Prof. Christopher C. Harmon discussed characteristics of terrorists and ways in which terrorist groups end on The Next Word with host Christine Warnke on July 9, 2013.
In the interview, Prof. Harmon described terrorists who conduct workplace sabotage as a way of agitating for better wages and better treatment, as well as anarchists, who are generally more dangerous. Their dream is to eliminate all government, which they see as oppressive, and they are willing to do almost anything to further this end. Prof. Harmon noted that the U.S. did not have a good way to track the operations of terrorist groups until the FBI began to do so.
He discussed different ways that terrorist groups end, using the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary group 17 November as a case study of a group that was exposed after one of its own bombs injured one of its members. In addition, he noted that some terrorist groups end because they win, citing examples of the FLN taking power from France in Algeria and the Bolsheviks seizing power in Russia.
Other terrorist groups end by transitioning into legitimate organizations. While some terrorist groups are politically motivated and can sometimes be convinced to become peaceful, others, which are religiously motivated, are not always as willing to negotiate.
Prof. Harmon teaches Terrorism and Counterterrorism at IWP, and holds the MajGen Matthew C. Horner Chair of Military Theory at Marine Corps University. He is the author of Terrorism Today, and co-author of Toward a Grand Strategy Against Terrorism.