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Social Research Assignment: Discussion On Principle Strategies Of Terrorism


Task: Prepare s social research assignment addressing five primary strategies of Terrorism. Argue and explain with contemporary and historic examples of each strategy.


The major focus of this social research assignmentis “Terrorism” which is a direct warning rather ultimatum to the security of citizen of the world along with international prosperity and stability. The prime focus of the terrorism is to cause mass casualties, create panics, disrupting vital services and loss of national and international resources. Bombing, blasting, plane hijacking, kidnaping, blowing up cars, buses, attacks on temples, national assets, firing are the terrorism activity that help them in attaining their political aims by spreading fears and creating violence. Mitigating the brutal impact of the terror activities requires robust counter strategies. The robust and effective counter strategies only can be made after knowing the strategies behind the heinous act of terrorism (Bjørgo&Silke, 2018). Hence, the importance of understanding reason behind the acts of violence and terrorism is utmost. While small groups are unable to impose their social and political desire with the use of force directly, it takes help of costly signalling to communicate credible threats in the name of terror. Terrorism is an act of coercion or compulsion in which violence is used to spread fear and attain the desired objectives (Lutz & Lutz, 2019). According to Kydd& Walter (2006), the violence of terrorism is a form of costly signalling. The people of terror organizations are too weak to attain their political objectives directly by the force of their arm and thus they use illegitimate ways of gaining their political objectives with the help of violence, intimidation, and brutality. Terrorists are unable to make credible threats that's why they attack all of a sudden as it increases the degree of threat on the people and the government.

The strategies of terrorism
There are five principle strategies of terrorism which are attrition, intimidation, provocation, spoiling and outbidding. These five strategic logics of costly signalling helps the terror groups to attain their political objectives in the entire terrorist campaign. Various terrorist organizations use these five strategies to achieve their purpose and political goals (Lutz & Lutz, 2019). These strategies help the terror activities become successful and thus analysis of these five strategies that are attrition, intimidation, provocation, spoiling and outbidding is crucial to develop appropriate counter terror activities. The goals of various terror organizations are different from one to another. These strategies are crucial to follow to attain their long tenure goals. It helps in continuing the activities of causing losses, casualties and damages. It tries to cause harm to the enemies (Bjørgo&Silke, 2018). The purpose is to inflict harm on the opponents. In the attrition strategy, the terrorists are trying to prove to the enemy that they are strong enough to harm the opponent if the opponent carries on with their previous policy. The next strategy is intimidation which denotes that the people of terror group tries to convince the citizen or the enemy that the terrorist are strong enough to harm the people for their disobedience and the opponent or the government is not stable enough to counter them so it is better for them to act according to the wish of the terrorist (Tugwell, 1986). The third strategy is provocation which means the terror group instigate the opponent to react to terrorism random violence as it helps to radicalize or train the general people to support the act of terrorism. The fourth step is spoiling with the help of spoiler attacks that force the enemy to moderate on the act of terrorist which results in peace settlement and agrees with all the demands of the terrorist group. Outbidding is the process of surpassing the limit which denotes the terrorist using the means of violence to convince the people as per their wishes (Garcia, 2013). In this strategy the terrorist makes the common people understand that the terror groups are more powerful in comparison to the enemy with the means of violence so the terror group is worthy for the support of the common people. These are the five strategies that terrorism follows to spread terror, evils and violence and fulfill their illegitimate political wills and objectives.

Kydd Walter 2006 in social research assignment

(Source: Kydd & Walter 2006)

The attacks that are performed by following the attrition strategy targets the opponent such as the government instead of the entire mass. This strategy is about the fight of desire (Lutz & Lutz, 2019). It is used to yield to the opponent before the terrorist group. The people of terror groups show that they are robust enough to harm which impose serious costs. it helps the terrorists to attain their purpose of attack by force. The measure of cost increases the amount of credible threat of imposing higher future cost and bigger concessions.

Contemporary example
Contemporary example of attrition strategy is the al-Qaeda’s war with us which resulted in the incident of September 11 attack in US in the year of 2008. The incident of sweeping the Taliban across Afghanistan is another contemporary example.

Historic example
The 1983 Hezbollah attack is an excellent example of the attrition strategy in the historic periods. In this attack 241 people were killed in Beirut. Both the US and Israel withdrew their force from Lebanon ( Kydd& Walter 2006).

Using the tool of violence, the terrorists convince the common people that the government is weak and they are robust enough. It is the act of spreading terror and violence and using it to reign over the opponent. It is mainly used when the terrorist wants to gain social and political control. Using the means of terror, they convince the population that they can inflict harm on the common people and the opponent cannot protect the common people from the terrorist inflicted casualties (Tugwell, 1986). The terrorist group wants to gain the support of the common people and to gain the support they are competing with the government. Terrorists generally use this strategy when the ruling is refusing any particular policy of the terrorist group.

Contemporary example
In the year of 2005, the intimidation strategy was used in Iraq. in 2002, Chechen terrorists also used the strategy to keep the 912-theatre audience hostage in Moscow and 130 people were killed in the incident.

Historic example
In the year of 1957, the massacre at Melouza is an example of historic strategy. The incident took place at the time of war of the Algerian for their independence. In Afghanistan, the Taliban used the intimidation strategy to keep the girls away from education (Kydd & Walter 2006).

It is the process of gaining the support of the population from the existing authority or the government. It is the strategy of lighting the fuse. The terrorist organization becomes brittle and hostile to the opponent. In this strategy, the terrorist stimulates the government to perform a military response that harms the population and, in this way, they prove how the government is evil for the common people and tries to gain their support (Findley & Young, 2012).

Contemporary example
This strategy was used in the US invasion of Iraq. in the year of 2004, Al–Qaeda used this strategy. In the year of 2014, Taliban used the provocation strategy when forces of Afghanistan attacked the Taliban using the direction of aafghan officer named Abdul Raziq.

Historic example
At the time of cold war, the behaviour of the US is criticized in this way of provocation. The decision of Us to invade Iraq is also an example of a provocation strategy (Kydd & Walter 2006).

Spoiling strategy
The prime purpose of the strategy is to sabotage peace. The terror groups using this strategy when the relationship between two enemies improves which may cause difficulties for the terrorists to gain their political agendas.

Contemporary example
In the year of 2002, in Croatia, a constitutional law on national minorities was passed that ensured the right of minorities to get education in their own language which is an impact of peace settlement.

Historic example
In 1957, the agreement of power sharing between the conservatives and liberals was an excellent spoiling strategy. Both parties established a single shared presidency in Colombia (Kydd & Walter 2006).

Outbidding strategy
Such a situation occurs when two parties are competing for the leadership and the common population is uncertain about their side. In such cases, people cannot decide which entity is best for fulfilling their interest.

Contemporary example
In the election of 2005, the excessive turnout of votes on the side of Sunni dominated region created such a situation.

Historic example
In Peru, in the year of 1970, various leftist groups for the representation of the common people are the example of outbidding strategy as people are confused which party would work for their interest (Kydd & Walter 2006).

Terrorism is an effective weapon of attaining social or political objectives by the use of illegitimate use of intimidation, violence and daunting. Terrorism is a global phenomenon. There are various groups worldwide that performs the act of violence and terrorism. It is a potent tool of gaining unlawful agendas. These unlawful agendas can be ethnic, national, religious. Terrorism is a connotation or implication of evil, brutality, barbarity, indiscrimination, violence and immorality (Garcia, 2013). There are various extremist organizations that spread terror to gain undue advantages of the created emergency situation. Some of these organizations are al-Qaeda, ISI, Tamil tiger, Hamas, ansar al-salaam, Islamic jihad group, Jayesh-e-Mohammad, lashkar, RIRA, USDFC, MoroccanIslamic combatant group and so others. Terrorism helps these organizations in getting desired responses frequently. The threat of violence is no less powerful than an act of violence. The five strategic logic helps in developing counter strategies that mitigates the negative impacts of various terror groups and their evil activities.

Reference list
Bjørgo, T., & Silke, A. (2018). Root causes of terrorism. In Routledge Handbook of Terrorism and Counterterrorism (pp. 57-65). Routledge. Retrieved from: Findley, M. G., & Young, J. K. (2012). Terrorism and civil war: A spatial and temporal approach to a conceptual problem. Perspectives on Politics, 10(2), 285-305. Retrieved from:
Garcia, M. J. H. (2013). Legitimization and delegitimization strategies on terrorism: A corpus-based analysis of building metaphors. Social research assignmentPragmatics, 23(2), 301-330. Retrieved from: Kydd, A. H., & Walter, B. F. (2006). The Strategies of Terrorism. International Security, 31, 1: 49–80.
Lutz, J. M., & Lutz, B. J. (2019). Global terrorism. Routledge.. retrieved from:
Retrieved from: Tugwell, M. (1986) ‘Terrorism and propaganda: Problem and response’, Conflict Quarterly.


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