How Terrorist Groups End: Implications for Countering Al-Qaeda

[RAND Corporation] Seth G. Jones and Martin C. Libicki - The U.S. cannot conduct an effective counterterrorism campaign against al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups without understanding how such groups end. By analyzing the 648 terrorist groups that existed worldwide between 1968 and 2006, the authors found that 268 terrorist groups ended during that period. 40% ended because of operations carried out by local police or intelligence agencies, while 43% reached a peaceful political accommodation with their government. In 10% of cases, terrorist groups ended because they achieved victory, while the application of military force led to the end of terrorist groups in 7% of cases. Religiously motivated terrorist groups took longer to eliminate but rarely achieved their objectives; no religiously-motivated group achieved victory during the period studied. Calling counterterrorism efforts a war on terrorism raises public expectations that there is a battlefield solution. It also tends to legitimize the terrorists' view that they are conducting a jihad (holy war) against the U.S. and elevates them to the status of holy warriors. Terrorists should be perceived as criminals, not holy warriors.

2008-07-29 01:00:00

Full Article


Visit the Daily Alert Archive