Inside Terrorist Organizations

Inside Terrorist Organizations

Inside Terrorist Organizations

Inside Terrorist Organizations

Excerpt

In 1969 when I began to prepare a series of lectures for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, entitled Assassination and Terrorism, 1 I struggled to find appropriate materials but could only discover a handful of items. Seventeen years later, Amos Lakos published a bibliography on the same subjects which contained 5,622 items in English alone! 2 Has any academic enterprise ever grown so much in so short a time?

Although the literature on terrorism is abundant now, it is very unevenly distributed. No subject commands more attention than counter- terrorist policies does and this is no surprise. One would think that this interest should lead inevitably to studies in terrorist organization too. But that does not seem to be the case.

There is no clear explanation for the discrepancy. The most obvious one is the difficulty academics have in observing underground groups. But the materials on terrorist psychology and on terrorist tactics are quite voluminous; and one would have thought that in some respects the same barrier existed there. 3 Indeed, interviews with captured terrorists by academics seem to focus on motivation; virtually no questions are asked about organizational details and issues. It is also clear that public materials like pamphlets and especially terrorist memoirs -- terrorists seem almost compelled to write memoirs -- which contain much information on these matters have not drawn much attention. 4 Useful but ignored materials are contained in some able studies of particular groups, like J. Bowyer Bell , The Secret Army, Helena Cobban, The Palestinian Liberation Organization and Arturo Porzecanski, Uruguay's Tupamoros; The Urban Guerrilla. There is a similar indifference to the accounts of those who have participated in specific campaigns, that is, Roger Trinquer, Modern Warfare and Abraham Guillen, Philosophy of the Urban Guerrilla.

Whatever the reason, the plain fact is that we have not used the opportunities available; and a principal aim of this collection is to fill a very small portion of that gap. In making internal conflicts the focus of the volume, especially in its first half, our contributors highlight a feature present in virtually all human organizations. We would not emphasize the obvious so much here if the academic and popular literature did not picture terrorist organizations as composed of persons who agree on all essential matters. Of course, there are organizational patterns peculiar to terrorists deriving from their special purposes and means, and in the latter portion of the volume some contributors explicitly recognize the issue, . . .

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