Terrorism is a form of crime. Those involved in this heinous act employ various tactics to achieve their target. Cases of terrorists using highly sophisticated equipment and strategies to hit their targets are becoming common place. The different methods used by the terrorists have resulted in confusion among security stakeholders and in turn rendered all nations in the world vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Different schools define terrorism differently primarily due to its numerous manifestations, but broadly it is defined as the use of violence or terror as a form of coercion to create fear with an aim to achieve political, social or religious goals. One of the deadliest forms of terrorism in use today is suicide terrorism. This involves individuals volunteering to die together with the target to create an emotional impact as well as maximize casualties (Kennedy, 2006). This paper will discuss the motivating factors behind suicide terrorism, signs security agencies should observe to detect suicide terror activities and how to prevent it during preparation stages and at the target.
Motivating Factors behind Suicide Terrorism
Suicide terrorism has gained precedence since the 1980s Lebanon attacks due to its deadly nature. This form of terrorism accounted for up to 48% of all terrorism fatalities between 1980 and 2003. The motives behind suicide terrorism are driven by many factors from ideological to psychological. One of the driving forces behind terrorism is as an expression of extreme anger caused by helplessness. For instance, the forceful occupation of land or any other property belonging to a group by another group of people may result in some members of the oppressed group volunteering to engage in terrorism as the only effective way to overcome the oppressive forces. This type of sacrifice is for the sake of their cause and success of their group’s interests. The strong social and ideological bonds shared by the group members is a strong motivating factor to conquer the enemy by whatever means, including suicide bombings. Suicide terrorism may also be driven by a desire to get revenge against unfair political, ideological, religious or emotional treatment to an individual or the group they are attached to (Kennedy, 2006).
Suicide bombers may also have pathological traits as well as mind sets that trigger their resolution to kill themselves and others at the same time. Many actually possess character traits such as authoritarian personality, anti-social tendencies, narcissistic and paranoid personality disorders. The homicidal and suicidal states of mind as demonstrated by suicide terrorists point towards envy, emotional detachment, omnipotence, paranoia as well as an attempt to consolidate identity or attachment to a group. The environment in which an individual is raised may trigger suicidal thoughts. For example, the Islamic religious groups involved in such terror attacks refer to radical doctrinal interpretations and directives as their motivation to engage in terror attacks. Use of suicide terrorism may also be an indicator of deprivation resulting from unfulfilled aspirations in achieving personal or civil liberties caused by ruling regimes (Kennedy, 2006).
Countering Suicide Terror
Security personnel need to identify the signs that give evidence relevant to terrorist activity. This includes surveillance on major target installations and behavioral tendencies of suspects. To be fully prepared to combat such attacks requires being well prepared in terms of security equipment and surveillance potential, that is, the ability to be alert at all times and in all parts of jurisdiction.
To identify terrorists’ activities and /or motives, security personnel need to look for suspicious individuals whom they notice observing a particular target over some time. In most cases, the suspects do so to determine the ease with which to attack such an installation. Security agencies should for instance watch people recording, drawing sketches, or monitoring activities within a given location or seeking vital information such as guard capabilities, individuals or operations within the area of target. Terrorists may also attempt to test security of target locations by triggering alarms in sensitive areas to assess the emergency response procedures (Kennedy, 2006).
Security agencies should also closely monitor suspicious purchases and orders of commodities such as chemicals, explosives and other weaponry. Purchase or theft of items such as military uniforms, flight manuals and making of fake identification documentation are potential signals of an impending terror attack. Also important is being able to identify suspicious characters in odd places or odd times. The suspects usually display irregular behaviors. Suicide bombers also often perform ‘dry runs’ in preparation of an attack in the target location.
Other signs to look for in suspects before an attack include bulky clothing inappropriate for the weather, nervous looking, tight grip on luggage, being unresponsive to voice commands and salutations, abnormal perspiration, avoiding security personnel, rigid body mid-section and making suspicious movements within a crowd. These signs are not necessarily the only ones displayed but are the most common identified in previous attacks (Kennedy, 2006).
This article vividly outlines the complexities associated with suicide terrorism. The article explains the causative factors of this form of terrorism which creates an insight into the most appropriate counter efforts that may be applied. By discussing the most common signs displayed by terror suspects, the author educates security personnel and the general public on what to look for in identifying suicide terrorists. The homeland security management personnel should be able to handle the threat posed by suicide terrorists either at the source or during the attacks. Improving security at vital installations through modern surveillance techniques given infrastructure is a leading target for terror attacks should also be prioritized. The importance of being prepared at all times by security personnel as well as attaching relevance to security details which may appear insignificant ought to be emphasized and would go a long way in countering the ever looming danger of terror attacks. The threat posed by suicide terrorism is a great concern the world over. Our homeland security enterprise must therefore be prepared to tackle the challenge posed by this form of terrorism.
Understanding the motivating factors behind the terror attacks forms a strong foundation in addressing the threat. Understanding behavioral tendencies and activities displayed by the suicide terrorists also greatly helps the security agencies counter any planned attacks by the terrorists. The element of security threats resulting from terrorism requires a more researched and informed approach. The security agencies in charge such us our homeland security enterprise should be ready to adopt new methods and techniques to paralyze terror activities. Collaborative approaches should also be encouraged among security agencies from all over the world to create a network that can counter the forces of the world wide terror network.
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