Terrorists are individuals mentally defective or the result of social conditioning through a politically motivated violence. It is said that the terrorist is a case of traumatic neurosis. This interpretation is based on the assumption that the terrorists have suffered injuries producing pathological effects on the structure of their personality, which generally affects the inner self. To support this theory, some analysts think that terrorism is a reflection of feelings of unconscious hostility towards parents, especially if there was abuse in childhood or a period of adolescent rebellion. (G. Becker, 1968)
Timothy McVeigh (Terrorist of the Oklahoma bombing), the hijackers of September 11 and Eric Rudolph (the Olympic Park bombing) all exhibited similar pattern in their execution of crime: they chose target far from their place of residence. McVeigh wandered in the Midwest as an itinerant in Herington (Kansas) and go 250 miles (400 km) south by car to blow up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Terrorists of September 11 made a long journey to reach their targets and Rudolph traveled by car almost 300 miles (483 km) from Murphy (CN) to blow up an abortion clinic in Birmingham (Ala.). (M. Abrahms, 2004)
Knowing that local police units are looking for ways to thwart terrorists before they hit their targets is not enough to ease your worries and fears. The police may feel they cannot do much more than increasing the physical security of high-risk targets.
Talking about the behavior of these notorious terrorist is difficult. While there has been extensive research on the behavior of traditional criminals, there is still a lot to learn about the terrorists. They differ from many predictable criminals, who are expected to carry out their criminal activities closer to home. Studies show that these conventional or predictable criminals are more inclined towards committing impulsive crimes which are not very much planned out, but it is seen that the terrorists take much care to get ready for their attacks and may engage in other crimes in the process.
As preparations for local terrorists start a week before the incident, international terrorists may take planning six months or more to plan depending on the how large their target is. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has commenced a series of projects studying the patterns of terrorist behavior. The initial project focused on the review by a panel of 60 case studies in the United States occurred in the last 25 years. These were related to four main types of terrorist groups to United States: from left, right, supporters of a particular cause and internationally. The experts have analyzed the place of residence, planning, preparation and commission of terrorist acts to establish patterns.
The panel established the case of McVeigh, the Sept. 11 hijackers and Rudolph as unusual. As it was found out that most terrorists believe to act in places that are closer to their residence and plan their actions for many years, some for months or years which usually comes under the attention of the local police.
Almost half (44%) terrorists in the review by the panel lived 30 miles (48 km) of their targets. The findings are quite different when looking at terrorist groups separately. International terrorists were found to be living comparatively near their targets and the terrorists on the right, in rural areas, but their targets were the pollutant urban life nearby. (M. Abrahms, 2004)
In most cases, terrorists were preparing attacks by monitoring, collecting information, committing thefts and robberies to raise funds for the group, violating the laws on weapons and making bombs. Again, most of these acts took place fairly close to their residence; it was close to their targets.
International terrorists may prefer to stay close to their residence because of their new immigrant position, limited means of transport and familiarity of the urban landscape or a need to keep away from being noticed. Among supporters of a particular cause, 71% of preparatory acts were committed within 12 miles (19 km) and 92%, less than 28 miles (45 km) of the target, this is perhaps because the environmental extremists and anti-abortion tactics of violence are uncoordinated, which often attract individual local supporters.
A follow-up project separate from the NIJ focuses on the distance between the residence of more than 250 environmental and international terrorists and their targets that established former initial findings on the similarity of their quasi-spatial models. The study revealed that major number of terrorists both environmental and international terrorists lived within 30 miles (48 km) of their targets. Sixty-five percent of the environmental terrorists and 59 percent of international terrorist attacks have been prepared less than 30 miles (48 km) of their targets.
Even if the subjects of the examination conducted most of their preparations close to home, they committed robberies, burglaries and thefts much further, on average, 429 miles of their residence. This indicates that most environmental and international terrorists live close to their targets and conduct surveillance and other preparations close to home and place of any attack. Though, serious crimes to raise money for the terrorist action, such as thefts, robberies and burglaries are carried out by design at a great distance to avoid attracting attention to the location of the group and its target.
Based on the review, typically the preparations start less than six months before the attack and end with a burst of activity a day or two before. This varied by type of group. Advocates of a particular case and right-wing terrorists were carried out much less preparation for a short period, mostly focused on isolated incidents and unsupervised resistance. The international terrorists on the other hand took a longer time to get prepared.
In a follow-up study, the patterns of international terrorist groups and environmental terrorist were studied closely and a chronology of their preparations was compiled. It was found out that international terrorists led nearly three times as many preparatory acts per incident than the environmental terrorists; this is perhaps because of the greater number of people involved in international incidents, significance and extent of incident planning or simply a planning period of longer duration.
In a comparison of 10 international terrorist incidents that occurred in the United States, it was found that the average length of the planning phase of international terrorists was 92 days while environmental terrorists took 14 days to prepare for their actions. But we cannot depend on averages to find out the exact behavior of the terrorists as they can at times be misleading as it was found out that Islamic extremists took many years to plan out the destruction of prestigious buildings in New York. As environmental terrorists had taken a week before the incident to plan out, international terrorists had taken up to six months to prepare. (G. H. McCormick, 2003)
For enforcement of the law, the impact of these models is great. Committing a terrorist act generally requires local preparations. While much of this preparation is not necessarily criminal, having information quickly can help law enforcement to stop terrorists before they act out.
Knowledge of the threat, for example, includes the length of the preparations of extremist groups and international environmental, affects the mode of intervention of local officials. Detecting the preparations of environmental extremists that are underway may signal an imminent attack, while a similar behavior in a group may indicate that an attack can still take place in several months.
Understanding that most terrorists act locally can be crucial when the investigation services are trying to prevent terrorist activity and apprehending the perpetrators. These local models can make more efficient patrols in known high risk areas and learn about foul committed at a distance of potential targets.( B. Brophy-Baerman et el, 1994)
As we continue to deepen our understanding of the relationship between place of residence of terrorist preparations and the target, this increased level of knowledge should help the police to prevent attacks and respond in a timely manner.
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