System Characteristics of Terrorism as Politically Motivated Violence Cover Image

Системска својства тероризма као политички мотивисаног насиља
System Characteristics of Terrorism as Politically Motivated Violence

Author(s): Obrad M. Stevanović
Subject(s): Politics, Criminology, Studies in violence and power
Published by: Институт за политичке студије
Keywords: Calculation; organization; systematic thinking; gradation; goals; means; terrorist entities and consequences;

Summary/Abstract: Based on the synthesis of research results presented within this paper, it may be inferred that terrorism is not a spontaneous, reckless, negligent, disorganized, unsystematic, crazy or insane use of violence or threat of violence, and that terrorists are not mostly uneducated and unintelligent people. Hence, terrorism is a very conscious, methodical, intentional, deliberate, calculated, organized and systematic use of violence or threat of violence, whereas many terrorists are intelligent, calculating, and often highly educated people. Organizational and systematic characteristics of acts of terrorism are reflected in such terrorist activities which imply that committing one act of violence forebodes the execution of the following ones, according to a predetermined plan, method and strategy, i.e. pattern, thereby causing a latent danger that constantly lurks. This constitutive feature of terrorism as a system is confirmed by a cause-and-effect and organizational-systemic connections and presence of its essential elements, i.e. goals, means, activists (active entities), attack targets (passive entities) and possible consequences at the operational, coordinating and strategic, organizational-system level. According to these results, the triple focus of terrorism, systematic organization and gradation of its essential elements, according to their organizational systemic levels, can be concisely explained in the following manner: Goals (possible consequences) of terrorism are: direct or immediate consequences of terrorist violence (death, physical injuries, etc.) – at the tactical level, indirect or incidental (causing fear and general hazard) – at the coordinating level and final and political (political change) – at the strategic level. Means of terrorism are: violence or threat of violence (terrorist acts) – at the tactical level, propaganda – at the coordinating level and terrorism in its entirety – at the strategic level. Active entities – leaders of terrorism are: terrorists as individuals or terrorist groups - at the tactical level, coordinating leaderships of terrorist organizations, with the support of the media, with or without the support of political fronts – at the coordinating level and strategic leaderships of terrorist organizations with or without the support of states or international fronts – at the strategic level. Passive entities (targets or victims) of terrorism are: innocent individuals affected by violence – at the tactical level, general population not directly attacked but intimidated by violence – at the coordinating level and the country in its entirety – at the strategic level. Having in mind all above mentioned, in general terms, terrorism as a system can be considered as a strategy, whereas a terrorist act can be interpreted as tactics for reaching political goals through instilling fear and panic. Thereby, the criminal act of terrorism is placed above general and isolated attacks on individuals, public services or property, thus becoming a means of attacking the state and international community of states. In other words, the use of terrorist violence can be observed as a tactical instrument for achieving the strategic political goal, whereby the intimidation bridges over the gap between violent terrorist acts and political targets of terrorism.

  • Issue Year: 2016
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 231-246
  • Page Count: 16
  • Language: Serbian