Terrorist Group Organizations

Posted on: 16th May 2023


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Terrorist Group Organizations

Terrorist groups are organizations that use violence to achieve their goals. They can be motivated by political or religious reasons or both. Terrorist groups may also be involved in criminal activities such as drug trafficking and money laundering. They have different ideologies, different goals, and different strategies. Some have been very successful in their goals, and some have not. Some of the terrorist groups’ organizations worldwide are Al Qaeda and ISIS. This paper seeks to reflect on the author’s sentiments on terrorist organizations.

The characteristics of terrorist group organizations are:

       Terrorist groups operate in all environments. They can be found everywhere, from rural communities to cities, from small villages to large countries.

       Terrorist groups act deliberately, planning their attacks carefully and often. This separates them from other criminal organizations such as gangs or the mafia.

       Terrorist groups apply high mobility, meaning they can move quickly from one place to another to avoid detection by law enforcement agencies. They also can change their tactics quickly to adapt to changing circumstances (61).

The area of operation of terrorists is always large, and it is not confined to one region. Terrorist organizations have a plan on how to attack their enemies. They target different areas such as local tourists, regional tourists, national tourists, transnational tourists, and international tourists. Terrorists do not only target a particular region, but they also target all kinds of people from all over the world. Terrorists do not only target those who are living in the same country as them, but they also target those who are living in another country or even another continent. The main reason terrorists use this strategy is that they want their message to reach as many people as possible to spread their ideas and beliefs through fear and intimidation (62). They want people to think that there is no place where they can feel safe anymore because terrorism has now reached every corner of the globe. The various levels include the following:

       Local terrorists are those who operate within their own country’s borders. They are also known as domestic terrorists.

       Regional terrorists operate within a group of countries or regions but do not operate outside them. Examples include al-Qaeda in Iraq, which fought against American troops in Iraq, and Boko Haram, which operates mainly in Northern Nigeria and targets neighboring Cameroon and Niger.

       National terrorists are those who operate within their own country but also have bases outside it and can operate outside it when necessary, such as AQ, which has bases in Afghanistan, where it trained people like Osama bin Laden before sending them back to their home countries to carry out terrorist attacks such as 9/11. Other groups are transnational and international tourists who operate or stage their activities worldwide and beyond a single nation.

The sources of support for terrorists are different from one another and the actors involved. The main categories include state-sponsored terrorism and independent/non-state-sponsored terrorism.

       State-Sponsored Terrorism: In this category, governments provide financial and military support to terrorist organizations to further their political agenda or other goals. This can also be done when a government does not want to take responsibility for certain acts or wants to cover up its involvement in acts that could bring it into conflict with foreign powers.

       Government establishments: This type of support is given by the government itself, either directly or indirectly. It is given to terrorist organizations formed within the borders of a country. Government establishments such as law enforcement agencies, military agencies, and intelligence agencies provide a wide range of support to terrorist organizations regarding funding, training, and equipment (63).

       Independent/Non-State Sponsored Terrorism: In this category, individuals or groups act independently without any connection with any government or political party. They may have personal reasons for participating in terrorist activities, such as revenge or anger towards a particular group or country.

The complexity of terrorist organizations makes it difficult to understand their internal structures, but research has shown that terrorist groups have a hierarchy similar to legitimate governments. Examples include Osama Bin Laden. Because terrorist groups have hierarchical structures with many levels of leadership, multiple people can order an attack on a target without having direct contact with those who carry out the act itself. This allows the leaders to maintain anonymity while still giving orders that lead to death and destruction. Some of them turn from their bad acts into political saviors.

The structure of a terrorist group is one of the most important aspects of understanding how they operate, who they target, and what their goals are. Senior leadership is at the top of the pyramid and includes those in charge of leading the group. They may be called by different names, such as emirs, commanders, or leaders. These leaders are typically religious and political scholars who have been studying extremist ideologies for many years. Other members of their organization have carefully selected them as they feel they have what it takes to lead the group. The field leadership is the second level in the hierarchy of a terrorist group, after the senior leadership. Field leaders are responsible for planning and executing terrorist attacks. They often have extensive knowledge about explosives and other weapons and military tactics (64). The primary task of field leaders is to recruit new members and train them in the use of weapons and explosives. Active operatives carry out terrorist attacks or act as suicide bombers. They may be experienced fighters, or they may have been recruited only recently. Lastly, passive supporters are ordinary people who support a terrorist organization by providing money, food, or other supplies to its members. They do not participate in any violent activities but are often used to hide weapons or supplies and may assist with transportation needs.

The organizational structure of terrorist groups is sometimes quite simple and, at other times, very complex. The structure of a terrorist group can be examined by looking at its leadership, membership, financing, communications, and weapons/materials. The terrorist command and control structure is centralized because all decisions are made by one person who has full authority over everything within his organization, including finances and recruitment strategies ( 65). However, leaderless resistance groups are decentralized; they do not require direct contact between members because they share similar beliefs and goals.

Terrorist organizations use different organizational models, which reflect their objectives and the conditions under which they operate. These models may be functional, operational, or independent cell structures. Functional structure is a common organizational model used by many terrorist groups. It consists of a small group of members who perform specific functions. The number of members in this type of structure is relatively small and does not vary much over time. This allows terrorist groups to carry out their activities without attracting attention from security agencies (67). The operational structure consists of highly trained members who receive training on using weapons and explosives. Operational cells are usually responsible for carrying out terrorist attacks against their targets or recruiting new members into the organization. Lastly, the independent cell structure is another type of terrorist organization whose members operate independently without direct communication. Each member acts independently without knowing what others are doing until they meet together.

Conclusively, terrorist groups are organized differently depending on their purpose, ideology, and target. Different terrorist organizations use different types of networks to organize themselves. Terrorist groups can be structured as either all-channel or hybrid networks. All-channel networks are composed entirely of people connected by strong ties (strong ties are relationships between people who know each other well and have a lot of shared history) (69). Hybrid networks combine weak ties with strong ties.



Chapter 7. Terrorist Group Organization

Peter Seiyanoi

Peter Seiyanoi

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