Vol. XXIV No. 1, Summer 2004

Almost Present at the Creation: A Personal Perspective of a Continuing Journey

by Stephen Sloan*

Continuity and Change in International Terrorism

The following article represents more than an opportunity to address areas of past, current, and future concern among those who are involved in understanding the causes, dynamics, and outcomes of international terrorism. It provides the author with the opportunity to also engage in a personal assessment of the evolution of modern terrorism. Certainly in the aftermath of 9/11 those concerns have been amplified as both the United States and the international community are confronted with what can be regarded to be a fundamental assault on the civil order. But, while the scale of the carnage on that terrible day initiated what may be the beginning of a new stage in terrorists' tactics and strategies, modern terrorism has been with us for over 40 years. While a new generation of academic specialists in terrorism will hopefully be available to address the new challenges, and while government officials at all levels now recognize that terrorism is not only what happens to other people in other countries, the current debates that have been generated by the tragedies at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania, should not obscure the fact that modern terrorism has challenged both academics and governments for over three decades. Consequently, while there are always new lessons to be learned, one can also draw from past experiences to address present and future threats. This article addresses the continuity and change that has characterized the developments of modern terrorism from the perspective of an individual who has been involved in the conduct of research, the operational aspects of, and the policy dimensions related to terrorism. The article is not intended to be a reminiscence solely of what happened, but hopefully can help place in a broader context the quest by those who seek to understand and address what for all intents and purposes is a form of protracted conflict and warfare. It is a personal account; but an account that looks at the past as a means to assist a new generation that must counter a form of violence that may be as old as recorded history, but has evolved with murderous efficiency through the perversion of the ideals of the French Revolution under Robespierre's Committee of Public Safety, the rise of the modern totalitarian state, and now with a new set of actors who have declared a global war against all.1

From Political Violence to Terrorism

One did not specialize in terrorism as a field of study when I entered graduate school in 1960. Within the social sciences, terrorism was addressed as an aspect of understanding revolution and totalitarianism. In my discipline, political science, while there were studies on warfare we were still a few years away from systematically studying political violence much less terrorism. My introduction to political violence would take place not within an academic setting but in the field. As a student of comparative government at New York University, I developed a Southeast Asian area specialization with a focus on the Republic of Indonesia. In 1965, I went to Jakarta to engage in research on student indoctrination programs under the Sukarno regime. At that time, there were no exchange scholarships since relations between President Sukarno and Washington were very strained. I consequently went with an ordinary tourist visa and the optimism and spirit of adventure that is often to be found in graduate students. I was, to paraphrase a Chinese curse and blessing, "living in interesting times." For President Sukarno was playing a very dangerous game of seeking to balance off the Islamic parties, the minority Christian parties, the nationalists, and the communist party. Furthermore, the communists, through their superior organization and recruitment skills, were mobilizing the peasantry who were suffering profound economic deprivation. In addition, the president had to contend with a military whose loyalty was increasingly being divided between the left (especially the Air Force) and the right, generals, and other senior officers, including those who had successfully defeated the communist during the abortive uprising in Madiun in 1948.

In this tense environment I had my real world introduction to political violence on the morning of 1 October 1965. For, while Jakarta slept on the previous evening, there was an attempted coup. That morning I had a long scheduled appointment with the communist front delegate who was involved in the indoctrination program. On my way to his office I saw unknown troops guarding the telecommunication building and when I arrived at the delegate's office he had left. In an hour different rumors surrounding a coup attempt surfaced. In the next weeks the military, who had lost six senior generals at the inception of the coup, indirectly challenged President Sukarno's "balancing act" by supporting the various national and religious groups that were opposed to the Communist Party (PKI). But it was really the longer-term reaction to the politics in the capitol city that brought the reality of violence and politics home to me. In the reaction that followed, fuelled by religious fervor, anti-Chinese sentiment, mystical beliefs, and personal revenge, there was massive carnage in the countryside. The full magnitude may never be known, but over 500,000 people were killed. I will always remember the burning of villages by otherwise "peaceful" Balinese who said they were involved in the violence because the people of the village "were devils." Such was my introduction into primal fears and primal behavior.2

On my way home I stopped in Thailand and through a friend was offered a position related to analyzing patterns of maritime infiltration in the Gulf of Tonkin. The position was something out of an adventure movie. I was to have my own crew and engage in what was then a junk identification program aimed at ascertaining maritime patterns of infiltration routes in South Vietnam. I did not take this offer or another more "conventional" program associated with surveying attitudes toward a growing insurgency in Northeast Thailand. In retrospect, I wonder what my life would have been like if I took either positions. But at the time, among things, I recognized that if I returned to Southeast Asia in either of those capacities it was highly unlikely that I would ever complete my studies. Nevertheless, those offers stimulated my long-term academic interest in what has been variously called unconventional warfare, insurgency, low-intensity conflict, operations other than war, and now asymmetric warfare. That interest continues to this day in the post-Cold War period.3 When I returned home I took a position in the Department of Political Science at the University of Oklahoma, assuming that I would be there for a few years and then return to either New York City or another large urban area. I wonder where the time went? I just retired after 38 years on the faculty.

During my first years at the university my continued and growing focus on political violence was in part an aspect of my teaching a course on Southeast Asian politics as the growing debate over US involvement that led to both political and physical conflict throughout the nation and on various campuses including my own. As a result, I began to also develop a course on comparative political violence where I utilized the pioneering studies of James C. Davies, Ted Robert Gurr, and others.4 Indeed, one of my first professional papers, "The Functionality of Violence in the New States of Asia and Africa," sought to address the roles of violence in the political life of the then newly independent countries. That quest remains today.5

My interest in these areas was further enhanced by acceptance of a Fulbright Professorship at Tribhuvan University in Nepal in 1972-73. There the demands for democratic or revolutionary change in a traditional society were manifested by both protest and at times violence. Ironically, I would revisit the Kingdom in 1995 with my son on vacation; but the vacation was short-lived as I became involved in discussing alternatives to a growing Maoist insurgency with Nepali officials; an insurgency that continues today.

My change in focus to directly study terrorism, much as in the past, was based on my experience in the field. In 1974, I went to Israel with my wife and acted as a freelance journalist for the largest paper in our state, The Daily Oklahoman. I wrote impressionistic articles which were published in an eight-part series, but they did not relate to what would become my major interest in the years to come - the study of terrorism.6 While I cannot say what directly led me to the study, I recall that Israel, like the rest of the world, was trying to come to grips with a new threat they were facing - terrorism in the form of skyjackings in the 1960s which ultimately seized the world's attention with the Munich Massacre of 1972. What was apparent, however, was, despite the shock and concern, there was little in the study of terrorism as a contemporary field of systematic academic inquiry.

Therefore, when I returned to campus I began to teach and engage in research on what Brian Jenkins referred to as A New Mode of Conflict, a conflict both academics and government officials were beginning to react to.7 I therefore engaged in activities that continue to this day. First, I developed and initiated a graduate course on terrorism under the heading of Problems in Comparative Politics. It would take time before the topic was "officially recognized" under the heading of International Terrorism. (Such is the often conservative and glacial movement of academic programs to address new areas of concern.) I believe it was the first course conducted and then listed in a catalogue of an American university. I was most fortunate to have a seminar of outstanding senior and graduate students, who were willing to explore a new area of inquiry; students who were not solely concerned with repeating and refining the existing conventional wisdom, but who were willing to take risks in developing an interest in a field that did not exist as a field within the discipline of political science. Secondly, I wished to seek to identify the salient characteristics of contemporary terrorism that differentiated it from the terrorism of the past. Thirdly, I sought to engage in a comparative study of incidents of terrorism to identify patterns of terrorist strategies, tactics, and their implications in formulating counter-terrorism policies. In one of my early studies, it became readily apparent that, while the causes of terrorism in many cases were motivated by deeply embedded hatreds based on such factors as ethnic and religious animosities, modern terrorism was functionally different from the acts that preceded it. That is, contemporary terrorism was the product of two revolutions: one in transportation and one in communication. For, with the introduction of commercial jet aircraft in the late 1950s and early 1960s, terrorists could literally strike global targets of opportunity in a matter of hours. Moreover, with the advent of television the terrorists could spread their message of intimidation and "armed propaganda" to a mass audience undreamed of by the most dedicated predecessors. In a very real sense, the world was now confronted with what I called "non-territorial terrorism" (NTT) - a form of terrorism not confined to a clearly delineated area.8 Unfortunately, the events of 11 September refined it with terrible consequences, since those who engaged in NTT had the capacity to become low-intensity inter-continental missile delivery systems.

Whether they were using a plane to transport them to a distant field of operations, whether they were skyjacking aircraft to make demands on governments, or whether, as in the case of 9/11, using the aircraft as weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the terrorist initiated a new age in a long history of carnage. While governments, military and police, security and intelligence agencies still operated within the confines of geographic, legalistic, and jurisdictional boundaries, the terrorist had no limitations in what was to become a global battlefield. Moreover, governments could not employ traditional counter-insurgency doctrine and measures that could be employed when terrorism was primarily viewed to be one aspect of a territorially based insurgency. Neither the "hearts and mind approach" to win over a population or a "systems approach" to strengthen the coercive capability of the government could work when those engaged in NTT would often select targets of opportunity thousands away from a disputed strike zone or were motivated to act on the basis of real and perceived forms of injustice that often took place long before the terrorist was born. While military, police, and security forces were still largely mired in a two dimensional field of operations, the terrorist was in effect practising what could be called a form of low-intensity warfare using the aerospace as the medium to initiate their attacks. The multidimensional aspects of today's terrorism still enables the terrorist to seize the initiative from land bound governments, even when they seek to use modern aircraft and cruise missiles as a means of combatting the terrorist.

Those who practice NTT also engage in what is now called asymmetric warfare. They could employ an indirect approach to avoid a direct confrontation with a superior military power. Furthermore, they could both "utilize and neutralize the technology" of industrial and now the post-industrial societies.9 Through their resort to seizing modern aircraft to their acquisition of hand-held missiles and other stand off weapons, terrorists served notice that even if they held the most traditional values they were not averse to engaging in technological innovation to achieve their goals. This willingness to innovate unfortunately has accelerated as a result of the dissemination of information on modern weapons of mass destruction and the utilization of a very powerful instrument that did not exist when the monograph was written - the internet. The terrorists quickly recognized that modern societies offered them so many vulnerable targets that could have a profound impact on the political, economic, and social order. It was one thing to engage in the systematic murder of village officials in an insurgency - the results in a protracted war could be effective. But, it was another to assault what is now called "the critical infrastructure" of a post-industrial state where the destruction of data bases might even be more harmful than the industrial installations of a country. There were warnings of how technological breakdown, even if it was not purposeful, could bring a large urban area to its knees - the blackout in New York City in 1960. I shared the concern that "techno-terrorists" would intentionally attack the crucial soft under belly of a modern technologically advanced and now an information dependent state.

The monograph also addressed the fact that both individually and collectively the governments in the 1970s were not formulating or initiating consistent and effective counter-terrorism policies. Admittedly, there has been a painful learning curve since it was written, but the lessons learned have often not kept up with terrorist innovations in tactics, strategies, and capabilities.

I owe a great deal to the seniors and graduate students that took my first seminars on terrorism and in effect became "the working group on international terrorism" at the University of Oklahoma. They, under my direction and with the outstanding assistance of a then PhD candidate, Richard Kearney, who is now a distinguished professor of public administration, engaged in a systematic study of incidents of terrorism to ascertain patterns of terrorist tactics, strategies, and the government responses to these early acts of violence. I developed a "parameter sheet of non-territorial terrorism." Using one early chronology of the Rand Corporation and open sources - especially The New York Times and The Times of London - the students collected data that would be published by The Daily Oklahoman and then disseminated internationally through The New York Times Company to major papers internationally instead of appearing in an academic journal.10 In part, this was a manifestation of the fact that public concern surpassed that of an academic community that did not recognize that the study of terrorism was more than a "problem area," or a subject for long-term inquiry. Furthermore, there were not yet academic journals that specialized in the study of terrorism.

That would be remedied by the establishment of the journal, Terrorism, and another, Conflict, which have now been combined. My articles would be published in their early issues.11 It is not the intention of this article to provide in detail the comparative findings of the early articles. But, they do reflect a historical snapshot of what was regarded to be significant in establishing a research agenda and developing the operational art and policy alternatives that were yet to be developed in the early days of terrorism study. Some of the snapshots were as follows.

The initial study analyzed 111 incidents which were expanded to 169. The majority involved kidnapping, armed attack, and skyjacking. We did not focus on the most common type of incident, the bombing, since we were interested in how authorities responded after an attack. The focus was also a manifestation of the concerns of governments at the time over hostage-taking and skyjacking that were not only a major threat but seizing the world's headlines with regularity. What was of particular interest to me, not only in regards to the initial findings but in the development of long-term concerns, was the fact that the majority of the attacks in the initial study consisted of from two to five members and in the expanded version, from two to eight.12 These conclusions made me recognize that since terrorists had an enormous choice of targets and worked in small, hard-to-detect cellular organizations, it would be very difficult to counter them by relying on standard patrols and physical security measures. Therefore, I recognized the vital role of intelligence in identifying and apprehending the terrorists before they went "tactical," that is began to engage in the operational phase of their missions. The central role of intelligence in combatting terrorism was affirmed when I attended two of the Bowdoin Seminars on Teaching Intelligence and other programs sponsored by the Consortium for the Study of Intelligence of the National Strategy Information Center. These seminars brought together a pioneering group of academics and intelligence officials that were seeking to develop an understanding of the key role of intelligence in national security by developing courses, books, and articles that could promote intelligence as a field of scholarly inquiry. The programs not only enabled me to develop my capabilities to teach courses in the area, but helped me to refine my ability to apply an understanding of the elements of intelligence as a vital aspect of counter-terrorism measures, capabilities, programs, and policies.

What was of special interest to us in the early studies were the findings that "terrorists usually do not comply with the time limits they have imposed on authorities in meeting their demands [and] in the event . . . involving a negotiation process between terrorists and authorities in which the hostages' lives hang in the balance, the first three days are critical for hostages, for 87% of the hostage deaths occurred in incidents lasting three days or less."13 This conclusion seemed to affirm the growing view that by training effective hostage negotiators the authorities could resolve most incidents peacefully. This view was successfully operationalized by the development of hostage negotiation techniques and their utilization by such remarkable law enforcement personnel as Harvey Scholsberg and Frank Boltz of the New York Police Department.14 The key role of negotiation has been accepted in dealing with incidents ranging from domestic disputes to armed robberies and terrorist hostage taking. But as we know today, there are serious questions whether forces should only be used as a last resort in the face of terrorists who immediately kill at the inception of, and during, an attack.

In its conclusion, the study noted that "cooperation among various terrorist groups and individual members was increasing," a precursor that, even if there is not a tightly controlled, highly centralized network, the level of cooperation represents a real challenge to authorities. This challenge has been confirmed by the ability of al-Qaeda to coordinate and conduct multiple global attacks. Perhaps even more vexing was the fact that "few nation-states have a coherent and consistent policy in dealing with terrorism."15 This conclusion unfortunately has validity today as the United States and the international community still grapples with developing concerted policies to prevent or respond to contemporary terrorism.

Learning to Direct in the Theatre of the Obscene

As in the case of my earlier work circumstances, other than my academic specialization provided the incentive for major changes in my research on terrorism. I am fortunate to be married to Dr. Roberta Raider Sloan who is now Chair and Artistic Director of the University of Central Florida Conservatory and Theatre. Throughout her career one of her major areas of teaching, directing, and performing, is in the art of improvisational theatre. Perhaps it was in part because of Brian Jenkins often quoted remark that "terrorism is a form of theatre aimed at the people watching" that I began to draw on my wife's outstanding talent to employ the techniques of improvisational theatre to simulate acts of terrorism. As a result, starting on 22 September 1976, I conducted my first exercise using members of my terrorist class to test the ability of the University of Oklahoma Police Department to respond to a hostage-taking involving a terrorist group. This was followed on 11-12 November with a more ambitious exercise, including a skyjacking of an executive aircraft, conducted at the university airport with the Norman Police Department. The exercise was part of a program entitled International Terrorism Conference and Simulation, which brought together individuals from the governmental sector from both the United States and overseas who were seeking to address the dynamics of a still relatively new threat. Many of them were or would become senior officials and leading authorities in their field who I have had the pleasure of working with since those cold November days.

Since that time I have conducted more than 15 exercises involving everything from the seizure of an oil refinery, engaging in a skyjacking of a fully loaded operational jet of a major airline, seizing marine embassy guards before the Iran hostage-taking, training for the Canal Protection Division of the Panama Canal Commission, and a 24-hour exercise in Berlin against the Berlin Brigade. (I later learned that one of my students, Terry Griswold, who was instrumental in arranging the exercise, was then commander of the US Army counter-terrorism detachment in Berlin. At the time their existence was classified.) Members of the detachment played the role of my terrorists. They were clearly one of the best adversary forces I have worked with over the years. The experiences acquired in developing, conducting, and evaluating the exercise were published in my Simulating Terrorism.16 I have been very pleased to see the simulation technique adopted by both domestic and foreign police and military forces over the years - a number of which I have worked with. I am still involved in conducting exercise, but a number of them now deal with "crisis management," for corporations and other institutions. Moreover, my latest exercises stress the development of proactive measures through the use of an effective count-terrorism intelligence process.

From Reaction to Preemption

As a result of my activities, I was offered the position of Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Aerospace Doctrine, Research and Education (CADRE) at the United States Air Force University at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. In that capacity, I supervised the research of students at the War College who were responsible for engaging in studies on terrorism for the major command. Furthermore, I continued to help to develop, conduct, and evaluate courses for the military related to preventing, deterring, and responding to threats and acts of terrorism.17 In addition, I had a splendid opportunity to concentrate on my research.

It was in the research arena where some of my most rewarding work took place, since aside from wishing to more fully understand the tactics and strategies of terrorists and the means to counter them, I was especially interested in assessing the still emerging field of counter-terrorism doctrine and policy. It was here where I received an interesting lesson in the danger of moving beyond the conventional wisdom. One of my studies at CADRE, Beating International Terrorism: An Action Strategy for Preemption and Punishment, almost never saw the publishable light of day.18 The study called for development of preemptive doctrine, forces, capabilities, and target selection to take the offensive against terrorist groups and their state sponsors. However, at the time for both the military and the civilian sector combatting terrorism was essentially reactive in nature. Thus, there were, for example, two separate categories under the heading of terrorism counteraction by the military. The first was anti-terrorism, "defensive measures taken to reduce vulnerability to terrorist attack," and the second was counter-terrorism, "offensive measures taken to respond to a terrorist act."19 I raised the question of how one could engage in the contradictory position of taking an offensive measure when one is responding to terrorism and therefore suggested the need for a third category, terrorism preemption, which in the fullest sense, would be offensive in nature. The study almost did not survive security and policy review. (I believe the issue was one of policy since it was meant for public distribution and relied on open source material.)

Fortunately, my commander, Colonel Don Stephens, USAF, who had a very strong commitment to academic freedom, came to my defence and the study was published and then later revised in April 2000.20 By that time the use of preemptive measures was slowly being legitimized officially.

Upon completion of my assignment, I headed a counter-terrorism practice as part of an intelligence systems practice for a large consultant firm in Washington, DC. In that capacity I worked closely with agencies involved in combatting terrorism. This one-year in Washington provided me with a level of experience in dealing with the federal bureaucracy and particularly the intelligence community that could not be acquired in academia.

Terrorism Comes Home

When I returned to Oklahoma I continued my work, but there was to be an event that would again direct my energies; however, in this case, even my long-term concern about the United States and terrorism, on the state and local level, could not prepare me for what I witnessed.21 As in the case of other aspects of my journey, it was grounded in events that I would have hardly believed could become a reality. The initial warning that international terrorism had come home in full force was the bombing of the World Trade Center in February 1993. But while the shock waves spread through the country, there was still a degree of insularity within the interior of the country, as people still could not accept that terrorism could happen in the perceived shelter of the communities in the so-called "heartland." That self-deception would give way to a grim reality - that no area was immune to terrorism.

On 19 April 1995, I was preparing to take my daughter Maya to our doctor in downtown Oklahoma City. As I prepared to leave our house, it was rocked by an explosion. My neighbor thought it was a sonic boom and I a gas explosion at the site of an old, deserted hospital.

Consequently, I started to drive downtown, but as I saw the chaos I immediately returned, told my daughter to call my wife to say that we were all right and that I was heading back to the site of the explosion. When I saw the Murrah Building it reminded me of the way the US Embassy in Lebanon looked after it was attacked. Thus, from the inception of the tragedy - only 14 blocks from my house - I realized that terrorism had almost literally come home.

It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss the remarkable capability of a people to come together as a community and a nation in the wake of such a tragedy. It is also beyond the scope of this article to discuss the challenges I faced, particularly in having over 200 interviews on site and at our local network affiliate from the print and electronic media from around the world in the weeks that followed. Having addressed the problem of media coverage and been involved in training Department of Defence public affairs officers from all the services to deal with terrorism coverage, I found myself involved in the continuous struggle between the media and the authorities.22 I still use the "lessons" learned in my classes. But I must say that I was confronted with yet a more personal test when I was asked by the Timothy McVey defence team to engage in research for them. For over 25 years I had sought to combat terrorism and now I was asked to work on behalf of an individual who, up to that time, had committed the most costly terrorist act on US soil. I reluctantly took on the assignment because of my long-held commitment to civil liberties and recognition that the real with for a democratic system is how it provides due process for even those who have engaged in a most heinous crime.

As a result of the bombing, I continued to focus on international terrorism, but I increasingly sought to address the relationship between international and domestic terrorism, what my friend and colleague, the late John O'Neill, called "seamless terrorism."23 My initial work was at the start both emotional and academic in nature. On the emotional level, the bombing had particular salience since it happened in my own community. While I was fortunate in not knowing any of the 168 victims directly, my daughter and friends experienced more personal loss. I also shared the view that an appropriate memorial be built and I urge the readers to see it if they come to Oklahoma City. But beyond that I shared the view that there was a need for a living memorial that would seek among things to engage in research on the causes, dynamics, outcomes, and responses to terrorism. I therefore was on the steering committee that helped to establish the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT). The Institute has placed emphasis on funding projects related to training first responders by evaluating proposals and providing funding through the National Institutes of Justice of the Department of Justice. It is their hope that the lessons acquired from the Murrah Building, "The Oklahoma Standard," will help other communities meet the challenges of future incidents, but I also hope, as their first Research Fellow, that the Institute will increasingly promote research and address policy issues associated with one of its initial objectives - the prevention of terrorism.

As a result of my continuing concerns over developing capabilities to address terrorism preparedness on the state and local level, I became involved in a number of conferences and workshops where I emphasized the need to encourage what I call "community crisis management," which involved not only the police, the fire service, and health care professionals, but the community itself. This is as it should be for to paraphrase the late Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill - "All terrorism is local."24

The events of 9/11 have led to accelerated activities on my part as well as those of my colleagues in the field - both young and old timers. I have for my part, been involved in our state's Homeland Security Task Force where I have emphasized the need to develop counter-terrorism intelligence capabilities on the state and local levels, and more meaningful and mutual cooperation at the federal level. In pursuing these objectives, I have conducted workshops with state and local police and sheriffs to develop their counter-terrorism collection and analysis capabilities.25 In addition, I have entered into discussion concerning the establishment of a new Department of Homeland Security. I was concerned that if that department was established, would it promote effective coordination or add another layer of bureaucratic bloat at a time when there is a need for the necessary degree of flexibility to engage those who are practising asymmetric warfare? It remains to be seen if the new organizational format negate the possibility of developing the necessary organizational doctrine that emulates that of the terrorists?26 Will the US have the initiative to establish small, highly innovative entities that are flexible in engaging in both reactive and preemptive operations ranging from psychological warfare, information operations, apprehension of terrorists, and, when necessary, the use of highly selective force to counter terrorists? Admittedly, there are hard questions related to how to keep such entities accountable for their acts. There are lessons that still must be learned from the Iran-Contra scandal.27

Entering the Uncharted Waters of Techno-Terrorism:
The Need for Mentoring

When I look back, there has been one transformation in the field of terrorism studies that is related to the fundamental changes we now see powered by the internet; a revolution where cyber-space is a major new battlefield in the war against terrorism. When I consider my academic career started with index cards, then progressed to yellow pads and the typewriter, typing paper, and carbons, like others of an older generation, I have had to make an adjustment to new realities. Furthermore, research methodologies, which in the past used primitive computers and card sorters, have been replaced by expert systems, artificial intelligence, and a variety of research tools undreamed of in the past. Confronted with this reality an older generation of terrorist specialist has faced the daunting task of seeking to educate and be educated by a new generation of specialist; a generation that came of age in the information revolution, along unfortunately with the new generation of terrorists. On a personal level I have learned a great deal from my students, but there is still no substitute for analysis based on experience. It is unfortunate that, with some notable exceptions, there are still not enough institutions of higher education that focus on systematically educating and training students in terrorism studies. While the events of 9/11 have stimulated the growth of new programs, the academic community still responds slowly to what they might regard to be a short-term area of inquiry but in reality is and will be, a long-term challenge that educators at all levels must face. Unfortunately, terrorism is still not viewed as being in the "mainstream" of political science and there remains a gap that must be filled for a new generation to be capable of meeting a new and enduring threat.


As one who was "almost present at the creation" in the field of terrorism teaching, research, and application, I have learned the danger of attempting to predict through the dark crystal ball that seeks to penetrate the clandestine landscape of terrorism. Certainly, the dangers of weapons of mass destruction have been with us for quite awhile, but there is finally a belated recognition that there are those terrorists who have the capability to develop or accrue modern weapons in acts or a campaign of mass terrorism. Moreover, it is clear that there are those who, motivated by fundamentalist beliefs, are not concerned about public opinion and are willing to engage in a war against all through coordinated attacks, and yet maintain their security in the vacuum of cyber space. In addition, they can now spread their message of fear and intimidation through the practice of "netwar," which can also promote virtual terrorism where perception, not actions, can bring fear to a mass audience. Moreover, they are now forging marriages of convenience with criminals and apolitical terrorists who are motivated by financial gain. They may not all be the "true believers" of the past, but they can be just as murderous.

In meeting the new threats, not only governments but also the corporate and private security, must meet the challenge. But there is a downside. Will the privatization of public violence "lead to the creation of new mercenaries who will be equally at home in conducting terrorism and counter-terrorism operations?" Moreover, with the development of new technologies, will we witness the emergence of a surveillance society where an individual's shrinking private zone will be open to governmental and corporate incursion?

Despite these concerns, one can still hope that men and women of good faith and their respective governments will address both the root causes and present and future threats of terrorism.

Admittedly, it is a hope from an individual who still retains more than a little of the idealism he had when he started his journey as a young graduate student. It is tempered by the recognition of the reality that the threat not only remains, but has increased in magnitude.

Stephen Sloan is a University Professor at the University of Central Florida and a Fellow in the Office of Global Perspectives


1. For a survey of the history of terrorism and an extensive analysis of leading groups and concepts associated with terrorism, see Sean K. Anderson and Stephen Sloan, The Historical Dictionary of Terrorism, 2nd ed. (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2002). A shorter commercial edition entitled, Terrorism: From Assassin to Zealot (2003) is also available.
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2. Stephen Sloan, A Study in Political Violence: The Indonesian Experience (Skokie, IL: Rand McNally, 1971).
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3. For example, see Edwin G. Corr and Stephen Sloan, eds., Low-Intensity Conflict: Old Threats in a New World (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1992).
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4. Ted Robert Gurr, "A Causal Model of Civil Strife," and James C. Davies, "The J Curve of Rising and Declining Satisfaction as a Cause of Some Great and a Contained Revolution," in Hugh Davis Graham and Ted Robert Gurr, eds., Violence in America: Historical and Comparative Perspectives. A Staff Report of the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, Volume 2 (Washington, DC: Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, June 1969).
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5. Stephen Sloan, "The Functionality of Violence in the New States of Asia and Africa," American Political Science Association National Meeting, 1971.
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6. Stephen Sloan, "Israel Today," an eight part series for The Daily Oklahoman, October 1974.
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7. Brian Jenkins, International Terrorism: A New Mode of Conflict (Los Angeles, CA: Crescent Publications, 1974).
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8. Stephen Sloan, "The Anatomy of Non-Territorial Terrorism, An Analytical Essay," International Chiefs of Police, 1978.
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9. Stephen Sloan, "Terrorism and Asymmetrically," in Colonel Lloyd J. Matthews, ed., Challenging the United States Symmetrically and Asymmetrically: Can America be Defeated? (Carlisle Barracks, PA: US Army War College, July 1998).
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10. Stephen Sloan and Richard Kearney, "How Terrorism Can be Stopped," Internationally syndicated by The New York Times Company, November 1976.
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11. The early articles include Stephen Sloan, Richard Kearney, and Charles Wise, "Learning about Terrorism: Analysis, Simulation and Future Directions," Terrorism: An International Journal 1, nos. 3-4 (1978); and, Stephen Sloan and Richard Kearney, "Non-Territorial Terrorism: An Empirical Approach to Policy Formation," Conflict: An International Journal 1, nos. 1-2 (1978).
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12. Manuscript of "Non-Territorial Terrorism: An Empirical Approach to Policy Formation," and revisions, p. 7.
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13. Ibid., p. 11.
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14. Frank Boltz, Jr., "The Hostage Situation: Law Enforcement Options," in Burr Eichelam, David A. Soskis, and William H. Reid, eds., Terrorism: An Interdisciplinary Perspective (American Psychiatric Association, 1983).
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15. Manuscript, p. 13.
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16. Stephen Sloan, Simulating Terrorism (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1981).
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17. Helped to develop and evaluate Counter Terrorism Course at US Army Military Police School, Fort McClellan, Alabama, 1980.
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18. Stephen Sloan, Beating International Terrorism: An Action Strategy for Preemption and Punishment (Maxwell AFB, AL: Air University Press, 1986).
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19. Ibid., p. 12.
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20. Stephen Sloan, Beating International Terrorism: An Action Strategy for Preemption and Punishment, rev. ed. (Maxwell AFB, AL: Air University Press, 2000).
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21. Michael T. McEwen and Stephen Sloan, "Terrorism Preparedness on the State and Local Level: An Oklahoma Perspective," International Association of Chiefs of Police, 1978.
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22. My concern over the often debated relationship between the media and authorities addressing threats and acts of terrorism led to one of the first conferences on the topic that was the result of the initiative of Michael T. McEwen. The transcript of the conference, which was conducted under the auspices of the Daily Oklahoman, was published in the following work: Michael T. McEwen and Stephen Sloan, Special Consulting Editors, "Terrorism: Police and Press Problems," in Terrorism and the Media: A Special Issue, Terrorism: An International Journal 2, nos. 1-2 (1979).
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23. John O'Neill was head of the Counterterrorism Division of the FBI in New York. In that position he tirelessly sought to make both law enforcement personnel, policy makers, and the public aware of the terrorist threat. His work in helping to prevent the attacks directed at targets during the Millennium Celebration, his investigation of the bombing of the USS Cole and his other activities were major contributions to the war on terrorism. It was both ironic and tragic that he would die while attempting to rescue people at the World Trade Center after he had just taken on the position of Chief of Security of the WTC. He will be missed as a friend and a colleague who was on the front line in combatting terrorism.
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24. I have conducted workshops on "community crisis management," under the auspices of the State of Idaho, Military Division Bureau of Disaster Services and the Idaho Emergency Management Association. Both have been at the forefront of addressing the terrorism threat locally, even before the events of 11 September. 14-18 August 2000, 13 June 2001.
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25. Workshop entitled, "Community Response to Terrorism," sponsored by the Oklahoma Sheriff's Association and the Oklahoma Community Policing Institute, 16 November 2001.
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26. Stephen Sloan, Coordinating Editor, for section entitled "Organizing for National Security: The Challenges of Bureaucratic Innovation in the War on Terrorism, PAR (Public Administration Review), Special Issue on Terrorism 62 (September 2002).
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27. See Ian O. Lesser et al., Countering the New Terrorism (Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation 1999).
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