Tactics of terrorism

The tactics of terrorism are diverse. As important as the actual attacks is the cultivation in the target population of the fear of such attacks, so that the threat of violence becomes as effective as actual violence.

While advancements in technology, modernization, and globalization have helped many states prosper over the course of history, they have also opened terrorist groups to new tactics and weaponry. The different tactics that terrorist groups utilize can be very simple to extremely complex.

Terrorist tactics tend to favor attacks that avoid effective countermeasures and exploit vulnerabilities.[1] As such, terrorist groups have the potential to utilize many different types of terrorism tactics depending on the circumstances and the perceived likelihood of success. Some tactics are more conventional and widely used in the operations of many terrorist groups. These tactics include shootings, hijackings, kidnappings, bombings, and suicide attacks. Other tactics are seen more unconventional and have only been used in a few instances, if at all. However, these unconventional tactics are perceived by government officials and experts alike as serious potential threats. Some types of unconventional terrorism tactics commonly recognized by terrorism experts are bioterrorism, agroterrorism, nuclear terrorism, and cyberterrorism.

  1. ^ FEMA, “Evolving Terrorist Threat: Long-term Trends and Drivers and Their Implications for Emergency Management,” September 2011, http://www.fema.gov/pdf/about/programs/oppa/evolving_terrorist_threat.pdf.

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