Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Same Religion, Different Ideology: Strategic vs. Universal/Abstract
It is a mistake to categorize all Islamist terrorist organizations in the same bracket. In James Piazza’s article, “Is Islamist Terrorism More Dangerous?”, Piazza writes about the rising accounts of lethality of terrorist attacks in the contemporary world. Piazza’s study tests a hypothesis that Islamist groups that don’t affiliate with al-Qaeda are not more likely to commit high casualty terrorist attacks than other type of terrorist groups like Hamas. This is because terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda have a typology defined as “universal/abstract” while other Islamist terrorist groups, again, like Hamas are categorized as being “strategic” (Piazza 65). Islamist terrorist groups differentiate through their goal structure which determines the audience they are targeting and the lethality of their tactics against their adversaries.
“Strategic” groups tend to have tangible set of goals like liberating an occupied territory, the creation of a mono-ethnic state, or the overthrow of a regime. These groups have a defined targeted audience and have to maintain public approval because it is critical to the success of the struggle. So, strategic groups attacks are meant to undermine the regime and further push their political agenda which is why high-casualty attacks are risky because of the possibility of generating public backlash. Strategic terrorist groups like Hamas have a higher attack rate with a lower casualty per attack rate because of their concrete goals. “Universal/abstract” groups goals can be described as abstract and complex because it is driven by ideology. They tend to declare war on the political status-quos, Western culture, and even whole societies. Universal/abstract groups create this intangible enemy that tends to attract a larger pool of supporters, often transnational, whom are less concerned with immediate change. Unlike strategic groups, universal/abstract groups do not have to deal with angering their target audiences because of their goals rather they are more inclined to have less attacks but with a high casualty attacks to demonstrate the seriousness of their group and message (Piazza 65-6). This paper argues that due to the differentiating goals; strategic Islamic groups, like Hamas, lethality rate is substantially less then the universal/abstract groups like al-Qaeda.
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been an ongoing conflict for decades with no solution in sight. The Arab revolt against the Balfour Declaration, a British mandate that states its intent to create a Jewish homeland inside Palestinian territory, to then the partitions into separating the two states, to all the Arab-Israeli wars helped culminate the possibility of a national-separatist Islamic group. Hamas, an acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement, was created to establish an Islamic society in historic Palest...