The book Organizational and Psychological Aspects of Terrorism collects the lectures delivered at an Advanced Training Course (ATC) in Skopje, Macedonia, between 22 and 26 October 2007. The course was organized by the Ankara-based Centre of Excellence–Defence Against Terrorism (COE–DAT), and it was funded and supported by the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme. COE–DAT was opened in 2005 with the purpose of supporting NATO on defence issues related to terrorism. Turkey is the framework nation, and at present six other nations also contribute with staff and funds, namely the United States, the United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Romania, the Netherlands and Germany. Each year, COE–DAT organizes numerous workshops and courses, bringing academic rigour and institutional expertise in terrorism to interested parties in NATO, Partnership for Peace (PfP), and Mediterranean Dialogue countries, Non-triple Nations, and others.
The course was taught by twelve lecturers, nine of whom have contributed to this book. They are both academics and practitioners, selected for their expertise in military, police and security affairs. The lecturers were able to share their experiences with those who attended the course, many of whom were from the Macedonian ministries of Defence, Internal Affairs, and Foreign Affairs, and from the National Intelligence Agency, Crisis Management Unit, and Civil Aviation Agency.
In terms of structure, the course handled terrorism in its broad outlines first, and then proceeded to highlight such aspects as the organizational structure of terrorist groups, their psychology and group dynamics, financing, and recruitment. Along with each topic, the question of how to counter terrorist activities is addressed.
The first speaker was COE–DAT Concept Specialist Miss Zeynep Sütalan, who introduced “The Causes of Terrorism” (see the first chapter below). This paper reviews the ‘structural causes’ cited by those who see terrorism as the result of the international system, or political, cultural, social and economic realities. While deprivation is one factor leading to terrorism, Sütalan draws attention to Martha Crenshaw's observation that “[n]ot all those who are discriminated against turn to terrorism”, and that perceptions of injustice play an important role. This paper also introduces the psychological aspects of this kind of violence, referring to approaches which seek to find explanations in individual experience and in the influence of group identity.
Zeynep Sütalan's second paper discusses “Major Ideologies Motivating Terrorism and Main Characteristics of Terrorism”. Already in her first paper's section on the psychological causes of terrorist violence she spoke of the “high priority” given to ideology by organizations' leaders as they seek to develop a group identity. In this article Sütalan develops the argument that “the ideology is not what motivates people to turn to terrorism … it is used as a legitimizing tool”. The example of the PKK illustrates the kind of ideological shift which organizations make as they try to adapt to the changing circumstances of the modern world. The paper also gives an overview of the main ideologies to which attempts to justify terrorism have appealed, and these are divided into four types: left-wing, right-wing, separatist, and religious. There are many insights into contemporary trends in the article, which notes that changing balances in the international system, societies in transition, economic pressures, etc., have all contributed to the rise of religious terrorism. However, in an individualized world, we will see the mushrooming of extremist ideas, but no single ideology will be able to capture an entire generation as Marxism did: “[I]t is not likely that Islamist extremism or any other type of religious extremism will become … a dominant global counter-ideology opposing the liberal paradigm.”
A perspective on terrorism in the future is also provided by Major Julian Charvat (see the chapter “Terrorism Today and in the Future with Possible Aspects (Conventional, Bio, WMD, Cyber, etc.)”). Drawing on his practical experience as a soldier, the speaker shares his knowledge of the modus operandi and weaponry of terror. The most visible change here has been the adoption of the new methods, tactics and approaches for the attacks, and the way all terrorist networks have embraced technology. Almost every country must now be concerned about terrorist attacks using CBRN weapons of mass destruction.
The police in Turkey have been looking closely at the problem of recruitment to terrorist groups in that country. The approach they have developed is explained in the first part of a paper by Police Chief Yavuz Özdemir, written in collaboration with Supt. Necati Alkan (see “Recruitment Methods of Terrorist Organizations”). He shows how the violent organizations put candidates through a rigorous screening, and gradual ‘process of construction’. As a survey by Özönder has shown, individuals have been drawn into the PKK through social networks. These are classified into relationships with friends, relatives, and fellow-countrymen. The role of social activities and appeals to ethnic identities and religious values is also significant. In the second part of this chapter, on ‘Psychological Methods’ of recruitment, Özdemir and Alkan examine the stages through which the recruits' perceptions are changed, giving them a militant personality. The authors analyse the attractions of the group according to Maslow's ‘hierarchy of needs’ theory, which ranges from physiological needs to the needs associated with self-actualization. They show how hierarchical organizations, working as cells, make effective use of group dynamics to attract and then intimidate recruits. In a final passage of “Conclusions and Suggestions”, the authors point out that one can combat terrorism politically, but unless one addresses the human issues organizations will continue to be able to recruit: “…particularly the youth must be well informed about the activities of terrorist organizations, and they must be taught methods and ways to avoid catching the ‘terrorism disease’.”
The Course Director, Police Chief Seyit Ahmet Eren, considered the “Psychology of Terrorists and Profile of Suicide Bombers”. The paper begins by evoking the thought world of the terrorist, dominated by notions heroism and evil, and the author emphasises the importance of the leader and the ideology. Focusing on suicide bombers, he provides ‘in broad terms’ the profile of an attacker. The motivations of the suicide are listed, as are the demands placed on him/her by the terrorist group. Eren also answers the question why such a high percentage of suicide attackers are women. He notes that “not only the security forces but all other institutions and civil society must get involved in coping with suicide terrorism”.
Lt.-Col. Uğur Ersen provides an “Overview of Crisis Management Related to Terrorist Attacks”. This chapter is of practical use to project managers, and all involved in preparation against attacks. In crisis management, the policy and strategy is developed by the ministry and government, but there are supervisory roles also for the Crisis Management Centre (CMC), on-scene leaders, and response team leaders. The tools include logistics, health and safety, information management, public order, and legal support. The CMC, providing centralized control, may be composed of police, army, fire fighters, health workers, municipality, and other experts. The paper then analyses the phases of crisis management, from the planning and preparation, including exercises, to the execution.
In Major Julian Charvat's lecture on “Possibilities of Cooperation and Coordination”, the state's responses to terrorism are divided according to the criminal justice and war models. Of these, “[f]or international cooperation the War Model is far more controversial … when the War Model is applied some states may baulk at full cooperation”. The author briefly considers areas of international cooperation, and notes in particular the international agreements on preventing maritime terrorism. There is a need, not only for combined efforts on an international level, but for better cooperation between the various agencies within states.
In a course presenting organizational aspects of terrorism, attention must be given to the issue of terrorist financing. The detailed account by Assistant Prof. Michael Freeman in “Financial Resources of Terrorist Organizations” shows that money will determine whether and how terrorist groups survive. He divides the sources of terrorist funding into five categories: state support, illegal activity, legal activity, popular support, and involuntary support. In each of these different sources there are advantages and disadvantages for terrorist groups, as well as opportunities for the state to implement countermeasures and exploit vulnerabilities. Nevertheless, targeting terrorist financing is a difficult task because the amounts terrorists need tend to be readily available, and because terrorist organizations adapt easily in the face of government pressure.
Assistant Prof. Michael Freeman touches on “Terrorism and Organized Crime” in his second lecture. He notes that the nexus of organized crime and terrorism is complex and an increasingly important issue for policy-makers. Frequently, terrorist groups and organized crime look much alike structurally and engage in similar activities, yet there are also some crucial differences in their acceptance of risk, their motivating ideology, and in the way they use violence, etc. Furthermore, terrorist and criminal groups often work together and these alliances have a force multiplying effect in terms of the dangers they might pose to the state.
Police Chief Seyit Ahmet Eren presented the “Turkish Experience of Suicide Terrorism” when he next took the podium. This chapter in the book reviews the types of terrorist organization in Turkey, in particular outlining the characteristics of the PKK. After discussing incentives for suicide attacks in general, there is a useful summary of suicide attacks in the country, and two case studies are provided. As a conclusion, practical advice is offered on how security personnel can identify suicide bombers.
“Religion, Terror and Suicide Attacks” is the theme of Assoc. Prof. Müfit Selim Saruhan, from the University of Ankara's Faculty of Divinity. This lecture provides arguments for a clear distinction between religion and the role religious references may play in the psychology of terrorism. Religions in general, and Islam in particular, have as their aim living together in peace: “We should judge religions by their most authentic examples rather than by their worst corruptions.” Terror is the result of influences brought to bear on human nature, and cannot be attributed to a religion, just as it cannot be attributed to a nation. Terrorists of all religions may attribute their violence to their beliefs, while in fact they operate for other, human reasons. The central point of his thesis is that, in order to overcome terrorism, people have to put forward a true and accurate understanding of religion. The paper adds that the Faculty of Divinity educates its students in the ways of peace, providing in turn a model for other Muslim countries.
Col. Osman Aytaç's paper on “Developing Rules of Engagement for Counter-Terrorism and Crises” discusses this vital organizational tool in preventing terrorism. Very often ROE apply in situations where military concerns are subordinate to political demands. Managing this tension through clearly delineated boundaries is the key to successful operations. ROE for counter-terrorism are different to wartime ROE in terms of the applicable law and political framework. The author notes the importance of avoiding provocation in order to minimize the possibility of political clashes and/or an escalation in the violence.
Another aspect of organizing the response to terrorism is summarized by Lt.-Col. Uğur Ersen in his paper on the “Role of the United Nations, North Atlantic Treaty Organization and European Union in Countering Terrorism”. Of these organizations, the United Nations is the most significant, and the lecture gives details of the legal basis for the UN's counter-terrorism role, quoting both the UN Charter and relevant resolutions. In particular, the UN has led a Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force since 2005, in coordination with numerous international bodies. 2006 saw the adoption of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. The EU has taken an active role with its Action Plan to Fight Terrorism of 21 September 2001. In 2005 the EU committed itself to a CT Strategy, covering four strands of work: prevention, protection, pursuit, and response. The third organization examined is NATO, which endorsed a Military Concept for Defence against Terrorism at the 2002 Prague Summit. The NATO Response Force, with over 20,000 troops, is a recent development.
Police Supt. Süleyman Özeren summarizes the organizations behind the terrorist threat in Turkey. In his paper on “Turkish Counter-Terrorism Experience”, Dr. Özeren lists the ministries and agencies involved. The authorities have carried out successful operations through diplomacy and working to address the root causes of terrorism. Nevertheless, Özeren argues that Turkey has not always received the attention it deserves from the international community, and this country could make a much greater contribution to international counter-terrorism efforts, for example by training other law enforcement agencies.
The Advanced Training Course in Skopje was conducted in the framework of international co-operation, and this in itself is important. Terrorism has gained a global dimension, and it is impossible to imagine successful counter-terrorism unless true and open international cooperation is realized. The ATC was one example of sharing expertise and lessons learned.
Police Chief Seyit Ahmet Eren, ATC Director