Understanding the indirect strategy of terrorism: Insights from nonviolent action research



Publication Details

Ram, S. "Understanding the indirect strategy of terrorism: Insights from nonviolent action research." Nonviolence: An Alternative for Defeating Global Terror(ism). Ed.S. Ram and R. Summy. United States: Nova Science Publishers, 2008, 71-89.

Additional Publication Information

ISBN: 9781600218125


The conceptual framework of this chapter is built on strategic and psychological perspectives of terrorism. The central argument is that the strategy of terrorism is to carry out violent acts on a target state's population and initiate a psychological process of terror called 'terror jiu-jitsu' that will have damaging behavioral consequences on the target state and provoke a reaction beneficial to the terrorists. Insights are drawn from nonviolent action research to understand the process of 'terror jiu-jitsu' initiated by violent action - as an opposite parallel to the processes of 'political jiu-jitsu' initiated by nonviolent action. While the first section of the chapter deals with various perspectives on the strategy of terrorism and sketches a general theoretical background, the second section argues that terrorism is an indirect strategy which actively stages a violent act to spread terror in a targeted society. The terrorists then hopefully await the target's overreaction and consequent implosion. The third section on the dynamics of terrorism includes three dimensions. The first features the construction of the strategy of 'terror jiujitsu' which aims to initiate violence on the part of the terrorists that will evoke irrational fears among the target's public, create an exaggerated sense of threat, and enable the media, politicians and officials to engage in fear mongering to their manipulative advantage. The second dimension explains how the behavioral consequences of 'terror jiu-jitsu' weaken the target state at both individual levels and institutional levels. Thirdly, the two kinds of engagement commonly anticipated by terrorists are analyzed: accommodation and aggression. In conclusion the weaknesses of the strategy of terrorism are outlined, in addition to suggestions for future research.

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