One of the main factors that most people who monitor and know terrorism understand is that there is rarely if ever an isolated terrorist group. The environmental factors have evolved over the last few years to such an extent that ideologies and radicalization processes that leads to terrorism hold few political or geographical borders. It is therefore imperative that the global awareness of terrorism and radical movements are understood, and the context to which they might impact the local area due to transient, permanent immigrant, ethnic, religious, political, or other ideological affiliation in the local community.
As groups and even countries such as the Japanese are now well aware, non-participation in conflict does not preclude persons from violent targeting. The recent case of the Algerian Refinery attack to the beheading of a Japanese journalist and humanitarian aid worker pointed out, ideologies at times do not make logical sense in a geopolitical realm, and only in the mind of the violent protagonist can we find the motivation.
The furtherance of information sharing on the Internet assists terrorism and radicalization in ways that were undreamed of before. Now it is possible as was demonstrated by the Boston Bombings for one, to be able to radicalize persons that normally would not be reachable. Populations deep within communities, and fully connected to the social fabric around them who are nevertheless susceptible to certain messaging and influences can be reached with emails and videos and both radicalized to violence, as well as given the tools to enact that violence effectively. Generally speaking, the effect of the internet culture on youth is to promote their physical isolation and social fragmentation while making it possible–not to mention more likely and desirable–for young men and women to seek out and join “virtual communities” composed of people who share their views and think like them. These associations in cyberspace allow someone who has never visited, say, the Middle East, to fall under the influence of Islamic extremists, become intellectually and emotionally radicalized to jihadist violence, learn to build bombs and the effective means for emplacing them, and carry out an attack. All without having to travel anywhere. The efficacy of these kind of attacks tend to be somewhat less than those trained by professionals, but nevertheless they are still effective and the ratio of lethality will only increase over time as terror groups realize that online training is an effective model for reaching into areas that they physically would be unable to conduct attacks.
The other factor is understanding the capability of populations within your area. While these populations may have no cause to attack the host nation or local community, they have been known to carry out attacks against third parties on a host nations area. Munich in 1972 was one of the first high profile examples of this, where Germany was the scene of a fight between Palestinian Terrorists and Israeli athletes. Recently the February 14th 2012 bombings in Bangkok highlighted this factor as well.
Four Iranian Operatives planned and initiated a terrorist attack against Israeli targets in Bangkok, officially a neutral country to both parties and one that accepts citizens from both nations equally. However, the Iranians chose to carry their fight into the neutral nation and endanger citizens of Thailand.
Leila Rohanni entered Thailand ahead of the attack group and rented a room at the Nasa Vegas hotel. She leased a house for the attack group and began to scout the routes and observe the targets from the Israeli Embassy. Using stickers that said in Roman letters “Sajeal” or “retribution stones” from the Koran story, she placarded the attack and escape route.
Subsequently the three terrorists of the attack team enter Thailand and move into the house. Then on February 14th while preparing to launch the attack accidently sets off one of the IEDs they prepared. The house now destroyed and some injured, they escape and one operative begins to continue the attack, however, a series of events prevents him from doing so (a Thai Taxi driver was suspicious and refused to pick him up and was also attacked but escaped the IED thrown by one of the terrorists). Fortunately despite the terrorist attempting to carry on his attack, including attacking a taxi driver and attempting to throw the final IED over a wall at a group of young students who were conducting the morning pledge, he failed and was injured in his last attempt which blew off his legs but kept him alive. During the subsequent trial, Iran was clearly implicated and he had no remorse about using a neutral nation in carrying out his attacks, nor any remorse for the effects it would have on innocent Thais.
And of course many Americans are aware of the Boston Bombing incident in which two acclimated immigrants were radicalized and carried out the Marathon bombings in an emotional/ideological connection to a cause that was not geographically proximate to them.
It is this use of host nations in attacks that is key indicator for nations that believe themselves to be outside of conflicts that occur elsewhere. Munich, Bangkok, and Boston are all examples of the importance of not only understanding the various conflicts in the world, and the potential that it may reach your borders and neighborhoods, but also the criticality of effective intelligence in planning for critical incidents within your nation.
NEC-SE 16 FEB 15