Designed to instill fear and create widespread attention, terrorism is any premeditated act willfully violating human rights where force, assault, destruction, sabotage, intimidation, injury and death combine to achieve religious, political, economic or social objectives. – PG definition
Terrorism is the toolbox used collectively or individually by hate-filled, self-demanding fanatics. Psychological dominance is a primary advancement toward their ultimate goal, which is total authority.
Because this topic spawns bad news, we’re presenting it first. Good news comes a bit later. Concealing the bad minimizes how serious and multi-faceted this issue is. Think of past successful attacks just in the U.S. Then, note terrorism’s impact in just a matter of days as it transformed careers and facilities from showcases to ruination.
Finding an exception to this illustration is next to impossible. However, all is not doom and gloom! The brands CEOs are charged to protect along with associated publics can escape being ravaged, perhaps not always completely, but definitely to an impressive degree.
Hence, the good news, which we present before this brief essay ends.
Unsubstantiated history reports terrorist-like strategies and tactics as far back as more than 2,000 years; however, the word, terrorism, remained out of our lexicon until the late 18th century. Early tactics included:
- Poisoning wells during ancient times,
- Kidnapping for ransom in order to expand a violent radical agenda,
- Hostage-taking of innocent civilians followed by intimidating executions.
- Planned protests/riots costing lives, property and personal effects including freedoms against lawful authority, even back then.
In every situation organized groups purposely directed extreme violence toward at least some people unaffiliated with whatever cause was supreme at the time – basically militaristic or political superiority.
Motivations expanded slightly between then and now. Commonplace cruelty especially from fanatical Islamic fundamentalists is carried out to achieve religious preeminence globally.
Other criminals, either members of various terrorist cells or persons acting by themselves (the latter ill described as” lone wolves,” which is referenced elsewhere on this page) direct their offensive efforts against economic, social, religious and governmental objectives.
Despite extensive and expensive damages, particularly mortalities, citizen reaction is measurable by who suffers and who doesn’t. Little in this regard has changed. The old saying, “People’s short memories create vulnerabilities.” Add, “It would never happen in this community,” and terrorist advantages are simple to understand.
Deterrence, absolutely possible, is most important. Impacts on freedoms, resources, emotions and our future will continue ascending without an array of public sector and private sector defensive measures. Unless leaders from practically all walks of life take evil more seriously, then woe be generation Z!
Militant fundamentalists preferred areas and facilities where press coverage could be mobilized quickly, extensively and capable of feeding reports instantaneously worldwide. Today the former requirements aren’t necessary.
Communication technology plus social media have advanced so that any incident almost anywhere can be reported within minutes of occurring. Such technology favors subversive cells and groups, no matter their destructive options. They crave intimidating enemies.
Talented journalistic operatives within sophisticated terrorist circles touch every communication medium as they convey messages globally. Press savvy, multi-lingual students well-versed in news dissemination become propagandists. Remember them as public opinion persuaders and motivators whose effectiveness should never be underestimated.
Embattled leaders of whatever entity is attacked frequently suffer nightmares equal to ones caused by the actual event, necessitating lengthy professional therapy. Why risk such emotional distress?
Social dividedness is another tool in the box. So, what comes crashing down when terrorists attack? Experience reveals the following effects:
- Lost lives; injuries.
- Visitor, supplier, family, neighborhood, community disruptions/inconveniences.
- Property destroyed, damaged.
- Executives isolated from essential schedules and tasks.
- Operations shut down for periods of time in nearly every case.
- Reporters, commentators, bloggers et al swarming.
- False rumors galore.
- Brand reputation crisis.
- Employee and first responder mental and physical trauma.
- Potential negativism based on violation of Section 5(a)(1) of OSHA’s General Duty Clause dated 1970.
The Lone Wolf Falacy
President Obama preferred calling certain radical Islamic terrorists “lone wolves.” The press hastily, stupidly, followed as did many state and federal spokespersons, even law enforcement.
“Lone Wolf” became a pseudonym for anyone – not just Islamic radicals — carrying out a terrorist attack solo.
These aren’t “lone wolves!” Describing them as such is inappropriate — flawed from the onset! The correct term is “Leaderless Resister.”
Minus very few exceptions, wolves don’t act alone; they run in packs unless conditions such as rapidly failing health, serious wounds old age and therefore physical weaknesses, exclude an impaired tawny gray flesh-eating mammal from the pack. Want more?
- Nearly 100% of the time terrorist attacks, planned and carried out alone, are done by someone without affiliation to formal organizations, cells, or well trained militant groups.
- Lone perpetrators are self-motivated, inspired by beliefs that government and society have failed to eradicate prejudices they loathe.
- Perceived injustices are almost unlimited in scope depending on Leaderless Resistor reasoning (perhaps lack thereof). Cognition and emotion weigh heavily into how their world is interpreted. Another false assumption voiced by the misinformed labels all as crazy. Not so. Mental disturbances do appear in a majority of cases but lunacy isn’t predominant. Ideologies infrequently shared by the masses prevail rather than insanity.
- They act by themselves after reaching a point whereby in their minds no others will correct believed wrongs. Most also distrust sharing intentions even with friends having common ideals.
- Perpetrators think the ferocity of unlawful physical and emotional destructiveness, no matter the victims and resulting consequences, will be validated in the future.
Now, the good news! Prevention is possible. Mitigation is probable. We know coordinated terrorists generally rely on nine identifiable factors:
- Belief in cause despite violence level.
- Preparatory and action funding.
- Mission of sufficient magnitude ensuring attention.
- A setting facilitating media coverage.
- Detailed scheduling/planning in meeting objective.
- Collaboration with others as necessary.
- Flexibility to alter strategy and tactics.
- Highest possible level of secrecy.
- Escape routes.
Each factor provides clues to prevention and/or mitigation of harm.
Most adverse effects can be eliminated or lessened through counterterrorism expertise, vulnerability assessments, foreseeability, intelligence gathering and analysis, which also includes current understanding of group characteristics.
The fact not all terrorist cells or larger organizations are similar bears repeating. Objectives, sources of funding, recruiting styles, training standards, strategies, tactics, and even operational time periods differ.
A counterterrorist who can penetrate an adversary’s thought process as well as recognize how atypical units’ function will best serve clients in desperate need.
These salient features require special knowledge and experience, and particularly a consultant’s ability to understand the atypical mindsets of whatever targets may be in their crosshairs.
Terrorists are patient. Except for some who prefer anniversary attacks, or unexpectedly discover a potential victim’s vulnerabilities, time is unimportant.
We have managed each case description. We also have dissuaded attacks because our foreseeability model unveiled pending dangers to clients. Immediate steps to prevent harm proved valid and valuable.
Solutions are not all-embracing. What works in one situation can be useless in another; hence, the need for exceptional qualifications and credentials.
Our counterterrorism team is led by a former executive director of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security. He is a veteran of many foreign and domestic encounters and also was the first with his particular background to complete the U.S. Army War College’s National Security program.
Four important points
- No singular definition of terrorism carries authority.
- It isn’t a terrorist event unless without including (reread our definition) premeditation, willful violation of human rights, at least two actions and one of the purposes listed Other explanations fail in this regard.
- Political correctness pursuers detest “the T words.” Their objections, frankly, actually inspire terrorists and terrorism!
- To reiterate, “Lone Wolf” title is an erroneous. We will discuss this in more detail in the future.