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Systems Approach to Terrorism: Countering the Terrorist Training Subsystem

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Master's thesis

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This study on terrorism training follows the logic that terrorism is a wicked problem and that there are various strategies to cope with it. Systems thinking is one of the coping strategies one can use to address wicked problems. A system is a whole composed of complex organized elements subsystems interacting with each other and with their environment. The stability of a system depends on its components alignment. Misaligning one of the components will destabilize, or even disrupt, the whole system. The author defines terrorism and terrorist organizations in systems terms, explains their components and interrelations, and concludes that the most important component of a terrorist system is the training subsystem. Thus, it is important to understand how this subsystem functions if one wishes to disrupt the whole system. This study reviews the types of terrorist training that are occurring right now, how the terrorists and their organizations learn process, what the terrorists learn content, and where the terrorists learn location. The author concludes that the internet is the new safe haven for terrorist training. He also demonstrates the adaptive capability of terrorist systems to move from land-based to internet-based training. Almost every terrorist organization on the U.S. Sate Departments designated terrorist organizations list exists on the Net. One example is the PKK Kurdistan Workers Party terrorist network. Its website network is analyzed by content and network structure using the social network analysis software program UCINET. The goal is to develop strategies to eliminate the web presence of the terrorist training subsystem.

Subject Categories:

  • Operations Research
  • Computer Systems
  • Unconventional Warfare
  • Countermeasures

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