Unless you understand the difference, as well as that of a criminal vs a terrorist, you will fail Counterterrorism 101.

I deal with the difference between fundamentalism and radicalism, terrorist and criminal in the JKLS Hostage Prevention and Survival Briefing but it is also in my books, “Safety Net,” and “Terrorist Takedown.” You need to fully understand the difference between fundamentalism, radicalism, and a cult. You hear these words all the time in the mainstream media, but do you know what is meant by the words? I will explain by using actual terrorism studies.

As a rule, all terrorists were once normal people and hardly ever insane in a clinical view although they do insane things. We studied Mohamed Atta, the 9/11 attack leader. The fellow is the perfect example for this discussion. He grew up as a shy and considerate son of a lawyer. He was bright, he studied architecture at the University of Cairo and then he joined an Islamic fundamentalist Muslim society. That did not in itself set off any alarm bells and should not either. Why not? Because fundamentalists are those that believe literally that what is said in the Holy Koran, if Muslim, and the Holy Bible, when Christian. They see what they read as if correct and should be believed as if factual.

That is mainstream, not radical.

Anyone believing in Martin Luther’s Sola Scriptura doctrine that the Bible is the Word of God will be classified as a fundamentalist as much as is the Muslim follower with four wives, all deftly wearing the burqa, and walking slightly behind him. That does not make him a terrorist as such. For us, that believe that God created the world in six days and not some mysterious big bang (which came from where I wonder?) over billions of years, or in other words, Evolution vs Creation, we too are seen as fundamentalists. And there are people out there stating that fundamentalists must be killed as much as radicals. And it just so happens that these people are senior military and intelligence officials.

So, in summary, there must be more, something must change, to become a radical willing to kill. It is not the same as being a fundamentalist.

I wrote in “Terrorist Takedown” on the difference between terrorists and criminals: “Be always aware that the face of terrorism is indistinguishable until the deed is underway and it can come from any direction at any time by anyone around you, even a woman, or a team of attackers. Your enemy is not wearing a specific uniform, he is not carrying any specific weapons either and you must react instantly if you wish to survive. He will not show mercy and unlike a criminal, he has no desire to escape justice except to fight again another day. That means he will come after you - the major difference between the two groups, he will attack, strike first and unexpectedly so, there are going to be fatalities when that happens. He is not a coward and he is ready to die for his cause. Nor is he insane - show some respect to your enemy.

Every rated research document on terrorists, profiling if you wish, shows a dedicated man or woman, not insane, able to work in small groups and or alone. I assure you, no terrorist group wants a loose cannon around them, really not, they want someone able to function in society, to fit in and to obey orders above all – no person with mental health issues can do this and hence are rejected as a recruit or used as a suicide bomber.

Of course, from your view and mine, the fellow may well be insane but it is not a clinical diagnosis at all, that comes later when defence lawyers are desperate to explain why he did what he did. Frankly, most terrorists are proud of what they did. They know their cause, whatever it is, may well be damaged if they are found to be insane in a court, they don’t want that, it is bad PR if a terrorist is found to be insane, then he is just another criminal, a looney. Always remember, it is always a PR exercise, urban terrorism. It is never done for no reason at all, always to gain maximum publicity and therefore at places which will cause outrage (aka publicity, to create fear, to terrorise). Take my word, most terrorists are compos mentis, always remember that, there is logic in his madness….”

Let us keep safe.

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