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Library of Congress. Washington, D. The purpose of this study is to focus attention on the types of individuals and groups that are prone to terrorism see Glossary in an effort to help improve U. The emergence of amorphous and largely unknown terrorist individuals and groups operating independently freelancers and the new recruitment patterns of some groups, such as recruiting suicide commandos, female and child terrorists, and scientists capable of developing weapons of mass destruction, provide a measure of urgency to increasing our understanding of the psychological and sociological dynamics of terrorist groups and individuals.

The approach used in this study is twofold. First, the study examines the relevant literature and assesses the current knowledge of the subject. Second, the study seeks to develop psychological and sociological profiles of foreign terrorist individuals and selected groups to use as case studies in assessing trends, motivations, likely behavior, and actions that might deter such behavior, as well as reveal vulnerabilities that would aid in combating terrorist groups and individuals. Because this survey is concerned not only with assessing the extensive literature on sociopsychological aspects of terrorism but also providing case studies of about a dozen terrorist groups, it is limited by time constraints and data availability in the amount of attention that it can give to the individual groups, let alone individual leaders or other members.

Thus, analysis of the groups and leaders will necessarily be incomplete. Much information about the terrorist mindset see Glossary and decision-making process can be gleaned from such sources.

Moreover, there is a language barrier to an examination of the untranslated literature of most of the groups included as case studies herein. Terrorism databases that profile groups and leaders quickly become outdated, and this report is no exception to that rule.

The Global Muslim Community at a Crossroads

In order to remain current, a terrorism database ideally should be updated periodically. New groups or terrorist leaders may suddenly emerge, and if an established group perpetrates a major terrorist incident, new information on the group is likely to be reported in news media. Even if a group appears to be quiescent, new information may become available about the group from scholarly publications.

There are many variations in the transliteration for both Arabic and Persian. Thus, the latter usages are used in this study. For example, although Ussamah bin Ladin is the proper transliteration, the more commonly used Osama bin Laden is used in this study. Table 1.

Table 2. Table 3. Table 4. Table 5. Table 6. In the s and s, it was commonly assumed that terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction WMD would be counterproductive because such an act would be widely condemned. Jenkins's premise was based on the assumption that terrorist behavior is normative, and that if they exceeded certain constraints and employed WMD they would completely alienate themselves from the public and possibly provoke swift and harsh retaliation. This assumption does seem to apply to certain secular terrorist groups.

When the assumptions about terrorist groups not using WMD were made in the s and s, most of the terrorist groups making headlines were groups with political or nationalist-separatist agenda. Those groups, with some exceptions, such as the Japanese Red Army JRA--Rengo Sekigun , had reason not to sabotage their ethnic bases of popular support or other domestic or foreign sympathizers of their cause by using WMD. Trends in terrorism over the past three decades, however, have contradicted the conventional thinking that terrorists are averse to using WMD.

It has become increasingly evident that the assumption does not apply to religious terrorist groups or millenarian cults see Glossary. Indeed, since at least the early s analysts, including somewhat contradictorily Jenkins, have predicted that the first groups to employ a weapon of mass destruction would be religious sects with a millenarian, messianic, or apocalyptic mindset. When the conventional terrorist groups and individuals of the early s are compared with terrorists of the early s, a trend can be seen: the emergence of religious fundamentalist and new religious groups espousing the rhetoric of mass-destruction terrorism.

In the s, groups motivated by religious imperatives, such as Aum Shinrikyo, Hizballah, and al-Qaida, have grown and proliferated. These groups have a different attitude toward violence--one that is extranormative and seeks to maximize violence against the perceived enemy, essentially anyone who is not a fundamentalist Muslim or an Aum Shinrikyo member. Their outlook is one that divides the world simplistically into "them" and "us. It used chemical or biological WMD in about a dozen largely unreported instances in the first half of the s, although they proved to be no more effective--actually less effective--than conventional weapons because of the terrorists' ineptitude.

Nevertheless, it was Aum Shinrikyo's sarin attack on the Tokyo subway on March 20, , that showed the world how dangerous the mindset of a religious terrorist group could be. These religiously motivated groups would have no reason to take "credit" for such an act of mass destruction, just as Aum Shinrikyo did not take credit for its attack on the Tokyo subway, and just as Osama bin Laden did not take credit for various acts of high-casualty terrorism against U.

Qari Abdul Basit Abdul-Samad Biography عبد الباسط عبد الصمد Great Muslim Lives

Taking credit means asking for retaliation. Instead, it is enough for these groups to simply take private satisfaction in knowing that they have dealt a harsh blow to what they perceive to be the "Great Satan. The contrast between key members of religious extremist groups such as Hizballah, al-Qaida, and Aum Shinrikyo and conventional terrorists reveals some general trends relating to the personal attributes of terrorists likely to use WMD in coming years.

The Global Muslim Community at a Crossroads : Abdul Basit :

According to psychologist Jerrold M. Post , the most dangerous terrorist is likely to be the religious terrorist. Post has explained that, unlike the average political or social terrorist, who has a defined mission that is somewhat measurable in terms of media attention or government reaction, the religious terrorist can justify the most heinous acts "in the name of Allah," for example. One could add, "in the name of Aum Shinrikyo's Shoko Asahara. Psychologist B. Berkowitz describes six psychological types who would be most likely to threaten or try to use WMD: paranoids, paranoid schizophrenics, borderline mental defectives, schizophrenic types, passive-aggressive personality see Glossary types, and sociopath see Glossary personalities.

He considers sociopaths the most likely actually to use WMD. Nuclear terrorism expert Jessica Stern 77 disagrees. She believes that "Schizophrenics and sociopaths, for example, may want to commit acts of mass destruction, but they are less likely than others to succeed.


Stern's understanding of the WMD terrorist appears to be much more relevant than Berkowitz's earlier stereotype of the insane terrorist. It is clear from the appended case study of Shoko Asahara that he is a paranoid. Whether he is schizophrenic or sociopathic is best left to psychologists to determine. The appended case study of Ahmed Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the World Trade Center WTC bombing on February 26, , reported here does not suggest that he is schizophrenic or sociopathic.

On the contrary, he appears to be a well-educated, highly intelligent Islamic terrorist. In Berkowitz could not have been expected to foresee that religiously motivated terrorists would be prone to using WMD as a way of emulating God or for millenarian reasons. This examination of about a dozen groups that have engaged in significant acts of terrorism suggests that the groups most likely to use WMD are indeed religious groups, whether they be wealthy cults like Aum Shinrikyo or well-funded Islamic terrorist groups like al-Qaida or Hizballah.

The fall of the Berlin Wall in and the collapse of the Soviet Union in fundamentally changed the operating structures of European terrorist groups. Whereas groups like the Red Army Faction Rote Armee Faktion--RAF; see Glossary were able to use East Germany as a refuge and a source of logistical and financial resources during the Cold War decades, terrorist groups in the post Cold War period no longer enjoy the support of communist countries. Moreover, state sponsors of international terrorism see Glossary toned down their support of terrorist groups. In this new environment where terrorist groups can no longer depend on state support or any significant popular support, they have been restructuring in order to learn how to operate independently.

New breeds of increasingly dangerous religious terrorists emerged in the s. The most dangerous type is the Islamic fundamentalist. A case in point is Ramzi Yousef, who brought together a loosely organized, ad hoc group, the so-called Liberation Army, apparently for the sole purpose of carrying out the WTC operation on February 26, Moreover, by acting independently the small self-contained cell led by Yousef prevented authorities from linking it to an established terrorist organization, such as its suspected coordinating group,Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida, or a possible state sponsor.

Aum Shinrikyo is representative of the other type of religious terrorist group, in this case a cult. Shoko Asahara adopted a different approach to terrorism by modeling his organization on the structure of the Japanese government rather than an ad hoc terrorist group. Accordingly, Aum Shinrikyo "ministers" undertook a program to develop WMD by bringing together a core group of bright scientists skilled in the modern technologies of the computer, telecommunications equipment, information databases, and financial networks. They proved themselves capable of developing rudimentary WMD in a relatively short time and demonstrated a willingness to use them in the most lethal ways possible.


Aum Shinrikyo's sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway system in marked the official debut of terrorism involving WMD. Had a more lethal batch of sarin been used, or had the dissemination procedure been improved slightly, the attack might have killed thousands of people, instead of only a few.

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