The Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Terrorists

The conventional view of terrorists is that they are focussed on political or economic gains. So a common strategy to prevent terrorism is to provide people with non-violent ways of achieving those goals. But Max Abrahms of Stanford has studied terrorist groups, and he concludes their motivation is not political gain.

The Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Terrorists.

Terrorists, he writes,

  1. Attack civilians, a policy that has a lousy track record of convincing those civilians to give the terrorists what they want;
  2. Treat terrorism as a first resort, not a last resort, failing to embrace nonviolent alternatives like elections;
  3. Don’t compromise with their target country, even when those compromises are in their best interest politically;
  4. Have protean political platforms, which regularly, and sometimes radically, change;
  5. Often engage in anonymous attacks, which precludes the target countries making political concessions to them;
  6. Regularly attack other terrorist groups with the same political platform;
  7. Resist disbanding, even when they consistently fail to achieve their political objectives or when their stated political objectives have been achieved.

Abrahms has an alternative model to explain all this: People turn to terrorism for social solidarity. He theorizes that people join terrorist organizations worldwide in order to be part of a community, much like the reason inner-city youths join gangs in the United States.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *