Testimony of CDR James K. Campbell, United States Navy
Before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee
on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Chemical and Biological Weapons Threats to America: Are We Prepared?
Wednesday, April 22nd 1998 at 2:30 pm
in 216 Hart Senate Building
Senator Kyl, Senator Shelby and distinguished members of the Committees, it is indeed an honor and a privilege to come before you today to discuss the findings of my recently published book Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism. I sincerely hope that my written testimony contributes to a better understanding of the threat of WMD terrorism. Further, I hope that this testimony helps Committee members as they endeavor to develop appropriate legislative protocols deemed necessary to minimize the potential for terrorists use of these horrific weapons.
Before I continue, let me note that I am here today as a private citizen. My testimony should not be construed as reflecting any official views or position held by either the Department of Defense or the United States Navy.
Introduction: The Threat
"Terrorist groups are those who are impatient with democracy, undisciplined, corrupt, in their attitude toward life and unable to free themselves from the domination of murder and hatred."
A review of terrorist activities in the 20th century clearly reveals that terrorists can acquire and use lethal chemical, biological, and radiological agents-if they wish to do so. On balance, such attacks have rarely produced significant casualties. In the last four decades, only a handful of cases have occurred where terrorist groups have threatened to use such lethal agents and materials (collectively referred to as Weapons of Mass Destruction or WMD) in a mass casualty causing act of super-violence. Nevertheless, the potential for even one successful terrorist related WMD attack portends such consequences that we cannot easily shrug off this threat, even in light of statistics which suggests bombings, kidnappings, and assassination will continue to be the terrorist's tactics of choice.
Though it has been three years since a terrorist group engaged in the use of WMD specifically to cause mass casualties (the Japanese terrorist group Aum Shinrikyo released a crude version of Sarin nerve agent in the Tokyo subway March 20, 1995), federal, state, and local authorities still "shudder" at the thought of such an event occurring in a US city. The Aum's WMD attack literally propelled the international order into the era of what might be called "post-modern-terrorism," an era in which some terrorist groups appear to want both world attention, and a large "body count." This transformation has left many fearful, wondering when and where the next terrorist related WMD strike will occur.
What truly is the percentage possibility that terrorists will engage in the use of WMD to cause mass casualties? Indeed, national vulnerabilities to terrorist attacks do exist. The bombing of both the World Trade Center and Oklahoma City Federal buildings are surely a testament to this axiom. However, the threat data concerning terrorist intentions is rarely sufficient to provide specific answers regarding the potential for such events to occur, WMD or otherwise .1 Terrorists are strategic criminals who operate outside the rule of law. These strategic criminals conduct their activities in a highly covert fashion in order to evade the authorities. As such, the motivations and capabilities of terrorist are difficult to investigate and analyze. Despite these difficulties, I undertook (in my book Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism) to:
ÿ Explain why terrorists would want to venture into the politically "risky" realm of WMD use for the purpose of causing mass casualties
Identify the type of terrorist group most likely to use Weapons of Mass Destruction in a mass casualty causing act
ÿ Provide an analytic model useful for identifying a terrorist group's potential to threaten use of WMD
Why WMD Terrorism?
To date, many scholars continue to believe that terrorists will neither seek to develop or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction to cause mass casualties. Arguments supporting this vein, are in my view, flawed and rest on outdated assumptions. Such assumptions indicate that:
ÿFirst, terrorist groups are nothing more than a collection of frustrated, political actors bent on correcting a perceived flaw in the socio-political order of the state. The cause to take up terrorism evolves as a function of their collective failure or inability to influence the political, economic and/or social conditions within their "homeland."
ÿ Second, that these frustrated actors adopt terrorism as a means to force their political agenda through the use of directed and carefully modulated violence. This violence is designed primarily to communicate a complex message, which gains the terrorist group immediate public recognition for their cause. Unmitigated destruction is not the goal as "terrorists want a lot of people watching, not a lot of people dead."2
ÿ Third, that terrorists are "rational actors" who certainly understand the risks of exceeding a certain violence threshold (public and/or government tolerance for casualties). Indeed, killing many may result in global condemnation and a multilateral eradication effort focused at the terrorist group responsible.3
ÿ Finally it has been assumed that the technology and associated costs involved with the development and production of chemical and biological agents or even nuclear and radiological weapons are beyond the reach of most terrorist groups.4
For these reasons the image of the classical terrorist of the twentieth century has not included the use of WMD.
However, these traditional arguments are breaking down in the face of evidence which suggests the nature of terrorism is changing. This change is being driven by what might be called the "supply side" and "demand side" of the terrorism. On the supply side:
ÿ The availability of materials and technical requirements to produce an elementary WMD capability are well within the reach of contemporary terrorist groups.
ÿ Many terrorist groups have the financial capacity to fund such programs.
ÿ Individuals knowledgeable of WMD technologies are involved with terrorist groups that might desire to develop and use of WMD in an act of mass casualty causing super-violence.
On the demand-side, there are changing notions about the ownership and the use of WMD as a negotiating tool of great status and power. Notably, a terrorist group which achieves a WMD capability ascends to a higher position of relative power and prestige.5 Further, the absence of territorial boundaries in the case of trans-national terrorist groups serves to make retaliation more difficult as the terrorist becomes hard to target. Indeed, this alone may serve to "vitiate the retaliatory threats of the state."6 Of particular concern is the proliferation of religiously oriented terrorist groups and what this portends.
Terrorists which embrace a religious ideology affiliated with apocalyptic millennialism, redemptive fanaticism or racist/ethnic hate may be particularly attracted to WMD. Indeed, the terrorist that possesses radical, religious beliefs seems "primed" to commit acts of unconstrained violence. Statistics suggest that terrorism motivated by religion oftentimes results in mass killings done in such a horrific manner as to elicit total revulsion and anger from those who witness or become aware of the act.7 Where modern or "secular-political" terrorists typically operate within certain violence thresholds, such as the Provisional Irish Republican Army, those groups or individuals which embrace a radicalized, religious belief are probably not subject to the same constraints as they conduct their violent acts to satisfy (in their belief) a higher authority, God. These groups may be attracted to the power ownership of WMD affords precisely because WMD use can result in mass casualties and mass disruption against an "enemy" defined by their religious belief.
The Ultra Violent "Post-Modern" Terrorist
Recent studies suggest that terrorists are becoming increasingly more lethal and violent.8 The divergence from "traditional means to ends" in terrorist acts is evident from a review of events such as:
ÿ The bombing of two wide-body commercial jet aircraft in the 1980's (Pan Am 103 and the Air India flight that crashed off the Irish coast).
ÿ Terrorism in Algeria, where members of the "Armed Islamic Group" and the "Islamic Salvation Army" have slaughtered in excess of 60,000 people since 1992.
ÿ The 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center complex in which six were killed but over a thousand injured.
ÿ The 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma Federal building which resulted in one hundred and sixty seven killed.
ÿ The 1995 nerve agent release in a crowded Tokyo subway resulting in 12 deaths though the intent was to kill hundreds or thousands-notably, 5000 were injured.
Indeed, these attacks have created a new fear of what 21st century terrorist violence might portend. The availability of more lethal weapons and related technologies are enabling the terrorist group to threaten large scale death and destruction if they so desire.
The ultra-violent act followed by silence is increasingly frequent. Many times in recent years terrorist acts have been committed without a group stepping forward to claim credit for the event. The bombing of Pan Am and the Air India flights; the 1996 bombing of US personnel at Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; and the bombing of the Olympic Park Pavilion in Atlanta, Georgia, are prime examples of this phenomenon. This non-verbalization suggests a shift in terms of the message the terrorist act is supposed to send. Where traditional "secular-political" terrorists use the event to gain access to a "bullypulpit" to air their grievances, these "silent terrorists" desire to send a message that creates a superordinary sense of overwhelming fear, and vulnerability amongst their "enemies." Additionally, religious terrorists arguable have no great need for media assistance to articulate their cause as the intended audience is their own closed cell-constituency and God.
This change in the characterization of terrorism may be indicative of a new era, one in which the traditional, "constrained" terrorist of the twentieth century is supplanted by the ultra-violent "post-modern terrorist" of the twenty-first century. These terrorists are post-modern because of the manner in which they employ advanced technology, and anonymity, to conduct ultra-violent acts viewed as disproportionate to those conducted by the "modern terrorists" they are gradually supplanting.
Genesis of the Post Modern Terrorist
The emergence of the post-modern terrorist appears to have two causes. One may be religious revivalism. Religion has played a part in legitimizing ultra-violent acts throughout history, acts which have generally been constrained when perpetrated by the "modern" secular terrorists. Ultra-violent terrorist acts rooted in religious imperatives can be seen in Ireland, where Catholics and Protestants have played a "tit-for-tat" game of murder and destruction that has spanned this century; in Sri Lanka, where Tamil Hindus are waging a bloody terrorist campaign against the Sinhalese Buddhists; and in Israel where both radical Palestinian and Israeli movements have caused great injury and death in the name of God.9 The success of Khomeini's 1979 Islamic Revolution and his calls to propagate Islam through the use of "holy-terror" have also been viewed as enhancing extremes of radical religiously motivated violence in many locations. 10 History also takes note of the violence conducted by various revisionist Christian movements.11 Indeed, unscrupulous terrorist leaders with nefarious ideals have oftentimes used religious "veneers" to exploit the faith of the "true believer, " manipulating this faith into a weapon of extreme violence that they might perpetuate their own violent agendas. This type of masterful-manipulation was evident in Shoko Asahara, leader of the Aum Shinrikyo cult; and the Reverend Jim Jones, leader of "The Peoples Temple." In 1978, 900 members of Jones's "Peoples Temple" committed mass suicide at the cults' facilities in Jonestown, Guyana.
The second cause is arguably related to the removal of constraints imposed by the Cold War, and the subsequent disintegration of a bipolar world order. As a result, disorder has emerged in which the legitimacy of many states is being challenged by increasing calls from sub-national groups for self-determination. Samuel Huntington affirms this trend in a recent essay whereby he argues that the cause of future conflict will be rooted in a clash of non-state, transnational cultures.12 He suggests that ethnic and religious underpinnings will play key roles in supplanting traditional political ideologies with cultural ones. Where these movements cross each other, catastrophic, violent events can erupt. Prime examples of this phenomenon can already be seen in Somalia, Egypt, Sudan, Rwanda, Chechnya, the Balkans, and Indonesia.
Unfortunately, these religiously oriented movements often prey on the insecurities of the population, offering to fill psychological, sociological, political or religious security needs of those who would join them. Examples of such groups include the Bgwan Shree Rajneesh cult (Oregon, California 1984); the Japanese terror cult Aum Shinrikyo, the Christian Identity movement in the U.S., and radical Islamic revivalist movements that exist in many countries.13 These groups appear to share a common ideological thread whereby members become indoctrinated to believe that the rule of law, established by the secular government of the state [democratic or otherwise], is in direct conflict with the desires and plans of the Almighty. At the moment this "epiphany" occurs, members of such groups literally "de-legitimize" their government, totally rejecting existing societal and legal structures, demanding instead a structural revision of the world in a manner they believe to be in accordance with the desires of their "god." 14 Capitalizing on the highly cultivated fear WMD use engenders may convince the leaders and hard corps cadre of such groups that they possess a power great enough to compel the state to concede to their demands. To this end, the threat or actual use of WMD may be the method by which the religiously oriented terrorist group believes it can attack the state and achieve their objectives.15 If the state is not prepared to effectively respond to multiple WMD crises and manage the consequence of such attacks, terrorists equipped with WMD may believe that such use will allow them to circumvent the need to engage in a protracted, "modern" terrorist campaign.
Terrorist Use of WMD
Documented reports published by both State Department and the Center for National Security Studies in Washington DC indicate that terrorist incidents (in quantitative terms) seems to be on the decline, while the lethality of the incidents has risen. This note on the "qualitative rise" in terms of the casualties and damage produced by terrorist attacks provides an indication that terrorist may very well engage in more spectacular and sophisticated events that include the use of WMD.16 The bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie Scotland, the World Trade Center Bombing, and the gas attack in Tokyo may be leading indicators that terrorist groups may consider adapting WMD as a primary weapon of choice. Indeed, Bruce Hoffman cites the occurrence of fifty-two incidents involving terrorist threats or actual uses of WMD between 1968 and 1994.17
Notably, the Aum incident clearly demonstrated that use of WMD by terrorists poses a very different threat than conventional terrorism. For most western countries individual acts of "modern" terrorism do not generally constitute a serious threat to national survival. Even places such as Israel, India, Pakistan and Algeria, countries that experience terrorism on almost a daily basis, are not truly threatened with annihilation by conventional terrorism. Modern terrorism, with its ideology grounded in instrumental purpose, has been the tool of the weak employed against the strong; a poor man's coercive diplomacy. As discussed earlier, WMD significantly alters that context. Nuclear, chemical and biological weapons give terrorist organizations a strength that they could never hope to achieve through conventional means allowing them to seriously threaten the security of a national population with a single blow. It is therefore more important than ever to explore those dynamics that may constrain or motivate terrorists to use WMD. Consequently, the following two fundamental questions are addressed:
ÿ What constraints inhibit the use of WMD?
ÿ What factors may weaken or remove these constraints?18
Constraints against Using WMD
Let me first address constraints. The use of WMD is nominally constrained by several factors.
The first constraint involves the technical complexities associated with developing and weaponizing chemical or biological agents. For years the intelligence and academic community have assessed that the technology and resources to construct a nuclear device has been well outside the practical reach of terrorist groups. Yet, while not as difficult to manufacture or expensive as attempting to develop nuclear or radiological weapons, the development and use of even chemical and biological weapons has been eschewed by terrorists. Why? Generally because conventional tactics have continued to provide the terrorist with the ability to command the desired attention or reaction from target audiences.
Perhaps a much more compelling constraint to terrorist employment of WMD is the concept of "backlash."19 Backlash manifests itself in two distinct forms e.g., government reaction and public reaction. Backlash occurs when an "act" of terrorism exceeds the acceptable violence threshold of the public. The result of this is twofold: as first, a loss of constituency (popular support and legitimacy) for the terrorist group may occur; and second, the targeted regime or government may adopt extraordinary efforts to eliminate the terrorist group. Backlash therefore represents a significant constraint to the use of WMD. Backlash is also applicable to state-sponsored terrorism. Indeed, the state-sponsor of a WMD attack would risk a response of massive retaliation from the United States following such an event. In both cases, WMD use can be convincingly self-defeating.
As mentioned, the continued utility of conventional tactics may deter terrorists from venturing into the politically risky world of WMD.20 While there has been a trend towards increased violence and more spectacular events over the past decade, such acts as "conventional" bombings and hijackings still receive substantial worldwide attention. As long as terrorists can use such incidents to achieve the response they desire (from media, public, and government) they may feel little need, especially in the face of backlash, to use WMD.
Constraints Are Weakening
Constraints against the employment of WMD thus far, but they are however, weakening. The psychological dynamics of "Group Think," combined with terrorism based on religious ideologies, are gradually easing the "taboos" that have constrained the use of uncontrolled or disproportionate violence.21 This, plus the availability of "dual use" materials, may portend an increase in terrorist use of WMD.
Factors Increase the Potential for Terrorist Use of WMD
As described above, terrorist attacks have become more spectacular and sophisticated over time. The tendency for a few spectacular events to capture world headlines and elicit dramatic government responses22 has set in motion a potential escalation spiral that may lead terrorists to employ WMD. If conventional methods of assassination and bombing become routine and accepted, it is much more difficult to capture the type of worldwide attention and government response that terrorist desire. In order to capture the level of media and government attention they need, terrorists may be compelled to use WMD.
Moreover, a global population desensitized to violence further weakens the constraints on WMD use. Violent acts that seemed excessive ten years ago may now be considered acceptable. This rise in tolerance may eventually allow terrorists to use WMD without that use being perceived as illegitimate. The advent of global communications network and a population desensitized to "run of the mill bombings and assassinations" provide encouragement for the use of WMD. In this regard, terrorist groups might escalate the level of violence in one of two ways:
(1)they can escalate the level of violence to kill unprecedented numbers of people. Or (2) they can escalate symbolically, by employing new, more horrifying techniques - without necessarily killing more people.(which alone inspires) a deep sense of dread.(deeper than that caused by conventional terrorist attacks involving assassination, or bombings)."23
Intense urbanization increases the number and accessibility of targets. Terrorists using a chemical or biological agent can easily cause mass casualties or infrastructure disruption. Indeed, the multitude of potential targets vulnerable to a WMD attack permits the terrorist to selectively destroy a critical piece of urban infrastructure or kill a significant number of people if they so chose.
Concern for individual rights in Western democracies provides an environment where terrorist groups can emerge and develop their WMD potential. Today many countries guarantee individuals a range of personal freedoms and protection from state intrusiveness in areas of religion, speech, press, assemblage and protection against unreasonable search and seizures. However, these cherished rights also permit sub and transnational terrorist groups to establish networks which: (1) allow them to develop financial resources; (2) facilitate military or para-military training for members; (3) provide advanced education opportunities for members; (4) facilitates the procurement of weapons, material and WMD related technologies. Steven Emerson addresses this particular issue at length as he describes how several Islamic organizations here in the United States support terrorist groups operating in other countries.24 Notably, there are other terrorist groups known to maintain support networks in the United States as well.25
Diffusion of WMD-related technologies and production information is occurring at an extremely rapid rate. Local bookstores, libraries and the Internet provide the reasonably educated individual enough information to construct a "low-tech" chemical weapon. From certain web sites, one can draw the necessary reference material needed to manufacture an assortment of lethal chemical agents and dispersal systems. A book entitled Assorted Nasties, is available through several vendors. Within its pages are detailed recipes describing how to synthesize various toxins and the like. This type of publication demonstrates that the technical data needed to minimally assemble a crude WMD is available to the public.
The economic situation in the former Soviet Union which hasled to the underemployment of many former top WMD scientists has created a potential "arms and minds" market, making it much easier for terrorist groups to obtain parts of the WMD related materials and expertise. Well the extent of the problem is not well understood, media reports indicate that Former Soviet Union scientists are providing consulting services to Iranian and Pakistani WMD related programs via modem, and others are leaving the country to work for North Korea. As one such physicist stated:
".If I had not agreed, they would have just found someone else. You think this (the decision) is hard? Look how many defense specialist are begging.So my conscious does not bother me it all."26
Finally as I've discussed, a resurgence of terrorism motivated by certain religious ideologies, ethnic traditions and race coupled with the growing sophistication of established, more "professional" groups is likely to lead to higher levels of lethality and destruction.27 Religion and prejudice certainly provide the moral justification and moral disengagement necessary to convince terrorists and supporters alike that using WMD is legitimate, particularly within groups that believe their crusade is sanctioned or demanded by God. For these groups WMD use can virtually create the "prophesied event," or annihilate God's enemies with a combination of simultaneous operations aimed at population centers and critical infrastructure. Some suggest, for example, that this was the rational behind Aum's attack in Tokyo.
Type of Terrorist Group Most Likely to Use Weapons of Mass Destruction In Order To Cause Mass Casualties
Is there a specific type of terrorist group that possesses a "ripeness" to employ WMD in order to cause mass casualties? My research conclusions suggests that the type of terrorist group most likely to employ WMD, is one which follows a radical religiously oriented ideology. This disposition is heightened when the group incorporates racist or ethnic hate as part of their belief structure.28 Religiously oriented terrorists are searching for far more than the ability to change perceived flaws in the socio-political order of the state. Their aim: the total destruction of the existing order, supplanting it with a new one of their own design.29 Cases examined for my study included the Tokyo nerve agent attack committed by members of the terrorist cult, Aum Shinrikyo; the bombing of the World Trade Center conducted by a group of ad-hoc, transnational Islamic radicals; and a case involving a group of violent white supremacists living in the United States. These cases were analyzed and balanced against an assessment of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA). While PIRA is similar in many respoects to the other three, I believe it unlikely that this group would engage in the use of WMD to cause mass casualties.
My research identified eleven key variables that, when present, provide the necessary and sufficient conditions for a terrorist group to threaten use of WMD to cause mass casualties. A brief description of each variable noted as key follows.
Ideologies that Support Extremist Violence is a Key Indicator
An ideology is a comprehensive system of concepts and beliefs held by an individual or group. It is an organization of opinions, attitudes and values that determine how we think about society and our selves.
The ideologies of terrorist groups which manifest a ripeness for WMD use, follow radical religious beliefs, affiliated with apocalyptic millennialism, radicalized redemption, or racist/ethnic hate.30 Destruction is part of the logic of religion. Every religious tradition carries with it images of chaos and terror. Some forms of religion seem to propel the faithful to militant confrontations. In an essay on "The Logic of Religious Violence," Mark Juergensmeyer identifies several key points that elucidate why religiously oriented ideologies can be dangerous to the extreme. 31
ÿ Religion domesticates violence. Most histories of religion focus on the struggle between good and evil. Through the ages this struggle has been associated with horrific slaughters conducted against, or on the behalf of, the faithful. Religious stories myths and symbols (swords, crosses and the like) make religiously oriented killing palatable, even if those acts are ultra-violent.
ÿ Violence sanctioned by religion breaks the state monopoly on morally sanctioned killing and provides the perpetrators with a sense of political independence. It places them on the moral high ground above the state because God's judgement is giving them the "green light" to kill in his name.
Religious beliefs of an apocalyptic, radical redemptive or racist/ethnic hate orientation often advocate the use of ultra-violence as a means to gain a desired end. The greatest danger occurs when they appeal to the most primitive and irrational wishes and fears e.g., the collective emotional needs of the terrorist group. When this happens, ultra-violent acts causing mass casualties or disruption are likely to follow.
Ideology Based in Apocalyptic Millennialism
The ideology of apocalyptic millennialism is rooted in a belief that the present age of the world is irredeemably evil ruled by a satanic figure personifying evil. This ideology professes a belief that the evil age will soon be ended, destroyed by God (or God's servant), who is good. The subsequent age to follow this event is lauded as one of utopia, where everything is perfect and only those who were formerly oppressed or those who are "true believers" will survive to enjoy it.32
Norman Cohen writes that historical records documenting apocalyptic millennial cults show a variance in attitude from the most violent aggressiveness to the mildest pacifism, and from the most ethereal spirituality to the most earthbound materialism. The concern here is the cult that would engage in ultra violence, viewing their acts as part of the prophesied apocalyptic event. In a report addressing technology and terrorism, Ronfeldt and Sater suggest that the potential users of such weapons (WMD) will most likely be apocalyptic millenarian cults or terrorists operating under a religious imperative.33
Ideology based in a Redemptive Religious Imperative
In Jewish history, from time immemorial, and in Jewish history today, that which will be is conditioned on one thing only: If you shall walk in My statutes, and if you shall disdain My statutes. ...The former guarantees peace and tranquillity and bliss and redemption. The latter assures tragedy and catastrophe. There is no escape from this immutable law of creation. But if one does, indeed, walk in the footsteps of his Creator, then the Father of the Jewish people, the All Mighty, has obligated Himself to give to His children the promised reward. This is the answer; this is the key to the Gate of redemption. One who understands it shall enter it. One who does not is doomed to be scattered as the chaff in the wind and, God forbid, to take many of his brothers and sisters with him.34
Rabbi Meir Kahane
A redemptive religious imperative is based in a belief that God will reward his people only when certain prerequisites are fulfilled. The aforementioned quote taken from Rabbi Kahane's writings are cited to elucidate how his radical interpretation of religious scripture and Jewish theology is used to argue for the use of violence as a prerequisite to receiving God's promises and blessings. According to Rabbi Kahane, Israel and the Jewish people will never truly be "graced and protected" by the Lord until they return to orthodox Judaism and recover at least that part of "Eretz Yisrael"35 that encompasses the occupied territories (West Bank and the Gaza strip). To effect such gains, Rabbi Kahane engaged in alleged terrorist acts culminating with his 1980 arrest by Israeli authorities for planning to blow up the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. He was subsequently tried and incarcerated in the Ramla maximum-security prison for nine months. Rabbi Kahane saw this planned terrorist act as part of the redemptive process that would result in the Jewish people being favored and protected by the Lord.36
Religious beliefs penetrate to the core of human existence for many people. Religion manipulated to provide legitimation for the use of violence by terrorists can thus unleash constraints that hold the use of ultra- violence in check. History has shown numerous occasions were this phenomenon is evident. The Sicarii Zealots who engaged in the wholesale slaughter of Romans occupying Palestine circa 66-73 AD is one example of how religion is used to justify horrific terrorist acts. Contemporary examples of extremely violent terrorist attacks motivated by religious belief can be found in the actions of groups such as Hizbullah, Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad. And we have learned in the aftermath of the World Trade Center bombing that the radical Islamic terrorist (Yamzi Yousef) who planned the attack, had hoped to release a chemical weapon.His intent was to cause the complete destruction of the World Trade Center's twin towers and the death of the thousands of people working in the building.37 This act was perpetrated as retribution for the corruption and decadence Western powers had introduced to the world in general and the Islamic states in particular. Luckily, Yousef reportedly ran out of money and time or he may have been able to assemble a chemical weapon.
Ideology Based in a Racist/Ethnic Hate Imperative
To the faithful, toil-burdened masses the victory was so complete that no further effort seemed required. Germany had fallen, and with her the world combination that had crushed her. Authority was dispersed; the world unshackled; the weak became the strong; the sheltered became the aggressive; the contrast between victors and vanquished tended continually to diminish. A vast fatigue dominated collective action. Though every subversive element endeavored to assert itself, revolutionary rage like every form of psychic energy burnt low. Through all its five acts the drama has run its course; the light of history is switched off, the world stage dims, the actors shrivel. The chorus sinks. The war of the giants has ended; the quarrels of the pygmies have begun.
What is meant by a racist or ethnic hate imperative? The definition of the word "racist" in its basic form means to discriminate based on the belief that some races are by nature supreme. The same could be said for the concept of "ethnic hate." Winston Churchill's statement voices a concern that with the downfall of several dynastic regimes following the conclusion of World War I, the world would see an eruption of inter- and intra-state conflict based in ethnic prejudices. In its most radical state, race and ethnicity are used as a banner cry for prescriptions of terrorist violence and separatism. Witness the mass genocides in Rwanda and the Balkans in the early 1990's, and the Holocaust wherein six million Jews were executed by Hitler's Nazi apparatus. Here in the United States a growing movement of neo-Nazism and white supremacist groups operating under a loosely organized web of militia organizations and revisionist Christian movements may very well pose a threat that could result in the use of WMD. In 1985, members of a racist hate group known as The Covenant, Sword, Arm of the Lord" (CSAL) were arrested on charges of sedition. The U.S. Justice Department raid on their compound resulted in the discovery of cyanide producing laboratory and massive quantities of cyanide stockpiled for the express purpose of poisoning the water supply of an unnamed city.38
Leadership involving the "Mirror-Hungry Authoritarian-Sociopathic Personality" is a Key Indicator
The terrorist group leader possessing the "Mirror Hungry Authoritarian Personality"39 is primed to commit (and direct) aggressive acts against "out group others." In order to convince or manipulate group membership, such leaders frequently use emotionally charged ideas such as race or religion as a main component of their rhetoric. The leader with the "authoritarian personality" may also exhibit other attributes such as charisma, narcissism, and paranoia, which can further enhance the potential for the conduct of ultra-violence.
Extremist use of Unmitigated Violence is a Key Indicator
By examining ideology, rhetoric and the results of terrorist incidents, it is possible to assess the potential for terrorist group to cause a mass casualty act. A review of statements made by various leaders of terrorist groups that routinely employ terrorist attacks against the State of Israel indicate a desire and intent to destroy that Nation and all it stands for. Terrorist actions perpetrated by Islamic Jihad and Hamas demonstrate their willingness to commit disproportionate violence in the form of murder and injury. Statements made to the press by Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, the leader of Islamic Jihad (and former South Florida State University professor) exemplify the type of rhetoric that causes concern.40
...so many Islamic Jihad youths wanted to be human bombs, (to attack Israel), that...bombers have been chosen by lot....
...Israel ...will pay a heavy price for the deaths of Shakaki (former leader of Islamic Jihad) and Yehi Ayyash (chief bomb-maker for Hamas)....
The leader of Aum Shinrikyo, Shoko Asahara, was known to suggest that a guru's order to murder meant that it was time for the victim to be elevated to a higher spiritual level. To this end he stated that:
killing...may appear simply as murder in the objective view of the human world, but when a wise person views it, the person who has killed and the person who killed both benefited.41
Operating under the rationale of such rhetoric and ideas, Aum followers committed a variety of terrorist acts, ranging from simple kidnappings, assassination of dissident membership, and the infamous Sarin attack against the Tokyo subway.
Often the concept of revenge is frequently seen as a rhetorical motive for engaging in ultra-violent behavior. Revenge, legitimized, as an act of retaliation against others perceived as having wronged the group, provides a powerful motivational force to conduct acts of disproportionate violence.
The Closed Constituency and Group Cohesiveness is a Key Indicator
"Modern secular-political" terrorist groups conduct their violent acts as part of a strategy to correct perceived flaws in the socio-political order of the state. As their goals are typically grounded in a belief that their actions will bring beneficial change to the masses they insist they represent, their violent acts will be tempered and focused at state symbols. This is done largely because a terrorist group's survival is contingent on membership appeal. If their violent acts become too distasteful, recruitment suffers, defections occur and the group loses strength, or worse, internal power struggles cause the same effect.42
However, with the "post-modern" terrorists operating under a radical religious orientation, the concern is not with benefiting the masses, but with benefiting the group and pleasing God. This point is notable because the group that concerns itself with immediate members or an ambiguous constituency may tend to ultra-violence more easily than a group that claims to represent the "ignorant masses." In the closed cell group, close cohesion or bonds amongst members is very important. In some cases members may be required to pass an initiation ritual to demonstrate their commitment to the group. This initiation ritual may include murder. Group members' dedication to their cause is an important part of maintaining cohesion. Members who are willing to commit suicide or be killed for their beliefs arguably support a means to ends philosophy that enables the use of disproportionate violence.
Lack of Concern over Public or Government Backlash is a Key Indicator
For the terrorist group operating under a radical religious imperative, backlash possesses little deterrent value as death holds its own reward for the martyred, while perpetuating the struggle for the living by giving them heroes to avenge and emulate. In fact, backlash may reinforce the resolve of these groups to use WMD, viewing themselves as a closed cell surrounded by forces of evil who ultimately desire to destroy them. Violence to these terrorists is seen as an end in itself whereby the corrupt system of "out-group others" must be totally destroyed or substantially damaged so as to allow, minimally, a negotiated settlement favorable to the group. This to occur even at the risk of the terrorist group being reduced to an ineffective force in the process.43 As a result, WMD use becomes a rationale choice for the closed cell terrorist group. This indicator is closely associated with the following one, though the two are arguably unique enough to require separate explanation.
A Willingness to Take Risks
what logic and rationale compels the terrorist group to engage in activities that risk the very existence of the group? The answer lies in the perceived pay-off. Extraordinary risks are taken in anticipation that actions will result in some type of "special reward."44 For the group operating under the apocalyptic imperative the reward is the "new life" following Armageddon; for the redemptive religious fanatic the reward is the blessing of the Almighty; for the racist/ethnic hate monger the reward is the destruction of the offending population. When the perceived pay-off is viewed as worth taking the risk, the group will do so. Of special note for the religious radical, when he or she dies in an act of terroism, he/she becomes a martyr and goes to paradise, forever memorialized by those still fighting for the cause. If the terrorist survives the attack, he/she walks away knowing that the Almighty is pleased with the "contribution" to the cause. In any event the perceived high-pay off overrides concerns of risks involved.
Group Exhibits Sophisticated Use of Weapons or Tactics is a Key Indicator
Terrorist groups that take show incremental improvements in their use of technology to enhance their weapons potential and circumvent the authorities are arguably prime candidates to pursue development of a WMD capability.
Membership that Includes Personnel Knowledgeable of WMD Technical Requirement is a Key Indicator
Various reports in recent years have concluded that clandestine (non-state) production of crude chemical and biological weapons requires no greater technical expertise than does the production of narcotics or heroin.45 While it is true that manufacturing a radiological weapon or high quality "bugs and gas" is a difficult proposition, and that manufacturing a delivery or dispersal system is equally difficult, terrorist group membership can include individuals possessing degrees in such disciplines as electrical engineering or nuclear physics. These individuals are more than capable of developing crude WMD given access to the appropriate materials. A key variable of concern is the terrorist group that recruits members from science and engineering fields.
Financial Resources to Fund a WMD Capability is a Key Indicator
The ability of a terrorist group to develop a WMD capability is also contingent upon the financial resources they possess. While it is readily acknowledged that the production of a crude nuclear explosive device would be quite costly for a terrorist group operating without state sponsorship, on the order of millions of dollars, the financial resources needed to develop a chemical or biological weapon is relatively small.46 On balance, many terrorist groups certainly possess significant financial resources to pursue the development of a WMD capability, their coffers filled by cash generated from enterprises that include such things as legitimate businesses, bank heists, contract assassination, drug dealing, counterfeiting, covert weapons trade, extortion, and soliciting contributions from sympathetic supporters.47 The investigation into the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo uncovered assets exceeding $1.4 billion dollars.
Availability of Materials and Access to Technology is a Key Indicator
Terrorist groups operating in a country where WMD related material sources and information is available is a key indicator. This also holds true for a terrorist group which has able to establish an international procurement network by which WMD required materials may be purchased.
To recap, a terrorist group possesses a ripeness or disposition to threaten use of WMD when certain key indicators are present in the group. These indicators consist of those related to desires for power, ideology, leadership, behavior, constituency, backlash, and risk combined with those related to sophistication of terrorist group weapons/tactics, knowledgeable membership, financial resources, and availability of necessary materials.
Using this analytic framework, my research conclusions indicate that terrorist groups embracing radical, religious based ideologies are surely the most likely "type" of group to use WMD in a mass casualty causing event.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Stopping the proliferation of WMD is indeed a difficult problem, particularly since some twenty-five countries (half of them located in the Middle East and South Asia) are known to have or are developing biological or chemical WMD programs.48 Since many of the technologies associated with chemical and biological agent production have legitimate civilian use totally unrelated to WMD production, controlling proliferation of this technology becomes a difficult proposition. Trade in duel use equipment can certainly not be banned. In nations where the necessary materials and equipment are present, terrorist groups desiring to acquire this capability are quite capable of attempting to do so.
Scholars and analyst concerned with the threat of WMD terrorism tend to agree that attacks involving the use of chemical or biological agents will probably be of a low-tech nature, though one should not discount the abilities or resourcefulness of terrorists to accomplish the unexpected. Indeed, even low-tech events which don't lead to high numbers of fatalities may lead tremendous numbers of sick or injured. Low-tech should not be taken as synonymous with amateurism e.g., if the attack results in tens or hundreds of casualties and a tremendous amount of collateral disruption, does it really matter how "technically" competent the terrorist was? The key to resolving the fear we may feel in response to the threat posed by WMD terrorism lies in the development of effective intelligence assessment and warning, and emergency response plans. Minimizing our vulnerability to such attacks requires the use of a complex, fully integrated strategy. This effort involves the development of sound intelligence and physical security protocols and procedures and robust counter-terrorist crisis response-consequence management capabilities. This is the obvious answer though difficult to accomplish. However, the key to marginalizing the possibility-effects of terrorist attacks in general, and WMD terrorist attacks in particular does indeed reside in the development and implementation of such a strategy.
Counter-terrorist measures include building and maintaining all-source intelligence gathering network that fuse data effectively enough to permit the flagging and disrupting of potential terrorist activities (inclusive of WMD development efforts) before they can culminate in an attack. As mentioned, terrorist groups are underground organizations (strategic-criminal organizations) which do not lend themselves to easy analysis or observation. Where the development of intelligence concerning an adversarial nation's intentions may be accomplished via the use of robust technical methods, assessments regarding a terrorist group's capabilities, motivations and intentions are heavily dependent on human intelligence gathering-no easy task as terrorist group security cells are often times engaged in counter-counter terrorist efforts to preclude compromise. Thus, improved coordination of efforts and sharing of information between national intelligence agencies, law enforcement and our international allies is critical.
Part of the problem constraining better integration of interagency efforts lies with the conflicting objectives that exist between the various agencies and organizations involved in combating terrorism. This is evident upon examination of the relationship between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Defense. Each of these agencies is responsible for combating terrorism. However the focus of the FBI is towards prosecuting terrorists (those strategic criminals who have attacked or conspire to attack US citizens or property--whether at home or abroad), while the DoD is primarily concerned with protecting personnel, and infrastructure of the Department of Defense. The objectives for both agencies are extremely important. Unfortunately at times, these objective are not necessarily compatible, particularly with regard to information sharing.
The bottom line for those chartered to combat terrorism: the ability to reduce threats posed by terrorist groups will only be realized if new ideas are encouraged and cooperative efforts are enjoined by those agencies that play a role in "combating terrorism" particularly in areas related to intelligence sharing.
As we move towards better integrating the efforts of those organizations and agencies chartered to combat terrorism, particularly in the area of intelligence sharing, we minimize our "having to exchange business cards" in the aftermath of a terrorist WMD attack. Indeed, this esteemed body may be able to assist in ensuring that the fusion of counterterrorism assets occurs in an integrated, force multiplying manner. Thank you for allowing me to speak on this matter, I am prepared to answer your questions.
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