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Can Terrorism Be Defeated Only By Military Means Criminology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 2305 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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We blindly can’t say that terrorism is the only option to reduce or stop terrorism without examining how terrorist groups end or fade out after some years. The governments in the other hand will have different options like military force, intelligence team, political negotiations and economic sanctions. The governments should prioritise their options on the terrorist organisations. According to a research, which examined more than 250 terrorist organisations from the period of 1965 to 2006, it found that many of the terrorist organisations ended because of the local police intervention like that of the Al-Umma organisation which carried out attack in Coimbatore during 1998. Many other organisations stopped their or dissolved their campaign due to intelligence or because of the settlements with the governments. It is to be noted here that military force did not have an adverse effect on the terrorist organisations to stop their violence against the non-combatants. United States stance on Al-Qaida proved wrong when the chief (Osama Bin Laden) was caught only by the intelligence force rather than the war on terror which lasted for more than a decade. Until the year 2006, there were around 648 terrorist groups and the research found that their survival for a longer term was due to the factors of economic condition, control type, their ideas, size and their goal. According to this research by Memorial for the prevention of Terrorism, it states that 268/648 groups ended within the year 2006, 136 groups fell apart because of difference in strategies and goals and the remaining 244 were active. The main reason for most of the terrorist organisations to quit terrorism was due to local police intervention and intelligence or a beneficial agreement with the governments to satisfy their needs for a particular group of people. Only very less terrorist organisations ended because of the military force. Military force was affective only when the terrorist groups were large and had the state-of-the art weapons to defend their goals and needs. The only place where military force turned out to be a good idea was in

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Sri Lanka when the government fought against the Liberation of Tamil Tigers Eelam (LTTE). This group demanded a separate land for Tamils in Sri Lanka which caused the biggest civil war in the history. Only in this case, government’s action of using military force was beneficial because the opponent was well armed and had a large army to reach their goals. The research also found that the terrorist organisations which had some religious sentiments took longer time to stop their activities but rarely achieved their goals. Size of the group also determined their results. The example of a bigger group coming out victorious in terrorism was that of the army found by Mohammed, the founder of Islam which conquered Mecca in the Holy war or Jihad. The research also found that the terrorist from upper-income groups were nationalist and rarely were religiously motivated.


After the September 11 attack by Al-Qaida on the World Trade Center, United States strategy to fight terrorism was mainly by the military action. They have also employed some non-military operations like reducing the foreign assistance and securing their states with more power. It was only during the Obama’s regime, counter terrorism proved to be effective rather than the “War on Terror” Obama employed the intelligence squad to break in to or kill the al-Qaida chief in 2009. This initiative proved beneficial and the U.S killed their target in Pakistan on May 2, 2011. This made a way for many countries to withdraw the aspect of “War on Terror” and employ counterterrorism.

As of 2008, the war on terrorism had not much effect on Al-Qaida as it remained strong and well organised. Its goal of uniting Muslims to fight the west remained strong and it continued to encourage terrorism to be employed in more places around the world. They conducted many such attacks without any problems when military attacks were employed on them. Military force only helped the governments to reduce some bigger attacks like that in New York or Mumbai. United States then decided to change their strategy to negotiate some political settlement with the Al-Qaida. As Al-Qaida was religious and fought the war against the west in the name of Allah, the negotiation strategy was not effective. So the governments should decide to abolish them by two strategies. They are:

Governments should start to depend on intelligence and policing to destroy Al-Qaida’s plans in attacking the non-combatants. Al-Qaida is a large group who are active around the world and commit some deadly acts only when a message is received from the head of the group. In order to track their moves and those peoples involved in the attacks, U.S has employed Central Intelligence Agency and FBI to track and demolish the terrorist activities with the help of foreign police and some intelligence agencies.

The governments should also reduce their military personnel in the borders and promotes local forces to take charge as they had a greater understanding of the places.

The main aim of this move is to promote counterterrorism as this proved to be effective than “War on Terrorism” in many countries who are fighting terrorism. This replacement in strategy also makes the terrorist think that they are criminals and not warriors who are fighting for the religious cause of Jihad.


The U.S government should concentrate more on police forces and an intelligence agency at least after the Al-Qaida Chief was killed in the counter attack by the U.S Navy Seals. The governments should now focus on CIA, FBI and increase the budgets which specialises in counterterrorism. The military forces should have the same strategy for the groups involved in insurgencies and for large groups. According to Hoffman, he suggests the intelligence agencies to cooperate with the local police and the intelligence agencies in the countries where terrorism is prevailing to build more effective ways to combat them. Policing and intelligence are best suited to demolish the terrorist organisations like Al-Qaida because of their operation in many countries. These terrorist organisations are decentralised and receive funds and messages from a particular place to carry out a operation. The operations of these terrorist organisations are a little complex and have different nodes for operation. These nodes can be easily identified and demolished only with the help of police and intelligence groups. The main drawback of this type of act is reducing the nodes of the terrorist organisation in many countries than in a single country. This method of counterterrorism is only possible only by the full support of the local police and the community unlike that in Pakistan. The terrorist organisations in the present days are easy to be demolished by the police and intelligence networks because of its structure. The terrorist organisations employ top-down or bottom-up approach to communicate between themselves. As the message needs to be passed by many people, it is easy for the intelligence agencies to track their location. These terrorist organisations don’t get demolished if only the key members are caught or killed as in case of

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Al-Qaida. The terrorist organisations have a large network and can work without the commandments of the key leaders. These terrorist networks are active for long term because of it’s the presence of its hubs. The terrorist organisations get isolated if the hubs that send most messages are destroyed or demolished. These hubs are also easily isolated because it is considered as the information centre for the terrorist organisations. These hubs can be busted with good intelligence activities like tracking down the telephone lines, monitoring the email, couriers and fax facilities in countries like Pakistan. By these measures by the personnel, terrorist can be caught, arrested and enforced in the court of law. There are different steps involved in this kind of approach which include data analysis, capture of key leaders of terrorist organisations and amending the law in some special cases. For the list of above operations, police and intelligence agencies are best suited to do the acts.


Data collection and analysing the information proves to be one of the important aspects of intelligence bureau on terrorists. There are different ways in finding the terrorist activities. They are by human intelligence or by signal intelligence. The information got by the human network proves to be the most beneficial one. But it takes determination and patience to break up the human network of terrorists by recruiting the terrorists who are already in the terrorist groups. It is difficult to recruit the informants from the terrorist groups because of the faith and love for their friends and religion. According to an intelligence agency, it takes around 18 month for a terrorist to carry out any attack on the public. This period of establishment is the important period for the intelligence agencies to identify, arrest and reveal the plan of their action.

Another source for the intelligence agencies could be from the fundamentalist mosques who oppose terrorism. They might prove to be useful recruits as they might provide some information on the relative or friends of some terrorist and their recent activities. Detaining some important individuals who are associated with the terrorist groups would make them less capable of launching some large attacks. If this case of detaining and arresting the individuals in a small terrorist organisation takes place, the other operator may lose confidence and become some mere criminals. Making these men mere criminals would be possible only with the help of media and the intelligence personnel and not with some counter attack by the military forces. Another difficulty that might be faced by international intelligence agencies is with the cooperation with the local police and intelligence agencies as they might have their internal security issues to be solved. The information got by human couriers was more beneficial than the signal intelligence. The top terrorist individual understood the drawbacks of using cell phones and internet to transmit some information to their hubs. So they decided to send the information through some trusted individuals who had been in the organisation for many years. Only by continuous monitoring by the intelligence agencies, the couriers can be caught and be beneficial. This was the case when the U.S Navy seals found out the whereabouts of the Al-Qaida chief Osama Bin Laden. The U.S intelligence agency spied on some couriers to find out and kill the chief. In this case open action by the U.S Navy was unavoidable because of the doubt he (Osama) tried to defend him by hiding behind his wife.

Capture of Key Leaders:

Another important way of counterterrorism is to capture their key leaders and punish them severely according to the law. The terrorist should be punished severely because they were involved in some deadly acts to kill the non-combatants in the particular country. The law should punish them in a way which should be as an example for the other criminal and terrorists in the country. This task also involves collection of evidence for some terrorists before producing the convict before the court of law. Producing an individual before the court of law for terrorism might not be easier as that of drug trafficking, it should have direct connection with the deadly acts. The capturing of terrorist in any position of their group hierarchy will reveal much important information about their future attacks. The communicating devices used by terrorist such as diaries, laptops and cell phones will provide some very sensitive information on the future attacks and the names of other group members. For example, capture of Khan Muhammad with his laptop in 2004, revealed the plans of Al-Qaida to attack the gold mines in Pakistan and also some attacks on IMF and Citigroup buildings in United States. Another good example to prove this fact is that of capturing of Osama Bin Laden on May 2. In the recent news, it revealed that his diaries contained some very sensitive information about the Al-Qaida’s links with other terrorist groups and their future plans to attack many places in the world.

Other measures to combat terrorism:

Other ways to stop terrorism is by the help of legal approvals. This process may involve accusing the acts of terrorist organisations such as recruiting members, buying of weapons from other countries. These legal procedures will help the intelligence agencies and the local police to stop the acts of terrorism by some means like freezing the bank accounts of the suspected terrorists, conduct searches by modern means and to interrogate suspects who pose a terrorist threat to the community as whole. Freezing the accounts of the terrorist organisations also help the intelligence agencies to get leads about their whereabouts. But nowadays, terrorist exchange the money to fund their operation through some third person in the place where the money should reach and this illegal activity is called ‘hawala’ in Islamic terms. The money transferred by the hawala means is not recorded or taxed by the governments. Monitoring of the money movement from the terrorist organisation is a tedious task for the intelligence agencies.


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