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International Terrorism:  The Poor Man's Warfare
AUTHOR Major Robert W. Cerney, USMC
CSC 1991
SUBJECT AREA - Topical Issues
                       EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
        International Terrorism : The Poor Man's Warfare
     Terrorism  has no widely  accepted Definition,   and is
normally  dependent upon  your point  of view,  as well  as
which side of the conflict you support. Western nations are
reluctant to  recognize terrorism in any way  that could be
construed as legitimate warfare.
     The  United  States  is  facing  growing international
terrorism,    particularly  from   state  and   drug  cartel
sponsored  terrorist  groups.   International  terrorism  is
increasingly  referred to as  a form of  warfare, placed at
the low end of the spectrum of warfare  known in the United
States as Low Intensity Conflict. The Law of Armed Conflict
excludes  many  terrorists  as  lawful  combatants, because
their targeting  practices are  not in compliance  with the
law.
     Terrorism  is often described  as mindless, senseless,
or  irrational  violence. However  that  is  not the  case,
terrorism   is  objective   oriented    and   normally   well
choreographed   to  obtain  maximum    media  coverage.   The
strategic objectives of international terrorism are to:  (1)
Gain  publicity and  support for  their cause,   (2) Disrupt
social,   political, and economic  interaction among western
nations,  (3) Force the  polarization of society,  (4) Punish
non-compliant   civilians   and     government   agents, (5)
Intimidate and harass authorities to force concessions,  (6)
Provoke government overreaction,  (7) Eliminate instrumental
targets,   (8) Provide  for organizational needs.   The gross
inability of  the international community to  agree on even
the definition of terrorism  is indicative of why terrorism
is so  successful. The United States is as much to blame as
any  nation with  our continually  oscillating policies  of
support depending on what benefits us the most.
     Terrorism  is a  form  of successful  warfare that  is
growing  because  it  is    achieving  it's  goals.   We  may
disapprove of it, but terrorists can assemble plausible, if
not  logical arguments  in  defense of  their actions.   Why
should they  play by  the systems rules,   when those  rules
were established  to support the system  they are fighting.
When the Law of War deprives them of exercising their right
to fight for  what they believe in, the  only way they can,
with any hope of survival till the eventual achievement  of
their goal, they will never abide to it. Terrorism will not
conform to  international standards,   we must adapt  to it.
Recognizing  terrorism  as  warfare  is  the    first  step,
developing  an  ef fective  doctrine  to combat  it  is  the
second.
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM : THE POOR MAN'S WARFARE
                         OUTLINE
Thesis Statement.  Terrorism is a form of warfare and needs
to be recognized as such.
I.      History of Terrorism
        A.      Greek / Roman
        B.      French Revolution
II.     Definition of Terrorism
        A.      Zona Rosa Analogy
        B.      Vice President's Task Force Definition
III.    Criminality of Terrorism
        A.      Inability of Law to Deal With Terrorism
        B.      Domestic Record of Law
        C.      Lack of International Judicial System
        D.      Extradition and Political Exemption
        E.      Asylum
        F.      Closing the Loopholes
IV.     Growth of International Terrorism
        A.      Casualties
        B.      Targeting
        C.      Access to Media
        D.      Economical Warfare
        E.      Distribution of Attacks
V.      Impact of International Terrorism
        A.      A Matter of Perception
        B.      Achievement of Psychological and Political Results
        C.      Strategic Objectives
        D.      Reasons For Success
VI.     Growing Threat of International Terrorism
        A.      Spectrum of Warfare
        B.      Objective Oriented
        International Terrorism: The Poor Man's Warfare
     Terrorism is  a  form  of  warfare  and  needs  to  be
recognized  as such.  Terrorism has  no widely  accepted or
precise   definition   and    the   word    is    often   used
disparagingly.  Rebel  forces do not refer  to themselves as
terrorists,  yet many governments  declare violent  acts by
their opponents as terrorism.  The  definition of terrorism
appears  to depend on your point of view and the particular
side of the conflict you support.  Recognizing terrorism as
warfare does  not legitimize  the criminality  of terrorist
acts;   it  will provide  the  first  step  in realizing  an
effective policy to counter terrorism.
     Terrorism  can  be  traced  back to  Greek  and  roman
periods,   and found to some extent in every period of man's
history.   Terrorism as  we  know it  originated during  the
French revolution and the Jacobin reign of terror.1  During
this   void  of  enlightened   reasoning  terrorism  became
institutionalized and  if not legalized, sanctioned  by the
revolutionary  governments.    Revolutionary  fervor  spread
rampant throughout Europe, accompanied by the  violence and
terror methods so effective in social control and political
repression.
     A universally accepted definition of terrorism simply
does  not  exist. The  problem  of  defining terrorism  has
effectively hampered  the  development of  a  comprehensive
counter-terrorist strategy at both the national and
international level.2  The Vice President's Task Force on
Combatting Terrorism called terrorism a  phenomenon that is
easier to describe than define."3
     For example  the 1985 "Zona Rosa Massacre", a machine
gun killing of four U.S. Marines, two American Businessmen,
five  Salvadorans, a  Guatemalan,   and a  Chilean at  a San
Salvador sidewalk cafe was labeled a "Terrorist  Atrocity".
A very similar 1985  shooting of underworld figures outside
a  social  club on  a crowded  New  York street  was simply
called murder.  Newsweek reported that a tiny rebel faction
of   the Central  American Revolutionary  Workers Party  had
taken responsibility for  the Salvadoran attack and  quoted
the leaders as saying,  "the Marines killed in the Zona Rosa
were not  innocent; no Yankee  invader is free  of guilt."4
If someone  would have  claimed  responsibility and  stated
they were  from  a  political party,   would  the  New  York
killings have been reclassified as a terrorist act?
     Without  getting  bogged  down   in  a  search  for  a
definition that could please everyone, the definition found
in  the 1986  public report  of  the Vice  President's Task
Force on  Combatting Terrorism will suffice.  According  to
the report, terrorism is:
          The unlawful use or threat of violence
          against persons or property to further
          political or social objectives. It is
          generally intended to intimidate or
          coerce a government, individuals or
          groups to modify their behavior or
          policies.
     This implies that terrorism is a criminal act, yet the
report recognizes that some experts see terrorism residing
at the lower end of the warfare spectrum and  consequently,
referred to  as war  rather than  criminal activity.5   The
approach taken  by the  task force clearly  views terrorist
acts  as unlawful and criminal, with no caveat to allow the
term terrorism to be defined in any  other manner than as a
crime.
     If we assume  that a terrorist  act is criminal,  then
one method of dealing  with the terrorist is with  the law.
Abraham D.  Sofaer, a  legal advisor  to the  Department of
State stated that;
          Americans are particularly attracted to the
          law as a means of repressing violence, and
          are committed domestically and internationally
          to using law to control criminal conduct and
          to resolve disputes. They invoke the law almost
          instinctively, and repeatedly, assuming that
          it regulates international conduct and in
          particular provides a system for bringing
          terrorists to justice.6
     However, he also  points out  that the law  has had  a
poor  record  of  dealing  with   international  terrorism.
Dealing  with internal  or  domestic criminals,  less  than
fifty percent of  crimes committed are  subsequently solved
with the capture and prosecution of the perpetrator.
Dealing with international terrorism is even more difficult
with no international police force to be called upon and if
by  chance   a  terrorist  is  apprehended,   there  is  no
international    law   or   judicial   system   to   ensure
prosecution.  In this  case, deterrence  or  elimination of
terrorism becomes  a long  term goal for  governments which
can  only be  obtained  through the  proper formulation  of
international laws.
     The United States recently completed a new extradition
treaty  in 1986 with Great Britain in an attempt to achieve
this goal by identifying specific crimes that can no longer
be  exempted   on  political   grounds.7    Prior   to  the
extradition treaty, the Political Offense Exemption did not
allow   the  extradition   of   members   of  a   political
organization    who    committed   murder,    manslaughter,
kidnapping, or  other  violent crimes  in  connection  with
struggles  for self  determination.  The United  States had
refused to extradite rebels of foreign governments for more
than one hundred forty years.
     Between 1979 and 1986, U.S. courts denied four British
requests  for  the  extradition  of  accused  or  convicted
members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army.  All four
involved violent terrorist crimes, one case involved Joseph
Patrick Doherty,  who blasted his  way out of  prison while
awaiting  a British  Court's decision on  charges including
the murder of a British Army Officer.  Great Britain
requested  his  extradition from  the  U.S.   on charges  of
murder,   attempted  murder,   possession  of   firearms  with
intent to endanger life, and charges related to his escape.
However, due  to the  "political conflict" existing  at the
time and finding  that the offenses were committed   "in the
cause of  and in furtherance  of that struggle",   the Judge
declared  Doherty's offenses  as political  and denied  the
extradition.8
     In addition to refusing  extradition, it has also been
custom  since  the  nineteenth  century  for  the detaining
nation  to provide "Political Offenders" asylum.  Terrorist
groups  have    exploited  asylum  granting   and  political
exemption to avoid extradition  and prosecution not only in
this country,   but throughout the civilized  world.   Judges
are not at  fault, the law is the core  problem, because it
has  not been  properly  updated to  reflect modern  social
standards and technological advances.
     Terrorists are the least  likely criminal to be caught
and punished.  If  they are caught  and not provided  asylum
many governments immediately deport them to another country
that  will  grant  asylum,   because  they  are  fearful  of
retaliation from other terrorist groups.
     Americans  assume that others  will agree that certain
aspects  of international   terrorism are  unacceptable. The
blunt reality  is that there are  many fanatics, political,
religious,and otherwise who approve of terror.  More
startling  is  that  the  acceptance  of  terrorism  as  an
extension  of  politics  is  far more  widespread  than  is
usually recognized.  These nations, in fact regard terrorism
as a legitimate  means of warfare.   For these nations  that
accept terrorism as legitimate, they continually make their
arguments in  the United  Nations that  the terrorist  is a
soldier  and therefore  should be  accorded treatment  as a
soldier under the Geneva and Hague conventions.
     Nations have and are continuing to close the political
offense  exemption loophole, primarily through regional and
bilateral agreements. The twenty  six member nations of the
Council of Europe outlined  violent crimes  that could  not
be treated  as political  offenses in 1977.   These offenses
included crimes such as murder, kidnapping, hostage taking,
and  the  use of  explosives  or  firearms.  Until  a  truly
international agreement is reached concerning terrorism and
the    international    enforcement   net   is  established
international terrorism will continue to grow.
     International  terrorism is growing. From 1975 through
1985 more than six thousand two hundred terrorist acts were
recorded world wide. These attacks left four thousand seven
hundred dead and over nine thousand wounded.  In 1985 alone,
the  number of  terrorist attacks  reached a  record annual
high  of  over eight  hundred.   This  was a  sixty  percent
increase over  the level of terrorism for  the previous two
years. These eight hundred plus attacks resulted in two
thousand  two  hundred twenty  three causalities,  of which
twenty  three  of  the  dead were  Americans.  Since  1969,
terrorists  have  killed  or  injured  over  one   thousand
Americans.9
     Over the past fifteen years, terrorist attacks against
U.S. officials  and installations  have averaged  one every
seventeen days.  These attacks have resulted  in the murder
of as many U.S.  diplomats as were killed by  terrorists in
the previous one hundred eighty years. Additionally, almost
fifty percent of the international terrorist incidents have
been  directed  at U.S.  interests  abroad.  In the  1970's
eighty  percent   of  the  attacks  were  directed  against
property and twenty percent  against personnel. The current
targeting trend is fifty/fifty.
     There  are  many reasons  for  this  growth. Political
unrest  and social economic  problems create  conditions of
turmoil in  the world.  The resultant frustration  of these
continuing problems  is easily  expressed  through acts  of
terrorism.  Additionally,  frustrated  splinter groups  are
realizing they  can  make their  own mark  through acts  of
violence. Advanced communications technology almost assures
instant  publicity for terrorist acts. International travel
is  much easier  today  and weapons  are ever  increasingly
available to terrorists. Most  of all, some governments see
terrorist  acts as  a less costly  way to strike  a blow at
their enemies.
     The most  deadly groups  continue to operate  from the
middle  east.  Attacks  from this  area account  for roughly
fifty percent of the  total world wide terrorist incidents.
The  terrorist's  main  targets  are  the  governments  and
citizens  of Israel,  United States,  France,  Italy, Great
Britain, and the moderate  Arab countries of Egypt, Kuwait,
and Saudi Arabia.
     Western Europe  suffered two hundred of the over eight
hundred  world wide  terrorist attacks  in 1985.   There are
indications that  terrorist groups such as  the Italian Red
Brigade, French Direct Action, German Red Army Faction, and
the  Provisional  Irish  Republican Army  are  beginning to
coordinate attacks throughout Europe.10
     Social, economic, and political turmoil  has prolonged
patterns    of  terrorism   in   Latin  America.  Countries
experiencing particularly high  terrorist activity  include
El Salvador,  Colombia,  Guatemala,  Chile,  and  Peru.   A
significant portion  of this appears to  be associated with
the drug trade  in order to obtain financial support. Since
1985 more terrorist attacks  were directed at U.S. citizens
in  Latin America than any  other area of   the world. World
wide distribution of terrorist attacks for 1985 were:
           Middle East                 46.6%
           Western Europe             25.6%
           Latin America              16.3%
           Asia                       5.7%
           Africa                     5.1%
           North America               .5%
           Eastern Europe              .2% ,11
     Is the impact of terrorism being overstated? From 1975
through  1985, a period  of ten years,   four thousand seven
hundred people were killed  by terrorist actions around the
world.12     During the  same  period  two hundred  thousand
people  were murdered in  the united states  alone.13  This
provides  an important  perspective, but  we must  remember
that terrorism is largely a matter of perception. A few
spectacular terrorist incidents  may give the impression of
a serious  terrorist problem which is  bearable within it's
present limits.14   This  does not  mean that terrorism  is
tolerable or will not increase in the future.
     While  casualty figures  are numerically  smaller than
domestic crime, terrorist casualties have a symbolic impact
and are  politically significant. The real  lasting effects
of terrorism can not be measured in property damage or body
count,   but  in  the  long term  psychological   impact  and
political results  achieved.15  Terrorism  has altered U.S.
foreign  policy, affected U.S. ability to implement policy,
demonstrated U.S.   difficulty to  respond to terrorism  and
has  compelled  the U.S.   to  divert  resources to  protect
facilities  and   personnel.   Terrorist  groups    have  the
potential  to  force    concessions  normally   unattainable
through  diplomatic  means.   Allowing  terrorist  groups to
disrupt our  decision making process,   and erode confidence
in the  accomplishment of our initiatives  will continue to
seriously  weaken our  international credibility  unless we
can effectively deal with terrorism.
     Benjamin   Netanyahu  is  the  former  Israeli  Deputy
Ambassador to  the United States and  representative to the
United  Nations.   He  stated  that the  major  damage  from
international terrorism is not personal or physical damage.
Instead he maintained it is the "shaken confidence in
Government", the questioning of it's "abilities and
competence to insure a world subject to the rule of law.
     Terrorists have become increasingly successful  and it
appears their goals are expanding. The strategic objectives
of international terrorism are to:
   1.   Gain publicity and support for their cause.
   2.   Disrupt social, political, and economic interaction
among western nations.
   3.   Force  the polarization of society  by dividing the
populace and fostering a breakdown of the status quo.
   4.   Punish  non-compliant  civilians  and  government
agents in areas that terrorists control or influence.
   5.   Intimidate  and  harass  authorities  to  force
concessions.
   6.   Provoke government overreaction.
   7.   Eliminate instrumental targets.
   8.   Provide  for  their  own organizational  needs  by
forcing governments to free prisoners and pay ransoms.16
     Terrorism  has  grown  because  it has  been  able  to
fulfill these objectives. Terrorists have achieved
political gains from  their activities.   They have  enjoyed
crucial  support  from many  states  and  believe they  can
spread  fear  in the  general  public  of governments  they
perceive as hesitant to respond to their challenges.
International terrorists are succeeding because:
   1.   There is no universal agreement within the
international community about who is or is not a terrorist.
   2.   The media assures terrorists of an almost immediate
and extensive world wide audience.
   3.   The  world's  tolerance  and  sympathy  has  often
permitted  terrorist  organizations  to   employ  religious
symbols, terms, and ideas to support secular goals.
   4.   Some  states tolerate,   appease, and  often glorify
terrorists as heros.
   5.   Liberal democracies have  often lost the resolve to
deal with terrorists, despite the fact that they are  aware
of the threat.
   6.   A history of weak response has made terrorism a low
risk venture.17
     The threat  of international   terrorism is  growing in
impact.   It  captures  world  attention  with  violent  and
spectacular  attacks, targeting  U.S.  foreign interests and
the ability to  execute international  policy.  The  future
challenges  are  increasing  and  the  ability  to  respond
internationally is not keeping pace.
     In the spectrum of warfare, terrorism is placed at the
lower  end of  what  the United  States  refers to  as  Low
Intensity Conflict.  It may  occur at all levels of warfare
and  assigning it a specific  level may by  default grant a
degree of legitimacy.  Quotes  and statements from  numerous
civilian, military and governmental leaders can be brought
forward such as, Secretary of State George Shultz in a
statement before  the House Foreign Affairs  Committee on 5
February 1986 stated,  "Terrorism is a form of warfare waged
by political forces --- including some foreign states."18
to further substantiate terrorism as a form of warfare.
Terrorism  is often  described as  mindless,  senseless, or
irrational  violence, but if that was the case it would not
continue to  affect  national and  international  policies.
Terrorism is not an end unto  itself, it is the means to an
end, the achievement of an objective.
     Terrorism  is  violence  against  the   "system", waged
outside  the  "system" ,   and  therefore the  rules  of the
"system" do not  always apply.  Most other forms of warfare,
at least  in theory,   recognize several categories  of non-
combatants and do not target them. Terrorists recognize far
fewer  non-combatants  and  apply  little effort  to  limit
subsidiary  damage. Terrorists  may regard  a person  as an
enemy, a combatant  and therefore  a target, solely  on the
basis of  nationality, ethnicity, or religion.   This is not
to say that people we call terrorists are always
indiscriminate killers,  or that groups we  call armies are
scrupulously  discriminating;   it   does  compel   us   to
recognize that soldiers may sometimes be terrorists.
     As you have read terrorism can be documented as a form
of successful warfare that is growing.  We may disapprove of
it, but  terrorists can assemble plausible,   if not logical
arguments in defense of their actions. Why should they play
by the systems rules, when  those rules were established to
support the system they  are fighting. When the Law  of War
deprives  them of exercising their  right to fight for what
they  believe in, the only  way they can,  with any hope of
survival till the eventual  achievement of their goal, they
will  never  abide to  it.  Terrorism will  not  conform to
international standards,  we must adapt to  it. Recognizing
terrorism  as  warfare is  the  first  step, developing  an
effective doctrine to combat it is the second.
                        END NOTES
1. Walter Laquer,  "The Anatomy of Terrorism," in Ten Years
    of Terrorism : Collected Views, et al, Jennifer Shaw, 8
2. Anthony C. E. Quainton,  "Moral and Ethical
    Considerations in Defining a Counter-terrorist
    Policy," in David C. Rapoport and Yonah Alexander,
    ed., The Rationalization of Terrorism    (1982)  : 40
3. Public Report of the Vice President's Task Force on
    Combatting Terrorism (February 1986)  :  1
4. Martha F. Brady,  "The Zona Rosa Massacre," Marine Corps
    Gazette (March 1991)  : 39
5. Public Report of the Vice President's Task Force on
    Combatting Terrorism (February 1986)  :  1
6. Abraham G. Sofaer,  "Terrorism and the Law," Foreign
    Affairs (Summer 1986)  : 901
7. Christopher H. Pyle,  "Defining Terrorism," Foreign
    Policy (Fall 1986)  : 63
8. Edward H. Houle, Maj. USAF,  "The Use of Force to
    Counter International Terrorism - A Diplomacy
    Dilemma," Defense Technical Information Center Report
    (November 1987)  : 61
9. Casper Weinberger,  "Framing an Appropriate Response to
    Terrorism," R.O.A. National Security  Report (August
1986)  : 8   U.S. Department of State, International
    Terrorism - Selected Document Number 24 (1986)  : 2
10. Public Report of the Vice President's Task Force on
    Combatting Terrorism (February 1986)  :  1
11. Ibid
12. Casper Weinberger,  "Framing an Appropriate Response to
    Terrorism," R.O.A. National Security Report (August
    1986)  : 8;   U.S. Department of State, International
    Terrorism - Selected Document Number 24 (1986)  : 2
13. Brian Jenkins, International Terrorism : The Other
    World War (1985)  : 20
14. Brian   Jenkins,   "Terrorism  -  Prone  Countries  and
     Conditions," in Ariel Merari, ed, On Terrorism and
     Combatting Terrorism : Proceedings of an International
     Seminar Tel-Aviv.  1979 (1985)  : 28
15. George Bush,  "Prelude to Retaliation : Building a
     Governmental Consensus on Terrorism," SAIS Review
     (Winter-Spring 1987)  : 7
16. William Waugh, International Terrorism - How Nations
     Respond to Terrorists (1982)  :  130
17. Ray S. Cline and Yonah Alexander, Terrorism as State
     Sponsored Covert Warfare (1986)  : 9-10
18. U.S. Department of State, State Department Bulletin
     (April 1986)  : 41
                        BIBLIOGRAPHY
1. Brady, Martha F.,  "The Zona Rosa Massacre," Marine
   Corps Gazette (March)
2. Brusitus, J.M., LtCol USA,  "Terrorism : Crime or War?"
    Defense Technical Information Center Report (June
    1987)
3. Bush, George,  "Prelude to Retaliation : Building a
    Governmental Consensus on Terrorism," SAIS Review
    (Winter-Spring 1987)
4. Cline, Ray S. and Alexander, Yonah, Terrorism as a
    State Sponsored Covert Warfare (1986)
5. Elson, Stephen J.,  "Terrorism : Some Answers to Some
    Difficult Problems," Defense Technical Information
    Center Report (March 1982)
6. Houle, Edward H., Maj. USAF,  "The Use of Force to
    Counter International Terrorism - A Diplomacy
    Dilemma," Defense Technical Information Center Report
    (November 1987)
7. Humphries, John G., Maj. USAF,  "International Terrorism
    as a Lawful Form of Warfare : an Idea Whose Time
    Should Not Arrive," Defense Technical Information
    Center Report (April 1986)
8. Jenkins, Brian M.,  "International Terrorism : A New
    Kind Of Warfare," Rand Corporation Paper (June 1974)
9. Jenkins, Brian M.,  "International Terrorism : The Other
    World War," Rand Corporation Paper (1985)
10. Jenkins, Brian M.,  "Terrorism - Prone Countries And
    Conditions," in Ariel Merari, ed, On Terrorism and
    Combatting Terrorism : Proceedings of an International
    Seminar, Tel-Aviv 1979 (1985)
11. Laquer, Walter,  "The Anatomy of Terrorism," in Ten
     Years Of Terrorism : Collected Views , et al, Jennifer
     Shaw (1979)
12. Pyle, Christopher H.,  "Defining Terrorism," Foreign
     Policy (Fall 1986)
13. Public Report of The Vice President's Task Force On
     Combatting Terrorism (February 1986)
14. Quainton, Anthony C.E.,  "Moral and Ethical
     Considerations in Defining a Counter-terrorist
     Policy,"  in  David C.   Rapoport and  Yonah Alexander,
     ed., The Rationalization of Terrorism (1982)
15. Sloan, Stephen, "Beating International Terrorism"
     (December 1986)
16. Sofaer, Abraham G.  ,"Terrorism And The Law," Foreign
     Affairs (Summer 1986)
17. U.S. Department of State, State Department Bulletin
     (April 1986)
18. Waugh, William, "International Terrorism - How Nations
     Respond To Terrorists" (1982)
19. Weinberger, Casper, "Framing An Appropriate Response to
     Terrorism," R.0.A. National Security Report Aug 1986,
     U.S. Department of State, International Terrorism -
     Selected Document Number 24 (1986)



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