Handbook of Terrorism Prevention and Preparedness
Read the full PDF version of the Handbook of Terrorism Prevention and Preparedness, edited by prof. em. Alex. P. Schmid.
This document compiles 35 chapters and over 1000 pages and thereby aims to provide an authoritative resource on terrorism prevention and preparedness.
Introduction: Terrorism Prevention and Preparedness
This section contains the book's copyright information, table of contents, list of contributors, list of abbreviations, acknowledgements and a foreword by ICCT Director Alexander von Rosenbach.
Chapter 1: Introduction: Purpose and Organization of the Handbook
by Alex P. Schmid
This introduction contains a brief overview of the Handbook's five parts and chapters.
Chapter 2: Terrorism Prevention: Conceptual Issues ( Definitions, Typologies and Theories)
by Alex P. Schmid
This chapter serves to outline a framework for the analysis of terrorism. Key concepts (prevention, terrorism, extremism, radicalization) are defined and discussed, as are the prevention of radicalization and prevention of extremism as alternative frameworks related to terrorism prevention. The difficulty of theory formation is outlined and some promising borrowings from crime prevention theory are introduced. Typologies of terrorism and prevention are presented and a tri-partition into upstream-, midstream- and downstream-terrorism prevention is suggested, illustrated by examples of measures to be taken, or intervention to be made, for each of these phases. In addition to suggesting working definitions for terrorism prevention and preparedness, the chapter also features a short appendix with definitions of prevention in the fields of conflict, crime, and violence.
Part I: Lessons for Terrorism Prevention from Literature in Related Fields
Chapter 3: A Criminological Approach to Preventing Terrorism: Situational Crime Prevention and the Crime Prevention Literature
by Kelly A. Berkell
This chapter provides an overview of the ways in which criminology and the crime prevention literature have contributed, and might prospectively contribute, to the study and practice of terrorism prevention. Underlying the discussion is the critical premise that terrorism is, inexorably, a particular form of crime, and that criminological perspectives accordingly function as key components of any comprehensive strategy for terrorism prevention and preparedness. Models and foundational concepts in crime prevention are introduced with a focus on situational crime prevention and its theoretical underpinnings. The application of situational crime prevention (SCP) to terrorism prevention is traced from its promising point of departure in 2006 through its evolution up to the present time. In addition, crime prevention models outside of (or extending beyond) situational crime prevention are considered to afford a broader overview of the maturing criminological perspective on terrorism prevention. Finally, benefits and drawbacks of the foregoing approaches are considered and directions for possible future research are discussed.
Chapter 4: De-Exceptionalizing the Terrorist Phenomenon: Lessons and Concepts from Conflict Prevention and Transformation
by Andreas Schädel and Hans J. Giessmann
This chapter shows how approaches, concepts, and instruments from conflict prevention and conflict resolution practice can be of use in conflicts marked by terrorist violence. Based on the assumption that terrorism and its effective prevention can only be understood as part of a wider political conflict and in combination with the surrounding structural power relationships, we examine how the instruments of negotiations and dialogue, although still categorically refused by some terrorism scholars and policymakers, can prove valuable additions to existing approaches of terrorism prevention.
The chapter begins with a conceptual critique of classical realist definitions of terrorism and shows how their homogenization and trivialization of the phenomenon helps policymakers legitimize hard security measures and delegitimize militant power contenders. After reviewing empirical evidence on the limited use of force as the only strategy against terrorist threats and debunking the most common objections against negotiations with terrorist groups, the chapter then delves into the details of how such negotiations evolve as part of a wider peace process. Drawing from the conflict resolution literature and related disciplines, we discuss in particular the role of timing, trust and spoilers in such processes. The chapter concludes by looking beyond classical approaches of conflict resolution and by presenting a systemic conflict transformation approach that does not attempt to simply reduce terrorist and counter terrorist violence but engages with, and aims to transform, the underlying structural violence and oppression that often form the context in which terrorist violence occurs.
While this chapter builds on the predominant literature on terrorism and thus looks at the phenomenon mostly from the perspective of governments, we acknowledge the conceptual bias in that approach and provide an insight into the theoretical debate that challenges the simplistic view of terrorism as a non-state phenomenon and a conflict between legitimate state actors and illegitimate power contenders.
Chapter 5: Contributions from the Military Counterinsurgency Literature for the Prevention of Terrorism
by Rob de Wijk
Military establishments have learned that insurgency and terrorism are part of a broader political struggle with the population being the center of gravity. Therefore, the military’s vast experience contains important lessons for dealing with terrorists in Western states. A key difference between counterinsurgency (COIN) and counterterrorist (CT) operations is that insurgents rely on support of the population whilst terrorists are individuals or isolated groups or cells without broad public support. Consequently, COIN requires a “hearts and minds”campaign, whilst CT requires search, arrest or neutralize tactics, without causing too much trouble for the population. As the “hearts and minds” campaign is a prerequisite for gaining the support of the population, winning the trust of the people is an essential activity to prevail in a political struggle. Yet this requires responsible leaders who abstain from harsh rhetorical stigmatization of sectors of society vulnerable to terrorist appeals’ leader should also refrain from contributing to polarization between majority and minority groups in society. Political leaders ought to respect group identities and grievances, and should take socio-economic measures in response to justified grievances. At the same time, they should be aware that jihadists and other militants will try to deprive the population of a sense of security. As most insurgents and terrorists make a cost-benefit calculus in their strategic decisions, they can be deterred by the state’s security forces. Thus, increasing the costs of action by the deterring side is important. The party which deters should hold something at risk which the adversary values. Deterrence by denial is relatively simple; deterrence by punishment is more difficult; here the analytical literature can cite only a few successes. Deterrence can be a form of prevention in counterterrorism.
Chapter 6: “Killing Them to Save Us” : Lessons from Politicide for Preventing and Countering Terrorism
by Clark McCauley
This chapter reviews and extends the analysis of mass political murder advanced by Chirot and McCauley, then applies this analysis to understanding and countering terrorism. The justification for this application is that both politicide and terrorism target civilians in the context of asymmetric conflict. Three generalizations emerge. Politicide and terrorism cannot be understood or countered without (i) studying both sides in the conflict, (ii) separate studies of leaders, perpetrators, and mass sympathizers, and (iii) acknowledgment of the threats and grievances perceived by both sides. The chapter concludes with implications for fighting the war of ideas against jihadist and right-wing terrorists.
Part II: Prevention and Radicalization
Chapter 7: At the Crossroads: Rethinking the Role of Education in Preventing and Counterign Violent Extremism
by Thomas K. Samuel
This chapter looks at the issue of violent extremists and terrorists targeting the education sector, and subsequently recommends steps that the education sector can take to prevent and counter violent extremism (PCVE) amongst students. Educational institutions in general and students in particular have been targeted by violent extremists and terrorists. Paradoxically, they have sought to physically attack and destroy institutions of learning, while at times, they have actively sought to radicalize and subsequently recruit students to join their cause. Short case studies of attacks on educational institutions in different parts of the world, as well as instances of young people being radicalized in schools and universities, are presented and evaluated.
Chapter 8: Prevention of Radicalization to Terrorism in Prisons: A Practical Guide
by Gary Hill
This chapter focuses more on the practical than the theoretical. Much of the chapter will focus on how to identify inmates (and staff) at risk of becoming radicalized and how to work with them. In addition to looking at potential radical inmates, the chapter also deals with violent extremist offenders, who prison professionals often include when dealing with radical inmates. Why and how individuals become radicalized in prisons is explored. Many news articles, political presentations, and common knowledge indicate that prisons are “hotbeds for the recruitment of radicals” and that this is a big problem. Whether that is true is examined. The current emphasis on developing prison programs dealing with radicals are reviewed and summarized. The issue of whether radicalization in prisons is worthy of special programs or whether normal good prison practice would be just as effective is explored. Issues of dealing with inmates who enter the prison system already radicalized and who are possibly members of radical or terrorist organizations are explored, and the types of classification tools used to identify them are discussed. The chapter also looks at differing concepts as to how and where potential radicals should be housed. A major section of the chapter deals with the training of prison staff to identify and work with potential radicals. The use of “Dynamic Security” as a tool to help in the fight against prison radicalization is explained. Examples of various treatment models used in the rehabilitation of terrorists are presented. In its final section, the chapter offers general observations and recommendations for working with radicals, convicted terrorists and violent extremist prisoners.
Chapter 9: Prevention of Radicalization to Terrorism in Refugee Camps and Asylum Centers
by Barbara H. Sude
Only a minority of refugees and asylum seekers become terrorists, but some have committed major attacks, raising concern among host country governments and publics. This chapter identifies factors that contributed to or deterred the rise of violent militant groups and terrorists among refugees confined to camps during major historical migration crises. It then examines current efforts to mitigate the same risks among today’s refugees in camp situations. However, more than half of refugees are not in camps, but are housed either among host country populations near the countries they fled from or in third countries, where many transition through asylum reception facilities before beginning to rebuild their lives. The main factors identified in the historical cases remain relevant to more recent situations: host government policies, security and radicalizer access, living conditions, opportunities for youth, and local economic conditions and resilience. Lessons drawn from programs by the United Nations and other stakeholders to address these factors also are relevant to third countries struggling to integrate refugees. As refugees become part of the wider society in new countries, other individual risk factors for radicalization to terrorism become key to prevention efforts. These factors are essentially the same as for non-refugees. Not all have been empirically validated, but to the extent that these are useful indicators, this chapter will examine how much they apply to refugees specifically and identify promising methods drawn from mental health, criminal justice, youth, and community programs to mitigate individuals’ susceptibility to radicalization before they commit violence.
Chapter 10: Preventing Terrorism from Students of Extremist Madrasahs: An Overview of Pakistan‘s Efforts
by Asad Ullah Khan and Ifrah Waqar
Historically, madrasahs as religious teaching institutions have held a position of esteem and significance in the Indian subcontinent. Since Pakistan’s independence, madrasahs have played a significant role in not only providing religious education, but also offering free board and lodging to many of the country’s poorest children. Overtime, their numbers have grown, owing to a number of national and international factors. After 9/11, a debate on regulating madrasahs and their curriculum gained strength, as links connecting extremist and terrorist elements operating in the country with these institutions were found. A number of government measures to introduce reforms and regulate madrasahs in Pakistan have been announced to date, but have mostly been unsuccessful - largely due to a lack of political will. This chapter examines the evolution, landscape, and features of the current madrasahs system and efforts to streamline them, the obstacles in their implementation, along with an overview and evaluation of Pakistan’s counterterrorism strategies related to madrasahs and, to a lesser extent, mosque reforms. The social setting of madrasahs and their role in education, politics, radicalization and terrorism is also discussed in some detail.
Chapter 11: Prevention of Radicalization in Western Muslim Diasporas
by Nina Käsehage
This chapter opens with a brief definition of key terms such as “Muslim diasporas,” “prevention of violent extremism” (PVE), “countering violent extremism” (CVE) and discusses the role of Islamophobia in radicalization and its impacts on the prevention of radicalization. The size of the Muslim population in each of the selected five Western countries and the appearance of jihadist, left- and right-wing-groups, as well as the number of attacks resulting from these milieus are briefly discussed at the beginning of the country reports. The main body of this chapter discusses academic, governmental, and civil society approaches to PVE/CVE. For each country, some PVE examples are presented which might be helpful to policymakers and practitioners. A literature review regarding PVE/CVE approaches in each country seeks to provide an overview of the academic state of the art concerning the prevention of radicalization. Finally, a number of recommendations with regard to future PVE initiatives are provided, based on the author’s field research in Salafi milieus in various European countries.
Chapter 12: Prevention of Radicalization on Social Media and the Internet
by Sara Zeiger and Joseph Gyte
In the age of selfies, snaps, likes and shares, the internet and social media have transformed the way in which people communicate. In early 2019, global internet penetration reached 57%, or 4.4 billion users, and the overall number of mobile social media users reached 42%, or 3.2 billion people. This means that people are able to share ideas, communicate and interact more rapidly than ever before, including with audiences on the other side of the world. Terrorist groups have certainly leveraged these new mechanisms and platforms for communicating amongst themselves and to potential recruits. For example, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has been known for producing sleek videos circulated on YouTube and Twitter, and has mastered new and emerging technologies and social media platforms, such as Telegram; all to promote its messages and recruit new members in cyberspace. This chapter focuses on the prevention of radicalization on social media and the internet in this digital age. It first reviews the relevant methods and approaches that terrorists employ to spread their propaganda and recruit online. Subsequently, it looks at some of the more common and emerging prevention and preparedness strategies which address the online space. Besides reviewing the theoretical foundations to prevent radicalization on social media and the internet, this chapter will also draw upon specific examples, predominantly from three regions: Europe, Southeast Asia and East Africa, to illustrate what some countries are doing to tackle the problem of online radicalization.
Part III: Prevention of Preparatory Acts
Chapter 13: Prevention of Recruitment to Terrorism
by Ahmet S. Yayla
The long-term survival of terrorist organizations relies on their ability to attract new members and maintain an ongoing terrorist recruitment cycle. The numbers of terrorist organization members may decrease due to counterterrorism operations or defections, forcing the leaders of those groups to seek new members. Preventing terrorist recruitment is one of the most effective and least lethal methods of countering terrorism, and yet it is often overlooked by those combating terrorism. Western governments did not stop Al-Qaeda from recouping its losses, even after it suffered devastating losses in the months following the 9/11 attacks. The fact is that Al-Qaeda had only around 400 armed members at the time of 9/11, as opposed to thousands of affiliated members in 2019. Although the recruitment strategies of different organizations may vary, they follow a similar historical pattern. All recruiters must first identify qualified candidates, then establish secure connections, build rapport, indoctrinate them, and slowly pull them into an organization. ISIS proved that this process could be fast-forwarded through online propaganda and social media. Preventing recruitment in the first place can be the most fruitful, and maybe also least expensive, method used to counter terrorism. Successfully short-circuiting the recruitment cycle may save thousands of lives of prospective recruits and many more lives by thwarting future attacks. This chapter aims to present a holistic and comprehensive road map for interrupting and preventing terrorist recruitment by identifying relevant societal factors and triggers that recruiters use to find and control their subjects.
Chapter 14: Prevention of Terrorist Financing
by Jessica Davis
This chapter on the prevention of the financing of terrorism will examine the international instruments and mechanisms in place to identify and prevent terrorist financing and describe and analyze the roles of the bodies involved in countering terrorist financing. It will also provide a general overview of some national-level programs, including the role of domestic financial intelligence units (and the different types generally employed.) The bodies, laws, regulations, and norms in place to prevent terrorist financing will be examined in the context of a terrorist financing framework that explores how terrorists raise, use, move, store, manage, and obscure their funds, and how (and to what extent) these bodies are able to detect such activities. Finally, a brief analysis will be offered on their role in detecting and preventing organization and operational financing, drawing the distinction between how terrorist organizations finance their activities, and how terrorist cells and individual actors finance their plots and attacks.
Chapter 15: Prevention of Cross-Border Movements of Terrorists: Operational, Political, Institutional and Strategic Challenges for National and Regional Border Control
by Sajjan M. Gohel
Securing borders is a realm of state activity that is frequently considered to be prone to vulnerability, especially in terms of how borders might provide opportunities for exploitation by terrorist actors. However, borders can also be utilized to disrupt and intercept terrorist threats. In crossing borders, terrorists potentially expose themselves to detection if their activities are properly monitored and recorded. It requires cooperation and collaboration between neighboring states, international institutions, and regional agencies. This chapter will begin by seeking to present three currently pressing regional situations that may reveal the most pertinent issues in terms of border security as these relate to terrorism. These are the European Union (EU) borders with Turkey and Syria as well as Africa, the southwestern border of the United States (US), and the Afghanistan-Pakistan-India borders. Next, it will analyze and evaluate political, institutional, and operational/technical obstacles to border security, specifically focusing on assessing the recently employed externalization strategy of the EU. The roles of immigration agencies, interagency cooperation, battlefield and military intelligence will also be examined, as well as technological factors and the usage of border walls.
Chapter 16: Prevention of the Procurement of Arms and Explosives by Terrorist Groups
by Mahmut Cengiz
This chapter analyses how to prevent the procurement of arms and explosives used by terrorist organizations. It defines arms and explosives broadly, ranging from conventional arms to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and close combat weapons. It explains key factors that lead to the creation of favorable environments for terrorist groups to gain access to arms and explosives. With a focus on terrorist groups who have perpetrated frequent attacks, the chapter showcases the jihadist and Maoist groups and their commonalities in terms of procurement of arms and explosives. Finally, the chapter explores the challenges to develop a policy model that can be applied to whole regions where terrorist groups procure arms and explosives, and discusses policy implications and actions that need to be taken in order to prevent such procurement. It is meant as a primer for experts, academics, and boots on the ground law enforcement officers to prevent organized as well as ad hoc acquisition of arms and explosives by terrorists.
Chapter 17: Prevention of CBRN Materials and Substances Getting into the Hands of Terrorists
by Ioannis Galatas
Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) threats are ranked very high οn the list of near future threats due to their expected extraordinary impact on societies affected. After the 9/11 attacks that raised the terrorism concerns to a new level, many security experts believed that a CBRN attack was only a matter of time (“when, not if”). The fact that the world has not experienced a major CBRN incident from non-state actors since then does not mean that terrorists are not pursuing the acquisition of hazardous materials, namely chemical weapons, biological agents or nuclear and radiological materials to be deployed with or without the use of explosives. Therefore, it is imperative to prevent CBRN materials and substances getting into terrorists’ hands. In order to do this, we need to explore and map all the sources and pathways for terrorists to achieve their goals, so we can better provide assistance, guidance, support, and technical expertise to relevant actors. This chapter will focus on prevention and will try to uncover existing gaps, thereby facilitating possible solutions and develop countermeasures that will lead to better control of CBRN agents and a more efficient management of a very serious (near) future problem.
Chapter 18: Prevention of (Ab-) Use of Mass Media by Terrorists (and vice versa)
by Alex P. Schmid
This chapter explores both the use of mass media by terrorists and the use of terrorism-generated news by mass media. Ever since the attention-raising effectiveness of “propaganda of the deed” was discovered in the second half of the 19th century, terrorists have exploited the mass media’s propensity to cover “bad news” extensively, first with the help of the rotary press, then followed by radio and television. Mass media, in turn, have often given broad coverage to terrorist attacks since the “human interest” generated by acts of demonstrative public violence attracts large audiences and generates extra revenue. There is a fine line between the media adhering to the public’s right to know, and broad media coverage creating exaggerated anxiety and thereby intimidating the public. Some existing media guidelines for covering terrorist news are discussed and evaluated with an eye on harm prevention resulting from the coverage of terrorist incidents.
Chapter 19: Prevention of (Ab-)Use of the Internet for Terrorist Plotting and Related Purposes
by Branislav Todorovic and Darko Trifunovic
The internet has become an indispensable tool for human communication, offering an abundance of information and a great variety of applications. However, the worldwide web also offers ample opportunities for malefactors (e.g., criminals, terrorists, demagogues) to carry out activities cause serious damage. Due to the internet's wide-reaching nature, any investigation of its (ab)use has to be defined in terms of boundaries. This chapter addresses the (ab)use of the internet for terrorist activities and seeks to provide useful information to detect and address this issue. In doing so, this chapter covers five issues. The analyzed forms of use/abuse of the internet by terrorists are classified and structured by type and purpose. Possibilities for prevention are discussed for each group or cluster.
Part IV: Prevention of, and Preparedness for, Terrorist Attacks
Chapter 20: The Role of Intelligence in the Prevention of Terrorism (Early Warning – Early Response)
by Kenneth A. Duncan
This chapter outlines how intelligence has adapted to the ever-changing threat of terrorism, and the crucial role “warning” has played and will continue to play in countering and mitigating this threat. To better understand warning’s capabilities and limitations, it also explores the nature of intelligence as well as the factors underlying warning’s collection, analysis, production, dissemination, and reception. It traces the relationship between intelligence and law enforcement agencies as it evolved as part of the US government’s organizational response to terrorism from the late 1960s onward, highlighting both its strengths and weaknesses. Finally, it discusses problems arising from the often-troubled relationship between intelligence producers and consumers – from policymakers to the general public – which can lead to obstacles in turning an early warning into an early response.
Chapter 21: Prevention of Low-tech, Lone Actor TerroristAttacks: The Case of the United States, 1970s - 2019
by Joshua Sinai
This chapter examines the magnitude of the threat posed by ideologically extremist lone actors who are considered domestic terrorists in the US during the almost 50-year period of the early 1970s to 2019. This should enable us to formulate best practice-based measures to counter them, particularly during the formative pre-incident attack phases. This categorization of terrorist actor types excludes operatives belonging to US or foreign-based organized terrorist groups or their loosely affiliated networks that operate in the US This is done by outlining the selection criteria for determining the factors that constitute a lone actor terrorist, a listing of significant attacks and plots by a representative sample of 52 perpetrators from the early 1970s to late 2019 (see Appendix A), and, based on these events and how they ended, an assessment of the extremist ideologies and psychological factors that motivated them, their modus operandi, including selection of weaponry and targets, and the measures that will be effective in preventing them during their attacks’ formative pre-incident phases. Also examined is how these incidents and plots were resolved, particularly the measures used in preventing the ones that had failed to be executed. Several security technologies that are being employed to counter such perpetrators’ pre-incident suspicious activities are also discussed. As an empirical study, the statistically-based findings are based on the chapter’s database of actual cases during the almost 50-years that are covered. The conclusion presents the chapter’s overall findings.
Chapter 22: Prevention of Gun-, Knife-, Bomb- and Arson-based Killings by Single Terrorists
by Annelies Pauwels
Lone-actor terrorism is an emerging phenomenon that challenges Western law enforcement agencies. This chapter adds to previous research on the prevention and detection of attacks by single terrorists and does so by focusing on limiting their access to weapons. It analyses the weapons that have been most commonly used by lone offenders in Western Europe over the last twenty years: firearms, knives, explosive and incendiary devices. For each of these weapon types a case study of a recent lone-actor attack is analyzed. The chapter concludes that downstream preventive measures aimed at curbing access to weapons and practical training opportunities can be useful. They can direct lone actor terrorists to more readily available weapons, reducing the lethality of their attacks. The research presents recommendations aimed at further restraining access to weapons and limiting online and on-hands training in the use or manufacturing of weapons. Lone-actor terrorism will most probably continue to exist and possibly rise, as it is a direct response to increasing pressure from law enforcement and is actively promoted by terrorist strategists. While a hundred percent safety from lone-actor attacks is probably unattainable, it is possible to diminish their ability to successfully carry out an attack and limit their lethality.
Chapter 23: Prevention of Bomb Attacks by Terrorists in Urban Settings: Improvised Explosive Devices
by Rachel Monaghan and David McIlhatton
In recent times, a significant amount of policy development has been directed towards assessing, countering, and mitigating the threat from improvised explosive devices (IED) in urban environments. Much of this has been in direct response to the impact of specific terrorist attacks that have occurred in recent times in many cities. Less attention has been positioned towards understanding how policy- and practice-based approaches in disciplines that are not considered mainstream in the counterterrorism discourse could be used to enhance the resilience of new developments linked to the protection of crowded places. This chapter seeks to overcome this by critically analyzing the fundamental questions of “what measures have been undertaken” and, to a lesser extent, “who should be responsible for counterterrorism related protective security measures?”
Chapter 24: Prevention of Kidnappings and Hostage-Takings by Terrorists
by Alex P. Schmid
This chapter will look into what can be done to prevent kidnappings and acts of hostage taking, focussing on the seizure phase and the negotiation phase, in which the prevention of loss of lives among the hostages becomes paramount. This chapter will present an overview of the recent and contemporary prevalence of kidnappings and hostage takings and the outcome of such acts of terrorism, based on two, partly overlapping, ITERATE datasets. In doing so, this chapter will utilize roughly 4,000 kidnapping and hostage taking incidents over a fifty-year period (1968-2018). This will be followed by a presentation of some of the best practices which have evolved over the years to prevent these crimes and, failing that, to prevent loss of lives during captivity with the help of smart negotiation techniques. Criminal and political acts of kidnapping and hostage-taking, local and transnational abductions, and barricade and non-barricade types have their own dynamics and are, therefore, not always comparable. Successful kidnappings (e.g. the kidnappers collected a ransom payment, obtained the release or exchange of prisoners, were granted safe conduct, or gained publicity) can encourage imitations and become contagious, thereby trading short-term prevention of loss of lives for long-term higher future risks of further abductions. The chapter’s Appendix reproduces Al-Qaeda’s kidnapping manual while a bibliography lists the most important literature on the subject.
Chapter 25: Preventing Suicide Attacks by Terrorists
by Susanne Martin
Suicide attacks have been a feared tactic of terrorism since the initiation of suicide bombings in Lebanon in the 1980s and, perhaps even more so, since their adaptation in the airplane attacks on the US on 11 September 2001. The numbers of suicide attacks, especially suicide bombings, have increased over time, in some cases dramatically. Is it possible to prevent suicide attacks by terrorists, and, if so, by what means? In fact, there are examples of effective efforts to prevent suicide attacks. One example involves the prevention of suicide bombings in Israel. Another example involves the prevention of one type of suicide attack – attacks using commercial airplanes. Suicide bombings peaked in Israel in 2002 and 2003, but decreased between 2003 and 2005. One explanation for this decrease is effective counterinsurgency (COIN) and counterterrorism efforts implemented during and following the second Palestinian Intifada. Terrorism has continued – even increased – in Israel, but suicide attacks are no longer a common occurrence. The second example relates to suicide attacks involving commercial airplanes. Changes in airport and airplane security after 9/11 have made it harder for terrorists to target or utilize airplanes in attacks. Counterterrorism efforts have not stopped terrorists from attempting further attacks on airports and airplanes, yet these attempts have been met with further hardening of these targets. While counterterrorism efforts in Israel which involve air travel have been largely successful, these successes have not included remedies for the sources of the violence that inspire groups to use suicide attacks or individuals to participate in them. The groups responsible for the suicide attacks in Israel and on 9/11 continue to operate and continue to support violence.
Chapter 26: The Terrorist Threat to Transportation Targets and Preventive Measures
by Brian Michael Jenkins
Attacks on airliners and airports constituted a large percentage of terrorist operations in the late 1960s and early 1970s, requiring extraordinary security measures. Despite progress in reducing the number of hijackings and sabotage of airliners, terrorists continued to attack commercial aviation. The 9/11 attacks in which nearly 3,000 people died, and subsequent suicide bombing attempts aboard airliners prompted even more stringent measures to keep weapons and explosives off airplanes. By 2020, terrorist hijackings have been almost entirely eliminated although sabotage remains a concern. Meanwhile, terrorist attacks on public surface transportation steadily increased into the 2010s. The attacks in the early 1970s were aimed at causing alarm and disruption. To later generations of terrorists, trains and buses offered easily accessible crowds of people in confined environments—the goal changed to slaughter as witnessed in the bombings of commuter trains in Madrid in 20004, London in 2005, and Mumbai in 2006. The aviation security model could not be applied to surface transportation. The volume of passengers was too great—passenger screening would require an army of screeners. The delays and costs would destroy public transportation. Instead of establishing security checkpoints, transportation operators had to look at ways to mitigate casualties through station and coach design and rapid intervention, and enlist passengers themselves in detecting suspicious behavior and objects.
Chapter 27: Layers of Preventive Measures for Soft Target Protection against Terrorist Attacks
by Alex P. Schmid
The chapter opens by listing the most frequently hit soft and hard targets, with a focus on those attacked by jihadi terrorists. This is followed by a conceptual discussion about various types of terrorist targets, both physical and psychological (targets of violence, targets of terror, target of demands and targets of attention) and identifies ten audiences/conflict parties, terrorists aim to influence in one way or another. A survey of a number of empirical studies on terrorist targeting follows, and ten criteria underlying terrorists’ physical target selection are identified. A trend towards increased attacks on soft targets, especially by single actors, is noticed. As a consequence, the number of attacks that could not be prevented has increased in recent years. This diagnostic part of the chapter is followed by one that focuses on improving the prevention of attacks against soft targets. A typology of preventive measures is presented, distinguishing between up-, mid- and downstream prevention. Subsequently, the main focus is on mid- and downstream prevention. A layered approach of combining 13 preventive measures (LPM) is suggested and the author’s proposals are juxtaposed with the 13 Good Practices (GP) proposed by the Global Forum on Counter-Terrorism (GFCT)’s Soft Target Protection Initiative in 2017. There is also an Appendix with “Twelve Rules for Preventing and Countering Terrorism” developed by the author when he was Officer-in-Charge of the Terrorism Prevention Branch of UNODC. A bibliography of new literature on terrorist targeting concludes the chapter.
Chapter 28: Prevention of Terrorist Attacks on Critical Infrastructure
by Anneli Botha
Targeting critical infrastructure is an attempt to destabilize the social and economic functioning of the state and, therefore, will remain an extremely important concern for those tasked with prevention of terrorist attacks. The number of incidents grew substantially as a comparison of attacks between the periods 2000-2009 and 2010-2017 shows. While the threat of cyber-attacks against critical infrastructure is gaining momentum, the use of firearms and explosives still remains the preferred modus operandi. As a result, the protection of critical infrastructure had been an important component of governments’ counterterrorism strategies in focusing on both traditional tactics and, more critically, on new technological advances such as the growing threat presented by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Developing successful counter- and preventative measures starts with understanding the “enemy,” specifically the objectives, the political message, and capabilities of terrorist organizations. It also requires continuous risk, threat, and vulnerability assessments to plan and implement steps for anticipating and preventing infrastructure attacks.
Chapter 29: Cyber Attacks by Terrorists and other Malevolent Actors: Prevention and Preparedness With Three Case Studies on Estonia, Singapore, and the United States
by Shashi Jayakumar
The field of cyberterrorism has existed for as a long as it has been possible to interdict or compromise computer systems. While contributions of scholars, researchers, and practitioners have enriched discussions, there are longstanding and unresolved issues of definition which can give rise to confusion. Does cyberterrorism mean attacks only by individuals groups that fall within widely accepted definitions of “terrorist” or “terrorist organizations?” To what degree does the aim or intention of the malicious actor matter? For the purposes of the present volume, this study (without sidestepping these questions) examines attacks against computer infrastructure and Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) by all actors with capability, and not just groups such as Al-Qaeda or ISIS. As the author notes and establishes early in his discussion, this is necessary given that while conventional terrorist groups might have intent, they have not to date acquired the capability to carry out a genuinely destructive cyber-attack of the type that might lead to major loss of life or infrastructural damage. It is (for the most part) states which have this capability. Cyber prevention and preparedness covers a wide range. This three-part chapter includes technical aspects of cyber protection, systems (and people) resilience, risk mitigation, as well as nurturing talent within a viable cyber ecosystem. Three case studies (Estonia, Singapore, and the US) are given where these and other relevant issues are examined.
Part V: Preparedness and Consequence Management
Chapter 30: Prevention of Lasting Traumatization in Direct and Indirect Victims of Terrorism
by Shannon Nash
In the wake of a terrorist attack there is an expectation of trauma after such purposeful and unpredictable violence. The nature of terrorism itself perpetuates fear, paranoia, and anxiety. However, there is immense variability in response to trauma, both immediately and over time. Studies on direct and proximal exposure to attacks, as well as individual response to terrorism and indirect exposure, demonstrate that the impact of terrorist attacks is not limited to those directly affected by it. This chapter reviews the findings of important studies and practical efforts to anticipate and reduce risk factors contributing to lasting traumatization of terrorist victims. Several areas of focus emerge in the literature involving major national traumas, first responders, children, the media, and community support. In addition, it is important to understand the experience of others who have faced such trauma and have built resilience. This includes countries which have faced chronic terrorism and decades of war that have left citizens profoundly affected, psychologically and socially. Important gaps remain in our understanding of lasting traumatization in direct and indirect victims of terrorism. This chapter identifies a variety of flexible responses and mental health strategies which include: support for first responders, promotion of resilience in children, media delivery and consumption, and rapidly adapting community-based initiatives. It is a challenge to rely on hypotheticals in disaster planning, but preparation both before and after an attack occurs contribute toward effective, abiding responses that can be built into permanent infrastructures and public health models.
Chapter 31: Prevention of Public Panic in the Wake of Terrorist Incidents
by Juan Merizalde, John D. Colautti, and James J.F. Forest
Public panic in the wake of a terrorist incident is counterproductive, providing benefits only to the perpetrators of the incident as well as those who seek to capitalize on fear and panic for their own purposes (often political or profit-oriented). And when people panic, they make bad decisions. Fortunately, scholarly research has shown that panic is the exception rather than the norm. Instead, studies of public behavior following natural disasters and terrorist incidents emphasize that most people are rational thinking and logically reacting beings who tend not to panic or to be frozen in fear. Thus, positive outcomes can be expected from devising and implementing research-based strategies that will diminish the likelihood of panic in the wake of terrorist attacks. For example, research on community resilience indicates that being well prepared, effectively communicating accurate, relevant information and empowering citizens to take recommended actions all help to significantly reduce fear and anxiety in times of crises. Following a review of this research, the chapter will conclude with a brief discussion on research policy implications.
Chapter 32: Prevention of Major Economic Disruptions Following Acts of Terrorism — The Case of the 2002 and 2005 Bali Bombings
by Richard J. Chasdi
The Bali I (2002) and Bali II (2005) bombings, conducted by Jema’ah Islamiya (JI) and its splinter group Al-Qaeda in the Malay Archipelago respectively, are watershed empirical case studies used to highlight the theoretical discussion about the economic consequences of terrorism with particular focus on the tourism industry and related services sectors. The analysis focuses on broader lessons learned, and relevant policy prescriptions for areas heavily reliant on the tourism industry that make use of public-private partnerships, both domestically and internationally. In terms of a theoretical discussion about economic consequences, discussion involves comparisons between three topics. First, damage caused by the Bali I and Bali II bombings and economic impacts nationally, regionally, and internationally, to comparable damage caused by 9/11 and certain natural catastrophes such as Hurricane Andrew and Hurricane Katrina. Second, tourism asset protection approaches from economic and legislative perspectives. Finally, police and military action approaches and disaster management programs. This analysis primarily makes use of the school of neo-realism’s “three level analysis” of conflict with its focus on explanatory factors and effects at and across three levels: the “international political system,” “nation-state,” and “individual.” To be more specific, the “international political system” explanatory factors include those that affected three or more states (e.g., the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) and the SARS virus). The “nation-state” factors include regime type, level of modernization, and societal composition. Third, “individual factors” include individual leader personality and style of leadership characteristics, and small upper level elite group decision-making processes.
Chapter 33: Prevention of Revenge Acts and Vigilantism in Response to Acts and Campaigns of Terrorism
by Marie Robin
This chapter focuses on the ways in which some people react to terrorism. It first offers a typology of some of the main unlawful reactions to terrorism, classifying them along two axes - the level of violence and the level of organization. Four types of responses are then examined, ranging from non-violent/non-institutionalized reactions to violent/institutionalized reactions. This chapter then focuses on two of these situations - those that involve an actual use of violence - and it examines the dangers posed by revenge and vigilantism at the levels of the state, society and counterterrorism. The chapter concludes by offering recommendations on how to deal with private revenge acts and vigilantism. First, government should ensure that sectors of the population do not feel a need to take the law in their own hands and set up a parallel justice system. Second, leaders of civil society and those holding state power should strive to reduce polarization and inter-community tensions that can lead to scapegoating and new cycles of violence. Third, government should introduce legislation restricting the possession of arms in private hands.
Chapter 34: Prevention of Human Rights Violations and Violations of International Humanitarian Law while Fighting Terrorism
by Tom Parker
Terrorism is a contingent political strategy. At the outset, terrorist groups are by their very nature marginal, lacking in popular support, and limited in terms of the physical force they can project. Even the weakest states are powerful in comparison, blessed with far more substantial resources in terms of men, material and treasure. Left to their own devices, terrorists will rarely possess sufficient force to successfully attain their political goals. The genius of generations of terrorist planners has been to explicitly seek to turn the state’s strength to their advantage, provoking government after government to overreact to the threat they pose by introducing draconian security measures, curtailing civil liberties, and infringing established human rights protections. This in turn results in a greater polarization of the population, the radicalization of greater numbers of the terrorists’ potential constituents, and the undermining of the state’s legitimacy both at home and abroad. This strategy has been appositely described as “political jujitsu.” Furthermore, contemporary social science research into individual processes of radicalization suggests that witnessing or experiencing abuse at the hands of state officials is a leading driver of violent extremism. Adhering to international human rights law can help prevent states from falling into the terrorists’ trap, and making a bad situation commensurately worse.
Chapter 35: Conclusions: Terrorism Prevention – The UN Plan of Action (2015) and Beyond
by Alex P. Schmid
This concluding chapter compares some of the findings and recommendations of the contributors of this Handbook with the observations and recommendations of the UN Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism (reproduced in full in the Appendix to this chapter). There are various similarities, which will be highlighted in this chapter. It then compares the findings of the UN Plan of Action with findings based on the science of System Analysis and looks at statistical correlations of terrorism. In other words, the preventive measures presented in this volume and in the UN Plan of Action are based on solid foundations. If fully and universally implemented by all UN member states, the recommendations of the UN Plan of Action could go a long way to reduce the emergence of violent extremism and terrorism. Its ultimate success stands and falls with national implementation plans. However, many UN members States hesitate to implement its evidence-based findings on the prevention of terrorism, probably due to their undemocratic regimes. Finally, the chapter looks at a few of the regional and national plans of action and sketches the elements for a generic strategy for the prevention of terrorism.
General Bibliography on Terrorism Prevention and Preparedness
by Ishaansh Singh
This bibliography contains bibliographies, books, journal articles, book chapters, theses, edited volumes, grey literature, websites, and other sources which have been organised into four sections: 1. “General Terrorism Prevention (including Prevention of Conflict, Crime, Violence),” 2. “Prevention of Radicalisation (including Deradicalisation),” 3. “Prevention of Terrorism and (Violent) Extremism,” 4. “Preparedness,” and 5. “Anti- and Counter-Terrorism.” Each section contains approximately 360 titles.