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TARGETS OF TERRORISTS

NCJ Number
63429
Author(s)
K SCHMITT
Date Published
Unknown
Annotation
TARGET SELECTION BY TERRORISM IS DETERMINED BY THE GROUP'S CHARACTERISTICS AND MOTIVATION: GOAL, TYPE OF CONFLICT, ORIENTATION, SOURCE OF POWER, CHANCE OF SUCCESS, AND OPPOSITION TO THE GROUP.
Abstract
NOT ALL TERRORISTS ARE THE SAME EVEN THOUGH THEY SHARE COMMON TRAITS SUCH AS POLITICAL EXTREMISM, IMPATIENCE OR DISTRUST WITH NORMAL PROCEDURES OF LAW OR THE POLITICAL PROCESS, AND OPERATION IN UNSTABLE ENVIRONMENTS. THE PAPER PRESENTED AT A CONFERENCE ON TERRORISM DETERMINES THE COMMON DENOMINATORS OF TERRORIST TARGETS BY EXAMINING THE CHARACTER AND MOTIVATION OF DIFFERENT GROUPS. TERRORIST GROUPS MAY BE LOCAL, NATIONAL OR INTERNATIONAL. THE DISCUSSION HIGHLIGHTS OTHER CHARACTERISTICS: (1) TERRORISTS MAY BE EITHER STATUS QUO OR REVOLUTIONARY, A DISTINCTION IMPORTANT NOT ONLY IN THE SELECTION OF TARGETS BUT IN THE MODE OF OPERATION, (2) ESTABLISHMENT TERRORISTS MAY BE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS TRYING TO MAINTAIN POWER; (3) OPPOSITION TERRORISTS ATTEMPT TO CHANGE LOCAL OR NATIONAL CONDITIONS TO CHALLENGE THOSE IN POWER; AND (4) TARGETS MAY BE PRAGMATIC OR SYMBOLIC, OPPOSITION TERRORISTS IN DOMESTIC CONFLICTS CHOOSE TARGETS OF SYMBOLIC IMPORTANCE SUCH AS PROMINENT MEMBERS OF THE ESTABLISHMENT. IF THE GROUP BELIEVES THAT IT IS NEARER TO SUCCESS IT MAY ATTACK KEY FIGURES IN THE POLITICAL STRUCTURE TO DESTROY THE POWER OF THE REGIME. THE ACTS ARE THEN SYMBOLIC BUT PARTIALLY PRAGMATIC. FOR ESTABLISHMENT TERRORISTS, THE ORDER OF PRIORITIES IS REVERSED: PRAGMATIC IMPORTANCE PRECEDES SYMBOLIC IMPORTANCE. IF THE ESTABLISHMENT IS SECURE IN DOMESTIC CONFLICTS TERRORIST ACTS ARE AIMED AT TROUBLEMAKERS TO CURB REVOLUTIONARY ACTIVITY. A LESS SECURE ESTABLISHMENT MAY DIRECT TERROR TOWARD WHOLE CATEGORIES OF PEOPLE. OTHER POINTS ARE THAT (1) INTERNATIONAL TERRORISTS ENGAGE MAINLY IN SYMBOLIC ACTS ALTHOUGH, IF THE GROUP IS SECURE, THE TARGETS WILL BE KEY POWER CENTERS, THUS LENDING PRAGMATISM TO THE APPROACH, (2) COLONIAL LIBERATION TERRORISTS ENGAGE MAINLY IN SYMBOLIC ACTS, OFTEN AGAINST THEIR OWN PEOPLE TO COERCE THEM TO SUPPORT THE LIBERATION MOVEMENT; (3) ALTHOUGH THE USE OF TERROR ALWAYS REVEALS SOME WEAKNESS, THE STRONGER PARTY TO THE CONFLICT WILL TEND TO SELECT VICTIMS FOR PRAGMATIC REASONS, WHILE THE WEAKER PARTY TENDS TO SELECT THEM FOR SYMBOLIC REASONS. (RFC)