism has already been defined to be so far reaching as to involve interconnected, mutually cooperating groups of terrorists around the world. Each group is seemingly more terrible than the next and bent on achieving its goal or self-destruction. Whatever the ultimate goal, each terrorist group must necessarily have four basic components to thrive. For the purpose of analysis, consider a table and terrorism as the table top. The first leg of the table is funding or monetary support. Most of the funding to support terrorist operations is obtained by terrorist groups through the execution of other criminal acts such as intimidation, forcing unwilling gifts, kidnapping for ransom and robbing banks. The costs associ- ated with the purchase of the most modern weapon systems and explosives, and their subsequent movement throughout the world are significant. A counter-terrorist program which degrades the financial base of the terrorist organization will achieve a correspondingly direct reduction in the terrorist's effectiveness. The second leg is sanctuary. All terrorist groups must have a sanctuary from which to operate. Such sanctuaries harbor training bases, weapons, and ammunition stores, and provide safe havens for terrorists. The sanctuary is most effective when it is provided by a neighboring country sharing a common border with the victimized country. A counter-terrorist program which reduces or cuts off the accessibility of the desired area of operations to the sanctuary will markedly affect the terrorists ability to strike at will, thereby restricting the effective range of the group. The third leg is external support. Terrorists groups depend on external support, whether by other terrorists groups, the local population, or neighboring governments. If a counter-terrorist program can be established which errodes the terrorist support base, then his ability to strike at great distances will be further reduced and his options limited. The fourth leg is publicity. Most significantly, the terrorist thrives on publicity for his cause. A vital component in a counter- terrorist program is the deglamourization of the terrorist act. Limited coverage, matter-of-fact reporting and disassociating the terrorist act with a particular group, cause reduced publicity for the terrorist and support to dwindle. His success is a function of the public awareness of his activity and effectiveness. In summary, an aggressive, comprehensive counter-terrorist program will attack all four legs necessary to support the terrorist table; funding, sanctuary, external support, and publicity. Societies and governments have suffered with the problem of terrorism throughout history with varying degrees of success. Most have identified terrorism as an international problem. Consequently, the only lasting solutions have been contingent upon the mutual cooperation of the affected countries. Periodically, formal efforts have been made to develop a joint counter-terrorist policy and subsequently, effect a unified response. Most often, they have failed because countries have different beliefs as to who the terrorists are and further, although agreements have been made, each one lacked an enforcing mechanism. Formal anti-terrorist conventions were held in Tokyo (1963), Hague (1970), Montreal (1971) and two in Rome (1973). The significance in each lay in an increased awareness and a growing understanding that the struggle against terrorism was not simply another form of law enforcement. Several initiatives were made for the establishment of an inter- national court and many suggested a United Nations counter- terrorist force. Each effort died of a lack of commitment, primarily resulting from varying perceptions of the terrorist threat. Despite the lack of substantive formal agreements, there did evolve a spirit of cooperation, from which like-minded countries developed coordinated responses to regional terrorist threats and shared intelligence information on terrorists groups and their activities. Other countries attempted to counter the threat alone. Most often, nations responded in one of two ways. In the first response, the government of the country took specific and widespread security measures which markedly reduced the individual freedoms enjoyed by its citizens. Turkey employed this type of response, creating a militaristic state and virtually eliminated terrorism within its borders. The second type of response involved a combination of factors geared toward monitoring the terrorists activities and aggressively pursuing them before and after they committed a terrorist act. West Germany and Italy are case studies in this response and achieved notable results. Their goal was to reduce the effectiveness of the terrorist by taking sensible precautions which would reduce the vulnerability of potential terrorist targets and more aggressively pursue the terrorist. Essentially, this approach involved increased technology, efficient detective work, improved security measures, and the development of special forces trained to fight the terrorist. The Special Forces that were developed by other countries have achieved some success, specifically at Entebbe, Mogadishu, and the Iranian Embassy in London. Regardless of the approach taken by the governments to deal with the terrorist, several fundamental principles are apparent. First, the most decisive action by each government was the decision to resist blackmail. Further most western governments have developed special security and police forces which include experienced, highly trained security and negotiations experts. These countries have also had the cooperation of the media and were able to reduce the press coverage and deny the group credit for committing the terrorist act. Lastly, each country has developed a streamlined crisis management system capable of effecting a timely response to an established threat. These counter-terrorist efforts have required a significant allotment of men, money, and time in order to be successful. West Germany, for instance spent 400 million dollars on counter-terrorist activities in 1977.8 What is the United States' response to international terrorism? The people of the United States would not endorse a counter-terrorist program which reduced individual freedoms. For this reason, western democracies are typically slow to react to political terrorism. During the last several years, U.S. counter-terrorist efforts have been hamstrung by liberal legislation such as the Levi guidelines. The Levi guidelines severely impaired the ability of the FBI to investigate individual groups until first showing that the group had committed or was about to commit a violent act. A catch-22 if ever there was one. Recently, a package of counter-terrorist legislation was proposed which included monetary rewards for information on terrorists and a crackdown on those recruiting or training terrorists. An example of similar legislative changes took place in Britain during the last several years. There, special powers have been given to the British home Secretary which exclude persons suspected of terrorist acts from many of the normal rights within the UK legal system, such as trial before jury and allows for the deten- tion of a suspected terrorist for up to seven days without being formally charged. While many in this country are adamantly opposed to the restriction of individual freedoms, former Attorney General Mr. Ramsey Clark probably put it best when he said, "The only real enforcement is the people. The greatest tragedy for all would be if the fear of terrorism caused us to abandon freedom."9 It is worthy to note that such a restriction of freedom is not without historical precedent in this country. Abraham Lincoln did not hesitate to suspend "habeas corpus" when in his opinion the government risked destruction from within by people who neither recognize the law nor restrictions on their violence.10 The results of this analysis would support the thesis that an acceptable response to the terrorist threat that the United States faces must incorporate three separate groups of initiatives. A successful counter-terrorist program is one that incorporates measures directed at the terrorists, potential targets, and the establishment of a crisis management team. The terrorist infrastructure and method of operation are subject to infiltration, detection, and preemptive strikes. Additionally, following apprehension, reduced rights, and severe punishments, discourage continued activity and encourage defection. A greater effort must be made to know the enemy, we must study the terrorist in terms of his background, rela- tives, acquaintances, homes, careers, employment, political persuasion, general activities and other peculiar informa- tion. Our intelligence network, once reestablished, must continuously collect information, insure accessibility and identify potential victims. Recently, the more aggressive United States leaders have talked of preemptive strikes. In a January Washington Times interview, the CNO, Admiral Watkins, urged that the key to halting terrorism was destroying it at the source.11 Further, Senator Nunn said that preemptive strikes should be conducted against terrorist training camps. Additional measures taken against those countries harboring terrorist will contribute immeasurably to reducing the terrorist's effectiveness. Many congressional and world leaders argue that diplomatic, economic, and military leverage must be used against countries who are supporting the terrorist. In this regard, Fenwick Amendment to the Export Administration Act labels Cuba, North Korea, Libya, Syria, South Yemen, Iraq, and Iran as exporters of terrorism and places strict trade limitations on them. A strong counter-terrorist policy must endorse the continuance of the war against terrorism by all the means available. The second category involves actions directed at reducing the vulnerability of potential terrorist target. These include individual protective measures and general security measures directed at public facilities, defense plants, shipyards, and corporate facilities. The individual measures emphasize a greater use of bullet proof vests, armored limousines and personal security courses. At our airports, we find increased security and routine search procedures. There are metal detectors and x-ray equipment in constant use. Further, at critical locations blast walls, steel shutters, burglar alarms, bullet proof glass, exterior arc lights, wire fencing and patrol dogs have been incorporated into an overall defensive plan designed to protect the unsuspecting. Within commercial aircraft, luggage compartments and pilots cabin have been armor plated, and often aircraft have an armed sentry airborne. As a result of the increased terrorist threat a new industry which provides protection services has evolved offering a wide variety of products to a growing clientle. These corporate security analyst determine the security threat, conduct risk analysis, provide intelligence reports and generally offer a comprehensive security program. Collectively, the individual, corporate, and societal initiatives have been instrumental in reducing the effectiveness of the terrorist by promoting a general awareness of the threat and reducing the overall vulnerability of society. Public awareness has had an indirect effect as well, by placing significant pressure on the government to pass counter-terrorist legislation and develop cohesive response forces. The third category of actions is those directed at dealing with a crisis resulting from a terrorist act. In this regard, there are two major considerations. First, we must have a totally integrated command and control system with sophisticated communications capable of orchestrating the efforts of a crisis action team on the other side of the world. There must be, within our national and state leader- ship, a permanently designated group of people who convene to solve such problems and a clear delineation of its responsibilities. There must be a single cabinet level member responsible to head all terrorist crisis management situations, and he must have widespread latitude and sufficient power to be responsive to the threat. The assets he fights must, for expedience and readiness sake be unified under a single commander who reports directly to JCS. The chopping of forces to a designated field commander has proven to be ineffective in terms of team training, integration of service equipments and standard operating procedures. The indications are that this country is making significant progress in measures directed at the terrorist and in reducing our own vulnerability, but is slow to streamline a national command and control system. Funding was a problem, but it would seem that it is no longer. CIA and FBI budgets are notably increased in the areas of covert action and counter-terrorism. Further, the state department counter-terrorist budget for 1984 is $46 million compared to $31 million last year.12 Similarly, budgets at the Justice and Energy Departments have increased from $12.9 to $13.7 million and $47.4 to $52 million respectively over the last year. Additionally, all of the special units throughout the services are being established under the operational control of one commander who reports directly to the JCS. The crisis management mechanism is slowly evolving, but items such as a system of intelligence operatives will take time to establish. In summary terrorism will not go away until we begin to deal with it from a position of strength. A Saudi Arabian prince is reported to have said recently, "These small countries know that the only people who have stopped the American superpower are the terrorists. They stopped you in Vietnam. They stopped you in Iran. They stopped you in Lebanon. That is why they attack you. It is the only way." Like most problems, terrorism also can be made to go away, but it will take a sizable dedication of men, money and time unless we are willing to settle for a marked reduction in our individual freedoms. While freedom is this countries greatest asset, it is a significant liability when dealing with terrorism. FOOTNOTES 1William L. Chaze, "America Next Target for Terrorists?" U.S. News & World Report, 9 January 1984, pp. 24-30. 2Ramsey Clark, Frank H. Perey and Yonah Alexander "Terrorism What Should be our Response?", pamphlet copy of interview held on 10 November 1981, pp. 3-5. 3FBI Agent, FBI Academy, lecture given at C&SC, December 1983. 4Chase, op. cit., p. 30. 5Edgar O'Ballance, Language of Violence, pp. 299-308. 6Claire Sterlinge, The Terror Network, pp. 56-57. 7O'Ballance, op. cit., pp. 45-60. 8Chase, op. cit., p. 24. 9Clar, op. cit., p. 15 10Christopher Dobson and Ronald Payne, Counterattack: The West's Battle Against the Terrorists, p. 59. 11Admiral Watkins, CNO, "Halt Terrorism at Source," Washington Times, 2 January 1984, p. 1. 12Frank Greve, "The Terror Quotient: U.S. is Guarding the Home Front," Philadelphia Inquirer, 18 December 1983, p. 1. BIBLIOGRAPHY Current News Special Edition. "Terrorism." Department of the Air Force, News Clipping and Analysis Service, 29 November 1983. Current News Special Edition. "Terrorism." Department of the Air Force, News Clipping and Analysis Service, 27 December 1983. Current News Special Edition. "Terrorism." Department of the Air Force, News Clipping and Analysis Service, 31 January 1984. Dobson, Christopher, and Ronald Payne. Counterattack: The West's Battle Against the Terrorists. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1982. Jenkins, Brian Michael. The Five Stages of Urban Guerrilla Warfare: Challenge of the 1970's. The Rand Corporation, 1971. O'Ballance, Edgar. Language of Violence, California: Presidio Press, 1979. Sterling, Claire. The Terror Network. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1981. Terrorism What Should be Our Response? Washington, D.C. and London: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1982.
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