In June 1974, I was staying with my Aunt and Uncle during my summer vacation. They lived in northern Israel, in the sleepy little town of Naharya. At the age of 16, it was the farthest away from home that I could go. On the fifth night of my visit, at around 2:00 a.m., we were violently awakened by a barrage of bullets and the deafening blasts of hand grenades. We were all terribly frightened and felt totally helpless. The onslaught lasted for about 30 minutes, and then suddenly everything fell ominously silent. At dawn, we learned how fortunate we had been: The attack on the apartment house was the work of a terrorist band that had crossed over the border from Lebanon earlier that night. My relatives' building had been randomly selected, simply because it was located near the shore. The terrorists continued wounding and killing the residents of the ground floor until Israeli Special Forces moved in, surrounded them and ended their rampage. That was my first encounter with the phenomenon of terrorism – but not my last.
On March 4, 1996, a beloved teaching assistant and former student, Taly Gordon, was killed by a suicide bomber, along with 19 other innocent persons who happened to be present in a central shopping mall in Tel Aviv. The terrorist was a Palestinian artist from Gaza who belonged to Islamic Jihad. Four months earlier and three kilometers away, I had attended a peace rally that ended with the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Only an hour before the murder, my wife, our small daughter and I had passed very close by the spot where the Jewish extremist who killed Rabin was patiently waiting for his opportunity. I may even have seen him. He had not appeared the least bit suspicious either to us or to the hundreds of security personnel who were guarding the area. These examples illustrate my personal acquaintance with the nature of terrorism: indiscriminate, ruthless and unexpected. Lurking in the shadows like a ferocious beast, terrorism is aggressive and vicious. To its prey, it does not matter whether the beast is hungry or has a right to kill. From the victim's point of view, any lethal assault is depraved, senseless and criminal.
Nevertheless, however clearly and unambiguously terrorism is captured in these personal recollections, it is still a highly perplexing and confusing phenomenon. Scholars and practitioners are constantly debating the nature of terrorist activities in various parts of the world. The anti-terrorist effort is notoriously faltering and indecisive, and global cooperation against terrorism is reprehensibly inadequate. These shortcomings are especially conspicuous in liberal states, where insidious, ruthless and indiscriminate terrorism exploits the liberty and vulnerability of the open society. Terrorism appears to flourish and attract attention by striking at the soft underbelly of democracy. The accessibility of targets and the “silent collaboration” of the media, which exploit the sensationalism of terrorist attacks for commercial advantages, play into the hands of terrorists. This is the dilemma of terrorism in the liberal state: Should democratic liberties be curtailed for the sake of greater security? Isn't the restriction of civil liberties a triumph for terrorism? If a “golden path” must be found, combating terrorism without sacrificing human rights and freedoms, where does such a path lead?
Such questions inspired the April 2005 NATO Advanced Research Workshop, which was held at the University of Konstanz in southern Germany. This volume presents the outstanding contributions of participants at that gathering. It consists of papers by 18 leading scholars and practitioners of the war against terrorism from four continents and nine countries. They include philosophers, political scientists, psychologists, criminologists, jurists, sociologists, historians, computer analysts, intelligence analysts and law enforcement officers. This remarkably varied range of participants yielded a fascinating meeting and a noteworthy, often provocative collection of papers. The great diversity enriched our undertaking with a variety of philosophies, perspectives, and understandings. It brought together a plurality of cultures, norms and experiences to afford an exhilarating mixture of definitions and approaches. The workshop benefited greatly from the open-mindedness and forbearance reserved for those unique occasions where a diverse group of persons is present. The complex and varied nature of the contributions is reflected in this collection.
Terrorism and counter-terrorism are in many ways mirror images of each other, and their names reflect that notion quite well. They are both violent activities that attempt to influence political developments and situations: the former in the direction of change, instability and disorder, the latter in the opposite direction of the status quo, stability and order. They both vie for an attentive audience and for the legitimacy of the “critical mass.” The challengers aspire to convince the population of the callousness and brutality of their government, while the authorities in turn strive to portray their opponents as ruthless criminals and malefactors. Both parties try to win the hearts and minds of the people. This struggle is waged on all political fronts, whether aimed at the members of a tribe, the citizens of a nation or world public opinion. It is relevant and meaningful on every level. While counter-terrorism marches under the banner of law and morality, terrorism defies the law and attempts to recast morality in its own terms. While the former boasts of order and stability, the latter proclaims justice and equality. The papers in this book illustrate this balanced dichotomy between terrorism and counter-terrorism against the background of the liberal state. This is a unique battlefield, where the tactical advantage is seemingly conceded to terrorists, who are free to exploit the liberties of the open society, while the authorities are constrained by those very rights and freedoms. They work under the constant scrutiny of the free press, public opinion, the political opposition, human rights organizations and the guardians of legal codes. But, as already pointed out, they have only an apparent advantage, which is forfeited the more depraved and indiscriminate terrorism becomes. Then terrorists begin to lose their popular support, and the authorities begin to win citizens' trust in their efforts to restore tranquility. Thus, it really boils down to a question of balance: of how to establish the delicate equilibrium of combating terrorism while preserving the liberties of the open society. This book begins with this question and becomes increasingly complex as it tackles the different aspects and dimensions of this dilemma.
The layout of the chapters follows the logic of the terrorism – counter-terrorism dichotomy. The first entries grapple with the notion of terrorism, its elusive and problematic definition, its structural preconditions, motivations and incentives. The next three chapters juxtapose terrorism with counter-terrorism and emphasize the movement – countermovement dynamics between them. This is presented via three case studies from three different corners of the globe. Then, counter-terrorism is introduced through communications and media, international law and foreign policy analyses. As in the terrorism section, both sympathetic and critical views are expressed, conveying a sense of the wide gamut of approaches to this sensitive topic. Finally, the practical and programmatic portion of the book is laid out. The three chapters of this section illustrate analytical and adaptive models for countering terrorism while minimizing the loss of the liberties of the democratic state. Thus, the book returns full circle and offers an equilibrant to the predicament of terrorism in the liberal state.
My opening chapter challenges the widespread perception of terrorism as irrational, indiscriminate and improvised. Instead, I show that terrorism is a deliberate and premeditated activity that is sometimes intentionally made to seem pathological and irrational. The suggestiveness of, “Don't offer any resistance, we are ruthless fanatics who won't stop at anything,” might serve terrorists by intimidating the authorities and deterring citizens from cooperating with the police, but it can also benefit a State that resorts to harsh retaliatory measures against terrorists, “who don't listen to reason.” Nonetheless, to portray terrorism as irrational is misleading and should be avoided. Unless terrorism is comprehended and countered rationally, it cannot be defeated.
Egyptian philosopher Hassan Hanafi delves into the anatomy of terrorism and turns it on its head. He demonstrates logically and eruditely the vagueness and ambiguity of the term ‘terrorism’ in contrast to the clarity and consistency it is ordinarily perceived and understood to possess. His view is that, “terrorism as a term is already a pre-judgment. It has a moral connotation. The problem is resolved beforehand, even without the necessary effort to understand. It is a partial perception which works against the objective analysis of socio-political phenomena.” Lack of communication and reciprocal demonization between the West and the Arab world are responsible for the current gulf between terrorists and the targets of terrorism, or in Hanafi's words, the victimizers and the victims. To bridge the chasm separating the two cultures, a dialogue between equal partners must be promoted, because so far, “… the stumbling block in the Euro-Arab dialogue is the discrepancy between the European economic agenda and the Arab political agenda.”
In a similar fashion, Mokhtar Benabdallaoui does not consider terrorism in the conventional sense. He relates it to the larger concept of violence and maintains that in different contexts violence changes its meaning and its legal and moral status. But despite its complex, protean nature, terrorism, the extreme form of violence, should be condemned in all its forms, including, and above all, state terrorism, which is often thought to complement and support the law. Nevertheless, concludes the author, the eradication of global terrorism should not be pursued by pointing a finger at a specific religion or culture, or by invoking cultural Darwinism. The best way to counter the phenomenon is by constructing a more just and interdependent world society, composed of autonomous and free governments and societies with the appropriate means to promote new values.
Dealing more with the perpetrators of terrorism than with the act itself, Anne Speckhard calls attention to the unique and devastating phenomenon of suicide terrorism. In a detailed and insightful study of suicide terrorism, one of the first of its kind, the author describes the motivations and rewards that induce young persons to become suicide bombers. The individual, psychological and social conditions that underlie and support these tragic choices are objectively depicted in order not only to better understand this most devastating form of terrorism, but more importantly, to find ways of opposing it. Speckhard offers some valuable proposals following her in-depth analysis and a series of rare interviews with prospective suicide-bombers. She argues, among other things, that “religious leaders must begin to stand up to the manipulation of Islam by Jihadist militants, and those who do speak out ought to be supported (if quietly) by the West.” The prevention and gradual reduction of the threat posed by suicide terrorism must address its root causes. She asserts further that, “Repressive governments must be encouraged and pressured to reform, so as to open the way for economic growth and increased opportunities for the frustrated, disillusioned and often well-educated youth who constitute the most explosive sector of the societies from which suicide terrorism comes.”
General Mansour Abu Rashid, a former Director of the Jordanian Military Intelligence Department, discusses issues from the pure practitioner's perspective. After discussing several practical difficulties in the conceptualization of terrorism and counter-terrorism, he turns to the pragmatic and programmatic questions of what can be done about terrorism. In a succinct and realistic manner, Abu Rashid enumerates what should be done on various levels – political, economic, ideological and informational. He concludes that: “fighting the contemporary wave of terrorism requires a multi-branched, multi-agency and multi-jurisdictional response. Although the traditional instruments – police and intelligence services – are the most critical, they are inadequate to meet the extent and emerging challenge of terrorism.” Finally, the General adds a counter-intuitive argument, which resonates well with his extensive experience: “an effort to institutionalize the war on terror should avoid trying to achieve greater intelligence-sharing. This oft-cited goal is best handled through bilateral intelligence channels.”
Abu Rashid's contribution structurally links terrorism and counter-terrorism and also relates to three further papers which do this using illustrations from three distinctive case studies: the Palestinian-Israeli, the Spanish-Basque and the Russian-Chechnyan. In the first of the three, Eitan Alimi analyzes the revealing case of the Tanzim (Arabic for organization). In the second Intifadah (2000–2004), or uprising of the Palestinians against the Israeli occupation, this militant faction of the Palestinian armed forces was at the forefront of violent assaults against the Israelis. Although regarded by Israeli Intelligence as a terrorist group, some of its leaders were previously committed supporters of the Oslo peace initiative. Alimi expands the theoretical approach to comprehending terrorism by embedded his case study in the larger framework of collective action and social movement theory. Such an approach, Alimi believes, will shed more light on the radicalization of the formerly non-extremist Tanzim and in addition supply counter-terrorism with fresh new insights to improve on the ways it has been conducted so far. Radicalization in general, and the resort to violence and terrorism in particular, can be better understood in the context of internal organizational dynamics, or in the author's terms, the milieu of the SMO (social movement organization). “The study of counter-terrorism would benefit from viewing a terrorist organization as one actor in the overall ‘field of actors’ – a social movement, and from furthering the analysis of the internal dynamics within the movement.” Thereby, perceptiveness, discernment and pragmatism in understanding terrorism and counter-terrorism would be best served.
Juan Aviles introduces the Spanish case, specifically the fight against the Basque separatist terror group ETA. The author poses the question of how to characterize the indiscriminate killing of civilians during armed conflict. This is a hybrid situation between the killing of civilians in peacetime, which is clearly terrorism, and the killing of army and police personnel during violent conflict, which is more like guerrilla warfare. However, ETA terrorism falls in the middle, for it also attacks (though not exclusively) civilian targets in the midst of an ongoing conflict with the Spanish government. Additionally, in an age of protracted, low-intensity conflicts, does the struggle constitute a war or an anomaly in a time of peace? How to characterize ETA then: terrorist group? guerrilla movement? paramilitary unit, or perhaps a band of committed freedom fighters? This is not simply an exercise in semantics, but rather a serious question of how to defeat Basque extremists and with what means: legal, political, military or diplomatic. Ultimately, Aviles concludes that recognizing ETA as a political actor and permitting its political arm to participate in Basque elections was a mistake. Another mistake was that the Spanish authorities resorted to undemocratic measures in their campaign against ETA. This was counter-productive and hurt the interests of the State. One of the biggest challenges, perhaps the most crucial, in fighting terrorism in an open society is waging efficient counter-terrorism without abandoning the principles of the democratic State.
A Russian and an Armenian scholar introduce the problem of terrorism in Chechnya. Vorkunova and Hovhannesian argue that terrorism challenges order and stability by “ultimately … creating the conditions for chaos and uncoordinated activities. It is conceived to include systems of disorder at all levels of human activity'.” They call attention to the expansion of the official Russian approach to terrorism as the Chechnyan terrorist campaign began to take its toll on the Russian people. From the rather limited and narrow Article 205 of the Russian Criminal Code to the Russian Federation Federal Law On the Fight Against Terrorism, adopted on June 25, 1998, the scope of counter-terrorism has widened in direct proportion to the growing menace of Chechnyan terrorism. The authors point to the amalgam of traditional and modern motives in Chechnyan terrorism which render it extremely brutal and ruthless. Bolstered by intense Islamic fervor, this terrorism represents a formidable challenge to the newly founded democracy in Russia. However, as the authors poignantly stress, counter-terrorism in that region is still very cumbersome and handicapped by mutual suspicions and fears for economic, environmental and genetic security, the breakdown of the traditional system of values and the traditional way of life in the South Caucasus.
The last part of the book concentrates on counter-terrorism and its challenges before the background of the open society. This section focuses on analytical models for combating terrorism in democracies without sacrificing civil liberties. Dealing again with the delicate issue of finding a balance between the necessity to oppose terrorism and the need to preserve the spirit of liberty, this section brings to the fore the legal perspective. Two experts on international law, one Israeli and the other German, present two contrasting viewpoints on that controversial subject, whose differences are quite apparent when juxtaposed. Barry Feinstein, in a carefully reasoned study of the State's right to defend itself against terrorism, positively evaluates and justifies counter-terrorism as a form of preemptive strike. He draws heavily on international law when he asserts that, “[b]eyond the responsibility of a State for all acts conducted within its territory which violate the rights of another State, as well as for any resulting violations of the other State's sovereignty, it moreover must actively prevent such acts and violations.” Of course, if there are other alternatives to the use of force against the threat of terrorism, they must be chosen. But if there are none, “the State thereby attacked is indeed permitted to exercise force to protect itself pursuant to its inherent right of self-defense” according to Article 51 of the UN Charter. But then, an obviously pragmatic, but also moral, question arises: when to launch a pre-emptive strike? What are the justifiable grounds to initiate counter-terrorism, or should anti-terrorism efforts be exclusively reactive? Must States threatened by terrorism wait for a clear and present danger to arise, or for a threat of considerable consequence? Feinstein rejects this latter alternative. He believes that counter-terrorism is applicable not only in situations where a threat is imminent, “but also in those cases where the danger is more remote, but nevertheless real,” if the intent of the terrorist to attack has been demonstrated in the past.
Berthold Meyer is less willing to condone pre-emptive measures. He earnestly questions whether increasing security is a suitable means to protect liberty. In an illuminating survey of German Law and German security measures taken after 9/11, Meyer concludes that German leaders neglected their most critical obligation: to defend freedom and civil liberties. By shifting the balance between security and democracy in favor of security, and by relying too heavily on “stockpiles of paragraphs on suspicion” and presumed intentions to act, rather than on actual and demonstrated infringements of security, the German Law on Terrorism, known as Security Packet II, fails to embody the spirit of democracy. The criteria for when to apply the strict Law are the tests of sufficient probability and life experience. Using such criteria is, in the author's words, “treading on shaky ground.” Meyer's own recommendations are clear: there must be stricter and more demanding standards for action, even, and especially, when emotions and sentiments are strongly aroused. The usefulness of any countermeasure against terrorism must be evaluated before its implementation, and new security legislation should expire after two years unless extended. This is the only way, warns Meyer, “to prevent civil rights from being permanently limited.”
Wilhelm Kempf and Lubna Nadvi also offer reservations and admonitions against excessive counter-terrorist measures. Their perspectives differ from the previous writers and reflect their respective research disciplines, psychology and political science. Kempf examines and criticizes the overly ambitious and overly aggressive trends of post-9/11 counter-terrorism. He points out that, “outrage at war is transformed into outrage at the enemy,” which does not serve democracies well. The reprehensible attacks of September 11, 2001 could, he proposes, have been adequately dealt with using strong legal, economic and diplomatic means, but instead the United Stated chose a policy of extreme force. The author attributes this response to America's threatened pride in its world leadership. The vulnerability of the US triggered a “… natural impulse that American self-confidence needed to be restored and strength needed to be demonstrated by fighting back.” This was the wrong approach to counter-terrorism not only because it is irrational, but also because it is counter-productive and self-defeating. The US launched an all-out war against an elusive enemy and committed its armed forces to a protracted campaign that has provoked animosity and resentment in many parts of the world. Enormous amounts of energy and resources were invested by the American government in convincing its people of the legitimacy of the war. Such efforts can easily deceive the public, cautions Kempf, who concludes that, “Fighting terrorism exclusively by military means bears the danger that the values of democracy will gradually be reduced to a mere facade.”
Nadvi also addresses the reaction to 9/11. She asks whether “… the war against terrorism that had been unleashed by a range of governments on ‘militant insurgents’ is actually curtailing terrorist activities, or whether their actions are simply serving to inflame further violent militancy.” Nadvi insightfully points to the futility of the vicious cycle of terrorism from below and terrorism from above, or insurgent terrorism and State terrorism. The two forms of terror nourish and draw energy from each other. The only way to escape the predicament of this “chaotic global security situation” is for global civil society to step in and “create a space for constructive engagement where the public can demand accountability from both governments and non-state militants who are essentially responsible for the chaos that is being unleashed on civilian populations.” This is a fresh and ambitious approach to the task of countering terrorism. Since governments are incapable of fulfilling this mission, civic networks, grass-root movements and NGOs must come together at global summits and coordinate a plan of action to prevent, or at least to reduce the prospects of global terrorism.
The final three contributions offer practical approaches for combating terrorism in the liberal State. Eitan Hadar, a computer scientist, Irit Hadar, a management information systems analyst, and Alexander Bligh, a well-known political scientist with a strong military intelligence background, propose instructive and thought-provoking models to supply encompassing solutions for the shifting balance of security and freedom. The Hadars' contribution consists of two complementary papers: one presents an archetypical model of an adaptive global intelligence system for detecting and warning against developing terrorist activities, while the other supplements and strengthens the model by adding “the human aspects that may impact the process of building and using the system, the challenges and risks derived from them, and possible solutions.” Both writers share a similar point of departure – the need to explore better collaboration against international terrorism not only across cultures, political systems and borders, but also across intelligence agencies. Eitan Hadar pinpoints the weaknesses of past endeavors in this demanding area: “conventional collaboration technologies do not provide enough flexibility to achieve these ambitious goals. These systems must adapt to rapid changes within a dynamic environment. … [and] current centralized systems are inadequate.” He then goes on to suggest a remedy in the form of a peer-to-peer network using a decentralized grid of computers that collaborate with one another on a geographically distributed computational platform. Each terminal, or each ‘node’ of the grid supplies specific and unique information that is rapidly combined into a concrete whole of relevant material on terrorism. This is a vision which focuses on the “… network language and on the interface definition of the systems boundaries and architecture.” If adopted and implemented, this model could contribute enormously to the war against terrorism.
Irit Hadar offers a perspective to further improve the model. She calls attention to the human aspects involved in designing and developing artificial intelligence systems and complex computer grids. This is an opposite orientation to the previous entry: instead of mechanizing human collaboration, Irit Hadar's vantage point is to try to humanize or personalize machines. This is crucial to the enhancement of the model, because a consideration of the cognitive processes of decision-makers, the associations and fears of leaders and the stigmata, prejudices and social motivations of analysts incorporated into the design of the hardware may enrich the system with human subtleties and sensitivities. The intricate situations that counter-terrorism must face can be dealt with in a significantly better way if human aspects are prudently integrated into the mechanism.
Alexander Bligh combines analytical skills with an understanding of intelligence services and their needs to devise a standardized model for anti-terror agencies to share information and jointly act on their information. Bligh starts where the Hadars leave off: he develops the Hadars' rudimentary prototype and adds preemptive and punitive dimensions. His elaborate model purports to “break down each terrorist incident into its smallest elements, endeavoring through appropriate software to find associations and commonalities among certain actions and their stages.” Thus, details are combined to create an inclusive scenario of terrorism. This clearinghouse of information, in the author's words, will “enable law enforcement agencies, on a regular basis, to classify the degree of risk and operate within the imperatives of all pertinent laws.” With such precise means of identifying and combating terrorism, the excessive and disproportionate face of counter-terrorism, which has deleterious effects on democracy and liberty, could be avoided or at least minimized.
In the concluding paper, I attempt to shed some light on the new arena and the new actors of terrorism and counter-terrorism in the post-9/11 world. The most crucial step on the road to successful counter-terrorism is the precise identification of the phenomenon of terrorism and its perpetrators. Terrorism has changed in the last two decades since the war in Afghanistan and the Iranian revolution. It has grown in range, intensity and cruelty. It has become more global, destructive and relentless. New actors have assumed the roles of perpetrators. Instead of socialist, communist or Anarchist revolutionaries, on the one hand, or fanatical nationalists and vehement de-colonizers, on the other, the new terrorists are cut from a different cloth: they are messianic fundamentalists, and their cause is redemption on their own terms. Counter-terrorism must espouse new tools and new understandings in order to come to grips with such a formidable enemy. My paper introduces revitalization movements, such as Al-Qaeda, which “must discredit the prevailing system in the most fundamental manner. Its leaders should discount and denounce every aspect of the current regime, focusing chiefly on the issues pertaining to the group's predicament.” This partly answers the de-contextualized “why-do-they-hate-us” quandary in the wake of the terror attacks on New York and Washington. This pathetically naïve question illustrates the unsettling effects of terrorism. It challenges conventional wisdom and forces a reconsideration of taken-for-granted ‘truths’. Ignorance frustrates pre-emptive capability, and awareness is overwhelmed by surprise. If terrorism breeds and spreads through ignorance and surprise, then awareness and preparedness must become key features of counter-terrorism.