Profile a Terrorist

Catch a terrorist by thinking like a terrorist

Let’s take a simple fact - you cannot catch a murderer if you think like a burglar. Any policeman will tell you that to get into the mind of the criminal, it is essential to think like that criminal. It is essential to guess what their next move will be, to visualise what drives them and from that to ultimately determine their weakness.


It is the same principle with a terrorist, there are three types to deal with:


 Political fanatics; firstly you know that they are essentially cowards. They will pick soft targets, easy escape routes and invariably they have a political activist background and/or revenge motivation. Either way they are not difficult to identify and are probably known to the security services. 


The dangerous one is the mercenary who has no political axe to grind, but is in it only for the money. The reason for the mass murder is unimportant to them; they have no compassion for their victims and are completely indiscriminate. However, most of these people are known to the security services but are adept at avoiding capture and prosecution.


However, all of these are fairly straightforward to profile using known techniques.


This brings us to the most dangerous of all: From the point of view of identification, eradication and dissuasion, the religious fanatic terrorist requires modified methods. Usually they are young, with no known past; they have little fear of discovery or death, due to intensive indoctrination. Because they are willing to sacrifice their lives, they do not pick soft targets and in consequence the sacrifice technique allows precise placement and detonation/activation of the device. Two courses of action are required.


Firstly to identify the terrorist and prevent the act.


Secondly to dissuade any followers from committing further atrocities.


The only way to prevent the first action is to “think” like the terrorist – what in their twisted mind would satisfy their desire for retribution ? They will have learned from 9/11 and the London bombings that mass death of innocent civilians, shocking as it was, only hardened the resolve of the targeted people and resulted in serious revenge attacks on themselves. What they need to achieve is an act so abhorrent that it will break the will for response and allow them to claim a great moral and religious victory. For obvious reasons I will not elaborate on how this can be done.


With regard to the second action, we need to identify what response would prevent or dissuade any followers from carrying out the first act. Fear of discovery and execution is no deterrent. To a religious fanatic, the worst thing that can happen is the denial of their sacred promised afterlife. Without this nothing has any meaning. The anonymous capture, eradication and disposal of the terrorist denies religious martyrdom. The use of religious artefacts or materials unacceptable to the terrorist prevents even “virtual” absolution for them and condemns the terrorist to their own form of eternal damnation.


To return to the original point there is a world of difference between “think” and “act”. If you are unable to view these matters objectively or act in a rational manner, then, I can assure you, you would not be in the job in the first place. Do you view the detective who solves a murder case, by use of a profiler, or similar, as a murderer ? If not then why would you view a member of the security services who fights terrorism using similar methods, as an unacceptable pseudo-terrorist ?


British SAS soldier

Would you really argue with this man ?

Fight against terrorism

This man wants to kill you in the name of religion

Religious terrorist

IRA bombing in Hyde Park - Dead men and horses

Political terrorism
Credit: IRA bombing in Hyde Park - Dead men and horses

Iranian Embassy siege

Religious/political terrorism
Credit: SAS release of hostages from Iranian Embassy