Transition from the classical pattern of terrorist act to postmodern (case study: Iran)

Document Type : Research Paper



In political science and terrorism studies, the main emphasis has traditionally been on comprehending the nature of terrorism and its progression. Yet, the study of how terrorism evolves and the modus operandi of terrorist organizations has become increasingly crucial in today's world, sparking a significant increase in dialogue and exchange of views on this topic. This is because terrorist organizations are becoming increasingly sophisticated each day, compared to their predecessors. They adapt to environmental changes and various counter-terrorism strategies and techniques, preventing their collapse and enabling their proliferation in any environment. In light of this, the present paper aims to elucidate the concept of "postmodern terrorism", and chart the evolution of terrorist activity models in Iranian society from the traditional model (from the 1960s to the 1980s) to the postmodern model (from the late 1980s to the present). Here, we also discuss strategies suitable for “postmodern counter-terrorism” within the context of terrorism studies. For an operational definition, one could state that the features that set postmodern terrorism apart from earlier forms include a focus on identity in motivation, a global perspective in the scope of action, and an organizational structure that is both networked and virtual.
This explanatory paper employs a library data collection method for research and utilizes a qualitative approach for data analysis. The research methodology is explanatory in nature as it aims to explain the transition from traditional terrorism (spanning the 1960s to the 1980s) to postmodern terrorism (from the late 1980s to the present) within Iranian society. The qualitative data analysis method is chosen due to the nature of the study, which is largely focused on the influence of ideology, religion, culture, politics, ethics, and similar factors on human behavior. Such studies typically require qualitative and rational analysis methods. The article further delves into the evolution of terrorist patterns in Iranian society, analyzing the impact of ideological and semantic issues to explain the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of this evolution.
Result and Discussion
The emergence of any new threat to national security invariably necessitates the creation of new institutional structures or the revision of existing ones. This is primarily because past institutions were typically designed and regulated to counter and manage previous threats, rendering them ineffective against new threats. Given the multifaceted nature of postmodern terrorism, particularly the intertwined nature of its hardware and software aspects, this need is more pronounced than ever. Furthermore, the Islamic Republic of Iran, which, according to available evidence, is under the threat of postmodern terrorism, requires this institutional development more than any other political system in the region.
Primarily, the new structures must ensure coordination among all relevant and responsible organizations to prevent duplication or lack of cooperation. This is crucial to avoid any loopholes that could lead to system penetration or malfunction, as these could result in unexpected outcomes and strategic failures. Secondly, it is essential to devise a long-term strategy that takes into account the various aspects of postmodern terrorism. This strategy should be designed in a way that accommodates both the software and hardware dimensions of this form of terrorism, and is applicable at internal, regional, and global levels. Hence, it is crucial to have security-intelligence and military collaboration with other nations in this battle. The new structures should incorporate a robust and professional department dedicated to monitoring, collecting, and analyzing electronic and virtual data of these groups globally, with a particular emphasis on virtual social networks. A key aspect of post-modern counter-terrorism is that the intelligence gathering about these groups should encompass human, social, and technical dimensions in a balanced and simultaneous manner. The past experiences have shown that many surprises and strategic failures in combating terrorism have resulted from an over-reliance on technical and telecommunication intelligence while neglecting human and social intelligence.
In general, intelligence agencies require social awareness to effectively combat postmodern terrorism. This is primarily because nascent terrorist groups initially develop and recruit members within a specific social context, and they also employ a distinct social strategy. Specifically, their strategy involves integrating the group into society and establishing a social foundation for themselves, making it challenging for intelligence and security organizations to fight them. In the event of any setback or blow, these groups can retreat to their supportive social bases and reorganize themselves.



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