2831) A Time To Redefine Policy? by William T. Corbett

© This content Mirrored From  http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com The United States is floundering in its war against international terrorism. After years of taking a hard line against terrorism and severely criticizing countries that did not, the American arms-for-hostages deal with Iran ended US claims to free world leadership in combating terrorism. Many, especially in . . . . Europe, are dismayed at the apparent refusal of US policymakers to accept that there are no quick-fix, simple solutions to international terrorist problems. Europeans cite US insistence that its air strike against Libya dramatically decreased terrorism as an example of this country's inability or unwillingness to face the terrorist problem realistically.

Following the April 1986 air strike against Libya, terrorist activity in Europe and the Mediterranean decreased significantly. US commentators, columnists, and politicians credited the decrease to the US air strike. That decrease, US officials contended, proved the effectiveness of conventional military retaliation in response to terrorism. That assessment, however, is flawed. One must look to the antiterrorist efforts of European countries to understand the true reason for the decrease in international terrorism following the Libyan strike.

During the two-year period following that attack, European antiterrorist security agencies captured 38 European and 47 Middle Eastern terrorist suspects, expelled 48 suspected supporters of terrorist organizations, closed numerous diplomatic facilities suspected of supporting terrorist operations, and killed 11 European terrorists-the most successful antiterrorist operations in memory'.

True, the US raid against Libya did compel European countries to begin closing Libyan diplomatic missions immediately. That action was taken because Europeans were concerned that, unless they took immediate steps, the United States might direct its military attention to Syria next and possibly Iran.

Closing Libyan diplomatic missions was the most significant development leading to the decrease in terrorism in Europe. It was through those immune channels that weapons, explosives, and personnel were being positioned, terrorist operations planned, and intelligence gathering and other local support for terrorist attacks provided. Those closings coincided with other antiterrorist efforts underway, then and now, in Europe.

The second most significant reason for the 1986-1988 reduction in European terrorist activity was the extensive increase in international cooperation, coordination, and intelligence sharing among European countries. Previous concerns that other countries would improperly use intelligence information against domestic political factions, the danger of compromising sensitive and important intelligence sources, and professional jealousy between European security and intelligence agencies were put aside to create a unified antiterrorist front. The new spirit of cooperation between Germany, Italy, and France even provided for an exchange of antiterrorist liaison officers between those countries.

The third most significant development in slowing terrorist attacks in Europe was a joint effort by the 12 members of the European community to target terrorist movements and supplies of money, arms, and equipment. That targeting included a sanctions package directed against states that sponsor terrorism. The package was designed to halt all arms sales, tighten surveillance and control of diplomatic personnel, restrict official contacts with diplomats and governments that have a history of supporting and sponsoring terrorism, and increase attention to Middle East businesses operating in Europe.

Europeans overwhelmingly believe it was their antiterrorist efforts, not the US retaliatory strike against Libya, that provided a relatively quiet period. Indeed, other than in the United States and Israel, most antiterrorist professionals contend that conventional military retaliation in response to terrorist activity does more harm than good. There is a feeling that emotionalism and domestic political interests drive the US approach to military retaliation in response to terrorism. What about retaliation? Does it reduce or defeat terrorism, or only provide temporary relief from national frustrations?

Vietnam was an occasion when the United States used conventional military retaliation to influence political decisions. Haiphong Harbor was bombed to force North Vietnam to cease its assault against South Vietnam. North Vietnam operations in the South continued. The United States's response was to lay a ring of Air Force and Navy steel around Hanoi. Then, as during the action against Libya, US officials talked about "precision" raids and "surgical" strikes and said it was bombing only concrete and steel.

We now know that hundreds of North Vietnamese were dying. When North Vietnam refused to grant desired political concessions, the United States bombed Hanoi. While thousands died, North Vietnamese leaders, those responsible for the aggression in the South, remained safe and adamant. Indeed, those leaders often mentioned the air strikes as acting to bond their people in defiance and increase international support for their cause. Escalation continued until the American people, viewing the carnage on television, rose as one voice and screamed, "Stop the slaughter!" US foreign policy was discredited, its government besmirched, and its military sullied. Nothing else was achieved.

THE SEARCH FOR SIMPLE SOLUTIONS to international terrorism leads directly to conventional military retaliation. Military action relieves the frustration and feeling of helplessness experienced by the leaders and citizens of countries that suffer from terrorism (73 percent of Americans polled supported the air strike against Libya). However, conventional military retaliation does not punish those responsible for terrorism. The US air strike against Libya killed 32 people and wounded 78, none of whom were terrorists ! Surgical raids or precision strikes are impossible with aircraft flying at 500 mph, dodging antiaircraft fire, and strafing and releasing bombs at 400 ft. The terms have been coined to make what are actually indiscriminate attacks more palatable and to provide decision makers and planners with a convenient moral loophole. Once the decision is made to retaliate by conventional military methods, the legal, moral, and ethical questions concerning the inadvertent death of innocent people are considered to have been dealt with. As increasing levels of retaliation fail to achieve desired political goals, the military's answer, as in Vietnam, is to increase the frequency and severity of retaliatory strikes.

Also difficult to understand is the United States's endorsement of actions that kill innocent people but its disavowal of selective execution of individual terrorists guilty of crimes against humanity. Is the death of dozens of innocent people dispensed from the belly of a fighter plane more legal or humane than the execution of one guilty with a silenced .44 caliber? It would seem better morally, legally, philosophically, and in the national interest to punish the guilty. Historians will one day marvel at a society that indiscriminately punished innocent people while disavowing the selective punishment of the guilty.

The United States's retaliatory strike against Libya was digested by allies and friends. They responded with comprehensive and highly effective antiterrorist programs. However, another similar US strike would establish military retaliation in response to terrorist acts as US Middle East policy. Concerning December 1988 downing of Pan Am flight 103, President Bush was quoted as pledging to "seek hard and punish firmly, decisively, those who did this. . . ."

The prevailing antiterrorist mind-set in the United States is reflected in the following quote from a well-known syndicated columnist: "It is a mistake to suggest that the motives of political terrorists should be sympathetically examined. They are sick minds who dishonor any cause. It is also a mistake to be concerned about which terrorists are which, except in terms of catching them. "

That approach contributes nothing to solving the terrorist problem or defending against terrorism. It's not that the motives of political terrorists should be sympathetically examined, but the causes that generate national and international support for violent movements should be examined. Refusing to distinguish between terrorist organizations perpetuates the past losing policy of seeking a simple, single solution to all terrorism. Trying to defend against and defeat terrorism is the same as trying to treat and cure illnesses. There is no miracle drug to cure all illnesses, nor is there a miracle solution to defeat all terrorist movements. One must question the motives of those who counsel that the solution to the problem is not to consider the problem.

Long-term US antiterrorist efforts should orient on a two-track policy that would, first, establish strategic goals and programs to neutralize and defeat terrorist movements that threaten the United States's interests and, second, during the interim, develop and implement antiterrorist security measures to defend US personnel and activities. Achievement of those goals is possible only if this country is willing to de-emotionalize and depoliticize the subject of international terrorism.

Unless the West is willing to live with escalating international terrorism, efforts must be made to understand and redress the causes that underlie national and international sympathy and support for violent, radical movements. The United States spends billions of dollars trying to solve the causes of crime, poverty, illness but will not even discuss the causes of terrorism, which is potentially the most dangerous scourge.

Contemporary language deals only in terms of defeating terrorism. Many terrorist movements can, however, be neutralized. Neutralization is achieved by reducing to the maximum those legitimate .causes supported by international legal institutions) that force people to resort to violence and, most important, that generate wide national and international support for such violent movements. But the same people who counsel against differentiating between terrorist organizations also condemn consideration of any root cause that generates violence.

The single reason offered for not addressing root causes is that satisfying causes espoused by terrorists could encourage others to violence in pursuit of their goals. However, the key word is legitimate. If the United States is a society of law and justice, why not support legitimate causes before radicals are given reason for violence (for example, in South Africa)? And, after a handful of radicals resorts to violence, is it correct to use the violence of a few as justification for not addressing the legitimate grievances of many? There are only about 450 Palestinian terrorist thugs; however, there are 4.1 million Palestinians.

Mitigating legitimate causes will neutralize the national and international sympathy and support enjoyed by many terrorist movements. Loss of that support will isolate the small number of terrorist murderers. This approach is not new. It has proven successful in defeating insurgencies, guerrilla warfare, and other low level conflicts. Why not terrorism? What is so unique about terrorism that causes the United States to ignore the lessons of history?

THE HISTORY OF DISSENT, INSURGENCY, and evolution to violence reveals decided patterns. Unjust causes fail from lack of popular support. Legitimate causes generate the support of many, active dissent of some, and violence of a few. That violence generates official counterviolence whose generally indiscriminate nature feeds the fires of dissent. The cycle continues and, depending on the perception of the legitimacy of the causes, national and ethnic support for the violent movement is bolstered by international sympathy and support.

If legitimate grievances are redressed, the cycle commences to reverse itself. First, international sympathy and support for the now unjustified violence fall away. National support dries up and dissident elements dissolve. There will always remain a small, radical hard core that can never be neutralized. While these hard core elements will continue to lash out, their recruiting base will shrink, their safe havens will disappear, their numbers will dwindle, and their days will be numbered.

South Korea provides a recent example of disarming a potentially devastating violent situation by redressing legitimate causes. Small numbers of protesters began demonstrating for free and open elections in South Korea. The ranks of those initial protestors increased dramatically as normal citizens, regarding the protest as a legitimate citizen complaint, joined the effort. Following three weeks of nightly combat between hundreds of thousands of citizen demonstrators and police in Korean cities, Korean political leaders announced sweeping reforms that would allow the direct election of Korea's next president, freedom of the press, release of political prisoners, and self-government of universities.

The vast majority of protesting South Korean citizens, having achieved what they perceived to be a reasonable degree of justice, returned to their normal activities. However, as always in such matters, there remained a violent minority that demanded more than a just settlement. The hard core's effort to convince the general population to join in demanding more concessions and imprisonment of existing government officials failed. A similar effort to incite the general population to violence following the general election failed because the general population considered the elections fair and reasonable.

The South Korean case is not unique in history. It is but another example that injustice and oppression eventually generate violent opposition from the sufferers, but granting relief from injustice satisfies the general population and isolates the violent few.

The United States continues to pump billions of dollars into antiterrorist security while seeking an instant, off-the-shelf solution to terrorism. That approach is doomed to fail because there are not enough billions in the federal treasury to defend against the increasing range of terrorist threats, there are no quick-fix solutions, and terrorists are being generated at a greater rate than they are being eliminated.

Each terrorist movement, like each illness, must be examined, its characteristics understood, and tailored remedies developed. Distinguishing between and analyzing different terrorist movements will permit four steps: first, identification of movements that present the greatest threats to US citizens and interests; second, development of long-range strategic goals to neutralize and defeat those terrorist movements; third, profiling of tactics and techniques used by terrorist groups that attack US interests; and fourth, use of those profiles to develop antiterrorist security programs tailored to defeat specific threats.

The black box to which the United States has relegated all terrorist movements must be opened and its individual contents examined. For the purpose of better understanding, the contents of that box could be initially divided into three categories-fundamentalist, anarchist, and cause terrorists.

Fundamentalist terrorists are those radicals associated with the Islamic Jihad (Holy War). The fundamentalists' goal is to roll back the Crusades, that is, to purge Islamic lands of Western influences. Other than official sanction in Iran (the current fountainhead of Islamic fundamentalism) and scattered pockets of followers in other Islamic nations, fundamentalist terrorists have little national, and negligible international, support. Revolutionary fundamentalist efforts to export Islamic rule to other nations is not legitimate and must be strongly contested.

Anarchists' goals are to destroy existing social, economic, and political orders: illegitimate causes that are clearly impossible to grant. Anarchy is a curse of affluence; therefore, it plagues developed countries. Anarchist terrorists are a statistically insignificant number of radicals, located primarily in Europe, and have no meaningful national or international sympathy or support. The most prominent European anarchist terrorist organizations are West Geramany's Army Faction, Italy's Red Brigades, France's Action Direct, Greece's November 17th organization, Belgium's Fighting Communist Cells, and their various militant support groups.

Finally, there are the cause" terrorists. This group is so called because, unlike fundamentalist and anarchist terrorists, the causes they cite to justify their violence are generally recognized to contain some legitimacy, their movements enjoy considerable national and international recognition, sympathy, and support, and their grievances lend themselves to measures of relief. That is not to say that demands of violent radicals (terrorists) should be granted, but that legitimate grievances of disenfranchised groups should, on their own merit, be redressed.

The most dangerous cause terrorists, and their complaints, include the following:

* the Irish Republican Army, which seeks Irish control of Northern Ireland-an area its followers perceive to be Irish by geography, law, and justice

* Basque Separatists, who seek three provinces in northern Spain-an area they believe to be illegally controlled by Spain

* Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), which wants Turkey to return ASALA's ancestral homelands and atone for the alleged massacre of its followers' ancestors

* Palestinian radicals, who believe Israel illegally occupies the West Bank and Gaza Strip

DIFFERENT TERRORIST GROUPS have different long-range objectives, short-range goals, and techniques and procedures to achieve both. Understanding those goals, techniques, and procedures is essential to developing and implementing security programs tailored to defend against threatening groups.

Understanding Islamic fundamentalists' goal of purging their lands of all forms of Western influences identifies their preferred targets. Those targets are Western business executives, ministers, educators, and media and medical personnel-those people most responsible for spreading Western influence in Moslem areas. Other interesting facts revealed when one looks closely at fundamentalist terrorists are that fundamentalists target primarily Westerners located in Moslem lands (that is, they seldom export their brand of terrorism) and that fundamentalists are currently the sole practitioners of suicidal terrorist attacks.

Those are but a few examples of how isolating and profiling terrorist movements will identify their preferred targets and attack techniques. That, in turn, permits the development of more effective and economical security programs. For example, why are European countries and US activities in Europe spending hundreds of millions of dollars installing sophisticated, hydraulic barricades designed solely to defend against suicidal car bomb attacks when there has never been a suicidal terrorist attack in Europe? The threat to Europeans, Americans, and US interests in Europe comes from anarchists and cause terrorists, none of whom conduct suicidal attacks ! The potential of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism is sobering. The movement draws recruits from Islam, which commands the allegiance of 115 of the world's population and 56 countries.

To achieve their goal of destroying the existing order through violence and revolution, anarchists need the support of the population; therefore, they will exploit any citizen discontent. Anarchists can be depended on to target activities in disfavor with the people--petroleum, chemicals, and automobile sectors that damage the environment; nuclear and conventional weapons industry; commercial nuclear power; and those banks and international corporations perceived to exploit Third World peoples. Anarchists' primary targets are senior officials and activities identified with existing social, political, military, and economic systems. That includes politicians, business executives, judges, military officers, and official facilities.

Unlike the other two terrorist groups, anarchists do not conduct indiscriminate, mass casualty attacks. They attack with great precision and go to extremes to avoid injuring innocent people. Random slaughter of people and destruction of property would outrage the population, the same people anarchists need to achieve their revolution. Such anarchist tactics are in keeping with their ideological imperatives and will not change in the future. It is this type of profile and predictability that is possible when each terrorist movement is analyzed. And, because terrorists are area and issue oriented and highly predictable, such profiling allows structuring highly efficient and economical security programs.

Anarchists are deadly and present a problem to European countries, however, the Red Army Faction and the November 17th movement are the only anarchist groups that present a threat to Americans. The Red Brigades, the Fighting Communist Cells, and Action Direct concentrate their violent actions against national targets and international activities. From 1985 to date, anarchist attacks killed only five and wounded 25 Americans. Other American deaths and injuries from terrorism in Europe and the Mediterranean during that period resulted from another group of terrorists.

The United States has a special interest in cause terrorists because among that group are those responsible for 97 percent of Americans killed and maimed in Europe and the Mediterranean during the past five years. In addition, the overwhelming majority of other nationalities fall in attacks from cause terrorists.

Cause terrorist groups have many common characteristics. They are the deadliest of all terrorists. They strike from a sense of outrage over perceived injustices to their national, cultural, economic, ethnic, or political rights. Unlike anarchists, who carefully select targets and attack with precision, cause terrorists frequently strike indiscriminately, causing mass destruction and casualties, most of whom are innocent bystanders.

Cause terrorist movements, unlike fundamentalists and anarchists, receive extensive national and international sympathy and support. That support derives from a general perception that the causes have some legitimacy. Indeed, many of the grievances cited by cause terrorist groups have been endorsed by international legal and humanitarian organizations.

Cause terrorists receive large amounts of economic and military aid from sympathizers and supporters (the significant support the Irish Republican Army receives from Irish Americans, for example). Cause terrorist groups recruit from a virtually unlimited pool of willing human resources, and those recruiting pools (Palestinian refugee camps throughout the Middle East, for example) continue to grow. Also, of all terrorist groups, only cause terrorist movements have the potential for fomenting conventional (and, with the growing Middle East nuclear and chemical clubs, possibly nuclear or chemical) war between nations.

Anarchist terrorist movements ebb and flow and sometimes disappear, as the Action Direct terrorist movement has apparently done. However, cause terrorist movements expand, escalate in violence, and draw strength from retribution directed against their supporters and sympathizers. Press and television coverage has ended the days when governments could bomb widely supported radical movements into submission or club their followers into docility without facing severe world condemnation and paying future penalties (witness events in China and the West Bank and Gaza Strip). Retribution against the masses for the violent actions of a few plays directly into radicals' hands and increases national and international support and assistance. South African blacks provided the past model; Palestinians are providing the current model.

TERRORISM IS AN INTERNATIONAL problem, and its solutions require international cooperation. However, each country must first consider its own vital interests when structuring policy and allocating resources to combat terrorism. Identifying a nation's primary terrorist problem is possible because terrorist organizations are issue and area oriented. For example, the Irish Republican Army attacks the British, Basque Separatists target Spanish officials and activities, and Armenian radicals single out Turkish officials. Other than attacking an occasional NATO pipeline, the Fighting Communist Cells directs its efforts against local and international businesses and activities. Other than those electing to stay in Beirut, the only Americans falling in European or Middle Eastern terrorist attacks are being killed and maimed by members of the Red Army Faction, the November 17th movement, or Palestinian radicals.

Palestinian radicals present, overwhelmingly, the most dangerous terrorist threat to Americans and US interests. Except for the previously mentioned Red Army Faction and November 17th activity, all terrorist attacks against Americans in Europe and the Mediterranean during 1985 were conducted by radical Palestinians (TWA flight 847, Achille Lauro cruise ship, Rome's Via Veneto restaurant, Frankfurt US military post exchange, Rome and Vienna airport attacks). That fact is not generally recognized because the nationalities of terrorists are reported based on the passports they carry. Because there are no Palestinian passports, Palestinian terrorists are always reported as citizens of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon, and other countries that issue travel documents to Palestinian refugees.

The trend of Palestinians' targeting Americans continued into 1986 with attacks against TWA flight 840, the Berlin disco bombing, and the Pan Am flight 073 slaughter in Karachi. The December 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, with the loss of 270 lives, is also being attributed to radical Palestinians. Indeed, were it not for radical Palestinian attacks, terrorism would not have made the front page of any US newspaper. Therefore, while cooperating in the international effort against terrorism, the United States should direct its primary antiterrorist efforts toward neutralizing and defeating (and during the interim defending against) Palestinian-associated terrorism.

Terrorism will not go away. Indeed, terrorist activity is being accepted as a final option for the disenfranchised. Terrorism is dangerous because, contrary to what many insist, it has been successful. One can cite many examples where terrorist activity was the cutting edge of movements that modified political structures and relations within and between states. A recent example of successful terrorism is that after the President, the secretaries of state and defense, and Congress all insisted that US presence in Lebanon was essential to our interests in the Middle East and that the United States was in Lebanon to stay until order was restored, one man and one truck bomb killed 241 American Marines, and the United States withdrew from Lebanon.

Then there is the spectacle of the megapower United States violating its own laws, deceiving its own Congress, and breaking faith with its friends and allies as it bargained with and conceded to Iranian demands for the release of hostages taken by terrorist thugs. When the Iran-contra operation was exposed, the world witnessed the United States displaying a fragile veneer of leadership and a frightening decision-making mechanism at the highest levels-all resulting from terrorist activity.

A dangerous recent development is the trend by all players, terrorists and governments alike, to ignore international law and Geneva convention rules. Iraq using chemical weapons; the IRA targeting women and children; Great Britain's Special Air Service taking no prisoners; Israel sanctioning mass punishment, kidnapping and assassination; Palestinian radicals retaliating by poisoning Israeli citrus and callously slaughtering innocent people; and the United States luring suspects into international waters for arrest and kidnapping drug dealers from their foreign homes-all these are violations of international laws and conventions.

Equally bothering is Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issuing a death contract against the British author Saiman Rushdie for insulting Islam in his book The Satanic Verses. That contract, calling for the crazies of the world to assassinate the citizen of another country, is unprecedented and dramatically changes the nature of the terrorist threat. Will the United States be ready if a similar contract is issued against its interests in the world?

There can be no question that more sophisticated and destructive weapons and devices (chemical, biological, and radiological) will become available to even the smallest groups of dissidents. That, plus evidence that radical groups are increasingly willing to conduct indiscriminate, mass-casualty attacks against innocent citizens, demands a priority effort be given to finding ways to neutralize and defeat threatening terrorist movements before they import their deadly capabilities to the United States.

Recent events in Eastern Europe prove that even the strongest and most oppressive states cannot forever deny justice to the disenfranchised. These events may be instructive in the battle against international terrorism. While not conceding to terrorists' demands, maybe it's time to address the legitimate grievances that prompt terrorist violence. About the Author . . . William T. Corbett (US Army Ret.) has lived and worked in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa for the past 17 years. Before retiring, he was the principal assistant to the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, for Terrorist Matters. Corbett is currently employed as a terrorism and security adviser for ABC News. He is a member of ASIS.

William T. Corbett, Security Management, 34/6, 1990 COPYRIGHT 1990 American Society for Industrial Security;


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