The Threat from Terrorism
There are very few humans in the world today who have not had their lives altered or affected in some way through terrorist acts or the threat from terrorism. The highly publicized terrorist attacks in the United States, London, Madrid, and Mumbai were seen worldwide and have lead to sweeping changes in the security postures of many western and developed nations, as well as to a multi-nation war in Afghanistan. For those that have not felt the direct effects by losing someone close to them, there are many life altering after-shocks have had global reach and thus have effected nearly everyone. Every person who uses public transportation, rides in a plane/train, or crosses an international border will feel the effects of international terrorism through vastly increased security measures. Terrorism has changed foreign policy for many nations and has lead to wars. In all, terrorism is rewriting the geopolitical map as we see it now and in the decades to come, will continue to change the world as we know it.
Radical Militant Islamic Groups
There are many religions and political factions that have terrorist cells. In fact, in this day and age, one would be hard pressed to find a country or religion that does not have some form of fundamental or radicalized terrorist group in its midst. Groups espousing terror find roots in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism. This being said, in recent times, the most dangerous threat to western and developed nations comes from the Radical Militant Islamic Groups. These Islamic Militants have not only local and national reach, but can project their influence regionally and even globally (as seen with Al Qaeda and Hezbollah), and thus will be the focus of this dissertation.
Since as far back as history dates, there has been war between peoples. Sometimes these peoples were evenly matched, and the battles pitted large armies against one another. Yet at other times, the odds were heavily in favor of one side, and the lesser of these groups had to resort to non-traditional warfare to inflict losses on their enemy. Sometimes these attacks were focused on the enemy’s military, and sometimes these attacks were focused on the citizenry of the enemy nation. The enemies could be nation vs nation or sometimes they were nation vs a non-state actor group. The pendulum has swung back and forth throughout history as to what is the root of terrorist groups. With the emergence of Al Qaeda we have seen that in the present day the non-state actor terrorist groups have taken center stage, though this may be about to change.
Attempt to predict the future
This paper engages the probability of predicting the future of global terrorism. This is achieved by analyzing the history of the origins and conceptual changes of terrorism over years past and current trends of terrorism as seen through the data available from the terrorism scholars of today. Though terrorism is not a completely Islamic phenomena, this paper will focus on terrorism from Radical Militant Islamic Groups, as this is the most predominant form of terrorism seen in the present day. It will attempt to lay out the evolution of terrorism to give some basis for a review of the current most important trends in terrorism. It will discuss the origins of ethno-nationalist (or state sponsored) terrorism and further discuss how this has morphed into the new transnational (or non-state actor) terrorism of today. Finally the paper will set the stage for the prediction of a future shift back to state sponsored terrorism and outline the reasons why this is going to occur.
Evolution of Terrorism – Historical Roots
“Mr. Speaker, I agree with those who say that the Global War on Terrorism is actually a Global War of Ideas and that terrorism is one of the tactics used in that War.”
P re-Modern World: 1st Century BC to the 13th Century
The history of 
1793: The Origins of Modern Terrorism
In 1793, following the French revolution, Maximilien Robespierre instigated a reign of terror on those who opposed the French revolution.
This reign of terror is conventionally known as the birthplace of the word Terrorism. Robespierre’s sentiment is the keystone in the beliefs of many modern terrorists, who consider violence the best and most efficient way to get to their desired outcome. As decades passed, the categorization of terrorism as a state action has blurred, as the idea of terrorism as an attack against an existing political order became more prominent.
1950s: The Rise of Non-State Terrorism
Terrorism in the 1950’s got its start from the guerilla warfare tactics popular with many insurgent groups of the time. This rise of guerrilla tactics by non-state actors in the last half of the twentieth century was due to several factors. These included the blossoming of ethnic nationalism (e.g. Irish, Basque, Zionist), anti-colonial sentiments in the vast British, French and Dutch empires, and new ideologies such as communism.
In near recent times, terrorist groups with nationalist agendas have sprung up in every part of the world. For example, the Irish Republican Army grew from the desire of Irish Catholics to form an independent republic, and break their ties with Great Britain.
Similarly, the Kurds, a distinct ethnic and linguistic group in Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq, have sought national autonomy since the beginning of the 20th Century.
1970s: The International Turn of Terrorism
International terrorism came to the forefront as a prominent issue in the late 1960s, when hijacking of large airliners became a favored tactic. In 1968, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine became the first group to hijack an aircraft.
1990s: 21 st Century: The Rise of Religious Terrorism
Though an argument can be made that the rise of religiously motivated terrorism got its modern day start in Iran and Afghanistan to counter the political issues of the Shah and the Soviet Union, it came to the forefront with many highly visible & violent acts committed during the 1990’s. Groups that justify their violence on Islamic grounds – Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah – come to mind first. But Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and other religions have given rise to their own forms of militant extremism. In recent years RMIGs have taken center stage for their astoundingly violent acts perpetrated against the citizenry of non-Muslim cultures.
Trends in Terrorism
“When you give religiously inspired zealots weapons of mass destruction and you promise them that if they kill innocent people they will go to heaven, imagine what the consequences are.”
Major Changes are Ahead
There are major changes coming to terrorism in the years ahead. These changes can be seen from the trends of today, and will deeply change the threat to marked nations by terrorists and the terms on which we must fight the war against RMIGs. The top trends that will influence the changes in Terrorism Globally are summarized below.
Fertility rates will lead Western Countries to come under Islamic rule
In contrast to the developing world, many industrialized countries are currently, or will soon, see fertility rates below the replacement level and hence significant declines in populations, excluding the effects of immigration
Militant Islam continues to grow in both membership and power
It has been clear for years that many Islamic nations face severe problems with religious extremists who are dedicated to advancing their political, social, and ideological views by any means necessary.
Nearly all of the Muslim lands are overcrowded and short of resources. Many are poor, save for the oil-rich states of the Middle East.
The Terrorist Ranks Are Growing
The post 9/11 invasion of Afghanistan that lead to the unseating of the Taliban regime deprived Al Qaeda of a safe haven, striking a major blow against the global terrorist movement, yet by not following up effectively on that initial success, a great deal of benefit that could have been solidified was squandered. Additionally, with the invasion of Iraq, Al Qaeda and its sympathizers now have new grounds from which they can unite their members and, more importantly, recruit new ones.
At the heart of the Middle East fundamentalist movement are the wahabists of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has recently been forced to enact a program designed to keep Muslim men from going to Iraq to wage war against the coalition forces in a global jihad. In this way, the foundation for terrorist cells are built which are independent of Al Qaeda but resolutely committed to the same objectives.
Examples of this have been seen in the Madrid railway bombings which were carried out by Al Qaeda inspired Moroccan terrorist cell who were motivated by the Iraq invasion.
It is clear that RMIGs have significant sympathy among Europe’s Muslim population. The French riots of October and November 2005 affected at least twenty cities in that country, resulting in 2,888 arrests, leading to a further spill over of violence in Greece, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Denmark, and Switzerland.
It has been proven that Saudi Arabia continues to fund and maintain connections with a broad group of religious schools, stretching from Pakistan to New York, and from the Philippines to India. Individuals from Europe and the Middle East are embracing the extremist teachings, traveling to Afghanistan, Kashmir and Iraq to fight, and returning to their own countries, with the rights of western citizens to carry the fight against the very nations they were born to.
RMIGs Will Gain Access to Weapons of Mass Destruction
It must be assumed that tomorrow’s terrorists will make every effort to ensure that they have more than unconventional amounts of conventional explosives with which to make their violent point. Pakistan represents by far the greatest opportunity for would-be nuclear terrorists to become nuclear terrorists. If Muslim extremists cannot gain access to stolen weapons from the former Soviet Republics, Islamabad may be their provider.
Thankfully, this seems not to be a guarantee that terrorists will use nuclear weapons against the potential western targets. RMIGs will most likely receive large, hard to conceal, low-yield devices that will be difficult to smuggle to their target. Though one can be certain that terrorist organizations will try anyway, other weapons of mass destruction (WMD) look to be a much more likely option. Clouds of toxic gas or incompletely weaponized bacteria could find their way into New York City, London or Paris. Even more likely is the chemical weapon threat. As the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo, demonstrated in a Tokyo subway in 1995, chemical weapons are available to essentially anyone who wants them badly enough to put in a modest effort to make or buy them.
The ‘Home Grown’ threat from Muslim extremists is on the rise
A 1994 terrorism study by the US Department of Defense predicted that by 2020 a majority of the world’s most important Muslim lands could be controlled by extremist religious governments. Beyond that, for the first time, an Islamic country, Pakistan, has nuclear weapons. As previously mentioned, Islamic extremists view this technology as an “Islamic bomb” that could be used to promote their apocalyptic ideology, making nuclear terrorism a realistic threat. This threat will grow as Iraq, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and other countries establish fundamentalist regimes that are willing to back the cause of jihad against the West.
Saudi Arabia is well on the path to be taken over by a fundamentalist regime, and to attempt to postpone this, the Saud family will continue to provide more support to extremists and endeavor to direct the RMIGs attention to the West.
The overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq have strengthened the global jihadist movement, given them a training ground and built up the contacts for future terrorist acts.
The gap between the ‘Have’s’ and the ‘Have Not’s’ will continue to increase
The growing gap in wealth between the rich and poor countries looks as if it will further destabilize the world order, continuing to encourage prospective RMIGs in the less developed nations to foment violence against the rich in their own countries, or when available against western targets. This rising gap in wealth within many prosperous nations has the possibility to set off discontent among the less well-off, possibly helping to inspire random violence and acts of domestic terrorism in the West. The growing gap in wealth and income between the rich and the poor also may inspire conversion to Islam in the West, principally among the underprivileged. As seen in England and Australia, this can be a source of violent extremism among both immigrant and native populations.
Population growth is highest in those countries least able to support the growth
The greatest fertility rates are found in those countries least able to support their existing populations: the largest population increases projected between 2000 and 2050 include the Palestinian Territory (217 percent), Niger (205 percent), Yemen (168 percent), Angola (162 percent), the Democratic Republic of Congo (161 percent), and Uganda (133 percent).
The Muslim world is reproducing at an extremely high rate, with fertility rates of 7.5 in Afghanistan, 6.0 in Yemen, and 4.9 in Iraq. Even these estimates appear to be on the low side. According to CSIS, most official projections underestimate both the fertility rates and age of mortality, as well as making the assumption that life expectancy will grow more slowly in the future, which seems unlikely as world healthcare only continues to get better.
Growing Western prosperity relative to other countries with rapidly growing populations and overburdened economies will continue to make the developed nations a target for terrorism. Shortages of food could help to motivate extremism unless the industrialized nations make a determined, visible effort to provide for the world’s poor. (Food production in the next 40 years will need to be significantly higher then ever before in the world’s history to keep the exploding world population from starvation).
Urbanization, will continue to increase rapidly
According to the Population Reference Bureau’s 2006 World Population Data Sheet, Forty-eight percent of the world’s population currently lives in cities. By 2030 that figure is expected to grow to 60 percent, as approximately 2.1 billion more people move to the world’s urban centers.
In industrialized nations, on average, more than three-fourths of the population lives in urban areas (urban areas are defined differently for each country).
Right now, there are billions of people who live in urban areas who lack adequate clean water, shelter, toilets and hygiene areas, and/or electricity. The problems this raises with reference to crime, violence, and religious extremism is readily apparent. Concentrating the poor, oppressed and powerless in large cloistered urban centers produces conditions ideal for the spread of crime and the type of religious extremism that lends itself to violent ideologies.
“Any government that supports, protects or harbours terrorists is complicit in the murder of the innocent and equally guilty of terrorist crimes.” George W. Bush
Old Terrorism – Ethno -nationalist or Ideological, and state sponsored
What are the differences between the “legitimate” tactics used by authorities in the quelling or defence of terrorism, and terrorism itself? Nations at times will use violence to control or manipulate parts of their populace, or use intimidation to get what they desire.
A government that is an adversary of ‘Country B’ may apply terror tactics in an effort to make up for real or perceived inadequacies in conventional warfare capabilities. Repression through terror of the indigenous population of their own country may occur to stop the dissent or violent uprising inside the country that ‘Country B’ might exploit. Special Operations forces, paramilitary forces and state intelligence assets could conduct terrorist operations against ‘Country B’ interests both inter-regionally and as far outside the countries borders as the abilities of their external security apparatus will allow to destabilize ‘Country B’ and bring desired visibility to the sponsoring government’s issues. Finally, attacks on ‘Country B’ on their home soil may be conducted by RMIGs of the state or by other domestic proxies. This is being seen today in Iraq with the Iranian involvement to destabilize Iraq and kill coalition servicemen, as well as Pakistan’s efforts to destabilize the Jammu and Kashmir region of India.
Forms of State Terror
– Governmental or “State” terror
– State involvement in terror
– State sponsorship of terrorism
– Turning a blind eye to the harboring/funding of terror groups in their borders
Governmental or “State” terror
Governmental or “State” terror is normally seen when a regime uses threats or outright terror to its own populace to exert power over or suppress them. These weapons were not used against the majority Muslim population in the southern 2/3 of Iraq, where he accomplished his goals using ‘conventional’ state terror methods.
State involvement in terror
State involvement in terror includes the activities where government personnel perform operations using terror tactics that are directed against other nations’ interests, individuals or private groups that have opposing or controversial opinions/actions viewed as counter to that of the state. In essence, it is governmentally authorized terrorism, though these sanctions hardly ever come to public light. Some past examples of this governmentally authorized terrorism are the assassination include the Soviet and Iranian assassination operations aimed at state dissidents who moved abroad for fear of their lives. Additionally, the targeting and destroying (through a covert bombing campaign carried out by Libyan and North Korean intelligence officers) of international airliners was another past example of this form of terrorism.
A further form of state involvement in terror is “pro-state” terror. This is a terror campaign carried out by small groups or individual people who have no authorized status in the system. These type of attacks generally are lacking in official support as well. Pro-state terror may have the end result of a desired outcome which the government wants. In these cases, with official use of violent crime tacitly supported by the authorities, even though the groups or individuals have gone outside the rule of punishment of the terrorists is rare.
State sponsorship of terrorism
State sponsorship of terrorism, also referred to as “state supported” terrorism, represents a situation when non-state terrorist organizations are trained, equipped and operationalized by an authorized national governmental agency. A very productive aspects of this support is the providing of safe havens for terrorists’ organizations.
Examples of state sponsorship of terrorism are the overt support by the government of Syria to Hamas as well as Lebanon’s overt support and backing of Hezbollah. Syrian funding and the providing of safe havens facilitate many training areas in the Bek’a Valley territory.
“Terrorism is carried out purposefully, in a cold-blooded, calculated fashion. The declared goals of the terrorist may change from place to place. He supposedly fig problems his only solution is the demolition of the whole structure of society. No partial solution, not even the total redressing of the grievance he complains of, will satisfy him — until our social system is destroyed or delivered into his hands.”
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, International Terrorism
New Terrorism – Transnational or Global Jihadism
The first efforts to describe a ‘new’ form of terrorism began to occur in the 1990s, when scholars of terrorism attempted to make sense of a phenomenon they were seeing that did not fit into the previous model of terrorism in the 1970s and 1980s. Attacks such as that of the religious cult Aum Shinrikyo did not make sense without a reconsideration of the old model. In reality, the term ‘new terrorism’ truly came into its own only after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
In a short comparative of the new and old terrorism, it has been stated that:
* The “new terrorism” is justified on religious and apocalyptic grounds, while the “old terrorism” was rooted in political ideology.
* The “new terrorism” aims at destruction as an end in itself, while the “old terrorism” used violent destruction as a means to a political end;
* The “new terrorism” is organizationally distinct from the “old terrorism.” It is hierarchical (has many equally authoritative points of leadership) and horizontal, rather than hierarchical and vertical; it is decentralized rather than centralized;
* The “new terrorism” aims at as much destruction as possible, whether through devastating forms of weaponry or techniques such as suicide terrorism, whereas the “old terrorism” sought to create a dramatic spectacle with as little damage as possible;
More recently, those who write about “new” terrorism have focused on a perceived new threat of mass casualties caused by chemical, biological or other agents.
On the counter point, when one looks holistically and historically at Terrorism, there seems to be no old or new terrorism, just a Darwinistic evolution of violence for political purposes. Even Martha Crenshaw, the noted terrorism expert who is a staunch advocate against the use of the term “New Terrorism” states the following in comparing and contrasting the goals, methods, and organization of ‘New’ and ‘Old Terrorism’:
The new terrorism model assumes uniformly that religion, primarily of those groups
with millennial and apocalyptic ideologies, is the main precipitating factor. The new terrorists are said to have ambiguous goals on the systemic level and to value destruction for its own sake (i.e., the means are the ends). By contrast, the old terrorism is seen as comprehensible, limited, more specific, and often tied to territory – thus making the grievance more susceptible to negotiation. How well does the new terrorism model fit the historical record? Crenshaw observes that the religion behind various groups (e.g., Aum Shinrikyo versus Al Qaeda) differs, as do their goals (i.e., local or global). She also notes that some of the “old” terrorist groups (e.g., the 19th century anarchists and the Red Army Faction) had broad, transnational goals.
According to the new terrorism model, groups seek to kill as many people as possible and are particularly drawn to weapons of mass destruction, whereas the old terrorism approach assumed that the groups were limited in their means as well as goals. Crenshaw acknowledged that the new terrorism model best fits with respect to this criterion. 
Organization and structure
The new terrorists are decentralized and networked, are inspiration-driven, and often include amateurs. By contrast, the old terrorists are centralized, top-down, professional organizations that are often state sponsored. The new terrorism distinction only partly meets this criterion as many of the old terrorist groups, such as the Red Army faction,
were not so monolithic.” The bottom line seems to lend itself to seeing terrorism as not new in kind, but in degree and structure.
The new terror groups of today (Al Qaeda being the most well known) center mainly around religion as a core for recruitment and promulgation of ideology. Islam is the religion of choice and has found a massive following in Middle Eastern Arab Muslims, especially the Wahabists of Saudi Arabia, but the splinter groups, or those groups loosely associated, have worldwide reach. These organizations differ significantly from more traditional terrorist organizations of past decades. The groups of today do not depend on the sponsorship of a political state, and, unlike the PLO or the IRA, they are not defined by a particular conflict. Instead, these groups operate analogous to the businesses McDonalds or Starbucks. Al Qaeda is the franchise owner, providing financial and logistical support, as well as name recognition, to local, regional and transnational terrorist groups operating in such diverse places as the Philippines, Algeria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Tajikistan, Somalia, Yemen, and Kashmir. Local groups may carry out acts in the name of al-Qaeda in order to bolster their own reputation—even if they are not receiving support from the organization. This is possible because the ideology that al Qaeda has developed and promulgated focuses their concepts to stress a few main tenants to ensure the survival and spread of the movement.
– Ensuring the perpetuity of the fight.
– Obeying the individual obligation to fight Islam’s enemies regardless of the apparent outcome of battle
– Institutionalizing a culture of martyrdom
– Pinpointing Islam’s enemies through the refining process of jihad, and thus maintaining its identity
– Establishing pride, brotherhood, and unity in the face of threats to the ummah
– Creating a parity of suffering with Islam’s enemies—especially the Jews and Crusaders
– Victory is seen in the maladies afflicting God’s enemies, especially economic recession and natural disasters
– Observing miracles and dreams in jihad, which foretell of divine guidance and ultimate victory for the mujahedeen
As long as groups follow these main tenants, and focus their violence against the common enemy, then they are supporting the common cause. Due to this, Scott Atran argues that it is not religion, but group dynamics based off of social needs that fuels the Global Jihadist movement but small-group dynamics involving friends and family that form the diaspora cell of brotherhood and camaraderie on which the rising tide of martyrdom actions is based.
As mentioned by Crenshaw above, one of the main improvements of New terrorism is that of decentralized execution of actions that may or may not have been planned by some higher authority. As stated in the United States Air Force Defense Doctrine publication 1, Decentralized execution is, “…the delegation of execution authority to responsible and capable lower-level commanders to achieve effective span of control and to foster disciplined initiative, situational responsiveness, and tactical flexibility.”
‘New’ Old Terrorism
“In today’s wars, there are no morals. We believe the worst thieves in the world today and the worst terrorists are the Americans. We do not have to differentiate between military or civilian. As far as we are concerned, they are all targets.” Osama Bin Laden
Time magazine profile (16 September 2001)
The Pendulum Swings Back
For better or worse (and this author believes it is worse…much worse) the pendulum is swinging back in the direction of state sponsored terrorism. For nations like Pakistan and Iran, the pendulum never moved, as these countries have been manning, training, equipping, and operationalizing terrorist groups for decades.
Iran has consistently been described by the United States as the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism. It actively supports terrorist groups, most prominently the Lebanese group Hezbollah..
Iran and Hezbollah
Hezbollah, a radical Shiite militia based in Lebanon, is a direct product of funding and training by Iran’s IRGC (QF). It was formally established in 1982 following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, aimed at uprooting the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) bases there.
RMIG takeover of Islamic Nations
For other nations that have not been wholly engaged in state sponsored terrorism, there are growing dangers as well. There are two types of new and developing state sponsored terrorism which may very soon roll a number of these nations into the terrorist state fold. The first one, unfortunately, we are all familiar with, as the most accurate example being the Al Qaeda infiltration of Afghanistan. After the Soviet Union finally withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989 the communist Afghani government hung on for three more years, and then was finally overrun by RMIGs. These services and practical, day-to-day contributions to the lives of ordinary citizens will provide a legitimacy and underpinning for future political activities by terrorist organizations. This RMIG sponsored ground root social support, combined with the reality that in almost every country in the Muslim world, western focused terrorism already has the sympathy of a majority of the population and the strong allegiance of many, will in the near future give rise to terrorist based governments in many middle-eastern countries.
The second development in state sponsored terrorism is focused at the western nations, with Europe directly in the crosshairs and North America soon to follow.
The most dangerous and most likely future development in the spread of terrorism is that caused by population growth and immigration of Muslims into western lands.
The bottom line is that there is a near irreversible trend in the expansion of Islam into Europe and Canada.
In essence, Europe in the next 50 years will be of a very different demographic makeup as it is now. Of all population growth in the EU in the last 20 years, 90% has been from immigrants, much of which were Islamic.
In France, though the statistics vary, the Islamic fertility rate is considered much higher than the 1.8 of native Frenchmen, as Islamic immigrants make up only 7.5% of the population yet account for 20% of the fertility rate.
It is not just France. As of 2001, the Muslim population in Great Britain rose from 82,000 in 1991 to 1,600,000 (Estimated at 2,500,000 today).
Compared to the decline in population of a majority of the industrialized nations, The United States (thanks to Latino immigration) will maintain the current fertility rate of 2.11 children per couple, thus providing the body pool to maintain strength in the global economy, as the European Union falls to third place behind the United States and China.
Whether it be by overthrow in an unstable middle-eastern country, or out-breeding the populations of western nations, it can be assumed that RMIGs will gain control of (or at least strong influence over) a functioning country in the next half century. If the terrorists do gain control of a country with a fully functioning and stable government, the nature of the game changes drastically.
When terrorists becomethe government, all terrorism is state-sponsored The nation’s wealth, scientists, laboratories and research facilities can be focused to develop weapons of mass destruction of all types for use in the global jihad. Even in the absence of WMD, by gaining the status and legitimacy of a national government, radical Islamists will present western and developed nations with a difficult problem. We have seen in Afghanistan and Pakistan the benefits that a sovereign safe-haven has provi