See also: Chinese Revolution; Counterinsurgency; Guerrilla Warfare in History.
Generalised measures are never sufficient to stop terrorists, even though they may be very effective in drying up the potential bases of popular support for the terrorist movement. Authorities have to be prepared for the attacks and campaigns of varying duration and intensity launched by numerically tiny groups which may entirely lack popular sympathy or support.
Widespread support is rare, and groups are usually based on a structure of cells or 'firing groups' of about six persons. They exercise a degree of operational independence and initiative and are obsessively concerned with the security of their organisation and lines of communication. This cell structure is designed to enhance secrecy, mobility and flexibility while at the same time facilitating tight overall central control by the terrorist directorate. Paramilitary command structures and discipline are fostered to ensure unswerving obedience to the leadership; offenders against the terrorist code are ruthlessly punished, often by death. Experienced terrorists develop sophisticated cover against detection and infiltration. They are adept at hiding in the anonymity of the urban landscape and at swiftly changing their bases of operations. Terrorists are constantly engaged in training new 'hit men', bomb-makers, small-arms specialists and assassins. In a protracted and carefully planned campaign certain individuals and cells in the terrorist movement will be strategically placed as 'sleepers', to be actuated later in the struggle as and when required.
The terrorists' small numbers and anonymity make them an extraordinarily difficult quarry for the police in modern cities, while the ready availability of light, portable arms and materials required for home-made bombs makes it difficult to track down terrorist lines of supply. Once the key members of a cell have been identified it is generally practicable to round up other members. On the basis of information gleaned from interrogating a relatively small number of key terrorist operatives it is possible to spread the net more effectively around the whole organisation.
A crucial requirement for defeating any political terrorist campaign therefore must be the development of high-quality intelligence, for unless the security authorities are fortunate enough to capture a terrorist red-handed at the scene of the crime; it is only by sifting through comprehensive and accurate intelligence data that the police have any hope of locating the terrorists. Government and security chiefs need to know a great deal about groups and individuals that are seeking rewards by terrorism, about their aims, political motivations and alignments, leadership, individual members, logistic and financial resources and organisational structures.
The greatest weakness of modern liberal states in the field of internal defence is a reluctance or inability to see subversion as a problem until it is too late. The primary objective of an efficient intelligence service must be to prevent any
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Publication information: Book title: Dictionary of Terrorism. Edition: 2nd. Contributors: John Richard Thackrah - Author. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 2004. Page number: 130.
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