CENS / RSIS / Commentaries / Global / International Politics and Security / Terrorism Studies

Originally published on 07 AUGUST 2006

DEALING with contemporary forms of terrorism is fundamentally different than dealing with its past forms or conventional external threats. Previous experience with terrorist groups such as the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) may not be of direct use. In the past, many terrorist groups had a clear structure and organization which could be defined and tracked. Such groups also had political agendas that were relatively clear. As such, designing an intelligence collection program to operate against them was a straight forward (albeit difficult) task.

Why make a distinction between groups of the past and the threat posed by contemporary terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and its inspired followers? Even though Al Qaeda had a fairly clear structure and organization, it lacked a direct political agenda. The destruction of the House of Saud and the removal of American troops from Muslim majority lands may have been Al Qaeda goals, but it does appear that Al Qaeada was more about ideology than a specific agenda.

(This article was originally published by RSIS in Singapore.  The original article can be seen by clicking here.