Monday 18 September 2017

Terrorism: A primer on this topic

I have downloaded much of this material from the internet  for this lengthy article. I am not an expert on this subject but I have addressed United Nations Crime Congresses on this topic four times thus far in Geneva, Switzerland, Milan, Italy, Vienna, Austria and Bangkok, Thailand. And now— my article.

I hear them knocking, but they can’t come in

I am referring to home grown and foreign terrorists. The word, terrorism can be easily defined as being premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents usually intended to influence an audience" as it is stated by United States Code Section 2656(d).

This definition is obviously the work of leaders of established and recognized countries, most with democratic political processes. It should be remembered that the United States of America, Russia, China, France and Israel, along with numerous other countries that had begun their road to independence by using terrorist methods and conducting actions against their former leaders.

Today, few are willing to proclaim that terrorism is a legitimate and sadly productive method to gain international attention, demand concessions and eventually establish legitimate states and political parties. Despite what the world governments espouse, there are a few minority groups that are willing to use the existing political process to gain their independence or freedom without resorting to outrageous tactics against rulers who do not have their people’s interest at heart.

The less potent the group is as a political force and the thinner the support base, the more likely the group will resort to more forceful methods to secure world attention. The leaders of these groups tend to be from the upper classes, college educated, creative, egotistical and flamboyant almost to the point of ridiculousness. Osama (the Lion) bin Laden, "Che" Guevara, Yasir Arafat, Abdullah (Apo) Ocalan, "Carlos" the Jackal, "Abu Nidal", and Rafael Sebastin Guillen Vicente, a.k.a. Subcommandante Marcos, the pipe-smoking, wisecracking son of a furniture salesman are not the exception but the rule. There were plenty of loud talking and  speeches by these terrorists delivering room shaking manifestos to others like themselves  who were at the bottom of the barrel. 

The real bad people are the dark silent politicians, theocrats and businessmen who write checks for these groups or provide safe haven. Iran, Libya, Sudan, Syria (and its vassal state Lebanon) Pakistan and Afghanistan are where you will see the roots of evil although many terrorists come from other countries.  

The U.S. State Department rightly estimates that about 21 percent of world terror is directed against the U.S. Of course, the State Department turns a blind eye towards Oklahoma, Atlanta, and other domestic disasters since those terrorists are homegrown.

Terrorism is really a PR business. Sending a well-written political proposal with workable, fair solutions to the ruling party won't even get you a return phone call. To get official attention, a terrorist has to bring fear to the general  public.

Blowing up an embassy in Nairobi or a suburb in Ireland can get terrorists press coverage that the federal government can generate in a year.

There is another level of terrorism activity that doesn't make the headlines but is necessary for the ongoing support of their organizations and activities. If terrorist groups are not funded by a government (such as the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Libya or private sources), they must resort to extortion (demanding money in exchange for lack of violent attacks), robbery (theft of money or possessions by force or threat of force), kidnapping (abducting people who then are released in exchange for negotiated amounts of money) or drug or weapons smuggling (payment for safe transport of illegal goods). Other groups are for hire and will conduct assassinations, kidnappings, warfare, bombings or other criminal attacks for a fee. Many times these acts are carried out under the name of a terrorist group but are simply criminal acts. There is also the unsettling concept of third party support where America supports Saudi Arabia who in turn writes checks to fundamentalist groups around the world or Syria's support of groups just to keep his hand in as a great statesman in the region.

It is important to note that terrorists would like to attack at the heart of their intended enemies' strongholds but are neither strong, wily or powerful enough. ISIS tried to do it but failed. Worse yet, there are few terrorist groups (other than ISIS when they took over several large cities  in Syria who could handle the ideologically numbing bureaucracy it would take to pick up the trash and clean out parking meters. Just look at the poor Palestinians who are now faced with beating their own people to quell rioting and protect Israelis. So most groups content themselves with chipping away at the public confidence, gaining a hollow importance but taking no real steps toward bettering the plight of the people they represent. Some groups like Hezbollah and Hamas are strong political entities with equally strong military arms. Other groups like the Kurdish independence groups are caught in a Catch-22, with their political structures banned forcing them to continue as terrorist organizations.

For the most part, terrorism is the smallest threat to travelers. In fact more people are killed by lightening than terrorists. (One estimate is that 24,000 people are killed by lightning strikes around the world each year). Most victims are innocent people who are residents of their countries.  Once in a while thee are tourists in Tel Aviv or kidnapped trekkers in Kashmir or vacationers in the other countries who are killed by terrorists.   

The reality is that terrorism is successful by its ability to create terror. The fact that every major and minor airport in the world has metal detectors, security guards and X-ray machines is testament to the terrorists' effectiveness-as is the fact that Americans can rattle off two or three well-known terrorist groups but couldn't possibly tell you the legal political parties in Israel, Cambodia or Colombia.

The writing may be on the wall for the old terrorist groups of the past 20 years. The demise of Marxist-style terrorism may crumble under the weight of paperwork and the fundamental inability of these groups to grasp success. The IRA ran out of patience to out-talk the verbose Brits, the PLO still can't manage its own people, and Fidel had started to wear natty Western business suits while stumping for investors.

While the PLO is figured how to write parking tickets and the IRA was busy beating drug dealers to death with hammers, other groups pondered the benefit of actually getting what they wanted. They knew that sooner or later their actions would force compromise and integration. Freedom fighters, from the Kurds to the Afghans to the Sudanese, are dividing into smaller warring factions. If the truth be known, these terrorists are happiest channeling eons of subjugation and oppression into some pretty spectacular and brutal events but have little stomach for politicking as a means of acquiring power.

Some of the most dramatic terrorist acts have been the bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut, the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, the downing of Pan Am 107 over Lockerbie, Scotland, the total destruction of the William Murrah building in Oklahoma City, and the world's first large-scale chemical gas attack on five Tokyo subway trains.

It is important to note that in each one of these cases, the perpetrators were either identified, apprehended, imprisoned or killed in the act. The quick arrests of the Nairobi bombers lends credence to the fact that for the small fish, crime does not pay and wages of fear suck. As for the big guys, the former terrorists of Israel, Algeria, Libya, once they won, they renounced terrorism, become political leaders with cushy jobs and inspired carefully written biographies that portray them as father's of their countries—that is until the next wild eyed young terrorists  takes them out in a car bomb.

Terrorism is running out of money and with the rash of suicide bombings in Sri Lanka and Israel, terrorist groups like ISIS may be running out of recruits. The former and current supporters of terrorism against the West found themselves banished from the world marketplace and boasted that they never really needed all that Western money anyway. Libya, Iraq and Iran all make hollow speeches, while privately their emissaries desperately tried to get invited back into the real world's economic club.

The terrorists know that if they make it big in the terrorism network, they are guaranteed to have a short career. When Carlos was an embarrassment to the terror network, he was shuffled between Libya, Iraq, Jordan, Syria and Yemen and finally ended up in the Sudan before he was then served up to the French to entice the U.S. to lift sanctions. Abu Nidal is dying of leukemia and is supposedly under lock and key in Egpyt. The FBI and CIA have tracked down Pakistani and Egyptian terrorists right to their hideouts in Pakistan and Afghanistan by offering rewards that are in the millions.

There are some very wealthy Afghan and Pakistani bodyguards today. The best we can do is to send over 60 very expensive cruise missiles to kill a handful of eager young would-be terrorists training to fight nasty wars in Algeria, India, Palestine or Sudan and elsewhere.

The thought that should give Westerners pause is that these young terrorists are emulating the early actions that led to the formations of nations of China, France, Israel and the United States. hey want to be the new fathers of the nations they live in.

The pure ideology of '70s terrorism is slowly evolving into a cash-based, self centered ideology better suited for the '80s (we never said terrorists are up on trends-after all, they do spend a lot time in hiding). Despite the lack of big-time sponsors, terrorism will continue to be a threat to all Western travelers. Westerners are high-profile pawns in the publicity game. The savvy traveler needs to understand the difference between the Algerian GIA (who will cut your throat without even rifling through your pockets), a Mexican Zapatista (who has no reason to harm an American tourist), a Filipino terrorist (who will trade you like a used car salesman), a Kurdish terrorist (who will use you as a political pawn and usually release you unharmed and well fed), a rogue Khmer Rouge gunmen (who wants his $10,000 or you get whacked) or a plain  thug who may have been fighting for some funky acronymic rabble, but just likes the Rolex you have and can't be bothered asking you politely for it.

Terrorism may also be faceless in the case of bombings in Paris, Tel Aviv, Karachi, Dar es Salaam and other urban centers. So keep in mind that carrying around a copy of Mao's little red book or Qaddafi's green book or even Carlos' black book won't get you as far as carrying a Gold card with some of these folks.

For those who want to understand more about the aims of various political, terrorist or freedom groups, they can be contacted at the addresses at the end of this chapter. Keep in mind that any contact with this group may put you under the direct scrutiny of U.S., European and Israeli intelligence agencies and lead to criminal charges being filed if any collusion or support is proven.

It would be very easy to list a number of groups under terrorists that are actually fighting for political change. Fighters in Timor, Bougainville, Mexico, Israel, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and to a certain extent America, are fighting for political determination. On the minuscule islands of Bougainville, Timor and the Comoros, there are pocket sized insurgencies that may or may not lead to political independence. In countries like Iraq, Turkey and Tajikistan, there are massive areas under the control of rebel factions or warlords who don't see eye to eye with the official government.

Some groups like FARC, ELN, the PKK and The Wa Army cloak themselves in a Marxist or liberation dogma but are essentially making a living by protecting massive amounts of drug shipments within their area of control.

In areas like Algeria, Israel and Sri Lanka, it is hard to figure out who is trying to liberate who from who as hundreds of innocent bystanders are killed in the process.

Afghan After Effects

There are still some 14,000 foreign veterans of the Russian/Afghan war. This network of experienced veterans are members of hard-line Islamic groups in Algeria, Egypt, Jorgan, Palestine, Pakistan, China and even The Philippines. (Nearly 3000 Algerians, 2000 Egyptians and 10,000 Arabs fought in Afghanistan.) These fighters make up the core group of most Islamic fundamentalist struggles.

Only 100 full time U.S. spooks and diplomats actually controlled Operation Cyclone from Pakistan and Washington from 1986 to 1989. Massive amounts of weapons and supplies were shipped in to the resistance fighters. The U.S. spent half a billion dollars a year while the Saudis kicked in $240 million a year. The operation not only dumped containers and storage yards worth of weapons in Afghanistan but also created a generation of out of work fighters, many of whom continue to fight in Algeria, China, Chechnya, Tajikistan, Egypt, Sudan, The Philippines, Afghanistan, Western Sahara, Kashmir and other jihads where Muslims fight against secular or non-Muslim governments.

The major training center for mujahedin used to be Peshawar, Pakistan on the border with Afghanistan. Now terrorists can find sanctuary in Iran, Sudan, Libya, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Cuba, Iraq, Lebanon and North Korea. In many cases, the leaders of those countries utilize the services of terrorist groups.

The U.S. State Department puts out rewards of up to 4 million dollars to find over 30 leading terrorists and international criminals. Drug dealers like Khun Sa (who lives in luxury in Yangon), terrorists like Dursun Karatas, the leader of Dev Sol, or even the two Libyan intelligence agents, Lamen Khalifa Fhimah and Abdel Basset Ali Megrahi, the two men accused of masterminding the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Now going to trial but I wonder if wacky Qaddafi got the reward) are all worth serious cash to Uncle Sam.

Terrorism in Europe

There are about 5 million non-European immigrants living in Germany, of which about 45,000 are known to be members of extremist groups. About half of this latter group are considered to be prepared for violence.

The total numbers are not impressive, but the support they provide to terrorism groups is. Europe provides a much more lucrative and unsuspecting field of battle for groups from the PKK of Turkey to the GIA of Algeria. A rough estimate of expats from countries with potential sympathies to terrorist groups include 70,000 Tamils and Sikhs, 30,000 Afghans, 300,000 Kurds (3500 are known members of PKK), 650,000 Yugoslavs, 70,000 Palestinians and 85,000 Iranians. The disenchantment of these recent immigrants and the intolerance shown by their host countries (some with insurmountable citizenship laws) have created fertile ground for groups like Hezbollah and the PKK.

The PKK has a network that covers 26 cities in Western Europe. The PFLP is estimated to have 50-60 terrorists in Europe; al-Fatah has 1700 supporters in West Germany; the PFLP-GC has 30 expert terrorists in West Germany. A sleeper network of Abu Nidal was exposed in Portugal, and the ranks are growing, not shrinking, despite a get-tough attitude by Germany, Spain and France.

Qaddafi was an ardent supporter of the IRA, training Irish Republican soldiers and providing explosives and arms. Libya also supports the Basque ETA, and the early struggles of Charles Taylor in Liberia and Foday Sankoh RUF in Sierra Leone.

The Bad Boys Club

The U.S. has a list of "rogue" nations. They are countries who won't play ball with the rest of the world and more importantly give Uncle Sam the finger every time we try to spank them. In an adolescent sort of way you have to give these guys credit for being just like America was two hundred years ago. For now these regions are the playground of the CIA and consume the lion's share of our fly over, covert action, satellite photography and covert messing around budgets.

WOW! Did Americans hate this country? They hated them so much that they always called their leader by his first name Saddam. Oooh, that insult smarts. This Iraqi leader had the nerve to try to take his oil that was destined for the United States.  Saddam was in the dog house, big time. Later he was found in a hole in the ground and finally was hanged by his own people.  It's important to remember however that initially the American forces didn't do much about him since they left him with enough weapons, soldiers and ammo to keep Iran occupied with their preparations to ward off any attack from Iraq. He babysat the Mujahedin-eKhalq (MEK), an army of pissed off Iranians that waited for the green light to invade Iran from their base in Iraq.

So I guess was then OK if he killed members of Iraqi National Congress (INC), gassed Kurds, killed his family members and even let his son beat and torture their own national soccer team.

The Americans let him charge rent to the Abu Nidal organization (ANO), the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the Arab Liberation Front (ALF), and the former head of the long shut down 15 May Organization, Abu Ibrahim. All in all what angered the Americans the most about Saddam was that at that time in history he was actually smarter, meaner and worse than the Americans ever were.


The land the Ayatollah built remains the most ardent sponsor of sanctioned terrorism and the greatest source of concern. You have to give Iran credit for thinking big. Just like the Americans send Iran Coca Cola and McDonalds to spread capitalism and the American Way, they franchise Hezbollah to spread fundamentalism to the masses.

Iran's surrogate political and military arm, Hezbollah, was responsible for the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in early 1992 and remains the leading suspect in the July 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israel Mutual Association in Buenos Aires that killed 96 people. Iran opposes the Middle East peace process and arms and funds rejectionist groups who espouse violence.

They also bankrolled Hamas, the Palestine Islamic Jihad and many other Muslim or anti-Israeli groups. Iran also likes to murder its own dissidents even when they move away. Killing members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI), former members of SAVAK and the Shah's buddies pleased the leaders of Iran.

You don't want to get a bad book review because they still have a hard on for Salman Rushdie, even though they never actually read his book. They still have a $2 million dollar bounty on Rushdie's life. Despite vocal condemnation it seems like the eraser on the mullah's fatwa pen is broken.

Americans don’t have a warm spot for Iran, but not because the Americans hated Iranians less than Iraq in which they did drastically reduce the population and military strength during their long drawn out war with Iraq. They hate Iran because they support the war criminal leader of Syria.


We'd have to say Cuba was bad boy number three (after Iraq and Iran) just because the Island of Cuba was only 90 miles from Florida. It is odd that the Americans were so  powerless when it came to taking on  Fidel Castro.  The Americans beat  Panama, Grenada, Nicaragua and every other banana republic that gets in their way, but when it comes to Fidel, they just sat and waited. Fidel was finally out of the terrorism business but still was buddy-buddy with Colombian groups like FARC and the ELN. However, drug trans shipments may play a bigger part in his enthusiasm rather than left wing ideology.

Havana (capital of Cuba) still provided a safe haven to several terrorists who sought sanctuary many years ago. A number of Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorists live on the island, along with some Latin American terrorists and a few American and Canadian fugitives.


Colonel Qaddafi’  ties with terrorists and insurgents reached their peak in the '80s but wereongoing. Despite the continual pleading by Qaddafi to be allowed back into the political and financial playpen of the world market, he continued to harbor those responsible in placing the bomb on Pan Am flight 103 in 1988. And the French want to chat with him regarding the bombing of UTA flight 772. United Nations Security Council Resolution 883 froze selected Libyan assets and banned the sale of many categories of oil-industry equipment. Qaddafi had made a series of silly demands in exchange for the suspected terrorists but had yet to show any good faith. He did have a snazzy set of outfits though when he made those pleas. Despite his sad game face, he supported insurgents including el jefes in West and Central Africa (Foday Sankoh and Charles Taylor). Libya wrote allowance checks (or cashed rent checks) to the Abu Nidal Organization (ANO), the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and Ahmed Jabril's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC). Abu Nidal had his headquarters in sunny Libya, and Abu Nidal (real name: Sabri al-Banna) used to call Tripoli his home.

Qaddafi has been accused of building a subterranean factory to manufacture chemical weapons. Seems he knew how to get in on the ground floor on what may be a big business.

North Korea

North Korea has been out of the terrorism business since 1987. Today it is busy bumming food and oil from the people they used to blow up. They are held responsible for the bombing of KAL flight 858 and are home to the aging Yodo-go chapter of the Japanese Red Army. Plus this country is so damn strange it’s probably better off if they just keep to themselves. Right now, the xenophobic North Koreans are just coming into the'40s let alone the next century. Now the crazy leader is sending rockets over Japan and even built a hydrogen bomb an set it off.


Syria continues to play pocket politics against Turkey (stealing water from the Euphrates) and Israel (for stealing the Golan Heights). Assad support groups are currently carrying out terrorist attacks against its stronger neighbors. Assad is a slick dude since he doesn't actually push the button on any terrorist acts, he just makes them happen. Part of his style is to allow groups to live in Damascus and to allow "stuff" to happen in the Bekaa Valley and Southern Lebanon. Ahmed Jibril's PFLP-GC and the (PIJ) are headquartered near Damascus. Lebanon's Palestine Islamic Jihad Bekaa Valley is training-camp central to HAMAS, the PFLP-GC, the PIJ, and the Japanese Red Army (JRA). The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) continues to train in Syria-controlled areas of Lebanon, and its leader, Abdullah Ocalan, resides at least part-time in Damascus.
Now the current leaders is at war with his own people. He even gassed hundreds of them with fly-by planes and helicopters.


This embattled country has provided safe haven to a number of international terrorist groups. They are cozy with their neighbor, Iran, and turf out terrorist groups like pawns in a chess game. They coughed up Carlos the Jackal a while back hoping that it would get them some gold stars. No luck. Being caught red handed in the attempted assassination of Hosni Mubarek and being behind the assassination of Anwar Sadat won't make them many friends soon. Sudan's support of terrorist groups includes providing bases for paramilitary training, indoctrination, money, travel documentation, safe passage and refuge in Sudan. Several Iranian-backed terrorist groups use Sudan as a transit point and meeting place. Naturally the CIA is busy helping the SPLA in the south.

Terrorists tend to strike countries where there is the potential for the greatest amount of economic damage. Tourists and tourism facilities are prime targets, because crippled tourism cuts off vital foreign hard currency. Following the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847 enroute to Athens, the Greek government estimated that the subsequent tourism damage topped out at more than US$100 million.

Does terrorism work? In April of '96, nineteen Greek tourists were gunned down in Cairo by Egyptian fundamentalists, killing with them half the tourism receipts from the previous year. Why? Because Egypt groups retaliated for Israel de shelling a refugee camp in Southern Lebanon, killing nearly 200 innocent victims. Why? Because Hezbollah had killed innocent Israeli citizens in rocket attacks. Why? because Israel occupies Lebanon to create a buffer zone against terrorist attacks. Why? Because the U.S. financially supports and stands behind an occupying nation jammed right smack in the middle of the Arab World. Why? Because Americans support countries who believe in peace and freedom.

How does Iran, Syria and the rest of Arab world fight back against the U.S. and support the Palestinians? Yes they do by supporting terrorist groups.

Yes, as you can see, terrorism works, but for all the wrong reasons.

Terrorism and Counter Terrorism

You won't find much of interest when it comes to terrorism related stories as they are so common these days. It's not as if terrorists get gabby with government information agencies about their activities, bases and members. Also remember that word terrorism is a Western term used to imply criminality on the part of the terrorist organization. Outside the U.S. you will hear the word terrorism used to describe some of its own covert and overt activities when they propped up corrupt and non-elected governments. Eventually, that will change-hopefully. 

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