By Ali Ziad al Ali, researcher specialising in international and strategic affairs.

The phenomenon of terrorism is little more than a synthetic hybrid construct that combines several contradictory components and strands. Some analysts have argued that the term is both structurally and conceptually vague, whether intentionally or otherwise. However, if we examined this phenomenon more closely and studied its orthogenesis, by deconstructing and analysing the various components and tabulating them, we would find that this phenomenon is in reality a synthesis of disparate contradictory entities that came together in the crucible of formation, which then manifested itself in the phenomenon of terrorism, represented by the emergence of certain terrorist groups such as “al Qaeda and Daesh” and others of their kind. The phenomenon of terrorism is a compound structure which combines the phenomena of deviant thinking of certain religious theories and carefully structured and focussed intelligence gathering. This phenomenon, which has been deployed in the realisation of certain international strategic agendas, has sometimes, through ongoing crises, taken on an international face whilst at other times, only a regional one. The global powers, because of their conflicting interests, have co-opted terrorism as a strategic tool for the globalization of national security and to negate the different forms of international intervention in certain geopolitical regions of the world. For a more precise strategic analysis of this phenomenon, we will address it through the following:

First: Analysing the phenomenon of terrorism from an intellectual angle

Many of those who observe the phenomenon of terrorism see it as a collection of hard-line ideas that have been taken up by a group of religious extremists. Terrorism, intellectually speaking, is a dogma based on a set of hard-line religious beliefs and ideas, which has been employed by a particular school of thought to produce a hard-line ideology espoused by a group of radical organisations. They then propagate this “ideology” through the medium of terrorism, murder and intimidation; thus, when analysing the basis for the phenomenon of terrorism, we find it relies on a composition of beliefs and ideas which resonated with terrorist groups, who go on to use every means at their disposal to advance these ideas, which is basically an emanation of the principle “the end justifies the means.” In essence, a particular or dominant ideology arises from the thoughts and doctrines of certain schools, and along the way usurps certain religious symbols to legitimise its dogma, whose principles formed the launching pad for terrorist movements and organisations. In short, terrorism is anintellectual phenomenon deployed for strategic purposes.

Secondly: Analysing the phenomenon of errorism from a strategic point of view
There is no doubt that the phenomenon of terrorism is not the result of a chance happening; but the result of conflicting interests among the major world powers, played out on the stage of international interactions. Certain major western powers have intentionally exploited this “aberrant” phenomenon to deal with the fallout from some of their neglected projects in certain sensitive global regions with ongoing conflicts. For instance, we saw how the United States subordinated al Qaeda in Afghanistan in its fight against Soviet Russia in order to sap the latter’s energy in that particularly sensitive region of the world. Certain other global powers used the same technique by employing terrorist organisations in Syria and Iraq to advance their agendas in that region and to wage proxy wars, allowing them to fulfil their aims and yet without getting bogged down or becoming directly involved in the conflict itself. Thus, the blight of terrorism is just one of the strategic tools in the armoury of certain global powers, who exercise their military power indirectly in order to exert influence on any anyone else with conflicting interests and agendas. In the final analysis, terrorism is the strategic “weapon of choice” of certain powerful forces who seek to market their troubled image regionally.

Thirdly: Analysing terrorism from the intelligence perspective

Terrorism may be seen as a group of intelligence entities that are directly or indirectly linked to the world’s powerful international intelligence agencies. There is no doubt that terrorism in all its manifestations is an organisation or an intelligence network which harbours within its ranks some militants; a collection of “hybrid” agents – trained in intelligence and special operations and overseeing conflicts. By analysing the strengths of terrorist organisations, we find that they receive either direct or indirect support and training from international intelligence services, by way of being taught the modern methods of warfare; communications; spying; and in the use of the latest weaponry. Finally, the phenomenon of terrorism, in its formulation, can be seen as a complex conglomerate composed of a group of international intelligence agencies, who openly exploit this platform to advance their aims and to extend their influence in regions of conflict and competing strategic interests.

Fourthly: Analysing the phenomenon of terrorism from the perspective of internal governmental failure

The phenomenon of terrorism may be seen as part of the internal reasons and causes of a country’s state of affairs. By observing the phenomenon of terrorism, we find that it is active in fragmented societies, where radicalism prevails over rationality and inclusiveness. Thus, terrorism represents the failure of the internal policies of certain countries in resolving social cohesiveness issues and obstacles It is also attributable to the abuse of power and the lack of political cohesion among politicians. Yet still, terrorism is the result of the fragmentation of some societies which produced internal upheavals, and this in turn gave birth, either directly or indirectly, to the phenomenon of extremism and terrorism. Finally, it is possible to say that one of the causes of terrorism is local maladministration, accompanied by a number of internal paradoxes that together signposted the way towards terrorism.

Fifthly: Analysing the phenomenon of terrorism as a hybrid construct

On considering the structural map of terrorism, terrorism may be described as a hybrid structure consisting of a set of internal and external factors that came together to form a single phenomenon, resulting in the crucible of terrorism, and manifested itself in active terrorist cells such as “Daesh.”. The structural dimension of this phenomenonenjoys a strong presence because of the multifaceted nature of this phenomenon, which consists of a large group of causal inputs. The internal factor of this phenomenon has been dictated, with some degree of force, by internal reasons and causes, which is the logical outcome of the political, societal and ideological exigencies which crystallized in a phenomenon. Not long after it had overwhelmed certain communities, it leapt into the global arena, facilitated by a number external factors which take from the strategic and intelligence dimensions a launching pad for itself, eventually giving us this phenomenon.

Sixthly: Analysing the phenomenon of terrorism in terms of the clash of civilizations

The rise of international terrorism is the result of the clash of international strategic doctrines. The collapse of the Soviet Union left an ideological vacuum in the face of the western system, which in turn has sought a virtual enemy to promote Western style self-sufficiency and prevent the collapse of its Western doctrines. The belligerent tone of international conflict quickly escalated once the West espoused the ideology of the end of history and the logic of the clash of civilizations, which fuelled conflict and civil disunity, especially amongst the Islamic societies, particularly radical fundamentalist movements on the one hand, and the Western system led by the United States and its allies, on the other. The religious-civilizational conflicts soon metamorphosed into terrorist organizations, headed by Daesh, where some see that the emergence of these terrorist organizations came as a result of civilizational conflict between Western and Islamic civilizations.

Finally, after considering the majority of the strategic analyses about the phenomenon of terrorism, we find that they give credence to the conclusion that this phenomenon is the inevitable result of the escalating international conflict between the global powers, although it has to be said that other factors also played a part in the emergence of this phenomenon.  Indeed, international conflict and global disunity – especially among the rival super powers – contributed directly to the eruption of new conflicts and wars, which can perhaps be characterised as “privatised”, and which, through employing terrorist organisations, found the means to sustain the momentum of global armed conflict.