26 Jul 2013

Skid Row Terrorist

The rubric of terrorism studies embeds terrorist TTPs (Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures) within the overall context of motivations and intent that a terrorist are/is presumed to have. This is further fundamentally subordinate to the over-arching al-Qaeda framework. However, if we consider characters such as the ‘dishevelled or nihilist terrorist’ (Flaherty, 2012), then terrorist TTPs have to be detached from any other framing, and we are left with terrorist-like acts, or acts automatically legally defined as ‘terrorism’ because a bomb, or weapon of mass destruction has been used; however, these may be committed by individuals, even groups who have little or no ideological intent beyond hate, malice, or protesting some injury against them personally, or society generally. RECENT EXAMPLES TERRORIST PROTESTS Recent events in China, provide examples of a protestor using terrorist-like TTPs. In these cases disgruntled petitioners (under China’s system for governmental redress of wrongs), attack people, or kill themselves in terrorist-like incidents. The most recent report, appeared to show Chinese citizens in posts/blogs expressing support for a disabled man who set off an explosion (only doing so, after warning people to stay-away from him) at Beijing’s international airport, injuring himself, in what was an apparent protest against police brutality (AFP, 2013). However, these same commentators also condemned the actions of another Chinese unemployed man (who had also been a disgruntled petitioner), and who ‘killed 47 people in the previous month by setting-off an explosion on a bus in the coastal city of Xiamen, according the Chinese state media’ (AFP, 2013). The events surrounding the attack by Joe Stack, provide a similar example of a protestor using terrorist-like TTPs. Stack slammed his plane into the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offices in the ‘Echelon I’ building. His actions were driven by his displeasure with the government, the bailout of financial institutions, politicians, and conglomerations (General Motors, Enron and Arthur Andersen, unions, drug and health care insurance companies, and the Catholic Church), all of which was contained in his online suicide note. Stack also described his experiences meeting with a poor widow who never got the pension benefits she was promised, the September 11 attacks airline bailouts that only benefited the airlines but not the suffering engineers (he himself was an engineer), and how a CPA he hired seemed to side with the government to take extra tax money from him. His suicide note included criticism of the Federal Aviation Administration, the George W. Bush administration, and called for violent revolt. Incidents such as these point to a phenomena, that will come to dominate our understanding of terrorism, which is the concept of the “Horror Protest” (Bunker, Flaherty, 2013), combined with the notion of the ‘dishevelled-nihilist terrorist’ (Flaherty, 2012). The ‘dishevelled-nihilist terrorist’ is a broad-based terrorist movement (without order or substance), consisting of the dispossessed economic and social cast-offs of society who utilise terrorist –like acts to vent their rage. The 1988 RAND analysis (Hoffman, 1988) argues that it is possible for a ‘form of post-modern terrorism which is divorced from any coherent political agenda’, to have arisen. This is argued, could be motivated by transcendental or nihilist objectives, or simple rage at the failure of some societies and the success of others (Goodin, 2006; Jenkins, 1980). The behavior-tactical link in nihilist terrorism is impromptu acts. The attacker uses whatever means happen to be available (Flaherty, 2012). THE DISHEVELLED-NIHILIST TERRORIST The ‘dishevelled-nihilist terrorist’ are effective, as they are able to utilise two key developments of contemporary terrorist TTPs, these are: • Mimicking Operations (Flaherty, 2003); and, • The ongoing simplification of weapons technology. Mimicking operations is a – “cost-effective way of achieving

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19 Dec 2012

Adam Lanza and Dangerous Minds

We asked Chris Flaherty, author of the recent OODA sponsored monograph entitled “Dangerous Minds: The Relationship between Beliefs, Behaviors, and Tactics” for his thoughts regarding the recent Adam Lanza attacks. What follows is his response. “Adam Lanza, has been the subject of much media speculation, however if some of the reporting is to be credited then we are at least seeing a character emerging who shares common traits with many of the recent terrorist-like attacks experienced in the US, and Europe over the last two years. If we believe the media reports currently, it is claimed that Adam Lanza lived a life isolated from the world, where his mother home schooled him, because of an inability to fit-in at the local elementary school, which he attacked. And that this isolated home world, it appears since 2009, demonstrates a common thread: ·Trained in gun craft. ·Played combat games. ·Influenced by a believer (the Mother) in the coming end-days. In the case of Breivik, he increasingly immersed himself in the video game world of Modern Warfare 2, as a training simulation, as well as using World of Warcraft for his extended period of isolation. He enacted the fantasy of an anti-hero fighting a supposed enemy invading Norway. Is the face of contemporary terrorism changing? What we have to recognise, is that a form of ‘nihilist’ terrorism, devoid of any actual political agenda or organisational backing is out there. Lone individuals who have no connection, but nevertheless represents a broad anti-social movement swarming toward targets full of vengeance, grief, resentments, hate and malice. Trained in weapons, and heavily armed acting like some urban combat veteran from a future apocalyptic landscape. Possibility suffering from some type of mental delusion; yet the current professional community is yet to offer a satisfactory assessment that can adequately explain pre-mediation, precision weapons handling, pre-planning and the concealment of intent weeks, months or years from people. The weapons used – the fireworks nail bomb (David Copeland, UK 1999); the fertilizer IED (Tim McVeigh, US 1995; Breivik, Norway 2011); and firearms (Lanza, US 2012; Breivik, Norway 2011; Nordine Amrani, Belgium 2011; James Holmes, US 2012), are perfectly suited to his type of attack, as these are commonly available, easy to operate and deadly effective. Above all a lone individual can implement these attacks – one-off events, without any connection to actual terrorist agendas (however conventionally defined), utilising actual combat techniques, dressed in uniforms, fatigues and body armour. All this points to a phenomenon which will come to dominate modern security in 2013, the prospect of many ‘little -Mumbai styled attacks’, armed assailants erratically moving through the urban landscape intent on the destruction of all that is social – the children in school, the youth camp, the shoppers in a public market space, theatres, and offices. From where will they come? The future of security will be dominated by the ‘little Wacos’. People, hunkered-down in hidden places, fenced homes and rural compounds expecting the end of the world, armed and looking to enact a fantasy.”

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07 Sep 2012

Dangerous Minds – The Relationship between Beliefs, Behaviors, and Tactics

This research monograph – Dangerous Minds, examines the relationship between the individual beliefs, behaviours, and tactics of an attacker. It was developed out of work, following human factors research for a ‘Scripted Agent Based Microsimulation Project’, which is currently being developed at the University of Wollongong (NSW, Australia). Another contributing factor to the development of this research monograph has been discussion posts on the GroupIntel Network. This monograph is a collection of linked articles looking at the relationship between the tactics, behaviours, and beliefs that develop into a scenario study of next generation threats that can be identified from the study of various archetype attackers who have emerged since the 1980s. Broadly speaking, each of the chapters falls into a sequence of identifying first the concept of an archetype, illustrating different types of attackers based on specific events involving acts of terrorism, and extremism perpetrated by individuals and small groups. This is then followed by an analysis of how to identify future potential attackers, the types of attacks they are likely to make in the future, the tactics that are likely to evolve, and the factors that will influence targeting. Additionally, there is a focus on countering these future attacks. Summatively, this monograph is intended to base-line the information identifying individual characteristics of a selected group of loners and small isolated groups. It identifies the beliefs and personal behaviours that form the tactics used. These combine to inform a predictive model. Added to this monograph are the eleven one-page Terrorist Tactics Research Cards, that are contained in Appendix 1. These are intended as educational and training aids; and are also intended for use as one-page summaries of the main themes in this research monograph. Authored by Chris Flaherty over 2011, these have been written as a summary of key concepts and are intended to serve as an educational tool assisting tactical analysis of terrorist acts within a broadly related framework of 3D tactics in urban environments. DOWNLOAD DANGEROUS MINDS MONOGRAPH

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