Understanding the roots of the 1970’s Terrorism

Living with Terrorism: Tactics of Avoidance

Original article written by Bruce Eures

Published for academia 1983, Louisiana Technical University

[Just after the Marine Barracks bombing in Lebanon]

A definition of terrorism in political terms could be: The use of force or violence in order to target a person or property for gain towards a political goal. To be effective, target must have the potential to affect change. Insight on how to avoid being a target could lessen or eliminate the impact of terrorism as a tool for political gain. Since minimizing terrorism is a large subject, just the basic questions will be touched upon.

Questions like: what makes someone or something to target for terrorism? What basic attitudes of the terrorist should one know? How can someone prepare for the terrorist? Simple questions with no simple answers.

What makes someone a possible target of terrorism? The same question could be posed of heart attacks. What makes someone a possible heart attack victim? Same techniques of threat analysis can be used for both1. Studies of terrorist campaigns reveal identifiable patterns. These patterns but certain groups of people at higher risk than others. Terrorism has been and will continue to be a tactic against the weak. The terrorist can’t afford to fail. He sees himself as a representative of a constituency and must maintain a positive image. Failure would mean a loss of credibility. A potential target usually poses a risk. The terrorist will have to assess his chances of success against the chances of failure. So then, he will look for what defensive measures exist. This can be called risk assessment.2 if the terrorist determines that the security is relatively high abort the attempt to bring harm and destruction to target. However, if security is skin deep, terrorist success in such an environment that the government has labeled as secure can be more devastating than if no such assurances exist. Simply stated, deterrence is the best prevention of terrorism.

Another component is the terrorist ability to deal with the possible complications of existing security systems. This includes training, organization, and expertise of operation. During the 1970s, Palestinian training and its outgrowths provided what might be the glue holding together many of the eras terrorist elements. It is in these schools that they learned their basic skills such as security, philosophy, and clandestine tradecraft. Some notable groups that have studied under Palestinian training by the Irish Republican Army, the Baader-Meinhof Gang, Turkish and Iranian terrorists, members of the Dutch Red the Help (Rode Hulp), and the people still credit Republic of South Yemen.3

A typical recruit is 22 to 25 years old, college trained, middle class to upper class, and anarchist/Marxist ideology. Education can vary from non-technical degrees in humanities such as in the IRA, too technical engineers and nuclear scientist as with the Turkish and Iranian terrorists.4

The pattern is virtually the same for all groups, where common training and typical cross-section lends itself to a close binding. Shared experience implies similar techniques of terrorism or ‘modus operandi’. One group’s failure could mean another’s success. The bottom line is not to underestimate the terrorist capability when determining measures for adequate security. Back to the question of what makes someone or something possible target for terrorism? Lack of security for a potential target is one reason. Underestimating the terrorist is another. But security for whom? For what? The target still needs to be pinned down.

Security could be defined in technical terms as the protection of persons or interests against which a threat is posed by a clandestine group. Government, policy or law, a foreign power, and upper-class representing imperialism, colonialism, or Zionism, in the terrorist mind, is a target to put at risk. Public figures associate with such institutions or enterprises connect with these ideas are at risk. Individuals with highly technical skills, for instance the information posts are at risk. Security risk can also become diffuse by broadening the target. For example, innocent groups of people can be bombed in order for government to consider a change in a policy. Diffuse targets can exist not only as groups of indiscriminate people, but as important resources such as electricity, food and water, monetary systems and mineral resources can all become targets of terrorism.

Some major undertaking since 1968 have been over 300 hijackings, about 170 successful. More than 50 major political kidnappings have occurred. Robberies to fund activities, extortion and political blackmail our favorites and help to bring in much-needed funds to underwrite their operations.6
Basically, anything to make it impossible for the government to govern. According to a leading revolutionary in Brazil, Carlos Marigehela:

Make it unbearable for the ordinary people and hope that they will become embittered and exasperated with the government and will clamor for change.7

Palestinian terrorists conducted their first hijacking in 1968 when P.F.L.F. members boarded in LOL Boeing 707 at Rome airport and port of the land in Algiers.8

Successive attacks were made on a number of Israeli Airlines. Subsequently, they began pacing armed sky marshals aboard the flights. Stepped-up security proves its value in 1970 when Leyla Khaled and Patrick Arguello, members of the P.F.L.P tried to hijack an AL El airline out of Amsterdam. They were overpowered. Arguello, was killed Khaled was captured when her grenade failed to explode. Later, a series of hijackings attempted to win release of Leyla Khaled, who was being held in Earing, England. The TWA 707 and Swissair DC were forced out of Dawson field, and old RAF runway. A simultaneous hijacking also took place on a British VC-10, on the ground 40 miles north of Amman, Jordan forcing all of the passengers hostage for the release of Khaled.

In another incident, Palestinian terrorists sought recognition from King Hussein of Jordan. His attacks on the contested Palestinian strongholds in his country were either wiped out forced the guerrillas to withdraw into Syria or Lebanon. The Black September group, led by Yasser Arafat, massacred 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games.

Kidnapping of public figures for ransom or political propaganda is also common.9 in 1958, Castro supporters kidnapped racing car driver Juan Fangio. A Guatemalan terrorist nabbed West German diplomat in 1970. When the government refused to concede to their demands, the Count von Spreti was murdered. Funds through ransom money are usually where the big returns are found. Wadi Hadad, a South Yemen terrorist, forced Lufthansa airlines to pay $5 million into his P.F.L.P account. In the summer of 1977, the Japanese Red Army hijacked a JAL Airlines aircraft leaving Bombay. Diverting it to Algiers, they demanded the release of six terrorists and $6 million. These were to be some the last big money operations of 70’s.

Less publicized, but highly favored, our banks as targets of terrorism. The Algerian FLN, the IRA, Baader-Meinhof gang and others have been known to hold up a bank or two.10 Although bank robberies don’t produce a lot of money, is usually enough to keep a small time terrorist operations afloat. Six robberies claimed by groups in Tukwila, Washington produce only about $4000 each. Early raids by the Baader-Meinhof gang but in about 8000 deutsche marks, a few thousand dollars. But with practice, they pulled up six highest totaling hundred $185,000. This smalltime crime did the terrorist satisfaction striking out against the capitalist system.

These are but brief examples of the terrorist targets. The tactics of subversion and science of mass killing great progress with practice and technology. Handheld rockets for bringing down aircraft, chemicals for poisoning resources like food, water, air and the possibilities of nuclear terrorism. What next? An examination of the person who engages in terrorism isn’t where to extrapolate his behavior.

Terrorist motivation

To be a successful terrorist a university degree is the almost mandatory11

A brief analysis of the terrorist motivation will perceive the world through his eyes in an effort to out think him. The modern terrorist has the special motivation of fighting for a political cause. Without a political cause he would be nothing more than a common criminal seeking personal gain. They can be grouped, territorially, into three categories based on the amount of influence they wish to spread over a certain area.

The first group works towards world revolution. They try to impose their ideology on one and all, and those who get in the way are eliminated. The Symbionese Liberation Army could have been classified into this group until they reveal themselves as criminals hating the rich. 12   Certainly, more fall into the second group. Those who oppose their own government, and wish to implement their own extreme political philosophy in their native country. Examples of this include the Baader-Meinhof gang in West Germany, and the Red Brigade in Italy. The third category can be described as liberation movements. Certain countries or groups of people struggling to free themselves from the unwelcome in one unwanted governments. The terrorist site is usually weak, and the ruling cited is militarily strong, such as the lands Israel not part buys by military force. We are deeply entrenched with the Palestinians came either homeland. Another motivation for terrorist is a veteran of both groups over points of doctrine. These usually end up as coup d’états.

In 1952, Algeria was at war with the French. Frantz Fanon, a black doctor, gave a supporter of the Algerian national front. Though not a violent man, Frantz wrote, Violence alone, violence committed by the people and educated by its leaders, make it possible for the masses to understand social truths, in his book titled “The Wretched of the Earth”. The violent teachings of Fanon set the pattern of thought among leftward leaning intellectuals in the West.

While Fanon was the pioneer in the literature of subversion, the founder of modern terrorism was Carlos Marigehela. Running a revolutionary movement in Brazil, he practiced what he preached. His handbook of urban guerrilla warfare, in “For the Liberation of Brazil” became the operations manual for the modern terrorist group. After it’s publishing in Germany, a German terrorist said of it, “you find it quite concrete instructions: the urban guerrilla must be fit, must read this and that, and must do this and that”.13 Bank robbery and kidnapping were a few of the actions advocated by his writings. Interestingly, Marigehela’s theories were derived from Chairman Mao Tse-tung’s instructions to the Communist on how to take over China from the nationalists. 14 Others like Che Guevara, in Bolivia, who wrote “Guerrilla Warfare”, and Regis Debray, French intellectual and loss, who wrote “Strategy for Revolution” work to inspire followers who overtook the airport at Entebbe and the coup d’état in Chile respectively. These writings represent the basic motivations of modern terrorist, and fuel the fire of their hatred of capitalist society.

It is important to understand the terrorist philosophy to understand his intentions to understand their intentions. Dealing with them on intelligent level may lead to satisfactory solutions other than violence, then it would no longer be terrorism, but rather politics. But until such compromises arise, the world must still deal with the violent terrorist. Once the cause is established, the terrorist must become active in the service. Even to the point of death. You must become a Fedayeen, a man of sacrifice. Being a terrorist is not a part-time endeavor.

Some terrorists get a, kamikaze fever and have intentions of dying inglorious death for the revolutionary cause. The typical red Japanese army terrorist has a nasty habit of exploding bombs aboard aircraft that they happen to be on at the time. Of course, not all terrorists are so fanatical. About 80% of all terrorist acts involved throwing bombs, launching rockets, setting booby-traps or igniting explosives by remote control or timing devices. These incidents cause fear and panic in the victims and innocent bystanders, while affording maximum protection for terrorists.15

The terrorist must also have the killer instinct. That is, to be devoid of human emotions, pity and remorse. Must be able to kill on signal, anytime, anyplace, anyone, in cold blood.

He must be also be fairly intelligent processes target, plan a strategy, and stay ahead of security forces, rival groups and hostile intelligence services. He must also have sophistication and poise, to travel first class, stay first-class hotels, and mix with international executives and government officials in not seem out of place. If you become suspicious, he is automatically suspect.

The terrorist must be well educated. He must possess a fair amount of general knowledge; speak English [an almost universal international language] and one other major language. Must be a good communicator to get his views across, and understand what others are saying on complex issues. Not all terrorists have such high standards, but the leaders, planners, couriers/liaison and officers, activists must if they expect to operate successfully. In short, there is no place for the mindless thug. There is of course a place in terrorism for the less educated, less urbane, but it is a minor one. Usually, [the terrorist] possesses a skill that is needed by the terrorist group. Safe cracking, explosives, and electronics are few examples of desirable skills. But give organization that recruits a number of undisciplined, and unruly members is soon decimated by security forces, eliminated by a rival groups, or disintegrated by internal rivalry. All terrorists share a common heritage:

They all come under the influence of those political thinkers who preach that violence is essential to make a world better place ‘for the masses’. The criminals and psychopaths use the philosophers to provide them with the glib rationalization for the actions, while the idealist are deluded by their gurus into thinking that violence is the only true road to salvation.16

The anti-colonialist wars ended in 1950s and 1960s, but the concept of Third World composed of the poor and miserable within the countries evolved. The writings of these philosophers acted like a magnets for young people in the Western world. They identified with the struggles of Third World people against poverty and the less fortunate in the country. Growing sentiment rose among young intellectuals that the rich countries should feel guilty about the past colonialist exploitation, and pay the massive aid programs. It was in this atmosphere of revulsion of luxuries brought about by capitalism, that the philosophers begin writing about the theories and practices of terrorism’s guerrilla warfare.17

Fidel Castro’s prime into but impressed everyone. It proved that a small band of guerrillas overthrew a dictatorial government. He became a hero in universities across Europe and the Americas. They devour the new literature of subversion. 18

Preparing for the Terrorist

A look at terrorist targeting, and motivation provides tips for deterrence and countermeasures. The first tip is to be knowledgeable about country’s political climate. That is, the issues that concern the population of that country. Second, is whether or not there is an active or passive opposition, a sample of their tactics and a success rate. Third, is an assessment of the local police action that can be reasonably expected against terrorist aggression in order to assess one’s own security needs. These are three important factors for deterrence because forewarned is for armed. An effective information system is invaluable for the individual or organization to the extent that repetition is deterable. The sources of information are important in the final analysis in preventing improper actions based on misinformation allowing viable assets become vulnerable. Information exchanges are on a need to know basis and should be arranged among those who have a common interest. Also, constant passage of information between public and private sectors, at the appropriate levels, with ensure that the best quality information is available. Information should be verified when possible and should be processed into a useful form in which the organizations can base decisions. In information security system should be developed so that secrets cannot be filled by those with the terrorist cause. Because ultimately, it is what is known time which can be frustrated or avoided. 19

Timely information means proper protection and deterrence. Since the field of protection is wide open, only the individual security measures and basic organizational protection will be discussed. Protection from terrorists who kill indiscriminately is much too broad a scope for this report and will not be dealt with as well.

Most foreign travelers, government officials or businessman not afforded the protection of 40 armed guards and round-the-clock security as our investors were senior executives. They must rely on public security. But this does not mean that there are not measures individual can do to protect themselves. Living overseas means being attuned to possible threats.

One obvious tactic is to keep a low profile. Don’t engage in any controversial activities, such as, political rallies, extracurricular social affairs that may lead to bad publicity etc. Avoid the routine; very journeys, times, habits. Being unpredictable stymies kidnappings, bombings and assassinations.

Be aware that the family is also a target for terrorism. Abduction of wives and children is a well-established form of blackmail. Wives and support ostentation, avoid easily recognizable cars and she missed user friends carefully. Young children should be kept it close friends houses when the parents are out. The adults might be advised not to enroll in the universities if the political climate warrants it. At the lowest level, the family might be used as a source of information about the parent’s whereabouts, movements and habits.

In extreme circumstances, the antiterrorist training courses can be attended. Courses such as hand-to-hand fighting, weapons training and vehicle division tactics are examples. The possibility of the threat would be the determining factor.

Aside from the threat against the individual person, there is the threat to property in which the individual lives. Public buildings are much easier to protect than private residences. But even the private residence can be made into a fortress, depending on the security needs. Today security firms are willing to survey the home, habits and movement of the family, so that they might advise on use of security guards dogs, or the use of special security hardware. Don’t be fooled, these things cost money and the addition of anything must be weighed against security needs.

Fixed barriers, box lights easily explanation. They come in a variety of forms. Alarm systems adjust as varied and can be triggered by a multitude of sensors. A few examples systems used can be from the triggering our movement, vibration and heat. Consideration should also be given to an escape route by the person’s in-house, while at the same time preventing unauthorized entry.

More sophisticated equipment is also available, but only at a cost the company could afford. Electromagnetic interrogators can be used to check fingerprints, ID cards, or eye pattern recognition systems to gain access. Only a correct match will release the lock. But of course, there is no substitute for personal recognition.

Ultrasonic motion detectors are designed to detect body movement in the subject area. Ultrasonic transceivers transmit and receive sine waves of the pitch of the ear. The radiation patterns or oblong, about 30′ x 20′ and with careful placement they can be reflected into concealed corners as well.20

Less effective are the Doppler effect detectors which are activated by continuous motion. They can be used in conjunction with ultrasonic devices as triggering mechanisms in order to save power. Radar and microwave systems work in the same way as, except they are useful greater distances. Several million cubic feet of space warehouse could be secured. Distant dates for the area along fences could be areas of security as well. Photoelectric detectors, similar to the ones found in automatic doors, can be used to detect passage through door or hallway.

Vibration for seismic detectors can alert to hammering, drilling, digging, crawling, blasting and tunneling. In spite of such hardware, there is no match for the human being with eyes and ears and brain. Such manifestations of security hardware project the conscientious and disciplined level and effort of protection and are likely to become an effective deterrent which will induce the terrorist search for a softer target.

A brief mention of bombs is in order before the conclusion, since they are most often the calling card of the terrorist. Bombs are one of their most deadly weapons, to both sides. Talk to the IRA21 , bombs kill Israeli victims visited the assailants. Mainly because of their crude improvisation.

Recognition and detection of possible bombs is an essential element in their detection and disposal before detonation occurs. Modern bombs can be triggered in various ways and tampering is ill-advised. With this in mind, with those telltale clues of terrorist bomb.

Virtually every bomb has metal. Detonators, firing pins, springs and wires are made of metal. These can be detected but extra machines. Certain explosives have a peculiar odor. Electronic sniffers can be used in the detection, or specifically trained dogs can signal bomb threats. Letter bombs are prone to be at least a quarter inch thick. It may feel like a heavily folded report or pamphlet, however, it will also feel heavy and non-resilient like clay. The explosives may sweat, causing greasy marks on the outside of the letter express mail pouch. There may also be an unusual smell. Detonation occurs from opening the top of the envelope, and one should inspect if the sides have been tampered. Parcel bombs unless easily detectable because of the variety of packaging. First question to ask is: who is from? Most parcels come from friends relatives or related to business transactions, so is the right familiar and/or the package expected. If these questions are asked is unlikely that the potential victim will fail to recognize the parcel as a bomb.

Car bombs are more difficult to detect. Outward signs of wear and how parked the car, whether the door, good trunk were left ajar Orthodox have been tampered. The best defense against car bomb is a good auto/vehicle security system.

All that the untrained person can do with any certainty is to have good idea of the kinds of signs that are suspicious – about letters, parcels, parked cars, or other booby-traps. Once suspicious, you should isolate the object and call the bomb squad. Tampering with it would be foolish. It is extremely rare for anyone to be blown up if they had stuck to these rules. This awareness probably saves more lives than all the detection equipment together.


The conclusions drawn from this report or that terrorist targets are ones with a potential of high visibility and little or no security risk for the terrorist. That the terrorist will stop at no end if so highly motivated and that informed security practices deter most would be terrorists. The foreign traveler must keep a low profile as to not attract attention to himself. Any such unavoidable attention should be covered with adequate security measures. This avoids victimization. Adequate security measures should be based on sound information. Remember, the terrorists are highly educated and cannot be easily placated. They feel that their cause is legitimate, it may or may not be the case, but an understanding of the terrorist motivation by world leaders and individuals can bring about such a change. Understanding of humans is the only real solution to stem the tide of terrorism. Until such empathy is reached, action and it turns out, is the only means to deny terrorism. Avoid ostentation, controversial stance and indiscriminate friendships. Knowing how to identify suspicious signs of people and things out of the ordinary. Be informed about the environment in which one lives. They sound like extreme cloak and dagger right measures, but not all countries enjoy same security as the United States. First looks over shoulder every 5 min in Dubuque, Iowa, might be considered paranoid, but in Belfast, Ireland, he is very prudent. So let the foreign traveler be prudent in his wait for the terrorist.


1“Target of Terrorism “, Target Terrorism: Providing Protective Services, International Assoc. of Chief of Police, 1978 p.7.

2“Out-Inventing the Terrorist”, Terrorism: Theory and Practice, Westview Press Inc., 1979, p.7.

3 Ibid. p.13.

4 Ibid p.8.

5 Clutterbuck, Richard Living with Terrorism, Arlington House Publishers, New Rochelle, New York, 1975 p.22.

6 Carlos Marigehela, For the Liberation of Brazil, Penguin Publishers, London, England, 1971.

7Clutterbuck, op. cit. pp 33-50

8Dobson/Payne, The Terrorist Their Weapons, Leaders and Tactics, Facts on File Inc., Park Avenue South New York, 1982 pp. 86-104.

9O’Ballance, Edgar, The Language of Violence, Presidio Press, San Rafael, 1979 p. 299.

10Dobson/Payne op. cit. p.95

11Ibid., p. 23

12Ibid., p.42

13O’Ballance, Edgar, op. cit. p.300

14Dobson/Payne op. cit., p. 18

15Ibid., p. 19

16Ibid., p. 20

17Clutterbuck, op. cit., p. 141

18Clutterbuck, op. cit., p. 62

19Freedom Struggle, by the Provisional I.R.A., 1973

Selected Bibliography

Clutterbuck, Richard. Living with Terrorism, New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House Publishers 1975.

Dobson/Payne. The Terrorist, Their Weapons, Leaders and Tactics, 460 Park Avenue, South New York, New York, Facts on File Inc., 1982.

Kobetz, Richard W. Target Terrorism: Providing Protective Services, Gaithersburg, Maryland: International Association of Chiefs of Police 1978.

O’Balance, Edgar. Language of Violence, The Blood Politics of Terrorism, San Rafael, California: Presidio Press 1979.

Westview Special Studies in National and International Terrorism, Terrorism: Theroy and Practice, Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press Inc,. 1979.


About Tommorrow's News, Today

Began career at the Pentagon as a Communications Specialist. Has been involved with commercial aerospace defense projects since 1984 with firms like TRW, Lockheed Martin, Boeing. Served in Iraq from 2003 to 2005 with Army Corps of Engineers supporting IED/Mine clearing operations and destroying Iraqi weapons stockpiles. Born in Bangkok, Thailand, adopted son of a career U.S. Foreign Service Officer. Current interests include democratic process reform, Nation / State Building, Technology Trends and Environmental Studies.
This entry was posted in International Relations, Terrorism and Nation Building. Bookmark the permalink.

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