Activities & Organizations

Intelligence required for fanatical forces

The act of terrorism is increasingly deeper than one would expect. Terrorists may come off as peculiar, but they’re far from it.

“Terrorists are highly educated, thinking and acting individuals,” said Christopher Harmon, author of “Terrorism Today.”

“I think it takes a great deal of skill to fight on the open front,” Harmon said.

“Conversation: The Ideas Behind Terrorism” was the second of a two-part conversation by Harmon held Friday at the Honors College.

“He has held one talk on terrorism to my American Foreign Policy class in 2000,” said Terry Hallmark, event organizer and director of Political Risk and Policy Assessment for IHS Inc. in Houston.

“(Students) will get to see an expert in the field of terrorism and counter-terrorism discuss his craft.”

Harmon emphasized that fanatical is a good way to define terrorism. While many of the terrorists he studied were smart, all it takes is extreme, uncritical enthusiasm to wreak havoc, Harmon said.

“Many of them are true believers,” Harmon said. “They don’t necessarily have to be smart or educated. Ideology is very real.”

Harmon said he doesn’t believe there is a specific personality to terrorists either, saying many have been doctors and engineers. The big question raised is whether they are mentally unstable.

“Nidal Hasan was crude and probably sociopathic, but not crazy,” Harmon said. “You don’t get very far in trying to understand these guys as crazy.”

The goal of the talks was to increase exposure to the field of terrorism, Hallmark said.

“I haven’t given a lot of thought to the composition of terrorist groups, so this is very informative,” said advertising junior Nathaniel Stich.

Harmon ended his talk by touching on the religious aspects of terrorism.

“Religion is a truly intriguing problem in terrorism,” Harmon said. “It’s worthwhile to try to understand this new movement.”

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