The Dynamic Terrorist Threat: An Assessment of Group Motivations and Capabilities in a Changing World

The Dynamic Terrorist Threat: An Assessment of Group Motivations and Capabilities in a Changing World

The Dynamic Terrorist Threat: An Assessment of Group Motivations and Capabilities in a Changing World

The Dynamic Terrorist Threat: An Assessment of Group Motivations and Capabilities in a Changing World

Synopsis

Analyzes the motivations and capabililties of terrorist organizations and prioritizes the threat these groups pose to the United States.

Excerpt

Terrorist groups do not stand still. They grow and sometimes fade, responding to changes in their political, social, economic, and security environments. The previous two chapters presented a framework for assessing the relative threats, capabilities, and requirements of terrorist groups in the context of the struggle against terrorism. Yet these chapters do not address how terrorists might evolve within the framework. To address this issue, we discuss in this chapter some of the terrorist groups that have shown significant changes over time—and what appears to have caused these shifts. We do not propose a new model, in addition to the framework outlined in Chapters Two and Three, but instead we simply attempt to refine the picture of terrorist threats to the United States and U.S. interests overseas by adding a dynamic element to our framework.

To do this, we assess the evolution of four terrorist groups: Peru's Shining Path, Lebanese Hizballah, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and the Philippine Abu Sayyaf Group. We chose these four groups because they have evolved in dissimilar circumstances, articulate diverse objectives, and some even have different organizational structures. As such, they illustrate a wide range of potential changes. We examine the evolutionary trajectories of these four groups in the context of our framework, concluding with a discussion of the potential implications that the dynamic nature of terrorism has for U.S. counterterrorism policy.

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