Will it Ever be Possible and how to profile the Terrorist
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Will it Ever be Possible and how to profile the Terrorist 

מאת    [ 27/10/2019 ]
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Will it Ever be Possible and how to profile the Terrorist?

Jacob RUB

Summary

Identifying members of terrorist organizations and preventing them from carrying out successful attacks is a core component of any anti-terrorism effort. If terrorist profiling is possible, it would be an irresistibly attractive method for countering terrorist attacks as it would maximize the efficiency of prophylactic resource allocation, increasing the likelihood of the interception of a terrorist attack. The author has concluded that it is difficult to ascertain the origins of terrorist behavior or the factors that influence the same. Membership in a terrorist group or organization can also enhance one’s social standing in a broader community – family, ethnic, confessional or national. There are obstacles for criminological theories to point out with precision any one factor responsible for the growth of the terrorist personality or to explain the transformation of becoming full-fledged terrorists. The author has analyzed clearly such factors of terrorist profile as psychopathological, psychological, biological, gender, racial, socioeconomic, gender and age items as the most prominent factor for profiling a terrorist is not a practical solution for an effective counter-terrorist measure. Two traits that appear to be disproportionately prevalent among terrorists are low self-esteem and a predilection for risk taking. The basic argument is that the science can create a minimum formula to Profile the Terrorist as to a white collar crime personality. In this article there have been demonstrated that combination of factors of personality characteristics and making a decision to commit a crime with a minimalist formula for finding a common denominator for all terrorists.

Key-words: Profile the Terrorist; terrorist organizations; terrorist attacks; anti-terrorism effort; likelihood of the interception of a terrorist attack; criminological theories of terrorism; terrorist personality; measurements to profile the terrorist; self-esteem of terrorism; risk taking in terrorism cases.

***

In order to aim at an evaluation of the characteristics and the motives of terrorism – whether of the traditional variety or its current offshoot - it is necessary to go into a study of the criminological theories hitherto stated and try to assess the phenomenon of terrorism.

Identifying members of terrorist organizations and preventing them from carrying out successful attacks is a core component of any anti-terrorism effort. The fundamental task of this process is to separate the terrorist from the non-terrorist. The most prevalent method of attempting to achieve distinction between these two groups is to establish a set of psychological, socio-economic, physical, and/or racial attributes that mark one from the other. In other words, what does a terrorist look like, what personality traits do they possess and in what circumstances do they live and work? Essentially, it constructs a terrorist profile comprised of certain perceptible qualities with which an observed individual can be likened to, thus determining the probability of terroristic tendencies within the subject.

If terrorist profiling is possible, it would be an irresistibly attractive method for countering terrorist attacks as it would maximize the efficiency of prophylactic resource allocation, increasing the likelihood of the interception of a terrorist attack. [1]

The reality, however, is that terrorist profiling has not proved to be the panacea silver bullet against terrorism. Many explanations have been given as to the reasons why terrorist profiling has, so far at least, failed to deliver [2,p.92-105] [3,p.3-12] [4,p.69-80]

Our Conclusion is that it is difficult to ascertain the origins of terrorist behavior or The factors that influence the same. Terrorist’s motives differed widely in the past – and they will differ even more so in the future. But there are discernable patterns that can be broadly applied. What makes young people join such groups is spiritual emptiness rather than an empty stomach. The stresses and strains of modern life frequently have been adduced as reasons why such people turn to violence. Membership in a terrorist group or organization can also enhance one’s social standing in a broader community – family, ethnic, confessional or national. One Also cannot rule out the material well-being as a contributing factor in cementing individual loyalty to a group hence, all factors contribute towards the creation of the terrorist personality, which in due course endures the complex.

It is difficult for criminological theories to point out with precision any one factor responsible for the growth of the terrorist personality or to explain the transformation of becoming full-fledged terrorists, but a study of all the divergent factors, as well as ant evaluation of the same, will in all probability place us in a better position to understand the different stages that go into the making of a terrorist.

Terrorists can be identified in comparison to a societal population through the: A.observation of noticeable, B. indicating traits C. behavioral patterns.

The three most prominent approaches to terrorist recognition employ racial-physical, psychopathological and socioeconomic attributes as profiling parameters.

This article will deal with the merits and failings of these three profiling techniques in order to determine whether the titular question - whether the terrorist can ever be profiled – is answerable.

Until the discovery of a universal definition, if one can exist, the efforts to further research the phenomenon must adopt working definitions in order to achieve some clarity of meaning. Those creating a terrorist profile must do exactly that, with particular detail to what actions differentiate a terrorist from a non-terrorist. Importantly, not all of the activities involved in terrorism are illegal, particularly those which support the ultimate action - the terrorist attack - through a peripheral network of terrorist sympathizers, such as financiers, promoters and recruiters.

According the Racial, Gender and Age Profiling, the most egregious method of profiling terrorists is to identify the potential based on racial characteristics. On the basis of race and comparable factors, is both discriminatory and foolish. Arabs and Muslims - to name the two most obvious targets for such reactions today - are part of the American mainstream. Many are citizens. The vast majority… are altogether innocent of any connection with terrorism. Meanwhile, some people who are not Arabs… have apparently joined our enemies in Al Qaeda’ [5, p.688]. Clearly, relying on race as the salient factor for profiling a terrorist is not a practical solution for an effective counter-terrorist measure.

Another immutable dimension which is often employed to profile terrorists is biological gender. Proponents of gender profiling argue that all of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers were male, as were the 21 Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists arrested in Singapore in 2002 [6, p.183]. The dominance of male terrorists should not be overstated. Despite having numerical superiority, Russell and Miller warn against using simplistic male-centric profiling.

Female terrorists are more adept at allaying the suspicions of security personnel. As a result, posing as wives or mothers, they often can enter areas that would be restricted to males…[7,p.22] Hudson writes that ‘women have played prominent roles in numerous urban terrorist operations in Latin America’ [8,p.53]. Notorious Latin American female terrorists include the Sandinista’s Dora Maria Téllez; Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front’s Ana María; Montoneros’ Norma Ester Arostito; and a large portion of the M-19 details that seized the Dominican Embassy in Bogotá in 1980 and the Colombian Palace of Justice in 1985. Hudson writes that ‘[the female terrorists during the siege of the Palace of Justice] were among the fiercest fighters’ [9,p.53]

The issue of age discrimination in terrorist profiling is also an example of the failure to limit the filtering of a large population into a manageable group. There is no definitive age group that terrorists fall into. Although the majority of terrorists are in their early twenty’s, the average age of several terrorist groups is considerably lower [10, p.31]. At the other extreme, the leadership hierarchies of terrorist organizations tend to be markedly older than the mean age. Both Osama bin Laden and Carlos Marighella were in their late 50’s when they were killed. The new head of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, turned sixty last year. When the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list was published in 2001, the average age of the 22 individuals listed was 37 years-old. In light of this variety, it is clear that age is a problematic measure of profiling potential terrorists. It is of interest to note at this point that while race, age and gender profiling in the criminal context - such as the routine searching of young black males by police patrols - is condemned as prejudiced, unconstitutional or institutionally racist, the equivalent usage in the terrorism context is largely overlooked by the general public. The populace’s relative tolerance of these unsophisticated profiling techniques - and the infringements on individual liberties that result from them - may be a consequence of the post-9/11 climate of fear and the culture of terrorist stereotyping that has emerged from it.

According Pathological and Psychological Profiling we ca say that, unlike racial and gender discrimination, psychological profiling is widely accepted in both the study of criminology and as a method within law enforcement operations. There have been multiple attempts to transfer its apparent success from the criminal environment to the context of terrorism. Implicit in this approach is the belief in a causal connection between abnormal psychopathological behavior and terroristic tendencies. The presence of certain exhibited personality traits or traumatic life experiences is believed to be suggestive of a propensity towards terrorism. In the criminal context, psychological profiling is used as a method of suspect identification, particularly in highly emotive cases involving rape offenders, sexual-orientated killers and serial arsonists [11]. Several psychologists have associated violent behavioral patterns with the presence of mental trauma, sexual deprivation and/or an oppressive formative atmosphere in the perpetrators past [12, p.456-483]. Adorno’s use of psychometric testing and clinical interviews of willing Holocaust participants concluded that there existed an ‘authoritarian personality’ that was susceptible to the influences of prejudicial and totalitarian directives. Lester, et al. transfer this work into the field of terrorism studies by attaching to Islamic terrorists such proclivities as the projection of internal guilt, the displacement of anger onto others, the submission to conventionalism, aspirations of toughness and bravado and an absence of empathy [13, p.292].

Terrorists. In analyzing right-wing Italian terrorism, Ferracuti and Bruno define an ‘authoritarian-extremist personality’ characterized by pathological disturbance, ideological vacuity and a psychological disconnection with reality [14' p.209]. Sullwold categorizes German terrorist leaders into two psychological profiles; the unstable, egotistic and apathetic extrovert, and the intolerant, paranoid and hostile neurotic [15]. By compiling the numerous psychological studies into the terrorist mind, their amalgamated results produce multiple terrorist personalities, or utilize personality traits that are widely distributed in a population. Psychological profiling, so far, has failed to determine a single ‘terrorist personality’. The commonality between these psychological profiles is that the potecial persons malfeasor is either insane or they hold a warped awareness of reality. This is particularly seen as the case with suicide terrorism. Kushner writes that Palestinian suicide bombers may be overwhelmed by a life experience which has generated extreme feelings of anger and hopelessness, such as the result of losing several relatives or close friends at the hands of Israeli security forces [16, p. 329-337]. Salib and Rosenberger both hypothesize that the rationality of suicide bombers is hijacked by desperation caused by a perceived absence of hope, derailing them into a dependence on grandiose, paranoid delusions [17, p.475-476] [18, p.13-20].

The endeavors of psychologists in profiling the terrorist have been limited to vague implications of irrationality and insanity. Post notes that, ‘behavioral scientists attempting to understand the psychology of individuals drawn to this violent political behavior have not succeeded in identifying a unique “terrorist    mindset”’ [19,p.103]

Systematic research into the biographical records of the Baader-Meinhof Gang conclude that they] did not differ from the comparison group of no terrorists in any substantial way; in particular, the terrorists did not show higher rates of any kind of  psychopathology’ [20,p.423].

       Proponents of the normalcy of the terrorist mind depict the social environment that terrorists operate in. Terrorists are generally not delinquents or recluses, but thrive in an atmosphere of interdependence. Clark’s investigations into ETA found that its members are not socially marginalized or mentally disturbed; instead, they belonged to a close-knit ethnic community and were supported by loving families [21]. Unlike lone wolves, the terrorist group relies on ‘mutual commitment and trust’ and ‘the cooperation between groups’, as demonstrated by the four 9/11 hijacking groups, which is ‘radically inconsistent with the psychopathic personality’ [22, p.16]. In fact, Townshend writes that terrorists are ‘disturbingly normal people’.. For example, Post describes terrorists as ‘action-oriented, aggressive people who are stimulus-hungry and seek excitement’, which, even if accurate, would cover a sizable demographic of those in the military, security or emergency services [23, p. 27]. It is now generally accepted that as opposed to serial killers, pyromaniacs and rapists, the terrorist mind follows rational decision-making and attends to a coherent political philosophy that facilitates the use of violence as a tool of strategic and communicative value. The motives of terrorists are inherently socio-political, relating to a group philosophy rather than individual psychology. From this perspective, terrorism is a manifestation of political militancy, albeit in an intentionally audacious form, and the rationality of its actions should not be considered in isolation from their purposes.

Another criticism of the psychological profiling of terrorists is that the terrorist organization, as with a legal enterprise, recruits many personalities in order to fulfil a diversity of functions. The composition of a terrorist organization is far from homogenous, and requires the skills of not only hijackers and bombers, but bomb-makers, smugglers, leaders, disciplinarians, orators, communicators, trainers and financiers. The work undertaken by these roles culminates in the overall terrorist campaign.

About Socioeconomic Profiling, this strand of terrorist profiling relies on the premise that terrorist proclivity can be ascertained through information on an individual’s social status, education, livelihood and marital status, amongst other factors. The general belief among international leaders is that “poverty lies at the heart of terrorism”, as purported by Desmond Tutu and South Korean President Kim Dae Jong, and “education reduces terrorism”, as supported by the Dalai Lama and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel [24, p. 70] [25,p.1536]. These blanket suppositions do not always correlate with real world research. An example of this incongruity can be seen in Russell and Miller’s analysis of eighteen different terrorist organizations and 350 individual terrorists active in the decade following 1966 [26,p.31]. Their research concluded that ‘[the observed terrorists] have been largely single males... who have some university education, if not a college degree’. From this, terrorists are more likely to be single, and, more surprisingly, they are likely have undertaken higher or further education. The same conclusion is drawn from the study of West German terrorists during that period;Hudson writes that; ‘The RAF and Red Brigades were composed almost exclusively of disenchanted intellectuals’ [27,p.49].

So, the task of profiling the terrorist has been a long and drawn-out process that has seen a revival of interest in the post-9/11 era. During the seventies and eighties, many psychologists, sociologists, political scientists and international security academics sought to systematically record terrorist data in order to construct profiles organized around various parameters. The crudest profiles used immutable traits such as race and biological gender, while others endeavored to define the terrorist through psychopathological or socioeconomic measurements. The initial obstacle facing all of these efforts was definitional, as is still the case today. This is because the fundamental terminology under investigation – terrorism – has not been universally defined.

Working definitions employed by different studies vary and, therefore, the internal validity of recorded data and the generalized conclusions drawn from that data is considerably weakened. Regardless of this preliminary hindrance, the profiling of terrorists fails to result in any definitive phenotype of the universal terrorist. For instance, the use of racial profiling to monitor a population for potential international terrorists would result in a discrimination of security checks against Arabs, which total over 5 million people living in the United States alone. Overlooking the sheer size of this demographic, the fact remains that not all terrorists are Arabs. The implementation of racial stereotypes into terrorist profiling is not only imprecise, but has considerable ramifications for the individual liberty of the population being monitored. This has equal severity in the instances of gender and age profiling. The argument for psychological profiling in the context of terrorism also falls short in its claim that a terrorist personality or personalities exist. Although some scholars argue that with more primary data, psychological profiling will be substantiated as a successful measure, the current evidence concludes that no causal progression from mental illness to terroristic intention occurs. Psychological profiling is further stifled by the apparent normalcy and sociability of many terrorists. Ethno-nationalists, in particular, are intertwined into an interdependent close-knit community which requires high levels of trust and mutual commitment, far from the notions of psychosis or other pathological disorders. Psychological profiles that incorporate subtler but ubiquitous personality traits, such as aggression and thrill-seeking, do not provide enough specificity to be of any practical application to the countering of terrorism. On the other hand, socioeconomic profiles do display some merit in specific temporal and geographic contexts, but are soon invalidated due to the fluidity of the political environment and the evolving terrorist-counterterrorist dichotomy. Due to the need of a considerable amount of biographical data and the lack of longevity or generalizability, such profiles have limited practical use in combating emerging terrorist threats. Socioeconomic profiles succeed in demonstrating one thing - the multiplicity and complexity of the phenomenon of terrorism.

We think that the usage of one-dimensional measurements to profile the terrorist is a futile endeavor and is likely to remain so in light of the current research. It may be argued that a successful terrorist profile can be created by amalgamating several unsuccessful one-dimensional assessments into a multi-dimensional profile. This is clearly a recipe for compounding failure because, with each additional dimension added, the profile’s scope becomes more and more extraneous to the diverse nature of the modern international terrorist.

Hence, what kinds of people are likely to join sects or such terrorist groups engaging in such acts of violence. Aggression and intense hate can manifest themselves in a variety of ways, in writing a manifesto or making a speech as well as in throwing a bomb. Psychologists, psychiatrists, criminologists, anthropologists, and neurologists have given much thought to the issue of whether or not there is a predisposition toward violence in human beings. Two traits that appear to be disproportionately prevalent among terrorists are low self-esteem and a predilection for risk taking. [ 28, p.9]

As we have written at the beginning of this article – It is difficult for criminological theories to point out with precision any one factor, but a study of all the divergent factors, as well as an evaluation of the same, will in all probability place us in a better position to understand the different stages that go into the making of a terrorist. So, for example we will argue that the science can create a minimum formula to Profile the Terrorist- as to a white collar crime personality, for example. We have made a research in this subject UNIVERSITY STATE OF MOLDOVA (USM) with the title of: CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR AND LEGAL ASPECTS OF REDUCTION OF WHITE-COLLAR CRIMINALITY IN ISRAEL AND MOLDOVA. In this study we were able to find a combination of factors of personality characteristics and making a decision to commit a crime with a minimalist formula for finding a common denominator for all white-collar offenders.

We must emphasize that in this study we have raised another parameter that would assist the irrational model in decision and risk making, which is presented as an innovative and leading model in the field of white-collar criminality – “personality coefficient” of the potential felon, which might better define the chance of success in perpetrating a crime .It is our opinion that the chances of success in committing the offence depends and should be based upon “personality observations” that would assist in the prospect of success of the crime that indeed faces the potential felon or as a tool to isolate such an employee.

Personality components the model were  based on: consciousness, extroversion, neurosis, pleasance and openness.  The new approach in research of decision-making to perpetration of a WCC, which is the "intuitive approach”. In this approach, as well, there is still an assumption that under same circumstances and same conditions and same organization of conduct, the intuitive decision-making would be related by a strong correlation with personality traits of a potential WCC and there would not be a similar behavior between individuals. We think that may be it will be the solution about terror felons and groups. We do not agree to the attitude that behavioral Detection Many scholars are skeptical as to whether the observation of behavioral and micro-facial movements is scientifically proven to be able to determine future violent intent. We can agree to study in parallel an alternative to profiling the terrorist; a more lucrative venture may be to transcend the individual by profiling terrorism as a process within a complex system.

Anyway, Evil never left us, it seems. So there is no need for an answer. It is here, is now, and since then it lies in the historical human memory.

Bibliography:

  1. SIGGINS  P., Racial Profiling in an Age of Terrorism ,2002 http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/ethicalperspectives/profiling.html

  2.  CRENSHAW, M., ‘The Causes of Terrorism, Past and Present’. New Global Terrorism, ed. Kegley, C. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2000, PP. 92-105.

  3. BONAR , B., ‘The Psychology of Terrorism: Defining the Need and Describing the Goals’, Psychology of Terrorism, eds. Bongar, B., et al. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007, PP.3-12.

  4. MOGHADDAM, F., ‘The Staircase to Terrorism: A Psychology Exploration’, Psychology of Terrorism, eds. Bongar, B., et al. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007,PP.69-80.

  5. ELLMAN, S.J., ‘Racial Profiling and Terrorism’, in New York Law School Law Review, vol.46 ,2003,P. 688.

  6. DEAN, G., ‘Criminal Profiling in a Terrorism Context’, in Criminal Profiling: International Theory, Research, and Practice, ed. Kocsis, R.N. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press Inc., 2007,P. 183.

  7. USSELL, C.A. and B.H. Miller, ‘Profile of a Terrorist’, in Terrorism: An International Journal, vol.1: no.1 ,1977, P. 22

  8. HUDSON, R., The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism: Who becomes a Terrorist and why? ,Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1999, P.53.

  9. Ibid. Hudson, P.53.

  10. Ibid. Russell and Miller, P. 31.

  11. KPCSIS, R.N., Criminal Profiling: Principles and Practices .Totowa, NJ: Humana, 2006.

  12. VOLKAN, V., ‘September 11 and Societal Regression’, in Group Analysis, vol.35, 2002, PP. 456-483.

  13. LESTER, D., B. Yang and M. Lindsay, ‘Suicide Bombers: Are Psychological Profiles Possible?’, in Studies in Conflict and Terrorism vol.27 ,2004, P. 292.

  14.  FERRACUTI, F. and F. Bruno, ‘Psychiatric Aspects of Terrorism in Italy’, in The Mad, the Bad and the Different: Essays in Honor of Simon Dinhz, eds. Barak-Glantz, I.L. and C.R. Huff ,Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1981, P. 209.

  15.  SULLWOLD, L., ‘Biographical Features of Terrorists’, in World Congress of Psychiatry, Psychiatry: The State of the Art, vol.6 ,New York: Plenum, 1985.

  16. KUSHNER, H.W., ‘Suicide Bombers’, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism’, vol.19,1996, PP.329-337.

  17. SALIB, E., ‘Suicide Terrorism’, in British Journal of Psychiatry, vol.182 ,2003, PP.475-476.

  18. ROSEBEGER, J., ‘Discerning the Behavior of the Suicide Bomber’, in Journal of Religion & Health, vol.42 ,2003, PP.13-20.

  19. POST, J., ‘Individual and Group Dynamics of Terrorist Behavior’, in World Congress of Psychiatry, Psychiatry: The State of the Art, vol.6 ,New York:Plenum, 1985, P. 103.

  20. CLARK, R., ‘Patterns in the Lives of ETA Members’, in Terrorism, vol.6: no.3,1983, P. 423.

  21. Ibid. McCauley.

  22. TOWNSHEND, C., Terrorism: A Very Short Introduction .Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002, P. 16.

  23. Ibid. Post ,1998, P. 27.

  24. Ibid. Moghaddam, P.70.

  25. ATRAN, S., ‘Genesis of Suicide Terrorism’, Science, vol.299 ,2003, P. 1536.

  26. Ibid. Russell and Miller ,P. 31.

  27. Ibid. Hudson, P.49.


  28. • 

    LOPAMUDRA, Bandyopadhyay. The Role of Criminological Theories in the Identification of the Terrorist Personality pp. 9-11. http://www.globalindiafoundation.org/terrorism.pdf

     

     

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