Terrorism

Project Chair: William H. Webster
Project Director: Arnaud de Borchgrave
Task Force Chair: Patrick Watson, Eastman Kodak
Task Force Co-director: Frank J. Cilluffo, CSIS
Task Force Co-director: Linnea P. Raine, DOE Fellow

The Task Force on Terrorism is assessing the impact of terrorist trends and developments on US and international security; exploring linkages between terrorism and global organized crime; and evaluating mechanisms and recommending improvements for deterring, responding, and ameliorating terrorism.

The recent,dramatic geo-political, social, economic, technological, and other changes in the last few years have resulted in a sea change in terrorism.

Players at terror are changing. Traditional groups are being replaced by more ideologically driven religious fanatics. Such actors are less inhibited by political constraints, bent on much higher levels of violence. Zealots are arriving on the scene not with traditional political objectives but with more unique idiosyncratic, religious, or personally psychotic purposes.

Today's terrorists are often 'actors without an address'--groups having no geographic base or state sponsor, operating transnationally and subnationally. Osama bin Laden and his loosely-knit coalition of fellow travelers which stretches from the Philippines to Morocco serves as a case and point. As does Rhamzi Youssef and many others not even on our 'radar screen.' Transnationally, they leverage sophisticated communications technologies, reducing the need to travel and congregate to plan operations. Such freedom allows small cells and even individuals to operate without compromising larger organizations, making their movements and actions almost impossible to predict. Subnationally, terrorists evolve from a myriad of conflicts in obscure, ungovernable regions of the world that frequently provide friendly territory for training.

Terrorists have become more innovative both in terms of the way they do business and their weapons and targets of choice. Just as the Tokyo nerve gas attack marked a new threshold of violence using weapons of mass destruction, increasing reliance on computers and high tech devices has given terrorists a dramatic surge in capabilities for using these systems to disrupt the very infrastructure we have all become so reliant upon.

There is growing evidence that terrorism is becoming increasingly enmeshed in the fabric of global organized crime. Organized crime's increasing global interconnectivity--with its vast resources and organizations to move money, share information, exploit and manipulate modern technology, and provide endless quantities of black market commodities--has changed the way terrorists do business. Global organized crime provides an opportunity for terrorist groups to raise funds and expand their talent pools, in addition to a ready marketplace for whatever high tech equipment and weapons they seek.

In light of these trends, the task force is exploring a new set of paradigms that deal not only with terrorism in and of itself but also as one piece in a larger puzzle. Are we capable of responding to future needs with the existing structure or do we need new structures, new systems, new approaches?

Terrorism Task Force Membership

Lt.Gen. Julius W. Becton, U.S. Army (Ret.)
W. Richard Burcham, Sandia National Laboratories
Francis A. Bolz, Frank A. Bolz Associates
Michael Bopp, Senate PSI
Dr. Bertram Brown, Forensic Medical Advisory Serv.
William E. Clark, U.S. Public Health Service
Joseph M. Conley, Commonwealth Investigative Serv.
Martha Crenshaw, Wesleyan University
James A. Genovese, Edgewood R & D Center
Conrad Hassel, Hassel & Hassel
Mike Jakub, U.S. State Department
Larry Johnson, The Janus Group
Bruce Kennedy, CJT, Inc.
Joshua Lederberg, The Rockefelller University
Robert McBrien, U.S. Treasury Department
Bob Mullen, U.S. Department of Energy
Patrick Murray, House Judiciary Committee
John Piper, Exxon Company International