Dodane przez admin dnia 02/15/2013 w kategorii Ciekawe artykuły | komentarze

“Apocalypse Now”. “Desperados terrorize the world”. “International of malefactors”. “Satan revealed his face”. “Journey trough the rings of hell”. This is just a few headlines that portray the reaction to the terrorist attacks in the USA. They disclose our helplessness, our inability to understand modern terrorism. However, these acts of terror have not been committed by extra-terrestrial creatures, mutants, or demons from beyond. They are committed by people and not out of fancy, but with a purpose in mind, a purpose that they think is rational. The phenomenon of terrorism cannot be presented as demoniac, it needs to be understood. Without that the struggle with terrorism shall never be efficient.

1. Definition of terrorism in the light of recent terrorist acts

First of all, then, we need to start with a seemingly completely academic task – the definition of the phenomenon of terrorism. There have been countless attempts to describe it in words. Not wanting to bore readers by splitting hairs, I shall present one definition only. One of the researchers Alexander P. Schmidt once went trough no les than 109 definitions of terrorism, singled out 22 components from them, and proceeded to put together those, which appeared more often than others. Of these, he compiled the following definition of terrorism: “an attack of subversive forces upon innocent individuals, meant to cause fear and kill or injure people, and by that to compel political concession from a person who was not been a direct target/victim of the attack or an organization of which the those targets/victims have not been members”. Just right, it may seem.

Yet, please note, in the light of the above definition the attacks on World Trade Center and Pentagon are not terrorist acts. First of all, the army men in Pentagon are not any “third parties” for terrorists, trough whom they could hit the enemy, they are the enemy itself, in the most strict sense of the word. Second of all: the terrorists do not try to compel any “concessions”, they just do not have any demands at all.

Well! Those who committed the act do not even care to present themselves to the public, which is a rule on the terrorist scene. In general opinion terrorism is a media phenomenon, it exists as much as it draws attention of the media. Without mass media, without the possibility to influence public opinion, terrorism is a tree falling in an empty forest, as Benjamin Netaniahu expressed it.

Thus, everybody asks the questions: why hasn’t anybody taken responsibility for the attack? Why those who committed it did not use the shock to make their cause heard? Usually, terrorists queue to take responsibility for an attack. For example, the terrorist act committed in Jerusalem on 16th of October 1986 had as many as nine organizations claiming responsibility!

In specialist literature there is the theory of “indirect strategy”, upon which terrorism is supposed to be based. To cut a long story short: terrorists do not attack their enemies directly, instead they attack third parties or symbols, wanting to influence the behavior of their real enemy that way. The authors and followers of that dogma do not take into consideration the fact, that such “indirect strategy” is used by terrorists out of necessity rather than out of purpose. They are simply too weak to engage in a direct battle meant to annihilate the enemy physically. Terrorism is, then, a substitute of such battle. This can be proven tracing the history of numerous terrorist acts. The terrorism of the Irish Fenians had its origin in the failed attempt of an uprising in 1867; the terrorism of the Croat Ustashe had similar origins. The terrorism of Brazilian urban guerillas was mean to be just the initial phase of the guerilla war to be fought in the country, according to the instructions of “Che” Guevara. Where possible, where conditions and strength allow, terrorists proceed to mass actions, try to provoke a civil war. Such was the case of Northern Ireland in the early 1970, where IRA established the Catholic “no-go areas”, such was the case of Iran during Chomeini revolution, where mujahedins and fedains joined the fighting in the streets.

In short: terrorism makes only secondary use of media, it attacks substitute targets only when it is too weak to undertake a direct struggle with the hated enemy.

This time, however, those who attacked America felt sure enough to decide to strike directly. Their attack was to bring not media consequences, but physical ones: to inflict a wound in the high commanding forces of the army, to destabilize the economy, to eliminate the president. Surely, media also play an important role, that is why symbols have been hit: the symbol of American capitalism and the symbol of American military power, yet that was not the most important thing. That is why they disregarded the possibility of publicity, not because, as some proclaimed, “they took fright at the immensity of the crime they committed”.

It seems necessary, then, to redefine the notion of terrorism. My proposal may seem coarse (it is just a provisional skeleton of a definition) yet I consider it practical. I am of the opinion that one should start with defining the act of individual terror. According to the handbook “Działania partyzanckie” (“Guerilla Fight”) by Czesław Kurowski and Bernard Woźniecki “acts of terror consist of putting to death the people who are particularly harmful for … the guerilla movement, who influential and commanding positions … in the enemy organs or who, being members of the native population, are informers of the enemy police and who, by co-operating with enemy cause … harm … . Sometimes terror may also take the form of intimidating individuals or groups of people”. Among other forms of guerilla fight the above authors list assaults, laying of ambushes, acts of sabotage, and raids.

Transforming that to the time of piece, to urban societies, among the acts of individual terror one would surely list treacherous assassinations of individuals or groups of people, kidnapping and crippling or mutilation of such people. Not necessarily should these people have “influential or commanding positions” as for a terrorist any representative of the group considered the enemy, even the whole society, may be the target of an attack. Terrorists do not subscribe to the notion of “civilians”, they are engaged in a civil war where they themselves define their enemies. The Italian neo-fascists, during the so called “lead years” exploded bombs planted on trains (attack on the “Italicus” express) or at railway stations (like in Bologna in 1980).

Among the acts of terror we should also list the so-called “attacks on things”, that is the acts of sabotage such as setting fire to department stores or destruction of ticket vending machines by Western German terrorists in the 1970s. We should also keep in mind that a substantial part of terrorist activities are robberies, without which it would be difficult to establish the base of supplies for the organization.

Summing up: I shall understand as acts of individual terror in a peace time the illegal attacks on people’s lives, health, and freedom, as well as acts of sabotage. By terrorism I shall mean the systematic use of acts of individual terror in order to reach political aims.

Let us concentrate upon those aims. I would distinguish four categories of these. First – drawing attention of the public opinion to the fight of a terrorist organization and propagation of its programme. I would like to stress that sometimes the aim of terrorists is to gain popularity with the public opinion, the example may be the Tupamaros of Uruguay, who provided for the imprisoned minister using the means of an average pension. Second – intimidation of a political elite, some social or ethnic groups, or the entire society, to compel reactions advantageous for terrorists. Third – infliction of possibly greatest losses (in substance or in men) upon the enemy, the forces of repression, or the state. Fourth, finally – the “punishing” of representatives of the state and political opponents for their actions against the interest of the group with which the terrorists identify themselves. Again, here I would like to draw your attention to the fact that it is not necessarily equal to an attempt to intimidate: the assassination of president Sadat, an in particular the murder of Semen Petlura by Sholmo Szwarcbard are classical examples of revenge, of “punitive executions”.

Besides the strictly political goals, terrorist groups have also aims that are, so to say, of “organizational” character, which serve the group itself, not the cause. I have in mind the actions that serve either the group protection or obtaining means for further activities, or sometimes express solidarity with comrades (such as the kidnapping of Schleyer by RAF). Although one cannot talk about terrorist activities without such actions or aims, as they cannot be classified as political, because they also appear in purely criminal groups.

2. Evolution of terrorism in history

The dogma of “indirect strategy” is one of the examples for static understanding of terrorism. Terrorism is considered a phenomenon defined once for all, locked in a formula. However, terrorism has its dynamics, it evolves and adjusts to changing conditions. If we want to extrapolate its development, we need to focus on its history until the present day.

It is widely assumed that terrorism is a phenomenon of the modern era, present in our civilization for the last two hundred years. It is true, but only in a way. Really, terrorism as we know it (or rather as we knew it until September 11, 2002) is relatively young. This does not mean, however, that it came out of nowhere, following the principle of “dues ex machine”. Terrorism had evolved from earlier forms of political violence, such as treacherous assassinations.

Let us open the Book of Genesis: “Said Cain to Able, his brother: ‘Let us go into the field’. When they were there, Cain pounced on his brother Able and killed him”. It is by no accident that the Bible places the first crime, the first act of assassination, in the dawn of human history. Violence seems to be an ever-present companion of man. Most assassinations had very pragmatic motivation – the thing was simply to get rid of the competitor. Yet, already the assassination of Julius Cesar by the republicans in 44 B.C. is an example of treacherous assassination that served a definite political programmme. At that time, assassinations aimed at physical elimination of the opponent, while the intimidation was achieved through turmoil, pogroms, and open terror of armed gangs. Today, we would label it the terror of fighting squads.

Even in the ancient times can we identify a prototype of modern terrorism. What I have in mind is the sect of assassins, the ishmaelites who terrorized the Middle East in the early Middle Ages. Its example is of interest as some features of the assassins can be found in the modern militants of Jihad. I said that assassins were predecessors of modern terrorists as they had a fairly uniform organization (not a plot hatched for an immediate purpose), they applied the treacherous assassinations in a systematic manner, and had an ideology that explained the use of violence. They murdered the vizier Nizam al-Mulek when surrounded by his guard, to prove to the world that no one can feel safe. Rulers trembled at the thought of their daggers.

The origins of modern terrorism need to be traced to the turn of the 18th and 19th century, though. It was capitalism that gave birth to urban society, making it impossible to continue the traditional guerrilla fighting in the depth of forests. It was the technical progress that provided tools useful for terrorists – both bombs and mass media. It was the modern social organization that turned states into powers that cannot be confronted directly. It was the age of Enlightenment that was responsible for the moral advancement of the human kind, thanks to which it was possible for terrorists to blackmail that humankind. As has been written by Hanna Hartwig: “It is difficult to image Chingis Khan to turn himself into the hands of 12th century terrorists in exchange for the Mongolian women and children held hostage”.

Let us analyse the history of modern terrorism having the two aspects of AIM and MEANS in mind. Thus, let us find out first of all whether as aim terrorists had a physical or psychological effect and – second of all – what was their way of acting like: individual or collective.

Initially, terrorist was the label attached to French Jacobins who used mass terror as a method of governing. The opposition attempted to apply the same method against them, an on July 13, 1793 the Girondist Caroline Corday stabbed the Jacobin tribune Marat to death. In that way, individual terror was born. The name appeared adequate to the character of such actions: a single man took the decision to kill a “tyrant” and the same man tried to make it happen. Sometimes, small groups of assassins got formed (like that portrayed by Słowacki in “Kordian”) yet as a rule they were formed for one action only. Even if more permanent groups did emerge, they were usually of self-sufficient character, like the anarchistic gang of Ravachole.

The aim of terrorists as that time was the physical elimination of the opponent, no attention was devoted to publicity. The Russian narodniks (nationalists) truly believed that by killing the tsar they would change the system. Contrary to appearances, the “black terror” of anarchists that shook Europe at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century did not depart from that scheme. The anarchist idea of “propaganda trough action” aimed at revolutionising masses, not at influencing the behaviour of those in power. They were not to be disputed. The novel thing was that anarchists declared war not only to the representatives of the ruling class, but to all wealthy people. Massive terror emerged, aimed at accidental crowd: bombs were exploded in opera houses, exclusive restaurants, or even expensive flower shops. Still, however, those acts were committed by individuals who would not consult their comrades.

Towards the end of the 19th century, the first big terrorist organization emerged, though. I agree with Richard Pipes that the Russian Narodnaia Wola was the first. The organization, established in 1879 proclaimed as follows: “terrorist activity … aims at undermining the fascination with the might of power, at unceasing demonstration of possibilities to fight against the government, thus promoting the spirit of revolution in the nation and the belief in success of the cause, finally it aims at organizing the forces able to engage in such fight”. We have to do with a new quality here: individual terror gets applied in an organized manner, which substantially enhanced its efficiency. Terrorist organizations sometimes have even a mass character, like the Fighting Squad of the PPS (Polish Socialist Party), which had some 8000 members and which in the years 1904-1906 made a total of nearly 1800 actions.

After World War I organized terrorism became a rule. Politics became more militaristic, and even relatively moderate parties organized their own paramilitaries. Extremist organizations use terrorism extensively, to provide the examples of the French La Cagoule, the Croat Ustashe, Romanian Iron Guard, the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization or the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). The element of psychology and propaganda began to play on increasing role in their activities. For example, the overt aim of the terrorist campaign of OUN in 1930 was to drive Polish settlers away from the Western Ukraine. Still, the prevailing thing was, in my opinion, to achieve the “physical effect” that is to inflict possibly heaviest losses on the enemy. That can be substantiated, among other things by the discretion accompanying the actions of the French Fascists from the La Cagoule.

After World War II these proportions got reserved. At present, psychology and propaganda appear to prevail in the activities of terrorist organizations, I would think that more established and mature democracies and weakening of extremist movements, witnessed in Europe. Still, terrorist strife to establish big organizations with quasi-military structure.

Let us consider the organizations of the IRA. It is headed by the 12 persons in the Army Executive and a 7-person Council. The Headquarters in Dublin and the Southern and Northern Commands report to them, which in turn are in command of brigades, organized by territory (before also of battalions). The basic units of IRA are 4-man Active Service Units. Besides the military structure, the republican movement also has its legal superstructure in the form of the Sinn Fein political party or numerous social organizations, such as Cumann na mBann (women’s movement) or Fianna Eireann (Irish volunteers). Because of the legal forms of activity of Sinn Fein the management of the movement is composed of two autonomous, although strictly co-operating parts.

Other terrorist organizations attempted to follow such a scheme. We can distinguish three independently active divisions: “the mass front” (dealing with propaganda and recruitment of volunteers), “the logistic front” (organizing the indispensable infrastructure) and “the military front” (engaged in armed fighting). Such was the organization of e.g. the extreme left Italian Brigate Rosse. Even those terrorist groups which (as the German Rote Arme Fraktion), due to small size were unable to develop such a structure, acted in a similar way. One can distinguish three concentric circles: the “hard core” of active terrorist (performing the function of fighting squad and leadership at the same time), the activists “working in the background” who were responsible for the logistics, and sympathizers who were also reserve squad of new fighters.

Looking from the perspective of the last twenty years, it can be said that such a type of terrorist organization outlived its day. It is too heavy, too easy to penetrate by security. Besides ETA and IRA, no other larger terrorist group in Europe or Southern America survived. Terrorists and candidates realize that. Louis Beam, one of the American right wing radicals contained the conclusions in the text the title of which speaks for itself: “Leaderless Resistance”. When describing that concept, I would like to take the liberty not to use the words of Mr. Beam but those of … George Orwell, from his perennial “1984” [translated back into English from the Polish version – translator]: “The members of the Brotherhood do not have the possibility to recognize each other, while an individual militant would know merely a few comrades only. Goldstein himself, was he captures by the Thought Police, would not be able to disclose the full list of members of the Brotherhood, nor provide information which would unable compiling such a list. The list of Brotherhood members does not exist at all. For these reasons, the Brotherhood cannot get liquidated at all, as it is not an organization in the strict sense of that word. The only thing that joins us the idea, which is indestructible!”.

On such principles the “Al Quaida” or “Ben Laden organization” is based. In fact, we do not have to do with an organization in our sense of that word. Osama Ben Laden is not a leader who gives orders to groups of terrorists. Al-Quaida – “the Base” – is responsible for the logistics, generally speaking, of the international Islam fundamentalists movement. Probably, no centralized management of uniform formalized structure exists. The International of Jihad is a loose network of independent groups, some of which are engaged in charity activities, others in education or religion oriented ones, still others in terrorism. Oftentimes, they do not have any formal structure, frequently is it impossible to divide between their legal and illegal activities. Their character is aptly rendered by the name of the units of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood: “ankuda” which means a bunch of grapes.

It is extremely difficult to penetrate and destroy such a structure. It is a hydra without any head! It can be assumed that the world terrorism shall be transformed in that direction.

What awaits us, then?

3. Perspectives of development of terrorism

Three years ago, when violence appeared to be dying out in Palestine, Ulster, the Basque country, I wrote in my book on terrorism: “I do not want to be a Cassandra, yet numerous circumstances indicate that the problem of terrorism shall be aggravating”. I do not feel any satisfaction that my forecast has come true, truly I would prefer to err. Still, numerous facts and circumstances make me pessimistic.

The reason for recurrence of terrorism is, in my opinion, the progressing globalization of the world economy. It shall remove from the saddle all those who cannot cope with the cold wind of competition, blowing in the world without borders. Substantial portions of societies shall become poor, others will be frustrated because of being unable to satisfy the growing aspirations (international contacts shall lead to unprecedented “revolution of expectations”. Desperation, resulting from difficult conditions and, even more, the sense of injustice shall be the soil on which political violence will grow nicely.

The cultural factor should not be disregarded, either. Globalization will be followed by unification of culture. Countless ethnic and religious groups will be uprooted and deprived of the old lifestyles, confronted with the expansive Western civilization. The results of such a “clash of civilizations” have been experienced in Iran and, more recently, in Algeria. People attacked in their homes by a foreign culture, impossible to comprehend, will react by aggression. The tally of conflicts will be increased by the growing social mobility. In the “multi-cultural society” people having various traditions, customs and, often contradictory, values will be mixed. Saying that such a situation will result in increased tolerance is rather an example of wishful thinking.

Disintegration of social bonds in atomized societies shall cause that the terrorist of tomorrow shall unscrupulous plant a bomb meant to kill accidentally, to kill people s/he does not know at all.

The condensed frustration will not find the way out trough legal institutions. It would be hard to imagine an extremist party to win elections – its potential electorate is passive and disintegrated. Was such a possibility to be come realistic, the establishment always can make use of the “Algerian variant” (dictatorship to defend democracy). Even if radical opposition takes to governing, its freedom to move remains extremely limited. This can be proven using the example of Peru, where president Alan Garcia lost in a spectacular fashion when he tried to refuse obedience to the International Monetary Fund. Aggression should not be manifested through a regular war. Saddam Hussein, among others, learned his lesson, the technological advantage of the highly developed Centre is crushing indeed.

What is left is the eternal weapon of the weak – terrorism. The fact that terrorism is equally immoral and inefficient shall not appeal to extremists, words of reason fall in deaf ears of desperation.

In future the world may face a “world-wide civil war”, an endemic conflict between the Centre and Peripheries, transferred to the reality of each country. The struggle between American-oriented elite and the old-fashioned (sometimes uprooted) masses may follow the Peruvian scenario (under the banner of egalitarian revolution) or Algerian one (resistance in the name of retrospective utopia), yet its content will be essentially the same.

The terrorism of tomorrow shall become truly individual: individuals and ad hoc organized small groups have ever better conditions to fight alone (what is more, they are more difficult to detect and to be annihilated). What we experience today is mainly the eruption of terrorism rooted on religion, which proves particularly dangerous due to the irrational, metaphysical motivation of terrorists, and determination resulting from that. We cannot exclude, however, that success of that branch of terrorism will lead to numerous followers in other circles. Technical conditions will cause that ever more often the motivation for terror will be small issues, transient interests of small groups. Their terror will be focused more on demonstrating than on engaging in real fight. It will also become a rule to transfer terror outside the region where it was born, the problem if Sri Lanka will be easier to be made public in London than in Colombo.

The war arena of the future will be rather the suburban shanty towns than villages lost in the jungle. In fight with guerillas, technological advantage loses its primary importance. Any new achievements of technology can be bought, while terrorists will have at least one advantage – fanaticism and desperation.

I wish I were a false prophet.


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