Terrorists, Victims, and Society: Psychological Perspectives on Terrorism and Its Consequences

By Andrew Silke | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 13
Deterring Terrorists

KARL A. SEGER
Associated Corporate Consultants, Inc.


UNDERSTANDING THE CURRENT THREAT

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines terrorism as: 'the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives'. The US Department of Defense (DoD) has a similar definition in its Directive 0-2000.12H: 'Terrorism is the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to instill fear, intended to coerce or try to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious or ideological.'

The DoD, though, differentiates between the three components of its Combating Terrorism Program: (1) anti-terrorism, (2) counter-terrorism, and (3) terrorism consequence management. Anti-terrorism refers to defensive measures used to reduce the vulnerability of individuals and property to terrorist attack. Counter-terrorism refers to offensive measures to deter, resolve and mitigate a terrorist act. Consequent management refers to measures used to minimise loss of life and property damages following a terrorist incident (Ralston, 1999).

Psychology plays a role in all three of these components. Within the antiterrorism component psychological warfare and other defensive measures may be used to convince the terrorist that attempting to target a specific asset or person has a low probability of success, or that the action would not achieve the terrorist's objective. An important aspect of psychological antiterrorism is the need to create awareness among the targeted population.

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