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remains is whether it was a product of a strategic choice, or rather the lack of
operational capability that forced the group to behave in the way it did. As
we have seen during the examination of the influence of individual variables
described above, some factors such as non-ambitious overall strategy, dis-
criminate targeting logic, attachment to weaponry that was simple, lack of
direct countermeasures and the non-contentious relationship with similar
organizations seem to suggest that the group s decision was a conscious one.
On the other hand, variables such as the tight urban environment in which
the group operated and the small amount of material and human resources
available to the group make the operational limitations of 17N s capabilities
evident as well. Nevertheless, some of the variables examined above have
Revolutionary Organization November 17 145
also suggested that the group did possess some preconditions favorable for
successful technology adoption had the decision to innovate been the stra-
tegic preference of the group s leadership. In the absence of any attempts to
exploit such an environment, it seems safe to conclude that 17N was one of
the terrorist organizations whose level of innovational capability was self-
limited by strategic choice. Implicitly, in relation to the prospects of mass-
casualty CBRN terrorism, 17N clearly represents one of the least likely
historical candidates for perpetrating such an event, given the group s com-
plete absence of interest in both mass casualties and innovation.
7 Understanding terrorist
innovation
Throughout the course of this book, the trends in terrorist innovation were
examined, followed by an attempt to explore the factors responsible for the
enormous differences among the innovational patterns demonstrated by differ-
ent terrorist groups. For this purpose, 11 variables were tested on four different
case studies in an attempt to identify the level of correlation of these variables
with the level of innovativeness demonstrated by the respective groups. The
goal of this chapter is to provide an analytical comparison of the findings,
leading to the inductive production of a comprehensive theory of terrorist
innovation, which will attempt to explain the circumstances and characteristics
that determine the level of a group s involvement in tactical and/or techno-
logical innovation. First, the original hypotheses associated with the individual
factors will be summarized, followed by an analysis of their applicability to the
individual case studies. Following this step, alternative explanations to the ori-
ginal hypotheses as well as the definition of the scope conditions of their applic-
ability will be presented, along with supplementary evidence.
Role of ideology and strategy
The first variable tested has been the role of ideology and overall strategy. It
has been argued that this variable s importance lies in the fact that it is in
essence an organization s ideological foundation that frames the worldview
of its members and thus provides a sense of collective identity. Ideology is
also instrumental in identifying the enemy, while also providing the neces-
sary explanation and justification for its targeting. Moreover, ideology deter-
mines a group s core objectives and the strategy for how and by what means
these objectives are to be achieved. And finally, ideology is a critical compo-
nent in determining a group s ambitions, as well as the overall perception of
urgency for armed action in order to fulfill the given aspirations. At the
operational level then, the group s core strategy translates into the frequency
and intensity of its military operations. This is where ideology, strategy and
innovation meet, in the sense that terrorists innovation has been hypothe-
sized to be driven by the need to achieve the capability necessary for reach-
ing and sustaining the level of intensity preferred by the group.
Understanding terrorist innovation 147
The record of the four case studies under scrutiny is highly supportive of
this assertion. Possibly most telling is the case of Aum Shinrikyo, whose
operational preferences not only reflected the group s overall ideology and
strategy  the curve of shifting organizational goals was directly mimicked
by modifications in the technological realm as well. In other words, as
Aum s paranoia grew the group s goals began to shift toward more apocalyp-
tic ends, triggering the increased effort to acquire mass-casualty capable
technologies such as chemical, biological, nuclear, plasma, laser and even
seismological weapons. Similarly, PFLP-GC s innovation patterns also corre-
lated highly with the group s ideological and strategic objectives. Despite
the group s traditional Marxist Leninist rhetoric, in PFLP-GC s belief
system, political concepts and strategic planning seem to have been consid-
erably less important than the process of the struggle itself. In this sense, the
emphasis on spectacular armed operations along with the building of con-
ventional military capability to fight the Israelis naturally led the group to
become its time period s leader in terrorist innovation. Equally, the RAS
ideological and strategic goal of exerting the maximum level of attrition
against the civilian population in order to achieve the pullout of Russian
forces from Chechnya had driven the group to design adequate methods of
high pressure and mass-casualty tactics. This is especially true given the
RAS preference for striking in the heart of the enemy territory, an aspect of
the RAS strategy that required the perfecting of disguise and infiltration
techniques, an area where the group s success rate remains unparalleled. In
the control case of 17N, the comparative lack of innovation also seems to be
closely tied to the group s ideology and strategy. In the absence of a coherent
plan of bringing about a revolution and the associated lack of an ambition to
govern, the group was not dependent on popular support and thus did not
need to impress and mobilize a large audience. In this regard 17N saw itself
more as a  tool of popular justice than a real revolutionary force, a fact that
was reflected in the group repetitive, almost ritualistic operational methods.
As these case studies have shown us, terrorist organizations can indeed be
expected to launch operations according to their ideological and strategic
objectives. Thus in many ways, the disparity among the innovational tend-
encies of different groups can be attributed to the differences in belief
systems as well as strategic approaches of the different groups. For instance,
AQ had learned the power of single large-scale operation from the outcomes
of the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Under this influ-
ence, the group had decided to rely exclusively on dramatic and spectacular
operations, explicitly avoiding small-scale attacks in order to prevent the
dilution of its omnipotent image. As early as 1996 bin Laden explained in
an interview for al Quds al Arabi,  the nature of the battle calls for opera-
tions of a specific type [large scale] that will make an impact on the enemy,
and this calls for excellent preparations. 549 Correspondingly, the group s [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]