¿Puede ser entendido el terrorismo? (En inglés)

In the faceof escalating tensions created by terrorism and the international response toits activities, it has become essential that security specialists make aconstructive and effective effort to gain a much better understanding of othercultures and the violent forces within those cultures. It is unfortunate thatpeople rarely react with understanding in any crisis event. The stress andtension of crisis is the finest environment to foster stereotyping and torefine prejudices. As always, when people need to understand each other themost, it is unlikely that many will even try.

Whilecultures radically differ, people are amazingly alike. They perceive threats totheir security in the same manner. They long for stability in their homelandsand the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families. The prospectof war and the loss of sons and husbands is a horrible and. unthinkablepossibility. The see their own pain and insecurity as though their world is thewhole earth; but they rarely perceive the pain, insecurity and fears of otherpeople. Each culture wonders what is wrong with all the others.

Prejudiceand paranoia are deadly enemies to the security community.

They existin every country. But in times of crisis they commonly rule the minds andemotions of every race. Prejudice and emotion are almost impossible to dealwith. Yet, they fuel passions that demand confrontation.

IsTerrorism a «Religious» Problem?

Surelyevery theologian cringes when he reads that «Christian» Protestantsand «Christian» Catholics are killing each other in Ireland. It isdepressing to see «Christian» gunmen engage «Muslim»extremists in many middle east firefights. Often the same is true in otherparts of the world. A religious fanatic assassinated Ghandi in India (a Sikh),and Sadat in Egypt (a Shi’a). An attempt was made on the Pope in Rome byanother Palestinian whom some called a religious fanatic.

Manyexpatriates are being misled. They believe that religious extremism is the mainsource for hatred, violence and terror in today’s world. Add Hebrew-Arabprejudice and Arab-Hebrew terrorism to the list of extremists and we have gonefull circle in an apparent study of religious zeal and fervor. Most scholars, however,now believe that the «religious» war is perhaps a myth! Terrorists,when carefully examined, seem to have other motivations and interests towardwhich they use violence. These motivations normally include three factors:nationalistic interests along revolutionary Marxist-Leninist-Stalinistmotivations. Most terrorism seems to be territorial or nationalistic in nature.The old cliche, «I am not arguing over money – I am arguing overprinciple» is a truism. In terrorism the truth is that the fight isnormally over land.

TheAntinomian Revolt

Talamudictscholar Mashe Amon recently developed a «theology» for terrorism. Heclassified terrorists as gnostics – something philosophers have understood foryears. Gnostics have long been a thorn in the flesh of a developing world.

Gnosticismassumes that salvation can be obtained by the «right kind ofknowledge» and that the present world is evil because it is based on the»wrong» kind of knowledge. This knowledge, gnostics say, isdistributed by the wrong kinds of governments.

The gnosticbelieves that if he is armed with the «right» kind of knowledge, thathe should destroy the present order to make room for the «final»order. He believes that he has the right to destroy the world because the worldas it is has no right to exist. The world has no right to exist because it isevil! This concept is based on the gnostic’s sense of morality. Gnosticrighteousness breeds violence by simply reasoning that all people who are not rightare wrong: and do not deserve to be indoctrinated or re-educated – onlyeliminated.

ProfessorAmon says gnostics place themselves with the angels. Their role in life is tobreak down evil systems. This antinomian revolt is seen to be a liberation fromevil systems. The order of things that produced the reality of today must beeliminated. The social structure that is unacceptable must be destroyed. Thuswe have Democracy versus Marxism; Israeli versus Palestinians; Irish catholicsversus Irish protestants; and dictatorships versus liberators. The gnosticslook for the ultimate knowledge of good and evil which they call the Epistime.The Epistime is used to justify gnostic violence. The terrorist uses the samekind of rationale to justify his violence.

TheDevelopment of Terrorism

The wordterrorism became popular during the 1790’s in revolutionary France where it wasused .to describe what is now known as the «Jacobin excesses.» Thearistocracy was executed, or escaped into involuntary exile during this era inorder to survive. Many of the middle class were also persecuted.

Terror orterrorism is based on the Latin verbs terrere or deterre. Terrere means to»cause to tremble». Deterre means «to frighten». These wordforms are now quite adequate to describe the ubiquitous phenomenon of thisgeneration as well. Terrorism is a form of intimidation designed to influencepolitics and governmental behaviour.

Sometheologians depict certain warlike behaviour described in the Old Testament asbeing terrorism. New Testament scholars refer to the violence of the zealots, afirst century A.D. group of Jewish nationalists. The zealots conducted alimited war campaign against the Roman military and political leaders of theMediterranean area.

Historiansalso recount the 1100 A.D. period to the present as the «Assassinera.» This was governed by a group of professional killers andintelligence personal directed and controlled by Hassan Sibai. He is oftencalled the «Old Man of the Mountain» in the literature. Hisorganization is raid to still exist today. His assassins would get in close tothe intended victim and kill him with knives or swords. These men were soindoctrinated that they would give up their lives in order to kill theirvictim. There were also several beautiful women in the organization that woulduse their sexuality in order to get close enough to kill.

The Old Manof the Mountain fed his assassins Hashish. Hashish is a potent form ofprocessed marijuana. In their sleep he would carry them to a place of beautyand tranquility. Their every physical need and fantasy would be met. Afterreceiving additional heavy doses of hashish, these men would be returned to theOld Man of the Mountain. He persuaded his followers that he alone held the keysto the doors of heaven and that if they gave up their lives to his orders theywould have a very special place there. These men were «cult»indoctrinated into a way of life where they would very willingly give up theirlives. His men were first called Hashiahin, after the drug they used. Laterthey were called assassins.

Islamicfundamentalists do the same thing today. The Ayatolla Khomeini preaches thatall of his soldiers will share a special place in the Moslem heaven. Theirmilitancy and violence becomes a religious act.

What isTerrorism?

Terrorism isthe systematic use of violence, or the threat of violence to achieve political,social or economic goals. Terrorism is violence used to create fear, forpolitical purposes. It is any act, performed by an individual or a gr
oup,designed to undermine the authority of a government or state.

Definitionalproblem have plagued society for many years. Especially in the United Nationswe run into the cliche that one man’s guerilla, is another man’s freedomfighter. For purposes of this article the terms criminal, guerilla, freedomfighter, and terrorist will not be synonymous although each may commit crimesand each may create panic and terror.

BenjaminNetanyahu is now the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations. His definitionof terrorism was adopted in 1979 at a Terrorism conference in Jerusalem.»Terrorism», he says, «is the deliberate and systematic murder,maiming, and menacing of the innocent to inspire fear for political ends.»

Netanyahustresses that innocents are going to be killed in any war or in any battle.»What distinguishes terrorism is the willful and calculated choice ofinnocents as targets.» Guerillas are not terrorists rather they are irregularsoldiers who wage war on regular military forces, not on civilians.

Actually,guerillas are the very opposite of terrorists. While they pit themselvesagainst far-superior combatants, terrorists choose to attack weak and defenselesscivilians: old men, women and children – anyone in fact except soldiers, ifthey can avoid it. Civilians, then, are the key to the terrorist’s strategy.They kill civilians, and more often than not, they hide behind them hoping thatthe prospect of more innocent deaths will help them escape retribution. 4

Terrorismhas a purpose beyond the immediate act. It is a world wide, center-stage mediaevent when television crews are on the scene. If the terroristic encounter is acarefully orchestrated public relations event, then perhaps readers should usestage, theatrical and movie terms. Then we would say~ that the choreography ofthe terrorist crisis event is being carefully controlled by the terroriststhemselves. As on stage, the audience quite often governs whether there will bean encore. Under such circumstances, terrorism may certainly be described as afad word. It has no precise or widely accepted definition so we will give it aloose or generic description which includes violence or the threat of violencefor political effect. It is surrogate warfare. It is an inexpensive way tofight without recruiting an army.

Some cynicseven describe terrorism as entertainment. The actions of M19, the IRA, the KKKor Sendero Luminoso are also a symbolic form of entertainment to a captiveaudience. Terrorist incidents are as «diverting as the adventures of theScarlet Pimpernel, Zorro, or the Lone Ranger and Tonto.» Many terroristshave tried to capitalize on a Robin Hood mystique. In third world countries,especially in oppressive political regimes, their work may be silentlyapplauded as they «succeed» in diverting the power and resources of agovernment that is perceived as an abusive or coercive influence.

BryanJenkins of Rand Corporation asked this question in a speech before the AmericanAcademy of political and Social Science. «What are we talking about whenwe talk about terrorism?»

There is noprecise or widely accepted definition of terrorism. Terrorism has beenvariously described as acts of wanton violence, inhuman violence, irrational orsenseless violence. Not all of these descriptions are accurate and none of themis terribly useful. Everybody has a feeling about what terrorism is, thereaction generally is negative. Terrorism is a pejorative term. Somegovernments are prone to label all violent acts by their political opponents asterrorism. Rebels rarely call themselves terrorists but frequently claim to bethe victims of government terror. Terrorism, then, can be carried out by rebelsby secret police or by soldiers. Terrorism is thus what the bad guys do.

In someinstances the terrorist groups will become totally estranged from thecommunity. This has occurred in Argentina and El Salvador when businessesclosed. These businesses claimed they could not meet terrorist demands. Thework force was alienated from the terrorists and held the terror networkaccountable for the loss of their jobs. Usually, however, within his group theterrorist is accorded a «mystique» or a high status for his actions.


Indescribing a terrorist as an individual, there are also many distinct problems.There are many traits that are commonly shared by the ordinary citizen and theterrorist as well. Some deviants are «set aside». They are obviouslydeviant. A drunk is recognized by his use of alcohol, the sexual deviant byrole choices, and the transvestite by his or her clothing choices. Theterroristic description is much more elusive.

Theterrorist commits acts that are designed to frighten or to induce a state ofterror. Unlike the criminal, whose purposes and activities may also createfear; the terrorist has political ambitions. He wants to force change ongovernment, economies and societies. His acts of terror are designed to haveconsequences beyond the criminal activity itself. The criminal, however, wantsprofit or some other reward: his politics are for himself alone.

The studyof terrorism leads in many directions. How does one «become» aterrorist? What is the sociometry that leads one to terrorism, crime or aviolent life-style? The answers do not come easy to the study of thisubiquitous phenomenon. Obviously no one is born a terrorist. Activists do notbecome terrorists overnight. Society regards the terrorist as a comple4edeviate, a person who is neither shaped by nor in contact with social reality.

The traitsof the terrorist may also be shared with others of a nation or a culturalcommunity. There are only a few South Mollucan terrorists but there are manySouth Mollucans desiring to return to their homeland. The same thing is true ofthe Armenian terrorists in the US or the Afghan freedom fighter refugees beingprotected there by the political refugee policies of the US Government.

It isdifficult to develop a «terrorist-trait profile». The number ofhighly skilled terrorists operating in any one area at any time is usuallyextremely small and the group members themselves tend to be comprised of thededicated hard-core cadre with a number of relatively peripheral followers.

There is nosuch thing as a typical terrorist. Perhaps profiles are worse than useless.However the airline industry has been very successful in terms of screeningskyjackers through the use of these files. For developing a profile, thefollowing seems to be indicated at the present time:


1. Overone-third of all arrested terrorists were found to have come from families of thehigher socio-economic status.

2. At least36 per cent of arrested terrorists were college graduates or were currentlystudents.

3. Over 20per cent of terrorists had a profession and another 10 per cent were selfemployed.

4. Theterrorist is a violent intellectual.

5. Theterrorist is normally reared in an urban environment.

6.Sixty-seven percent of all terrorists are single.

7. Fifteenpercent of arrested terrorists are ex-criminals and some 11 per cent have beenpreviously arrested for previous political offences.

8. Eighteenpercent of all terrorists are under the age of 21, 61 per cent are between 21and 30, and only 21 per cent are over 30.

9.Eighty-five per cent of all terrorists are male.

AnUnderstanding of Threat Levels

Terrorism isdifficult to understand. Quite often its goals and objectives are obscured bythe intensity of the violence. However, terrorism is not mindless violence. Theterrorist actions may be provocative but their encounters are generally wellplanned, rehearsed and executed. Terrorism is usually a grand display of poweror skill. It often underscores the weaknesses and vulnerability of a governmentand its institutions. Terrorists see the world as a stage on which to show theworld their problems, their intentions and their fantasies.

A Shiiteskyjacking, a South Mollucan train jacking, an Iranian or Libyan assassinationmay all come into perspective when examined on an analytical basis. Terrorismis a means to an end and not an end in itself. Terrorism has real objectives.

There aretwo kinds of terrorism which the observer may differentiate. One is labeled asdiscriminate terrorism. Discriminate terrorism is always easier to understand.Discriminate terrorists simply attack the enemy. The Irish Republican Army’sattack on a British Army Hostel or the Shiite attack on the Israeli Army inBeirut is understandable. All of the victims or potential victims werecombatants or potential combatants.

Indiscriminateterrorism, however, does not discriminate. Therefore a tabernacle, mosque, orchurch filled with women and children; a crowded shopping mall with people ofall languages, cultures and creeds; or a bombing of a public building isconsidered to be a legitimate target. Remember the gnostic mindset of theterrorist – that there are no innocents.

Terroristsact with a limited tactical repertoire. Bombings alone account for roughly halfof all terrorist incident. Six basic tactics comprise 95 per cent of the total:bombings, assassinations, armed assaults, kidnappings, barricade and hostagesituations, and hijackings. No terrorist group uses ~l of them. Approximatelyone-third of all terrorist incidents involve hostages.

IsTerrorism Likely to Affect Expatriates Living Overseas?

Manycitizens from all areas of the world who live overseas have packed their bags andreturned home or have resigned themselves to a life of calculated risk. Theperception that all westerners are rich and powerful is certainly an influenceon our rate of victimization. The belief that the western world is capriciousin influencing the politics of many regions of the world is a stubborn belief.This belief encourages terrorists to make citizens of western countries theirscapegoat. Some terrorism groups target Americans because they are Americans.In South Africa a person may be targeted because he travels or has emigratedfrom the United Kingdom.

SusanPurnell of the Rand Corporation completed a study on American businessesabroad. Ste found that very few businesses leave a terrorism riddenenvironment. «Businessmen with overseas investments generally agree thatterrorism is simply another risk they must contend with, just as they live withwar and violence». The few businesses that withdrew from these environsleft because of «long term economic considerations» rather thanterrorism or the threat of kidnapping. The only exception to this internationalstandard occurred in El Salvador and earlier in Argentina.

While thereis not a general exodus from troubled lands there is still room for concern.The amount of terroristic activity directed against ordinary citizens hasincreased by 68 per cent. Indiscriminate terrorism is increasing. «Theproportion of incidents with multiple fatalities has raised dramatically from33 per cent in 1982 to 59 per cent in 1983. Deaths in 1987 were up 106.8 percent and the total number of victims was up 73.8 per cent from 1986 statisticalreviews.


Terrorismis like crime and fire and traffic accidents. It is just something that youbecomi8accustomed to. Actually the amount of terroristic violence is quitesmall.

In Israel,the media would lead us to believe that citizens are in great fear ofPalestinian terrorists. However, this simply does not seem to be true.Business, school, commerce, tourism and life in general goes on without thedebilitating consequences of fear. Yet we find when we look at violent deathstatistics in Israel that more Israelis are killed or injured on their highwaysin a single year than were involved in all of the terrorist incidents of thehistory of their nation.

Inprofessor Abraham Miller’s text on Terrorism And Hostage Negotiation, hestates, «on a statistical basis, the total cost in dollars and lives byterrorism, world-wide since 1968 is less than the cost of crime in anymid-sized American city for one year».

In a videotape presentation for travelers, the Copeland Griggs Production Company made anexcellent contribution on travel safety. The most startling aspect of thismaterial was a statement that the traveler has more to worry about falling inon is bathtub and dying as a result of the fan than from death due toterrorism. Let us not worry, yet may we be wary less our security fail us. Letus ever keep vigilant in the spirit of the original sentinel. «Vigilat ut quitsat»or «he watches that others may sleep».

1. MosheAmon, «Religion and Terrorism – A Romantic Model of SecularGnostism», in The Rationalization of Terrorism, edited by David C.Rappoport and Yonah Alexander, Frederick, Md.: University Publications ofAmerica, pp. 80-90.

2. BenjaminNetanyahu (ed.), Terrorist: How The West Can Win, New York: Farrar, Straus andGiroux, 1986, p. 9.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.,p. 10

5.Alexander, Yonah and Finger, Seymour Maxwell. Terrorism: InterdisciplinaryPerspectives, New York: John Jay Presa, 1978, p. 159.

6. BrianJenkins, Terroridm Works: Sometimes. Rand P-5217, April 1974, p. 3.

7. KonrasKellen, Terrorists – What Are They Like? How Some Terrorists Describe TheirWorld And Actions. Santa Monica: Rand (N-1300-SL) November, 1979, p. 4.

8. Richard W.Koebetz and H.H.A. Cooper. Target Terrorism: Providing Protective Services.Gaithersburg, MD.: International Association of Chiefs of Police, 1978, pp.134-135.

9. Ibid.,p. 135.

10. KonradKellen, p. 37.

11. Yonah Alexander,Et. Al., p. 8.

12. KonradKellen, p. 38.

13. Ibid., p. 8.

14. YonahAlexander, et al., p. 8.

15. KonradKellen, p. 38.

16. Ibid.

17. Ibid.

18. ArthurE. Gerringer. Treatise On Terrorism. Bryn Mawr: Dorrance and Company, 1982

19.Department of Commerce, Survey of Current Business, Aug. 1980, p. 27.

20. PatrickCollins, Living in Troubled Lands, Bou
lder, Colorado: Paladín Presa, 1981, p.XIII.

21. Ibid.p. 18.

22. SusannaPurnell, Eleanor S. Wainstein. Tire Problema of US Business Operating Abroad inTerrorist Environments. Santa Monica: (R-2842-DOC), Nov. 1981, p. 49.

23. Ibid.,p. 48. 24. Ibid.

25. BonnieCordes: Bruce Hoffman; Brian Jenkins; Konrad Kellan, Sue Moran; and WilliamSater. 7rends in International Terrorism, 1982-1983, Santa Monica: RandCorpontion, p. v.

26. Ibid.p. 6.

27. JamesStinson, «Classroom Handouts», International Association of Chiefs ofPolice Symposium, «Terrorism 200 – Academic, Political and PoliceDimensions, March 31-April 1, 1988.

28. Ibid.

29. ArielMerari, (ed.), On. Terrorism and Combating Terrorism, Tel Aviv: Jaffee CenterFor Strategic Studies, University Publications of America, 1985, p.1.

30. AbrahamMiller, Terrorism and Hostage Negotiation, Boulder. Westview Press, 1980, p. 4.

31.Copeland Griggs Productions. Going International Safely, San Grancisco, CA:1986.

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