TERRORISM: EVOLVING, FAST AND UNDERESTIMATED
The players and tactics are evolving, and U.S. remains at risk.
Last update: May 31, 2010 – 6:48 PM
“I can guarantee you that we will soon be talking about Somalia as much as Yemen.”
PETER NEUMANN, director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence and a senior lecturer at King’s College in London, speaking at a May 17-19 conference, “Reporting on International Security and Terrorism,” in New York. The conference was organized by the
Thomson Reuters Foundation, the Stanley Foundation and Gerda Henkel Stiftung.
Almost nine years after 9/11, terrorism is a fast-evolving, mostly underestimated worldwide threat, and America may be more vulnerable to attacks today than it was on that sunny September morning.
That grim assessment was the consensus of experts who spoke at a recent journalism conference on terror and security issues held, fittingly, in an office tower on Times Square in New York.
“Terrorists can win and have won,” said Sebastian Gorka, assistant professor of irregular warfare at the College of International Security Affairs in Washington. To borrow a sports cliche, Gorka’s warning can best be summarized this way: We can’t stop acts of terror, we can only hope to contain them. To that end, counterterrorism today is a complex exercise in risk management.
The tactics of terror have morphed since 9/11. Terrorists are using the Internet, including social media, to develop worldwide networks based on personal relationships rather than traditional chain-of-command hierarchies. In many cases, it’s impossible for law enforcement officials to draw a leadership diagram or come up with a geographical frame of reference for a terrorist organization, said Peter Neumann, director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence and a senior lecturer at King’s College in London.
Terrorists of today are also trying to kill more people with their attacks and create widespread fear by targeting civilians. Often their aims are less negotiable, Neumann said, in contrast with groups such as the IRA that had clear political goals.
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