19 Pages

Introduction: Defining, describing, and analyzing multilateral counter-terrorism

For more than a century, a defining characteristic of terrorist violence has been its international orientation. In his account of the “four waves of modern terrorism,” David Rapoport underscores that successive generations of terrorists have sought, and often achieved, the ability to conceive strategies and execute tactics across national borders.1 For example, the Russian anarchists of the 1880s took advantage of new communications and transportation technologies (telegraphs and railroads) to articulate and disseminate a doctrine of revolution, yielding the “Golden Age of Assassination” in the 1890s. Subsequent anticolonial terrorists (who emerged in the 1920s and were active for some four decades) had nationalist objectives, but were thoroughly international in taking advantage of sympathetic diaspora populations to fund their activities: in turn, they prompted a response from the League of Nations. According to Bruce Hoffman, the internationalization of terrorism reached new levels in the late 1960s.2 New tactics evolved, such as hijacking and hostage-taking, and were applied to new targets, especially foreign nationals. In addition, as exemplified by the seizure of Israeli athletes by the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Black September group at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972, terrorist incidents received increasing attention in the international media. Towards the end of the twentieth century, the “religious wave” gave

rise to further examples of the transnational reach of terrorists, who again targeted foreign citizens and states, sought support from fellow believers abroad and articulated global or universal programs to justify their use of violence.3 The attacks of 11 September 2001 (“9/11”) provide the most striking example here. They were undertaken in the service of an ideology with global pretensions. In the 1980s, Osama bin Laden had played a coordinating role, helping foreign volunteers join the “jihad” against the Soviets in Afghanistan. In the 1990s, he sought to maintain and extend the militancy of these international “mujahideen”

cadres in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chechnya, and elsewhere. In 1996, he issued a call for violence by Muslims against the “Zionist-Crusader alliance and their collaborators,” signaling his intention to target the “far enemy” (especially the United States) over the “near enemy” (perceived apostate regimes in the Muslim world).4 In 1998, he joined with Ayman al-Zawahiri (leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad) and others to found the “World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders,” stating that, “The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies-civilians and military-is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it.”5 Later in that year, in pursuit of those broad objectives, the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam were attacked. Subsequently, the 9/11 plot took advantage of the conveniences of globalization in a devastating way. A multinational group of hijackers were resident in, or transited through several countries, and received funds from still other jurisdictions while preparing for the attack.6 In this regard, Robert Keohane suggests that a lesson of 9/11 is that, “The agents of globalization are not simply the high-tech creators of the Internet, or multinational corporations, but also small bands of fanatics, traveling on jet aircraft, and inspired by fundamentalist religion.”7