Publication Type:

Book Chapter


The Dangerous Landscape (2013)
Full text (HTML): 

A long and ever expanding list of the dead and wounded from Pakistan to Yemen to Libya and Germany suggests that we all live on a dangerous landscape, and occupy an international terrain subject to violent threat. It is an obscure landscape without borders, as the threat is transnational. The armed and dangerous force that counts so many as its enemies, and seeks to include them among its victims, is international terrorism, a long-existing force that explosively made its presence felt internationally in the final decades of the twentieth century and which remains both elusive and active in the twenty-first. Terrorists have extracted their wages in blood from Mumbai, India, to Bali, Indonesia, to Madrid, Spain, to Beslan, Russia and onward to London and New York. Transnational terrorists have taken victims individually (as in the case of movie pro¬ducer Theo van Gogh in Holland), by the dozens, by the hundreds, and, in the attacks of 9/11, by the thousands, a butcher’s bill that the terrorists, by their own admission, hope to repeat. Indisputably, most of the victims have been civilians. And predictably, the death of iconic terror leader Osama bin Laden—in Pakistan in 2011—has not lead to the vanquishing of global terrorism as a security threat.
Much has been written since 2001 on various aspects of terrorism as well as on the responses of governments around the world to the secu-rity challenge posed by terrorist groups with an international reach and a supra-national agenda. Al Qaeda and its brand-name franchises (such as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and al Qaeda in the Arabian Penin-sula) undoubtedly represents the most relentlessly publicized and visi-ble example of contemporary international terrorism, but terrorist ac-tivity is carried out by other organizations as well, many (but not all) of which share a largely common political agenda or ideology based on a violent interpretation of Islam. Although the profile of terrorism in the public eye understandably advances and recedes according to the fre-quency and scale of terrorist attacks, the phenomenon of transnational terrorism displays no signs of disappearing in the foreseeable future and, accordingly, merits continued attention, research, analysis and commen¬tary, all of which should serve to inform an effective counter-strategy. This book is intended to add a special perspective to the considerable body of literature available. It is a work presenting studies and view¬points by authors from several different countries, and the contributors represent a mix of experienced counterterrorism practitioners on the one hand, and recognized academic scholars on the other.
This volume developed as a direct result of several meetings of the Partnership for Peace Consortium’s Combating Terrorism Working Group (CTWG) during 2007, 2008 and 2009. The CTWG brings together counterterrorist thinkers from politically, geographically and culturally diverse countries including Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Germany, Pakistan, Croatia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Moldova, Greece, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, among others. As well, the CTWG has hosted and worked together closely with representatives of other inter¬national organizations, NATO and the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) figuring prominently in these ranks. Over the past few years, CTWG participants and guests have included repre¬sentatives or alumni of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the U.S. Department of State, the Albanian Federal Intelligence Service (SHISH), the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BLFV), the Azerbaijan Defense Ministry and the U.S. Naval War College, among other institutions. In short, the body of experience and knowledge represented is impressive by any measure. The present volume attempts to capture some of their thoughts, projections on how terrorism will likely mutate in the future and some proposed countermeasures in the long-term struggle against terrorism. The various authors from this broad variety of backgrounds will not always agree in their assessments of the threat represented by terrorism, or in identifying appropriate tools to mitigate the challenge. But precisely this multiplicity of perspectives should pro¬vide the discerning reader with valuable grist for reflection.
This book examines a number of important aspects of the terrorism contest, separate but linked. First, we examine the vital issue of jihadist terrorist motivation and recruitment – how an organization such as al Qaeda attracts, radicalizes and screens new members to replace losses in its ranks with an eye to extending its operational and geographic reach. Second, we explore how various countries have employed their respec¬tive intelligence (and to some degree, law enforcement) agencies to un¬cover terrorist groups and adherents, and how government authorities attempt to disrupt and prevent terrorist activity—including the emerg¬ing new challenge of cyber threats—before it takes place. Accordingly, this volume is looking at two sides of the coin: how terrorists organize to promote their cause and fulfill their operational mission, and how vari¬ous states organize to prevent these plans and activities from bearing deadly fruit.
As noted above, the voices heard in this volume are internationally polyphonous, and represent a broad variety of perspectives. This is en-tirely appropriate when dealing with a threat that is transnational in na-ture, affects numerous geographical regions, and recognizes no man-made frontiers. The jihadist terrorism of the 21st century (which is our primary area of inquiry) is factually a global phenomenon, as a cursory look at the location of successful attacks reveals: Spain, Great Britain, Tunisia, the United States, Indonesia, Turkey, India, Algeria, Pakistan, Thailand, Egypt and Morocco have all suffered significant casualties from terrorist attacks. It is a sad fact that terrorism is not easily defeated and that the list of attacked locations cited above will, doubtless, continue to grow in the future. At the same time, it is to be hoped that the instances of terrorist attacks disrupted and frustrated by counterterrorism forces will grow as well, perhaps even exponentially.
It is hoped that this volume can serve as a textbook aid and point of departure for defense academies and institutions interested in including a consideration of terrorism as a contemporary security challenge in their academic programs. With that backdrop, the PfPC Combating Ter-rorism Working Group is pleased to offer the present volume to the in-terested reader.

John J. Le Beau,
Chairman Emeritus, Combating Terrorism Working Group,
Partnership for Peace Consortium