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An Introduction to

Terrorism

Part I: Terrorist objectives,


methods, and their
psychological impact
Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
University at Buffalo

Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. www.PsychologyofTerrorism.com


Defining Terrorism

There is not a one-size-fits-all


definition that adequately describes
all cases that might be considered
terrorism
There are, however, some common
features for most cases that can be
readily identified by considering the
terrorists motivation and its
relationship to pathological behavior

Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.


Terrorists Objective

To affect political, social,


economic, or religious change
through the use of fear and
intimidation
unable to accomplish objectives
through democratic or other
legitimate process
unable to directly confront their
opposition militarily
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
An Alternative View of
the Terrorist
In contradistinction to the often held
stereotypic view of terrorists as evil
people desiring to inflict pain and suffering
on others
the terrorist might be considered by some to be a
victim of circumstances
this reactionary model of terrorism suggests that
the terrorist turns to terrorist activity because it is the
only means available to achieve their objective
involving a justifiable and positive societal change
from their perspective
Terrorists in some cases may seem to
have surprisingly altruistic motives
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Difference Between
Terror & Terrorism

Terror involves inflicting fear and


anxiety on the victim(s)
Terror can be goal oriented or
gratuitous
produce positive political, social,
economic, or religious change
extortion for financial gain
pathological desire to inflict suffering
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Three Primary Motivational
Dimensions to Consider

Terrorism

positive societal change

Criminal Pathological
financial gain TERROR inflict suffering
Terror Terror

Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.


Terrorism &
Criminal Terror

Terrorism is directed towards


positive change for a larger group
seldom self-serving often sacrificing
Criminal terror benefits the
individual
extortion for financial or social gain
often involves frank or borderline
psychopathology
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Self-Perception of
Individuals using Terror
Terrorist usually view themselves as
the good guys and their opponents
as the bad guys
Individuals employing criminal terror
often (not but always) realize they
are the bad guys
Individuals displaying pathological
terror probably dont care (i.e.,
distinguish good from evil)
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Terrorism &
Pathological Terror
Terrorists seek change through
the use of fear and intimidation
but this seldom involves mentally
disturbed individuals
Some people use terror
gratuitously
this usually involves mentally
disturbed individuals

Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.


Pathological Terror as a
Terrorist Tool
Some degree of pathological terror can be
useful to terrorist organizations, but
Those motivated primarily by pathological
terror are mentally unstable and not
constrained by the terrorists agenda
Therefore they are usually a threat to the
organization and excluded or only
marginally involved (e.g., suicide bomber)

Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.


Other Potentially
Important Variables

Aggressive behavior can also be


produced or amplified by other
psychological processes
Frustration-aggression behavior
Classic displacement behavior
Conditioning hate and fear
Motivational variables give
directionality to behavior
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Types of Terror

Type Motivational Attributes


Terrorism goal-oriented non self-
serving motive
(group benefit)
Criminal goal-oriented self-serving
Terror (personal benefit)

Pathological not goal- biological


Terror oriented malfunction?
(nobody benefits)
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Terror &
Psychopathology
Terrorism seldom involves
psychopathology

Criminal Terror often involves


borderline or frank
psychopathology
Pathological exclusively
Terror motivated by
psychopathology
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Relationship among Terrorism,
Criminal Terror, & Psychopathology

Psychopathology

Criminal
Terror

Terrorism

Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.


Usual Criteria for Formal
Definitions of Terrorism

Several other terms are


commonly found in government
definitions of terrorism
Unlawful act
Violence or threat of violence
Acts against Noncombatants
But are these qualifiers useful or
too restrictive?
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Terrorism as an unlawful act
Of course its unlawful from the
perspective of the government
victims who make the laws
Silly legal jargon to insure criminal
prosecution of terrorists?

Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.


Terrorism as a violent act
Does it really have to threaten
physical violence?
What about forms of cyber-
terrorism not involving physical
harm (e.g., financial ruin)?
What about rape (cf. psychological
vs. physical harm)?

Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.


Terrorism as an act against
noncombatants
Perhaps it is important to exclude
military personnel from definitions
of terrorist attacks, but what
about law enforcement officers?
What about military personnel not
performing combat duties?

Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.


Academic definitions should be
transcultural and should contain
criteria even the terrorist would
agree with
Yes, Im a terrorist, but my cause is
just.

This type of definition defines the


territory in an impartial fashion

Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.


Terrorists Weapons

Kidnapping & hostage taking


Assassination
Improvised Explosive Device (IED)
CBRN (cf. NBC)
chemical (e.g., sarin gas)
biological (e.g., anthrax)
radiological dispersal (e.g., dirty bomb)
nuclear (i.e., mass destruction)

New millenniumnew methods


cyber-terrorism
other non-violent threats?
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Terrorists Method to
Accomplish Goals

To instill terror in target


audience to force capitulation
often by using the most terrifying
means available (see note below) , including
kidnapping, assassination, IEDs, CBRNs
by affecting many more people than
directly affected by physical actions
media and government-response play a
critical role in the impact of terrorism
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Terrorists Targets:
Hard and Soft

Hard targets
high-ranking government officials
military bases
fortified police stations (e.g., Northern Ireland)
Soft targets
individual civilians
shopping areas
schools
cultural, sporting, & religious venues
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Widening the Target to
Hit the Mark

Level 1: Government Leaders


Level 2: Police & Military
Level 3: Government Workers
Level 4: Civilian Supporters
Level 5: All Civilians
Terrorists increase their range of targets to achieve
their goal. Most terrorist organizations include
civilian targets, often preferred over hard targets.
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Target Impact-Value

Most people probably believe


that hard targets have a higher
impact value than soft targets
This is generally true for
conventional military
campaigns, but this is not true
for terrorist campaigns against
democracies
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Freedoms Paradox: You
can surrender it to terror!

Terrorist tactics probably work


best against democracies,
where targeting civilian
populations has the greatest
impact (i.e., civilians elect the
government which sets the
policy the terrorists wish to
change)
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Terror Value of
Soft Targets

In addition to being easier to


attack, soft targets actually have
a higher terror value for the
average citizen than do most
hard targets (e.g., killing people
like me makes the threat more
personal and increases the
individual terror value)
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Tokyo Subway Attack
(Sarin gas attack by Aum Shinri-kyo cult, 20 March 1995)

12
Killed

5,700 Photo from www.ait.org.tw

Photo from www.tofugu.com physically injured

9,000+ psychologically injured

10,000s terrorized

Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.


Beltway Snipers
(Washington DC region, 02 - 24 October 2002)

10
Killed

Photo from www.FBI.gov 3 Photo from Gwww.azette.net

physically injured

100s psychologically injured

100,000s terrorized

Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.


Sequence of Beltway
Sniper Attacks

The Beltway snipers were


particularly effective in
spreading terror and
disrupting normal life
because they killed at random
and covered a wide area.

Originally though to be
Muslim extremists, in the final
analysis it was simply
criminal terror masquerading
as al-Qaeda type terrorists.

Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.


911 Attack on America
(World Trade Center & Pentagon, 11 September 2001)

3,025
Killed

1,000s
physically injured

10,000+ psychologically injured

A nation terrorized
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
When does attacking hard
targets have a higher impact
than attacking soft targets?
conventional military campaigns
totalitarian regimes

Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.


A Tyrants Hard Targets
Are Most Vulnerable

Soft targets have little


influence on totalitarian
government leadership
Hard targets can erode
totalitarian control (through
attrition) or even instigate a
coup de tat

Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.


Psychological Impact of
Terrorism

Strong motivation to terminate terror


Evokes classic ego defense
mechanisms and displacement
Often produces
frustration-aggression reaction
general increase in mental illness
Acute Stress Disorder (ASD)
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Response to terror can aid
the terrorist organization

Magnitude of reaction seen as an indicator


of the perceived threat
over-reacting can make the threat seem more
serious than it actually is
over-reacting can strengthen the terrorists
support base by alienating neutral parties and by
encouraging supporters & independent attacks
Displacement aggression
seems to confirm the terrorists charge of an
oppressor who is not-like-us and not human
causes victims of displaced aggression to identify
with the terrorists seemingly fighting for them

Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.


Responses to Similar
Events Vary Dramatically

Response to terrorism is
determined by social cognition
and other dynamics
Madrid train bombing (11 March 2004)
elect new government
withdraw troops from Iraq
9/11 attack on America
solidify government support
Bush doctrine: hunt & kill/preemptive war
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Focus Question Set #2

What are the methods of


terrorists? (e.g., targeting
civilian populations)
Why do terrorists use the
tactics of terrorism?

End of Part I
(Regular academic instruction
ends here in this module.)

Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.


An Introduction to
Terrorism

Part II: Considerations for


developing effective
counter-terrorist strategies

Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.


Understanding the
Terrorist

One persons terrorist is another


persons freedom fighter
organized terrorism is seldom rooted
in mental illness
there is often some legitimate goal for
the terrorist organization
there is usually a broad support base
but very few terrorists are open to
compromise
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Understanding the
Terrorist, continued

Most terrorist organizations


have traditionally sought
national or regional change
Some terrorists seek global
change
most have specific, tangible
objectives (even if irrational)
a few have apocalyptic motives
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Terrorists Are Seldom
Open to Compromise
Their demands usually involve
radical change in the status quo
uniting Northern Ireland with the
Republic of Ireland in the south
formation of the state of Palestine
overthrow of the secular Egyptian
government (in progress as of 2013?)
establishment of an Islamic state in
Iraq & removal of Western influence
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
The Terrorists Resolve

The more one invests in a


cause, the stronger that cause
is psychologically defended
The transition from activist to
terrorist (and the willingness to
use violent methods) involves
psychological changes that
tend to dichotomize the world
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
The Terrorists View

Terrorist tend to view things as


right and wrong (black & white
without shades of gray)
them and us
Terrorists tend to view their
opponents as
evil, inhumane (dehumanized)
not like us
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Responding to Terrorist
Demands (prioritized list)

Diplomacy when possible, but


unlikely to work in most situations
reinforces terrorist tactics
Undermine terrorist support
Direct physical confrontation
hunt and kill
neutralize breeding grounds
Temper media coverage
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Diplomacy and
Negotiated Settlement
There are many cases in the 20th
Century where terrorist tactics
were effectively used to force
change or to right an injustice
1921 Republic of Ireland (although the
Northern counties remain in dispute)
1948 State of Israel (although national
boundaries remain in dispute)
1950s De-colonization & sovereignty of
& African nations
1960s
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Colonial Africa c. 1913

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia at


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scramble_for_Africa

Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.


Diplomacy & Terrorism
in the 21st Century

Conditions have changed radically


national sovereignty is no longer the
primary force behind many terrorist
organizations
some terrorist organizations seek
global changes extending well beyond
their social, political, economic, or
religious spheres of influence (e.g., a
New World Order)
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Responding to Terrorist
Demands (prioritized list)

Diplomacy when possible, but


unlikely to work in most situations
reinforces terrorist tactics
Undermine terrorist support

Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.


Undermining Terrorist
Support

Minimize social-political conditions


that spawn terrorism
Isolate the terrorists
Divide political factions
Rally allies against terrorism
Harsh and severe retaliatory action
Temper media aiding recruitment
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Minimize Social-Political
Conditions for Terrorism

Diminish social-economic
conditions that present
legitimate grievances
food and economic aid
combat social, religious, economic,
and political suppression
Provide alternative, rational plan
for resolving the conflict
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Isolate the Terrorists

Neutralize support base


foreign governments
popular/civilian sympathizers
other terrorist organizations

Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.


Divide Political Factions
in the Terrorist Movement

Exploit differences and conflicts


among individual factions of the
terrorist movement
Consider supporting factions
willing to adopt a non-terrorist
approach to achieving objectives
(Historically this has usually backfired, but it still seems
to be a rational approach. At a minimum, it diminishes
the number of terrorist groups that must be ultimately
dealt with and better focuses the target.)
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Rally Allies Against
Terrorism

Show the terrorists to be


irrational fanatics who threaten
global peace and stability
Develop allies who have a
common interest in neutralizing
the terrorist threat
Develop a clear multinational
plan for combating terrorism
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Responding to Terrorist
Demands (prioritized list)

Diplomacy when possible, but


unlikely to work in most situations
reinforces terrorist tactics
Undermine terrorist support
Direct physical confrontation
hunt and kill
destroy or neutralize breeding
grounds
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Harsh and Severe
Retaliatory Action

When you know your target,


take it out hunt & kill
collateral damage is less
important when imbedded in tacit
supporters
act with an understanding of the
psychological principles of
punishment and contingency
management
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Neutralize Terrorist
Breeding Grounds

Minimize social-political
conditions that spawn terrorism
(first priority from list of responses)
Covert operations when feasible
Direct military action when
appropriate (e.g., Bush doctrine)

Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.


Responding to Terrorist
Demands (prioritized list)

Diplomacy when possible, but


unlikely to work in most situations
reinforces terrorist tactics
Undermine terrorist support
Direct physical confrontation
hunt and kill
neutralize breeding grounds
Temper media coverage
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Temper Media Coverage

The media are (mostly unwilling)


allies of the terrorists
The media need to self-censor
coverage and not just push the
most sensationalistic story
confirm story & factual information
present clear & balanced perspective
consider impact of coverage
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Terrorism in the
New Millennium
Terrorism is a global problem that is not
going away without direct action
terrorism affects many people far removed
from the terrorist activity
terrorists seldom compromise
An effective response to terrorism
requires decisive and often harsh
action, uncharacteristic of the
traditional American Psyche

Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.


Focus Question Set #3

What terrorist groups were


active in previous generations?
Did they achieve their goals?
What are some of the major
terrorist groups active today?
Which are the most serious
concern for the United States?
Most serious threat worldwide?
Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
Copyright & Fair Use

All material used in this presentation is copyright 2014


Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. unless otherwise referenced in
the text. It may be used in part or in its entirety for
noncommercial purposes as long as proper citation to the
original source is provided.
For online presentations, reference to the original webpage
URL or to the main website www.PsychologyofTerrorism.com
is appreciated.
For printed presentations, reference to: M.A. Bozarth (2014),
An Introduction to Terrorism, lecture presentation.
Written permission for reproduction of material contained
herein for commercial purposes should be first obtained
from the author (e-mail: bozarth@buffalo.edu).

Copyright 2005-2014 Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.