Peering into the Abyss: Understanding and Combating NBC Terrorism
The attacks on 11 September 2001 against New York and Washington and in Madrid on 3 March 2004, coupled with a wide range of other terrorist attacks, in locations ranging from Turkey to Bali, have all served to highlight a new and unambiguous trend in the use of political violence, one that now makes terrorism a much greater danger than the world has traditionally had to cope with from ethno-nationalistic or ideologically motivated terrorist groups. In contrast to earlier terrorist organizations, radical Islamic fundamentalist groups seek not only to inspire terror in the target population, but also have the overweening ambition of totally undermining the key pillars of the West’s political, social, economic, infrastructural and moral make-up. By attacking carefully selected targets, exemplified by the assault on the office workers in the World Trade Center, tourists in Bali and rail commuters in Madrid, the terrorists are seeking to inflict previously unthinkable levels of destruction and disruption. They want to use the power of the carnage itself to convey their message, rather than depending on media coverage and the spin doctoring by spokespersons and pundits that inevitably accompanies such attacks. The level of harm inflicted is in and of itself intended to send their uncompromising message of total war to the audience, both among the targeted population and to their own supporters. The aim is to demonstrate that the terrorist’s power to inflict harm is virtually limitless. And in pursuit of the terrorist’s objectives, the use of weapons of mass destruction to attack a major urban target must be regarded as a logical and to be expected escalation in the terrorist’s arsenal of outrages.
KeywordsNuclear Weapon Terrorist Attack Terrorist Group Mass Destruction Chemical Weapon
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 1.R. L. Garwin and G. Charpak, Megawatts and Megatons: A Turning Point in the Nuclear Age? (New York: Knopf Publishing, 2001) pp.339–43.Google Scholar
- 2.B. Hoffman, Inside Terrorism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998). pp.199–205.Google Scholar
- 3.S. Hess and M. Kalb (eds) The Media and the War on Terrorism (Washington DC: The Brookings Institution, 2003).Google Scholar
- 5.D. E. Kaplan and A. Marshall, The Cult at the End of the World (New York: Crown Publishers Inc, 1996), pp.119–22.Google Scholar
- 7.G. K. Bertsch and W. C. Potter (eds), Dangerous Weapons, Desperate States: Russia, Belarus, Kazakstan, and Ukraine (New York: Routledge, 1999).Google Scholar
- 8.K. Von Clausewitz, On War (New York, Viking Press, 1982).Google Scholar
- 9.L. Harris, ‘Al Queda’s Fantasy Ideology: War without Clausewitz’, Policy Review (August & September 2002), No. 114.Google Scholar
- 14.T. Delpech, International Terrorism and Europe, Chaillot Paper No 56 (Paris, European Union Institute for Security Studies, 2003), pp.48–50.Google Scholar