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Dealing with the Modern Terrorist: The Need for Change in Strategies and Tactics in the New War on Terrorism

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Policy Review Volume: 12 Issue: 4 Dated: December 2001 Pages: 255-281
Joseph L. Albini
Date Published
December 2001
27 pages
This article uses the Italian Red Brigades as a case study of how a new breed of terrorist has crucially altered the rules of the game of dealing with terrorists and will require major changes in counterterrorist tactics in the United States and elsewhere.
The new millennium has brought the appearance of a new breed of terrorist that is highly sophisticated in technological skills, sometimes motivated by political and/or religious beliefs, and sometimes motivated by the monetary incentive to sell services as a mercenary. This type of terrorist made an appearance in the United States during the Y2K crisis and, under its cover, appeared and then disappeared, creating further terror by now hiding in the shadows. The history of Italy and its efforts against the Red Brigades illustrates the essential elements of studying and dealing with terrorism. The fight against the Red Brigades demonstrates that repression used without other accompanying approaches does not produce an effective, lasting solution to the problem of terrorism. Instead, Italy experienced one of the most violent waves of terrorist activity in its history during the period that the Italian government used its most repressive measures toward the brigades. The Italian government came to realize that terrorism was not a problem in itself but was instead a manifestation of much deeper social problems that existed within the society in which it occurred. Issues that the United States needs to address in the coming fight against terrorism include awareness of the consequences of various types of military interventions, the role of intelligence agencies, and the limited usefulness of military force or economic sanctions against terrorist and organized criminal groups that have no formal allegiance to any country. Thus, law enforcement agencies and governments need to consider serious changes in their tactics and strategies as they carry their fight against terrorism into the future. 75 references (Author abstract modified)