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Peer Responses Week 4

HSE 470: Modern Terrorism

Response #1 (Juan): It is not uncommon to see that a country with ineffective and failed political system have a high number of terrorist groups and illicit activities. Mali is not an exception. The struggle for equal representation and power stems following Mali’s independence from France. The ongoing violence between the Tuareg and the Malians on the issue of which group is superior has fed to having a corrupt political system. Presidents such as Amadou Toumani Touré have created a corrupt political system where one ethnic group is favored more and has even extended corruption to military service. People in Mali were only able to join the service if they had high ranking service members in already. Skills and discipline were overlooked. Millions of dollars for projects like the fight against AIDS and other diseases have also gone missing during Toure’s rule. This situation in Mali has led to many revolts in the north and other parts of the region. This rise of violence fueled by the feeling of a non-existing government is the perfect opportunity for terrorist groups to come in and begging to take over.

The end to Gaddafi’s rule in Libya is of great relevance to Mali’s terrorism problem. Many of the Tuaregs from Mali had join Gaddafi’s military. The toppling of Gaddafi meant that these Tuareg’s had to come back to Mali. Some of these were harden war veterans who were also joining the fight for political power.

Solomon, H. Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism in Africa. Available from: VitalSource Bookshelf, Springer Nature, 2015.

Response #2 (Ramada): Political insecurities in Mali are intricately linked to terrorism, and the toppling of Gaddafi exacerbated these challenges. The power vacuum left by Gaddafi's fall in Libya provided an opportunity for various militant groups to acquire weapons and find refuge in the region, significantly impacting Mali's security landscape. The Tuareg rebellion in northern Mali, fueled by fighters returning from Libya, intensified existing political tensions. The lack of a stable government and weak institutions in Mali created fertile ground for terrorist organizations, such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), to establish a foothold. Additionally, ethnic and economic disparities within Mali contributed to internal conflicts, allowing terrorist groups to exploit grievances and recruit disaffected individuals.

The interplay between political instability and terrorism in Mali is evident in the struggle for control over territory and resources. Terrorist groups exploit governance gaps, imposing their own version of law and order in areas where the state's influence is limited. This not only perpetuates political instability but also hampers socio-economic development. Addressing terrorism in Mali requires a multifaceted approach, encompassing political stability, economic development, and social cohesion. International cooperation is essential to curb the cross-border movements of terrorist elements. The repercussions of Gaddafi's downfall illustrate the ripple effects of political changes in the region, emphasizing the need for comprehensive strategies to mitigate the interrelated challenges of political insecurities and terrorism in Mali.

The impact of the Malian crisis on the Group of Five Sahel countries: Balancing security and development priorities | SIPRI. (n.d.).

HSE 460: European Union

Response #1 (Ariel): Based on the reading, I found that the Nato focuses on defense, crisis prevention, cooperative security. More so, they thrilled resolve conflict peacefully. It plays a role as a mediator in a case who plays the role to come together with both parties for a common ground. The main goal is to help fight against terrorism within our country and other allies forces. Both NATO and EU enlargement were offered with the idea of supporting and encouraging political and economic reforms. Nongovernmental actors in Western Europe (e.g. universities, businesses, women’s groups, human rights groups) also invested and partnered with actors in Eastern Europe to encourage political, economic, and broader social change. ( Kubicek, 2021). 

Work cited: Kubicek, P. (2021).  European politics (3rd ed.). Routledge

Response #2 (Hudson): One great example of when NATO helped to play a role in counterterrorism is shown in both Bosnia (1994-45) and Kosovo (1999) when they defended member states and bombed Serbian positions and sent in peacekeepers. Because of this event their mission statement was then broadened to say, “stand firm against those who violate human rights, wage war, and conquer territory” (Kubicek, 2020). This shows that NATO can and will play a role when it comes to defending member states and helping increase overall protection. After 9/11 NATO operated outside of Europe for the first time and helped with taking command of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. These are just a few examples of when NATO has shown to be playing a role in counterterrorism. NATO has great military capabilities that are very helpful and can help in many other ways with assets such as peacekeepers showing NATO to be very helpful in playing a role when it comes to counterterrorism. The European Union has faced many challenges since the creation of both NATO and the OSCE. Of course, one of the challenges has been the rise in terrorism and the many attacks and threats that have come from that. In addition, we can see a rise in Russian aggression with Ukraine and other threats that have caused a rise in concern for many Eastern European countries. There is also a big migration and refugee crisis that has caused a rise in the question of security and brought a very complex challenge. We can see NATO and the OSCE constantly addressing challenges and it is key for both of them to continue to adapt and change to their constantly changing environment and threats.


Kubicek, P. (2020).  European Politics (3rd ed.). Taylor & Francis.

HSE 450: Individual and Cultural Perspectives of Terrorism Radicalization

Response #1 (Angel):  In accordance with Taylor and Swanson’s (2018) findings, the six organizational models pertain to whether the terrorist is an individual or organization, whether this ideological mindset is split amongst the group, and the long term or end goal of the terrorist entity; the five dilemmas faced by terrorist organizations attempting to further their goals are aspects that coincide with development, loyalty, resistance, ideology.

For the six organization models, Taylor and Swanson mention that internal and external factors, such as the amount of manpower on hand, where the organization’s base and area of operation resides, the strategies they use, ideas and perspectives presented by those working alongside them, the capabilities of the defensive force they may contend with, and the resources necessary to both implement and carry out operations, all contribute to the organization model that may be used.

For dilemmas, the mentioned aspects incorporate the subcategories established by the authors mentioned previously, with “Action versus Secrecy,” “Growth versus Control,” “Recruitment versus Retention,” “Success versus Longevity,” and “Resource Acquisition versus Constituencies” (Taylor and Swanson, 2018, pgs. 120-123). The first category relates to the conflict created between gaining recognition through operations and evading the attention of defense forces (Taylor and Swanson, 2018). The remaining four go hand in hand with one another yet pose a discord when attempting to incorporate aspects together. The recruitment-retention and success-longevity dilemmas present a clash of motivations and actions (Taylor and Swanson, 2018). Terrorist groups may both lose and gain followers during attacks and must endeavor to either prevent/dissuade the loss of certain members in order to not only retain those with the experience to train new members, but also prevent a loss of morale, which may cause recruits to leave or discourage them from joining. Typically, this means some form of compensation, which then leads to a feedback-loop of clashes with the growth-control and resource attainment-constituencies dilemmas (Taylor and Swanson, 2018). Since larger groups must rely on increasingly technological means of communication and planning, it becomes harder and harder to personally gauge whether certain individuals still share the same line of thinking. This, alongside the need for more resources, means more recruits, which carries the potential for a schism in the organization being caused by conflicting perspectives and strategies.

The connection between radical terrorism ideology and terrorist targets often depends on the agenda of the organization in question. For example, Al-Qaeda’s motivations were a radicalization of religion. They wanted nothing more than the destruction of those they considered  the West, aiming to cause as much fear and havoc as possible in order to erode the willpower and ideals of those countries. Compare this to another group like ISIS, who also possess highly radicalized and religious ideals, yet aim to establish a state that coincides with their beliefs. They fight not simply because they view those opposing them as simply not part of the plan, but because of the perceived threat to their very way of life. That being said, this statement is not being said in the defense of either group, as both resort to incredibly violent and unnecessary agendas. However, ISIS targets far more military and political assets in comparison to Al-Qaeda, who focuses on civilian populations. This preference in targeting is reflected by their ideologies.


Taylor, R. W., Swanson, C. R.  (2018-03-21). Terrorism, Intelligence and Homeland Security,  2nd Edition. [[VitalSource Bookshelf version]].  Retrieved from vbk://9780134818245

Response #2 (Murray): Discuss the five key dilemmas facing terrorist organizations and the six organizational models associated with radical terrorist organizations. Explain the connection between radical terrorism ideology and terrorist targets.

Five dilemmas facing terrorists’ organizations are action versus secrecy, growth versus control, recruitment versus retention, success versus longevity, and resource acquisition versus constituencies. Action versus secrecy is a trade off when planning and executing attacks. Action means to be visible, and secrecy means to be caution. Longevity comes with knowledge. This turns the organization into a learning organization. Recruitment comes in when family members are associated, some join organizations due to their financial situation.

The six organizational models associate with radical terrorist organizations are lone wolf, cell, network, hierarchical, umbrella and virtual. Lone wolf is an attack driven or carried out by one individual not a group. Cell is multiple groups of terrorists working together to reach a certain goal. They will contribute to assemblies, attacks and fund raisers. Network consists of chain, hub, wheel and all channel structures. Networks are resistant against attacks, and they are very helpful with transmission. Hierarchical is a pyramid ranking system. The lower organizations are under direct supervision of a superior. There is a single leader at the top of the pyramid. Umbrella is a group that provides leadership to volunteer associates. It’s made up of hierarchical and network. Virtual only exists in cyberspace. The members all over and they share knowledge with one another. They have no leader, or they don’t meet in person.

Radical terrorist ideology influence and justifies attacks. Terrorists are the places that are targeted.


Taylor, R. W., & Swanson, C. R. (2018). Terrorism, Intelligence and Homeland Security (2nd ed.). Pearson Education (US).