Leaderless Resistance Strategy
Leaderless Resistance Strategy
Terrorism has become a global concern due to the mutation of the different strategies, ideologies, and tactics of terrorist groups. These groups have incorporated the use of technology into their activity, which made them a formidable force to handle. In addition, the terrorist groups have also developed various means of collecting intelligence and formulated new strategies that made it hard for law enforcement agencies to track them. It is useful that the law enforcers document the new trends, which the terrorists take. Due to it, they are able to adopt modern techniques to combat them. One of the tools, which the terrorist groups have developed, was the leaderless resistance strategy. It has been overlooked and, as a result, became a threat to the United States. Different terrorist organizations use the strategy mentioned above. It has the potential of becoming a serious danger since with this strategy, the members of the terrorist groups achieve higher level of loyalty to their organizations, and, therefore, the new members can be recruited easily. This essay discusses the leaderless resistance strategy, shows why it proves to be a huge threat to the US in the next decade, and develops counterterrorism strategies to curb this modern trend.
Leaderless resistance is a new form of strategy, which various terrorist groups ranging from small to large ones utilize in challenging an institution or bringing terror to a government, economic system or social order (Spaaij, 2012). The new trend means that there are no public leaders of these terror groups; hence, it becomes hard to stop them. The leaderless resistance applies several tools to challenge governments and institutions in diverse ways including non-violent protests, civil disobedience of eco-terrorists, destruction of property, and a variety of other methods. This type of leadership has no form of vertical command; thus, the elimination of the groups becomes a problem. The lack of hierarchical command does not mean that a group does not have a purpose. Its members still have a common goal, which they wish to satisfy.
The leaderless resistance has several characteristics. First, there is no direct communication between the members of a group who work towards achieving the same goals in other locations. Each of them, therefore, does not have any information about other individuals who are agitated just like he or she is. Another characteristic of the leaderless resistance is that the movement has an eloquent figurehead from whom the members fetch inspiration and receive the objectives of their resistance. It can be an author or even a religious leader who is not in a position to actualize his or her thoughts on the subject in question. Commonly, there is no link between an inspiring figurehead and a group. In addition, any group that follows this form of strategy is not likely to have informants in the government or law enforcement agencies who want to destroy it. This fact makes it hard to eliminate a group since there is no core to disrupt it or even leaders to arrest them. Each member is self-driven to achieve the objectives. Lastly, while this form of strategy is often linked to the groups that are considered violent and dangerous, the non-violent organizations may also use it. They can conduct their protests online or even distribute different literature to the citizens out of reach of the government.
Terrorist groups can apply this kind of strategy to challenge the government, individuals, and institutions through violent or non-violent methods. The main groups using it are the eco-terrorists. Eco-terrorism refers to any acts of violence, which are conducted to support any environmental issue and directed against different institutions, individuals or government. The FBI noted that between 2003 and 2008, various eco-terrorist groups have destroyed about $200 million worth of property (Baldwin, 2008, para. 50). The examples of these groups include the Animal Liberation Front, Earth Liberation Front, and Militant Forces Against Huntingdon Life Sciences among others. The Islamists terrorist groups also use leaderless resistance in their activity. They consider Al-Qaeda their figurehead. Although the latter has a hierarchical form of leadership, the sympathizers of this group do not. Thus, they borrow the ideology from it that, consequently, leads to the actions that are spontaneous and independent from the leading group. An example of these sympathizers can be seen in the London underground bombing, which the men whose actions were driven by the sympathy to the Islamic fundamentalism and not by their own goals conducted. Neo-Nazi organizations in the US including Ku Klux Klan among others are also known for the use of this form of the leadership strategy for furthering their goals. As it can be observed, this type of strategy is mostly common for groups that are growing.
This form of strategy raises several issues and is bound to be pressing on American interests shortly. The first concern raised is the inability to destroy the structure, which the proposed strategy has. It outlines a framework with no leader. Regarding terrorist groups that have horizontal or hierarchical forms of leadership, it is easy for law enforcement agencies to destroy them since there are central parts, which the law enforcers usually target. In this form of strategy, a common goal drives the group members; hence, if one person is targeted, the rest of the group still continues to operate. In addition, the advent of the Internet has presented them the platform for growing and recruiting new members. Due to the anonymity, which it offers, the terrorists can be able to discuss their goals and objectives online, hence share information. New sympathizers moved by the message being spread online can join them increasing, therefore, the number of group members even further. The last issue of concern is the increasing number of lone-wolf forms of terrorism in the United States. Lone-wolf terrorism is connected with the leaderless resistance strategy since a member of a specific group can decide to perform the acts of terrorism on his/her own. The research by Southern Poverty Law Center (2015) shows that the in the US, the largest form of violence emancipates from lone wolves or leaderless resistance groups. In the study conducted between the 1st of April 2009 and the 1st of February 2015, domestic terrorist attacks or foiled attacks occurred every 34 days (Southern Poverty Law Center, 2015, p. 4). Either a single person or a group of two people conducted 90% of them (Southern Poverty Law Center, 2015, p. 4). The report also shows why this strategy is bound to be pressing in the next decade for the US. There is a trend towards the leaderless resistance strategy, and the long-wolf terrorism is worrying for the government. The law enforcement agencies have been successful in penetrating groups with other strategies that are different from leaderless resistance. In handling those using this form of strategy, the law enforcers were less successful since it was hard to know what a small group was plotting.
To curb this form of terrorist grouping, the government and law enforcers can apply different counterterrorist strategies. One of the ways that the state can counter is the implementation of the effective data capture and analysis techniques. In leaderless resistance strategy, the most important thing is not about knowing a person in order to conduct the attack but about knowing how this attack is conducted (Henry Jackson Society, 2010). There should be a need to understand the process of radicalization and mechanism of recruiting the new members to interpret this form of strategy correctly. Since most of the ideas are enabled through the Internet, the careful analysis of the global network provided by the government can collect the data required for the specialists to know how the radicalization process occurs and develops. Understanding the latter can help the government apply preventative measures to the new cases of radicalization, thus, stopping or reducing terrorism.
Another counterterrorist strategy, which might be implemented, involves the conduction of the investigation and cooperation with the groups being radicalized (Bakker & de Graaf, 2014). The particular reasons for turning people to the terrorist activities occur due to the social issues affecting them. The groups using the leaderless resistance strategy and these individuals often have common issues, which influence them. Cooperating with these communities to solve certain problems can reduce radicalization; hence, it counters this strategy in creating new terrorists. Lastly, since different groups following the above-mentioned strategy have common figures, from which they fetch their ideologies, the government can study these ideologies and try to manage them or in case these ideologies are wrong, it can promote the campaigns to falsify them. It is tightly connected with combating terrorism.
In conclusion, one of the terrorist strategies that the US has overlooked and that is bound to be problematic in the next decade is the leaderless resistance. Small groups utilize it to challenge institutions and governments. The main reason why this strategy is a serious issue for law enforcers is the fact that it does not have any leadership structure to target. In other cases, to curb the encroachment of a specific group, the law enforcers make it their main and primary goal. To prevent the proposed strategy from appliance, the countermeasures including studying the reasons why people are radicalized, monitoring these groups as well as falsifying ideologies, which they follow, can be employed.