Terrorism Essay


The term terrorism refers to the methodical use of terror particularly as a means of coercion (Kushner 2003). The International community has however failed to produce a universally acceptable definition of the term. The most common definitions of terrorism specifically refer to those acts that are directed towards inflicting fear in individuals so as to attain the set goals. The welfare of the civilians in terrorist activities is disregarded. Terrorists work under organizations that are organized and structured. The terrorist organizations also regarded as terrorist groups perform their activities to protest or to make their demands known. Terrorism is in most cases politically inclined.


The US state of department has in the recent produced a list of known international terrorist organizations. The groups are organized and led by leaders. The groups are made stronger by the strong external aid that they receive; support may come in terms of financial aid, logistic assistance, and training (Gunderson 2003). The groups may be local or international depending on their operations or their target. The most common terrorist groups that have been a major threat to the US from1999 to 2003 include the HAMAS, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN).

The ELN is highly likely to have posed great threats to the US from 1999 to 2003. The terrorist group conducted at least three attacks on US citizens. Two of these attacks were conducted in 1999 while the third was conducted in the year 2000. The FARC is also a likely threat to the US peace in the same time interval. In the 1999 the group carried out attacks on the US soil by kidnapping three US citizens. In 2000, gunmen who were suspected to belong to this group killed two US citizens. Another terrorist group that was a likely threat to the US between the same time intervals was the HAMAS. This group was known for suicide bombings, in the 2001, a suicide bomber left 22 persons dead and 140 others wounded, one of the dead victims was a US citizen (Gunderson 2003).

What is Abu Nidal Organization?

This is an international terrorist organization that was founded by Sabri al-Banna. This organization split from Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in the year 1974. The organization was composed of several functional committees; this is inclusive of the political, military, and the financial committees. The leader died in Baghdad leaving the leadership of the organization unclear. The choice to focus of the organization has been prompted by the fact that the organization has faced financial and organizational structures hence it is considered inactive at the moment. It is easier to study the organization now since all its operations have been revealed unlike organizations that are still active.

This organization is known for deadly attacks in the 1980s on the Western, Palestine and Israel. This organization conducted its terrorist activities in an attempt to disrupt diplomatic relations between PLO and the West; in the meantime it was promoting the destruction of Israel (Council of Foreign Relations 2009).  This organization was named after one of its members who split from PLO over a dispute over establishing diplomatic relations with Israel. The organization has been one of the active terrorist organizations in the US list of such organizations over the years especially in the 1980s. The US state Department has however considered he organization inactive according to a Country Report on Terrorism released in 2008. The group was the world’s most dangerous group in the mid1980s.

Terrorist activities of Abu Nidal

Most of the group’s targets have been Israel, PLO officials, and the representatives of the Arab government that they disliked. The West including the United States were that main targets in the late 1980s. No major attacks have been attributed to the group since the death of its leader; however, the group was linked with the planning an attack in Jordan, this led to the apprehension of an ANO member by the Jordanian officials (Zalman 2010). The widely known attacks that have been conducted by this group include;

·         The assassination of the senior diplomat Naeb Imran Maaytah from Jordan in Bierut in the year 1994.

·         The assassination of Abu Iyad in January 1994. In the same year PLO’s second in command after Arafat and another official were also assassinated.

·         The shooting of the Neve Shalom synagogue in Istanbul in September 1986. This attack left to the death of twenty tow people.

·         The attempted hijacking of a Pan Am flight in Karachi in December 1985.Twenty two people died during this incident.

·         Simultaneous attacks on the US and Israel I December 1985.These attacks left eighteen people and injuring one hundred and eleven people.

·         The attempted assassination of the Israel ambassador Shlomo Argov in London. This prompted Israel’s invasion on Lebanon.

Psychological Profiling of Terrorists

At some point, Abu Nidal and Yasser Arafat were working together in the struggle for Palestine in Fatah. Abu Nadal abandoned Arafat due to some disagreements; this involved abandoning the cause of Palestine (Council of Foreign Relations 2009). Nidal regarded this organization as a mercenary group. Nidal could have possibly collaborated with Arafat with the hope that the Palestinians will regain their homelands. He could have been possibly disappointed with the pace at which the activities in the organization were conducted. Initially the newly formed organization aimed at paralyzing the activities of the Fatah.

The Lebanese war made him to lose focus. He joined the warring parties with his own objectives. This represented the interest of the Iraq benefactors. The organization intended to air their views through carrying out attacks on various targets. The overwhelming support that the group received further strengthened the organization. The main goals of the organization can be assumed to be prompted by the Palestinian nationalist peers of its leader. He wanted to be in charge on the organization, all the operations that were conducted by the group were particularly to have their point passed across.

The leader of the organization was a political visionary (Rappoport 2001). His intentions could have therefore emanated from his urge to be politically active. He could have been preparing himself for a political life he dreamt of. The breaking off from Futah can further be attributed by a need to be independent and control people. He was tired of following Arafat’s orders hence wanted to have his point heard. The CIA sought to find out if he was psychologically fit; he was defined as a paranoid leader. A CIA spy Duane Clarridge recounted in his memoir that the Abul’s terror campaign was inward (U.S Department of State 2003). He led his followers in carrying out terrorist activities in his sane mind.

Counterterrorism Strategies

The initial step into designing counterterrorism strategies is to recognize the danger of terrorism (Saxton 2003). Once government agencies realize that terrorism activities pose great dangers to the welfare of the citizens, then it will be deemed necessary to come up with measures that can help in combating the activities of the ANO. In the past, the group had carried out terrorist attacks in 20 countries where 900 people have either killed or injured. The group has conducted major attacks having superior nations as its key targets. This is a major loss to any nation, it is important therefore to recognize the serious negative aspects of terrorism so that the issue can be addressed well. The continued terrorism activities can be attributed to the failure of government agencies and policymakers to recognize the problem.

Governments that confront terrorist threats effectively should be supported. The Bush and Clinton administrations did not handle the terrorism issue effectively (Council of Foreign Relations 2005). The counterterrorism policies that were put in place by these administrations did not prove effective in combating terrorist activities. It is important to have administrations that combat the problem well since terrorism activities have been on the increase over the years. It is not wise to assume that the ANO is dead; it could be planning another attack tomorrow. The group’s activities should be monitored so that the ring leaders can be apprehended. It is important to note that the death of Abu Nidal led to the collapse of ANO to a large extent.

The organization’s silence cannot be assumed. The group was suspected to have been involved in planning attacks in Jordan in the recent past. It is therefore important that the concerned authorities step up and dig deeper into the group’s activities. The apprehension of the ANO official possibly prevented deaths of millions of civilians. The terrorism issue cannot be overlooked since innocent people suffer when the attacks are conducted. With the qualified personnel the authorities can learn to master the group’s next move hence put in place measures that can counter the activities.

It is necessary to know the strength and the operational status of the organization. Presently it may be assumed that the organization has little membership but this might be the opposite. The group may be assumed to be   inactive but it may be more powerful than it was in the 1980s. It could be that it is planning its next terrorist attack. In establishing this, it is essential to find out who the main sponsors are. The sponsors may have increased over the years; social evils are the order of the day hence it cannot be assumed that the organization settled on joining hands with other stakeholders to make the world a better place to live in.

The location or area of operation is also an important aspect that needs to be focused on. The group’s area of operation is assumed to be Iraq or Lebanon (Central Intelligence Agency 2002). This assumption does not provide exact information that can help in locating the group. In dealing with terrorism issues it is important to be precise. The group could be operation in the United States without the knowledge of the authorities; this is basically because more effort may be directed towards locating the group in Iraq and Lebanon.

Tactical Capability

Abu Nidal Organization used different names to conceal the groups activates. The names include Fatah Revolutionary Council, Arab Revolutionary Brigades, Black September, and Revolutionary Organization of Socialist Muslims (Martin 2009). This made it hard for people to find out if these names referred to the ANO. This was a tactic that the group used to conceal its involvement in any terrorist activities as well as enabling it to conduct many terrorist activities at the same time.

The leader of the organization targeted intelligent students to carry out terrorism activities. The students were attracted by the promise that they would be paid well. The students were also assured that they would be assisted in advancing their education as well as ensuring that the welfare of their families would be well taken care of. Once the students joined the group, they were recruited and not allowed to leave. The selection of intelligent young people was a way of ensuring that they would help in the making of informed decisions as well as participating in the armed struggle. The organization was very cautious in ensuring that individuals were loyal to them. Any discrepancies in presenting personal information were not tolerated, anyone caught with such a crime was suspected to be an informer. They were heavily punished. This was one of the organizations measure to ensure that individuals who formed part of the group could not leak out any information concerning the activities and plans of the organization.

The organization had taken total control over its membership. Acts that were considered wrong within the organization could not be tolerated. Alcohol, gambling, womanizing, and friendships with outside parties were abolished unless the ANO decided otherwise. One member of the organization who spoke to Patrick Seale, a British journalist and author, revealed that the members did what they were told (Martin 2009). If one was commanded to drink alcohol, he or she had to do so without questioning. If they commanded one to kill obedience ought to be observed. This is an aspect that helped the organization to carry out terrorist attacks since the members faced serious consequences if they failed to do as commanded. This aspect inflicted fear on individuals since those whose who failed to comply with the set rules was heavily punished.

Implications of the tactics

The nature of the organization enabled it to perform the various activities successfully. The leader demonstrated good leadership skills since he was able to control the group’s activities. In conducting such activities, it is necessary to have leaders who are able to control the whole organization confidently. If ANO had a weak leader then the groups could have been weak from the word go. Abu was a strong leader who was able to command his staff (). This can be evidenced by the fact that the organization weakened after his death, this clearly indicates that as a leader, Abu was able to hole the organization together.

As the leader of the organization, Abu Nidal was informed of the terrorism activities. He was able to command those who worked for him and the organization while at the same time directing them. Employers need to be well informed about the operations that are carried out in the premises (Taylor & U.S. Department of State 2001). This enables such an employer to decide on what needs to be done where. This was the same case with ANO; Abu was a good commander who could control all the activities within the organization without any difficulties.

The fact that the organization chose young and intelligent minds shows that it had long term plans. The group is alleged to train these young people who were expected to take part in the attacks. Intelligent people are an important asset in any premises; they came up with innovative ideas that largely contribute to the positive development (Zalman 2010). Any organization that aims at making meaningful progress chooses intelligent people to facilitate the decision making progress as well as inventing ideas. ANO had activities that it had planned to conduct, the planning of the attacks as well as the execution of such plans called for sharp minds. Terrorism activities need to be well planned for since failure to plan them well disappoints the organization.

Identification of Key Targets

In selecting the target areas, terrorists put in mind various factors. The survival escape of the terrorist carrying out the attack is an important aspect unless this is meant to be a suicide bomber (Dudge-Pionton 2005). Successful escape ensures that the terrorists can still carry out other attacks. The attacks are planned in a way that ensures that the individuals carrying out the attack escape safely without being hurt. The groups can also use methods such as snipers or remote bombs to ensure that the terrorist are far from the crime scene. This ensures their safety since the terrorist have a chance to be as far away as possible to the crime scene.

The attacks were earlier organized in such a way that loss of life is minimized. This may seem weird but it is rational since the same population acts as a basis for more attacks (Central Intelligence Agency 2002). Most of the terrorist attacks are directed towards specific individuals or group of individuals hence the attackers have to be keen to have the target individual or group as one of the victims of the attacks. Currently, the nature of the terrorism activities has changed; attacks now result in more deaths as demonstrated in the September 11 attacks.

The ANO did not entirely put these factors into consideration. The organization did not apply effective methods to ensure that the attackers were safe. Most of the target groups were famous politicians and activists. The organization did not apply the modern methods which ensure the security of the attackers. At the time when the group was active, the modern methods of conducting criminal activities had not been fully implemented hence their security was at stake. The attacker had to be close to the crime scene since the methods used in carrying out the attacks demanded concurrently, terrorist groups target large populations, and ANO attacks resulted to more deaths since their victims were a summation of 20 countries. The 900 deaths and injuries did not come from one state (Dudge-Pointon 2005). It was an estimate of the victims of the group’s attack in 20 countries.

In November 1976, the ANO fighters stormed the intercontinental Hotel in Amman, Jordan. The fighters took several hostages. During this incident, three gunmen, two soldiers and two civilians were killed. The attackers were not lucky enough to escape since they were caught and executed. In September of the same year, two attackers were captured and hanged shortly afterwards. This proves that the tactics applied by the organization at that time were not effective since the attackers were easily caught.

The ANO attacks were mostly targeting small groups at a time (Zalman 2010). Majority of individual attacks did not lead to injury or death of many people. Looking at the main attacks that the group conducted, fewer deaths and injuries were reported as compared to the current incidents of terrorism activities. The organization conducted many attacks targeting different individuals.

Strategies of Risk Reduction

Hypothetical scenario

A famous politician is scheduled to address the public tomorrow morning at Hell’s Gate Hall at 8 am. The politician will be accompanied by his allies. He is the main target of the terrorist attack. The meeting will take about three hours which will give the attackers time to set the required tools for the assassination. The ANO attackers want to eliminate the politician since he has been opposed to their activities and he has been working hard to uncover their activities. The politician ought to be eliminated since he has acquired some vital information about the organization through some unknown informers. He should not find out more information about the organization. The Organization will use a different name so as to conceal its involvement in the crime.

Steps to implement the scenario

·         Ensure that the attackers know the security measures that have been taken.

·         Choose the right gadgets to carry out the attack.

·         Select the most skilled attacker since political assassination is not an easy task.

·         Ensure that the timing is accurate so as to ensure that the politician is one of the victims.

Mitigation Measures

Tight security check should be conducted frequently.
Ensure that the security personnel have the right gadgets to detect any explosives or guns.
Ensure that suspicious looking individuals are arrested.
Make the meeting to be as brief as possible.
Early warnings and he detection of any trouble is possible if the security personnel employed are skilled. The security men are trained to sense any trouble by looking at the expressions of the attendants, anxiety is one of the things that the personnel’s should look out for, People who keep stretching  their necks and looking around send signals that show that such individuals are anxious about something. More security personnel should be employed to ensure that the population in attendance is under strict scrutiny by the security personnel.


Terrorism is a systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion. Terrorism activities are carried out by terrorist. There are various groups and organizations that have been formed to conduct terrorist activities. The Abu Nidal Organization is one of these organizations. The organization is said to have conducted terrorist activities in over 20 countries leading to nearly 900 deaths and injuries. The organization was formed by Abu Nidal. The group was very active during the 1980s but its operations are now less. The activities of any terrorist group cannot be underestimated since the same group can revive and carry out more serious attacks.


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