Vol 2 | Issue 1

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Psychological Warfare and Terrorism

Robert D. Hanser

This brief article demonstrates that there are common psychological principles that can be effectively and directly applied to illustrate the utility of terrorist activities. One key contention is that terrorism should be considered the pinnacle of strategic behaviors within any protracted campaign emphasizing psychological warfare. A variety of mechanisms and concepts are utilized to make this point and to demonstrate that the field of psychology provides clear benefits in explaining how terrorist acts can influence the thoughts and behaviors of audiences that are targeted by terrorist actors.

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A Basis for Middle East Islamic Extremism

Steve A. Young

Islamic extremism is a 20th and 21st century phenomenon that has shown no signs of abating as Islamic extremists have committed terrorist acts on nearly every continent. At times, such as the 10 August 2006 discovery in the United Kingdom of the home grown extremist plot to blow up several jetliners over the North Atlantic Ocean, law enforcement has preempted extremists’ efforts. At other times law enforcement and intelligence agencies have been unable to prevent the extremists’ terrorist attacks such as in London in July 2005, Madrid in March 2004 and Indonesia in 2002, 2003, and 2005. Although present in much of today’s world, Islamic extremism has its roots and origins in the Middle East and certain factors or forces tend to perpetuate its existence there. In the Middle East, there also exists competing philosophies between those populations. It is the purpose of this article to identify and discuss each of these forces that contribute to a continuation of Middle East extremism from a Western perspective and also provide some perspective on the two competing philosophies.

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Hostage Taking and Kidnapping in Terrorism: Predicting the Fate of a Hostage

Minwoo Yun

This article examines how open source data collected and organized in a relational database can be used to better understand the factors that contribute to the decision to kill or release a hostage in a terrorist kidnapping situation. This study is significant because of its quantitative approach since this area of study has suffered a shortage of quantitative data and corresponding analyses. Thus, most studies and articles on this topic have been descriptive and narrative. This study uses 765 cases of terrorist hostage taking and kidnapping data originally collected by the Institute for the Study of Violent Groups (ISVG). Binary logistic regression is used to predict the outcome of terrorist kidnapping situations using independent variables derived from prior studies in this area. Many of the findings in this study are contradictory to the prior literature, the views of experts in this substantive area, and the public opinion overall about terrorist hostage-taking and kidnappings.

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A Homeland Security Model for Assessing US Domestic Threats

Shawn Cupp and Michael G. Spight

Since 9/11, local, state, and federal governments in conjunction with corporate agencies have conducted a wide variety of risk assessments. These include identifying and assigning the threat and vulnerability to a number of infrastructures based on potential terrorist attacks. Many of these assessments are conducted with international or foreign terrorists in mind. Unfortunately, there are a number of domestic threats that may prove to be just as dangerous. This article proposes a model to focus attention of viable potential domestic threats. By measuring the intent and capabilities of domestic threats based on historical evidence of previous incidents, local, state, federal government, and commercial organizations are able to apply constrained resources to mitigate the viable potential domestic threats. Metrics are defined and the domestic threat groups are depicted on a scatter graph. This is the first step in identifying domestic threats in order to focus critical resources and fiscally constrained assets on mitigating the risk of these threats.

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Fem Fatales: The Evolution and Significance of Female Involvement in Terrorist Networks and Suicide Bombing

Jeffrey P. Rush and Elizabeth Schafluetzel-Iles

This research explored the evolution and significance of female involvement in terrorist networks. An historical context and evolution of female involvement in terrorist networks was presented and reviewed for emerging trends in the transition in type of female participation. Current examples of female involvement in terrorist networks, specifically homicide bombings, are quantified over a four-year period from 2000 to 2003, and then compared to prior periods. Analysis showed an increasing trend to use females as homicide bombers within terrorist networks. The significance of this trend was considered in relation to the educational levels of female homicide bombers. This research concluded that homicide bombings, in general, are becoming an increasingly common tactic used by terrorist networks, and that using females as homicide bombers has emerged as a coinciding phenomenon. Overall, this investigation directs avenues for future research regarding the significance of female participation in terrorist networks, both domestically and abroad, and how that might relate to female’s educational levels.

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The Taliban, Al Qaeda, the Global Drug Trade, and Afghanistan as a Dominant Opium Source

Frank Shanty

It has been claimed that during the past twenty-five years the opium trade has provided a vast source of funding to the Afghan Mujahideen, the Taliban, and possibly Al Qaeda. Today drug revenue empowers local and regional warlords and provides revenue for their personal militias. The extent to which it also empowers Al Qaeda and other like groups still remains an open question. This is despite the fact that the United States has achieved successful military intervention in Afghanistan for several recent past years. Because there is a general contention throughout much of the multinational organized crime and international terrorism literature that such connections are commonplace, it is important to validate such assertions are indeed a matter of material fact or are instead more the product of mere speculation. This article is an attempt to explore the relationship between the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and the opium trade in the Golden Crescent region of the Middle East.

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A Paradoxical Analysis of Social Learning Theory as Applied to The Potential Reform of Terrorist Offenders

Coleen Ryan, Jeffrey Vanderlick, and Whitney Matthews

This article explores the causes of terrorism from the standpoint of social learning theory. One key contention is that terrorism is a learned behavior that is specifically taught through the various mechanisms that are common to any and all learned behaviors. Further, it is a tenet of social learning theory that just as behaviors are learned behaviors can also be unlearned. However, it is the specific contention of this article that the social learning mechanisms used by terrorist groups are so effective as to essentially inoculate the member from contrary learning input. Ironically, this means that the very same social learning mechanisms used to shape the terrorist mind are also the very reasons that this learning is not amenable to effective treatment or change. This stands in direct contrast to the notion that all learned behaviors can also be unlearned and therefore demonstrates that terrorist behavior is a paradox within the framework of a social learning analysis.

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This journal is dedicated to the men and women serving and those who have served in our criminal justice agencies. America is fortunate to have such fine and devoted professionals serving on our behalf. Thank you.

Professional Issues in Criminal Justice (PICJ), which started in 2005, has evolved from a newly established journalin criminal justice to an established peer-reviewed journal in the field.