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Go Back       International Academic Journal of Law | Int Aca. J Law; 2(3), | Volume: 2 Issue: 3 ( June 30, 2021 ) : 44-51
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DOI : 10.47310/iajl.2021.v02i03.006       Download PDF       HTML       XML

Human Rights and Terrorism: Deterrence and Legitimacy Theories and Effectiveness of Law Enforcement and Military Counter-terrorism Initiatives

Article History

Received: 03.06.2021 Revision: 15.06.2021 Accepted: 22.06.2021 Published: 30.06.2021

Author Details

Donovan A. McFarlane

Authors Affiliations

Graduate Fellow, The John J. Brunetti Human Trafficking Academy St. Thomas University College of Law Miami Gardens, Florida, USA

Abstract: This research explores the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of deterrence theory with respect to military and law enforcement counter-terrorism initiatives and compares it to legitimacy theory with respect to causal counter-terrorism initiatives. The researcher defines the concepts of deterrence and legitimacy in the counter-terrorism context and discusses their applicability to law enforcement and military counter-terrorism models. In further examining counter-terrorism practices, the researcher discusses how the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action at the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights ushered in a new age of counter-terrorism initiatives, a new way of looking at terrorism, and a new tool kit of vertical responses to the threat of terrorism. Particular attention is given to how the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action at the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights altered counter-terrorism activity during the second stage of modern terrorism from the first stage, and the effects of this approach during the third stage of counter-terrorism. Finally, the researcher describes the different types of terrorist groups, their interaction with other groups, and provides examples of each while explaining how classification of terrorist organizations and groups helps to provide insights into methods of combating terrorism.

Keywords: Causal Model, Counter-terrorism, Deterrence Theory, Law Enforcement Model, Legitimacy Theory, Military Model, State-Sponsored Terrorist Groups, State Terrorist Groups, Sub-State Terrorist Groups, Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, World Conference on Human Rights.


In the 21st century, terrorism has become a major challenge for developing and developed nations alike as it threatens human rights including the right to life, right to safety considered from a national security perspective, and the quality of life as terroristic acts of violence affect access to basic necessities and resources. Moreover, terrorism poses a serious threat to global peace, and this concerns the United Nations, as its major function is to preserve international peace and security through its Security Council (United Nations Security Council, 2020). Thus, the United Nations and its member states are concerned with preventing and responding to terrorism in the most effective ways possible as “terrorism has evolved into an overarching geopolitical consideration” (Kielsgard & Tam Hey, 2018, p. 488). Nevertheless, policies, decisions, and actions do not always yield optimal results in the face of terrorism as both a longstanding and evolving threat in which its members and terrorist organizations are rapidly adapting their methods and practices to changing geopolitics, technology, and their need for political survival.

While terrorism is rather difficult to define (Richards, 2014; Hodgson & Tadros, 2013), theories and ideas from Social Psychology and other social sciences fields have been applied in understanding and responding to terrorism as a threat and problem. That is, as counter-terrorism measures designed to lessen terroristic acts and threats, and notably here, Kielsgard (2020) remarks on counter-terrorism pursued as mostly a reactive rather than proactive venture. Professor Mark Kielsgard of City University of Hong Kong School of Law has conveyed the application of deterrence theory and legitimacy theory in respect to models or approaches to dealing with terrorism on a national and international scale: the law enforcement model, the military model, and the causal model (Kielsgard, 2020). Both deterrence and legitimacy theories with regard to law enforcement model and military model, and with regard to causal counter-terrorism initiatives, respectively, exhibit both effectiveness and ineffectiveness as to their mutual limitations in combating terrorism.

Models or Approaches to Counter-terrorism

Kielsgard (2006) describes three approaches or models of counter-terrorism. The first model is the military model which “comprises military action such as peacekeeping tasks, deterring state support for terrorism, improving a state’s preventive capacity through military assistance or orderly distribution of humanitarian aid” (pp. 503-504). The second model is the law enforcement model, which is based on leveraging domestic and international criminal law and antiterrorism treaties and conventions and utilizing “investigatory” techniques such as preventing dangerous chemicals and materials from falling into the wrong hands, reducing funding for terrorists, exchanging intelligence and building the investigatory capacities of states and their policing agencies (Kielsgard & Tam Hey, 2018). The third model is the causal model, which Kielsgard (2006) and Kielsgard and Tam Hey (2018) regard as a more suitable model of general deterrence in terms of preventing radicalism or extremism. The causal model applies a ““carrot” approach, which serves a positive reinforcement for radicalization prevention” (Kielsgard & Tam Hey, 2018, p. 525).

Deterrence Theory

Deterrence is the threat of sanctions for actions considered criminal and illegal (Kielsgard & Tam Hey, 2018). It is threat of sanctions to society at large designed to lessen antisocial criminal behaviors (Bosworth 2004). Deterrence theory mainly flows from conceptions of crimes and crime prevention as a criminological method to managing behavior. As Piquero, Paternoster, Pogarsky, and Loughran (2011) note, “Deterrence theory and criminal justice policy hold that punishment enhances compliance and deters future criminal activity” (p. 335). Thus, deterrence counter-terrorism models such as military and law enforcement counter-terrorism initiatives are based on this assumption of the deterrence theory; that by punishing terrorists and terrorist activities as crimes or criminal behaviors, this will prevent others from engaging in such behaviors and being parts of such organizations as defined by law or the state. This point is very important in understanding why such an approach might be perceived as effective or ineffective as it reflects the difficulty of defining terrorism. On this issue, as Ganor (2002) notes, “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” (p. 287). Pogarsky, Piquero and Paternoster (2004) describe the premises behind deterrence theory in counter-terrorism initiatives typical of the law enforcement and military models: “Deterrence theory describes a process of offender decision making that consists of two linkages—one in which official sanctions and other information affect a would-be offender’s perceptions about the risks of criminal conduct, and another in which such perceptions influence the decision whether or not to offend” (p. 343). Professor Kielsgard points out in his lecture that such premises might not necessarily hold for some terrorists themselves depending on the degree to which they are committed to their cause, cost-benefit assessment, and how much a group or individual values such an affiliation and feels that the survival of the group is threatened, along with factors to include individuals’ roles and hierarchy in terrorist groups.

While deterrence theory could be seen as ineffective because it ignores motivations to extremism or radicalization in its approach to counter-terrorism (Kielsgard & Tam Hey, 2018), and it has “failed to slow terrorist activities” (p. 491), it has also been regarded as effective in stemming state-sponsored terrorism as Professor Kielsgard points out, as the number of nations sponsoring terrorists or terrorism seems to have decreased since the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that took down what former U.S. President George W. Bush describes as “axes of evil”. Nevertheless, he cautions a hooray regarding such perceived success or effectiveness by pointing to the emergence of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This researcher believes that deterrence approaches such as the military and law enforcement approaches or models of counterterrorism are effective from short-term perspective in curtailing terrorist incursions and buildup. However, in the long-term, they serve to lead to more hostility and have in fact led to growth and increased recruitments for terrorist organizations as seen in the rise in recruitments to ISIL and Al Qaeda over the last several years. Kielsgard and Tam Hey (2018) note that the military model for example, “radically increases terrorist recruitment” (p. 505). Professor Kielsgard also points to the type of people in terms of socioeconomic status and diverse cultures and nationalities who have become radicalized from what may be heavy-handed military and law enforcement approaches to dealing with terrorism. For example, the United States’ treatment of detainees in Guantanamo infuriated and created causes for radicalization of terrorist sympathizers. Kielsgard and Tam Hey (2018) also argue that, “The effectiveness of the military model in counter-terrorism is also questionable under a general geopolitical deterrence theory” (p. 511). This stems from both the appropriateness of its application and the fact that terrorists “are motivated differently” (p. 511), and they think differently because they value freedom, cause, and even life differently. Another reason for the ineffectiveness of deterrence from the military model is that military response forces and motivates terrorists to use terrorist tactics, as this is their best strategic response to military strikes or forces. Kielsgard and Tam Hey (2018) also note that deterrence theory has very limited effectiveness under the law enforcement model, and that effectiveness of deterrence theory whether as military or law enforcement applications is lessened by close-knit terrorist groups because the influence of peers exceeds any normal moderating dispositional factors.

Legitimacy Theory

Legitimacy theory “attempts to tackle [the] complex sociopolitical motivations [in order] to uncover and correct the causation of radical extremism” (Kielsgard & Tam Hey, 2018, p. 491). Here, we see terrorism as a form of “radical extremism” and legitimacy theory is about understanding its origins in order to develop effective counter-terrorism measures or initiatives. According to Meares (2000), and Capers (2008), legitimacy theory has been successfully and effectively applied to crime control in several settings, and “Legitimacy theory suggests that crime rates could drop even more if substantive changes were made” (Capers, 2008, p. 866). Thus, counter-terrorism measures focused on change in terms of affecting the origins, causes, and propagating factors in terrorism can certainly affect the spread and emergence of terrorism across states and the globe. The degree to which this can be realistically achieved is nevertheless dubious, and Professor Kielsgard alludes to this in his lecture by taking a very realistic approach to understanding the mechanics and organics of terrorism as not only predicated on ideological reasons and causes, but on what he describes as “insecurities leading to radicalization”. He groups these insecurities into five types: (1) economic insecurity, (2) cultural and social insecurity, (3) personal safety insecurity, (4) political insecurity, and (5) other insecurity (Kielsgard, 2020). With legitimacy theory lending itself to a causal counter-terrorism model, eliminating these insecurities certainly represents what in sociological terms could be deemed a ‘functional’ approach to counter-terrorism measures and initiatives unlike the deterrence military and law enforcement models which are reactive, aggressive, and can be deemed ‘dysfunctional’ approaches due to their largely ineffective outcomes in addressing international terrorism.

The legitimacy theory with respect to causal counter-terrorism initiatives is strategically effective as a long-term approach to reducing or lessening terrorism, and is the most effective means of deterring terrorism and terrorist recruitment because it engages radicalization prevention by “precluding ideological radicalization before it polarizes to a point of no return” (Kielsgard & Tam Hey, 2018, p. 517). Legitimacy theory with respect to the causal model draws on social psychological and sociological theories to deconstruct and understand terrorism and radicalization in order to develop effective approaches to counter terrorism. Thus, the legitimacy theory with respect to causal model of counter-terrorism initiatives considers both humanitarian law and compliance law as part of its arsenal to combating terrorism. Therefore, it embraces ideals of human rights, respect, cultural diversity, pluralism, religious freedom and antidiscrimination in promoting respect, tolerance, and non-violence, while providing economic and social infrastructure, as well as peaceful resolution for conflicts (Kielsgard & Tam Hey, 2018). The causal model is effective under legitimacy theory because it addresses two major causes of terrorism and radicalization: insecurity and unfair treatment (Kielsgard & Tam Hey, 2018).

Below, Table 1 provides a comparison of the effectiveness and ineffectiveness of deterrence theory with respect to military and law enforcement counter-terrorism initiatives and legitimacy theory with respect to causal counter-terrorism initiatives. It is quite obvious that legitimacy theory with respect to causal counter-terrorism initiatives holds more long-term promise of preventing radicalization but may be less effective in eliminating state sponsors of terrorism in the short-term. Furthermore, it requires understanding root causes and origins and using social and psychological strategies and resources to stem radicalization at the root. Deterrence theory with respect to military and law enforcement counter-terrorism initiatives can be effective as short-term tactical methods when it comes to preventing or lessening terroristic acts of violence, but instrumentally, has not been proven to reduce terrorism, but contrarily, has increased radicalization instead of prevention (Kielsgard & Tam Hey, 2018).

Table 1: Comparing effectiveness and/or ineffectiveness of Counter-terrorism models.

Deterrence Theory (Military and Law Enforcement Models)

Legitimacy Theory (Causal Model)

Preoccupied with the actus reus of criminal activity

Concerned with the views held by group members in developing de-radicalization methods

Heavily weighted toward incapacitation and threat of sanctions

Largely consisting of economic aid and efforts at peacekeeping

Grounded in an international war on terrorism using military force and criminal law

Grounded in socio-political and economic equality

Deterrence-based reactionary policies do not diminish terror violence

Causal counter-terrorism initiatives can include de-escalation and reduce or eliminate terror violence and activities

Terrorism and terror violence thrive in deterrence reactionary policies

Terrorism and terror violence can be lessened when peacemaking approaches are used

People who fail to accept legitimacy of socio-political legal order will not be deterred by sanctions and incapacitation

Respecting the rights and views of others and fostering and developing systems of inclusion can lessen radicalization and terror violence

Deterrence theory places small importance on motivations of terrorists

Legitimacy causal theory tackles the complex socio-political motivations of terrorists

Ignores the causation of radical extremism by advancing law enforcement and military initiatives

Uncovers and corrects the causation of radical extremism

Both methods of deterrence have failed to slow terrorist activities

Growth of terrorist activities and rising membership points to slow impact of legitimacy causal counter-terrorism initiatives

Focused approach aimed at incapacitation through all means including death

Requires a balance approach that combines several non-aggressive strategies

Radically increases terrorist recruitment

Decreases radicalization and recruitment

Reactive models designed to deter and react to terrorist acts as they occur

Anticipatory and proactive in rooting out and addressing the fundamental causes of extremism

Lacks a preventive/preemptive component and inure to coercive theory of law compliance

Uses preventive measures and preemptive components in building strong counter-terrorism strategies

Most Effective Means of Preventing Terrorism?

According to Kielsgard and Tam Hey (2018), the most effective means of preventing terrorism and recruitment to terrorist groups is engaging radicalization-prevention by nipping radicalization in the bud before individuals are polarized to the point of no return. This requires addressing issues of insecurity and unfair treatment. Furthermore, an integrative approach to dealing with terrorism that brings human rights norms into the military and law enforcement models that are currently widely applied may benefit counter-terrorism efforts across the globe. According to Kielsgard (2006) the international community may find it best to adopt a holistic approach which combines the military, law enforcement, and human rights models in combating terrorism. Whatever the case, providing perceived legitimacy in current socio-political order that reduces disputes and inequities must remain a powerful incentive in using radicalization-prevention to diminish terrorist recruitment across the globe.

The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action: World Conference on Human Rights

The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action was adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights on June 25, 1993, and signaled a new age of counter-terrorism initiatives, fostered a new way of looking at terrorism, and provided a new tool kit of vertical responses by states to the threat of terrorism. The Vienna Declaration of 1993 [from here onward] can be described as a human rights instrument under the United Nations Human Rights charters undertaken with the purpose of executing a “comprehensive analysis of the international human rights system and of the machinery for the protection of human rights, in order to enhance and thus promote a fuller observance of those rights” (Vienna Declaration of 1993). As such, it encompassed examining human rights within the context of state and international actions by state actors in solving and addressing problems including terrorism within a human rights context – recognizing that human rights can only be attained and sustained in a secure world of shared responsibility where six clusters of threats identified by the late-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan characterize today’s world. These threats are: war between states; violence with states up to and including civil wars, large-scale human rights abuses and genocide; poverty, infectious diseases and environmental degradation; nuclear, radiological, chemical and biological weapons; transnational organized crime; and terrorism (UN High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, 2004).

Recognizing that terrorism poses a significant threat to international peace and human rights, the Vienna Declaration of 1993 accomplished several things in regards to dealing with terrorism from a human rights perspective: (1) it expanded jurisdiction for addressing human rights issues regarding terrorists and terrorism, (2) it increased the will of states to deal with terrorism as a threat to human rights and an issue of human rights consideration, (3) it broadened the powers of the United Nations Security Council to address issues of human rights and states’ responses to terrorism and human rights challenges that emerge in fighting terrorism, (4) it led to the appointment of a Special Rapporteur to deal with issues of human rights and terrorism, and (5) it fostered a higher level of international cooperation through effective vertical control, recognizing that the erosion of State capacity anywhere in the world weakens protection of every State against transnational threats such as terrorism (UN High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, 2004). The Vienna Declaration of 1993 also created a mechanism for greater control of States’ approaches to dealing with terrorism, recognizing and asserting that human rights must form an integral part of any strategies to fight terrorism because of the interconnection between human rights and security being mutually enforcing, so much that, “grave violations of human rights [by States in their fights against terrorism] can create conditions conducive to terrorism” (Danish Institute for Human Rights, 2012, p. 1). This means that measures and strategies or actions undertaken to counter terrorism by States and international cooperative efforts must remain and be in full compliance with their human rights obligations (Danish Institute for Human Rights, 2012). The Vienna Declaration of 1993 required States to undertake steps to give full effect to international human rights, including through their incorporation into domestic law since the response to terrorism must be one of ensuring the rule of law (Kielsgard, 2006; UN Secretary-General 2003 G.A. Res. 57/219). For example, this assertion was seen in what transpired in the U.S. fight against terrorism after the 9/11 attacks, where suspected terrorists were detained and tortured at Guantanamo, and which was subsequently rallied against by other nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and other international human rights bodies consistent with the Vienna Declaration and additional human rights protocols. Professor Mark Kielsgard of CUHK School of Law describes three (3) stages of modern terrorism: 1972–1993; 1993-2001; and 2001- Present (Kielsgard, 2020). The Vienna Declaration emerged during the second stage of modern terrorism and significantly altered the approach to counter-terrorism, which were still predominantly the military model and law enforcement model. The Vienna Declaration created a “human rights approach” to terrorism where strategies and approaches to terrorism were to be considered in context of the universality of human rights and States’ obligations to make such a priority in both vertical dealings or cooperative efforts in fighting terrorism, as well as in international or coalition efforts.

During the 1993-2001 era of modern terrorism, states and international human rights bodies, as well as NGOs used human rights to affirmatively conquer terrorism as was the case in Afghanistan for example, where citizens and women’s rights advocates were already defying the Taliban before the U.S.-led military invasion or application of the military model. Unfortunately, entering the third stage of modern terrorism, 2001-present and beginning with the U.S. response to 9/11, the pre-Vienna human rights approach to dealing with terrorism re-emerged as the U.S. and International response to 9/11 have been described as devastating so much as to profoundly alter the human rights landscape (Kielsgard, 2006; Human Rights Watch, 2003). For example, there were arbitrary detentions of non-citizens, secret deportation hearings, military commissions were used to try non-citizen terrorists and suspects, the Geneva Convention on the treatment of detainees was subverted, and the Convention on use of torture and other human rights protocols were heavily violated by the U.S. and other countries. The rights of civilians in geographic areas occupied by terrorists were also ignored, such as right to safety and right to life as many civilians were seen as and became “collateral damages” in the fight against terrorism. The violation of human rights in the 2001-present stage of modern terrorism has increased recruitment and radicalization because it lacked the human-rights focus of previous approach from 1993-2001. Most significant regarding the impact of the Vienna Declaration in terms of ushering a new age of counter-terrorism initiatives and a new way of looking at terrorism, is its affirmation that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interrelated and interdependent, and this still underpins approach to terrorism encouraged by the United Nations and European Union in the third stage of modern terrorism; 2001-present.

During the third stage of terrorism, the Vienna Declaration’s focus has been on upholding the universality of human rights while asserting the need to strongly counter terrorism as a continued human rights threat. This is consistent with the affirmation by the international community in Vienna of the universality of all human rights and recognizing that human rights protection and promotion are and remain the first responsibility of governments. This has been difficult because of the continuing presence of ISIS and Al Qaeda, and the continuing erosion of human rights by states such as North Korea, Venezuela, and U.S. continuation of its aggressive predominantly militaristic response to terrorism. The Vienna Declaration of 1993 essentially ushered in a new age of counter-terrorism initiatives and a new way of looking at terrorism by reiterating already existing principles of international human rights, giving greater power to principle of non-discrimination, principle of equality, principle of absolute rights (as in non-derogable right), principle of contradiction, principle of non-refoulment, right to human dignity, and principle of universality of rights in dealing with terrorists and terrorism. It provided a more global network via UN Security reach and intervention on States law enforcement approaches to terrorism, as well as a vertical mechanism of increased States and international cooperation.

Types of Terrorist Groups and Insights into Counter-terrorism Strategies

When it comes to the question of “types of terrorist groups” it might seem quite simple unless one is aware of the diversity of classifications out there. Terrorist groups have been classified based on several factors such as: (1) their ideologies as to whether they are religious, political, or economic, environmental, etc.; (2) their scope of operations as to whether they operate domestically, internationally, regionally, or globally; (3) their religious base as to whether they are Islamic, fundamentalist, Christian, or other; (4) their affiliation or association as to whether they are individuals or groups such as lone-wolf terrorists or group-affiliated, among other classifications. There are different types of terrorist groups currently operating across the globe, and Professor Kielsgard has described these groups based on their geographic and geopolitical operations (Kielsgard, 2020). These different terrorist groups include those described below.

State terrorist groups, which include groups of states that use terrorism to accomplish their political or ideological aims (Hacker, 1976), or where terrorist tactics and violence represent the “rule of law”. For example, Afghanistan was such a state before the U.S. invasion, as the standing government of the Taliban used terror to rule the people, violate human rights, oppress women and other religious groups, while aligning itself with Al Qaeda, which was an international terrorist group already making its mark across the globe. As such, the Taliban government made Afghanistan a state-sponsor of terrorism at the time. The question as to whether a state can commit terrorism can be answered by pointing to “Regime de la Terreur” (“The Reign of Terror”) in France from 1793-1794 where violent methods of repression such as mass executions were used by the government and its Revolutionary Tribunal against citizens (Council of Europe, 2020; Purdue, 1989; Kuper, 1982).

Sub-state (or individual) terrorist groups, which is terrorism that is exercised against the state by individuals or groups not connected to the state or which are “from below” (Hacker, 1976, p. 69). These are the most widespread groups across the globe and include domestic and international terrorist groups such as the two most popular, Al Qaeda and ISIS, which have now collaborated for their mutual survival against U.S. and allied forces in the Middle East and across Africa. There is also the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) of Uzbekistan. Also, one strong sub-state terrorist group operating out of Ethiopia is Al-Shabaab, while the terrorist group called Boko Haram operates out of Nigeria.

State-sponsored terrorist groups, which are terrorist groups consisting of individuals or combination of individuals and government officials, and that are supported by other States which plan, aid, direct and control their operations in another country (Crenshaw and Pimlott, 1997). Examples of these include groups believed to be sponsored by Iran, Sudan, and Syria. Terrorist groups such as Lebanese Shi’ite movement Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad are believed to be sponsored by Iran, while Sudan is believed to sponsor such groups as Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Abu Nidal Organization, Jamaat al-Islamiyya, and Egyptian Islamic Jihad, while Syria is said to sponsor terrorist groups such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (Fletcher, 2008).

Likewise, these groups can be classified as domestic terrorist groups or international terrorist groups. Domestic terrorist groups are sub-state groups that operate within a state against its government and public order through various strategies and tactics. In the United States most domestic terrorist groups are classified as “domestic right-wing terrorist groups” which hold strong principles of racial supremacy and embrace antigovernment, antiregulatory beliefs. For example, in the United States you have domestic terrorist groups such as National Alliance, World Church of the Creator (WCOTC) and the Aryan Nations. International terrorist groups are those that operate across states, regions, and borders such as ISIS and Al Qaeda to affect government and states far from their home territory or origins. These are originally sub-state terrorists whose activities expand overtime to become international and global in reach and scope. Terrorist groups and organizations have their mission and vision, and many potentially evolve from individual and sub-state classification to state-sponsored and international classification as they grow in scope and activities.

The interaction of terrorist groups at all levels of geopolitical operations has made it even more challenging to counter terrorist acts of violence and the growth of modern terrorism. Because of their interaction, they have become more intelligent, coordinated, and evasive thereby making it difficult for States’ counter-terrorism strategies to be effective. For example, Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) operating out of Uzbekistan is engaged in communication and coordination with Al Qaeda and Taliban remnants and some believe, ISIS, where it now conducts attacks in collaboration with these extremist groups against NATO and Afghan forces in the northern and eastern Paktika, Paktia, and Nangarhar provinces (Central Intelligence Agency, 2020).

The above classifications of terrorist groups help to provide insights on methods of combating terrorism generally. For example, recognizing the geopolitical and geographic levels on which certain groups operate, from where they operate, which states are supporting and sponsoring them, will help States and international bodies such as the UN Security Council to better coordinate actions and strategies to counter these groups. They will know where to interrupt operations and whether sanctions, military intervention, and/or law enforcement or humanitarian or causal approaches work best in preventing and interrupting such groups and their missives. Furthermore, such classifications provide understanding of the nature, origins, and distribution of such terrorist groups and their ideology and modus operandi in determining how vertical coordination or cooperation by states and NGOs can lead to their decline. Part of the fight against terrorism is ensuring that international human rights, refugee and humanitarian laws are upheld, and knowing these classifications will be vital to these obligations. The UN and state governments can also better address where terrorism evolves from and in response to human rights violations, can improve coordination of resources on an international level to better address human rights violations that have become cause for extremism or radicalization.

Conclusion and Future Consideration

The grounds for increased terroristic actions and threat of terrorism have never been more fertile in 21st century society, especially as governments across the globe are increasingly pressed for scarce resources including time to devise effective strategies and policies to meet not just terrorism in its various forms, but the complex and growing needs of explosive national and global populations. Moreover, the erosion of the rule of law being evidenced across the globe and the oppressive acts by states against minority groups and minority nationals and ethnic peoples have become major causes for radicalization. As countries such as China and Israel continue to violate the rights of their neighbors by depriving them of peace, respect, dignity and security, and incurring on the fundamental human and basic legal rights of groups such as the Uighurs and Palestinians, whether through torture, imprisonment, appropriation of land rights and access to resources including using aggressive law enforcement and military approaches to press these ethnic-national groups, terroristic tactics will become increasingly possible as their only viable responses to a stronger and more powerful oppressor. This holds significant lessons for government across the globe as they navigate the internal conflicts and diversity challenges and problems within their borders – whether it is the United States government dealing with police extrajudicial killing of Black men and other minority males, or China’s constant bullying of Taiwan, oppression of the Muslim peoples of China, or its border conflict with India. Similarly, as Iran and its neighbors become more estranged by policies and religion, and as gangs and political corruption and crimes continue to plague the nations and governments and people of Latin America and the Caribbean, the hope of effectively reducing and completing ending terrorism in modern times is quite evasive. Terrorism is not only a threat to individual and collective rights, freedom, and safety or security, but is a reactionary and reflexive response to legal, social-cultural, religious, economic, historical, and perceived political incursions. Therefore, states must fundamentally reexamine their roles in the origins, growth, and existence of terrorism in order to better address and prevent further terrorism now and in the future.


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