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Chapter 10 discusses the importance of modeling terrorist decision making as an input for understanding vulnerabilities of critical infrastructures and systems and the effectiveness of proposed ways to mitigate those vulnerabilities.Attacks such as these blend into attacks that involve the possibility of human deaths but whose primary objective is to disrupt institutional functions and social processes.
These groups constitute bases for community association as well as social and political identity.
Historically, relations among them have been variable as well, encompassing friendliness, accommodation, competition, latent tension, and, occasionally, open conflict and violence.
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In this report, however, the committee constrains itself to discussing people as the primary target of terrorists.
This chapter shows how the behavioral and social sciences can provide knowledge of and insights into the responses of individuals and organizations to the threat of terrorism and to terrorist events.A sample of twenty-five novels from the period was then selected for careful reading, analysis, and comparison.Preliminary results establish that though there is a great deal of diversity in terrorism novels, both in what they do with terrorism and why, they are by and large focused less on politics than on sentiment and less on the perpetrators of terrorism than on its victims.Throughout this report the committee recognizes that the targets of potential attack—transportation, communication, and energy systems, for example—are systemically related, and that an attack on one spreads to and perhaps cripples others.This principle of “systemness” applies to the organization of human life as well.This is only one of the areas to which social science research can make a useful contribution.Given that terrorists may arise from many cultures and be motivated by a range of attitudes, studying the phenomenon of terrorism from a social and behavioral perspective could help to interpret fragments of intelligence information, to broaden understanding of terrorists’ modes of actions, and perhaps ultimately tell us how to curtail such actions.The nation must make efforts to deter such acts and, when that is not possible, to counter and minimize terrorists’ actions.For example, since good intelligence is extremely difficult to acquire, it may be useful for the academic community to study terrorist recruitment techniques, organizational modes, and methods of operations (such as choice of targets and weapons).And terror is, above all, a response on the part of people. The effects of terrorist activities, like the individual and collective motives for such activities, can be multiple—political, economic, military, and symbolic.This report emphasizes throughout that it is exceedingly difficult to foresee and plan to cope with any specific terrorist act.