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1.  This week I’m going to be addressing the suicide attack on the USS Cole by bombers affiliated with al Qaeda. To answer the first part of the question posed, the attack was most certainly terrorism and for a number of reasons that are related to the use of an IED against a warship.

First, because of the involvement of senior al Qaeda operatives in the plotting and facilitation phases of the attack we can draw the conclusion that the terror organization committed this attack to further their political goals in forcing the US to withdraw from the Middle East, a long standing goal of the organization back in the last 90s and early 00s. The operatives that did not die in the resulting bombing were quickly apprehended and confessed to working with al Qaeda plotters associated with Osama bin Laden, an opponent of the US at the time and one behind a number of plots including the eventual 9/11 attacks.

The resulting investigation by the US and Yemeni law enforcement revealed much of this information in a timely and effective manner, despite several roadblocks to the investigation. The resulting retaliation that President Clinton promised never materialized however and that didn’t sit well with many in his administration. Additionally, the lack of retaliation may have emboldened existing al Qaeda cells within the country and allowed them to grow in size and strength to become the organization that would eventually aid in the downfall of the current Yemeni government.

2.  This week I chose to respond to question number one; was the Oct. 2000 attack on the Yemen-stationed USS Cole considered terrorism? In short, yes, the October 12, 2000, attack on the USS Cole was an act of terrorism. This attack was considered Al Qaeda in Yemen (AQY) first large scale attack and provided a foreshadowing capability of event to come prior to the New York City September 11th, 2001, attack. 

            Prior to this attack, AQY, was not a cohesive element and was constructed of several smaller organizations operating in Yemen. According to CISC, in the early 1990s, Usama Bin Laden (UBL) funded several elements in Yemen to conduct terrorist activities however, the Yemeni’s were able to effectively control these entities. In the late 1990s a group known as the Army of Aden Abyan (AAA), was considered the predecessor of AQY. Upon AAA’s demise, AQY was formed, and the USS Cole was their initiation attack.

            This US and Yemeni response to this attack was handled incorrectly. The US did not respond in a correct fashion, despite President Clinton stating, “You will not find a safe harbor” (Isikoff, 2010). According to a 2010 PBS interview, the Yemeni policy for counterterrorism (CT) operations is handled at the tribal level and is exacerbated by a Yemeni understanding; success at CT equals less US support. This lack of full force Yemeni response, and limited US involvement has allowed AQY to develop into AQ in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which formed in 2009, and is active today. 

3.  Becoming radicalized doesn’t happen within a flip of a switch. It is a process that goes through a multitude of steps and takes time. In the process, taking human life can be part of the process. Throughout the models, data was thorough analyzed to compliment the evidence. Using all the ideas that were produced by the resources provided, similarities can be seen. Therefore, radicalization should really be viewed as a complex process comprised of behavioral, psychological, economic, social, and political and personal factors that can lead to extremism. With a combination of Moghaddam’s staircase to terrorism, Sageman’s four prongs, and Borums pathway have some similarities.

The metamorphosis progresses when an individual is exposed to different internal and external influences that all contribute to the overall process of radicalization. Individuals have a driven force that may consist of fantasies, ruminations on revenge and justice or a sense of entitlement, just to mention a few. Instead of determining a legitimate source of deprivation, individuals, or groups displace their anger to an external enemy or another group, believing that group is the source of the deprivation or injustices they are faced with. The group is ascribed negative stereotypes in order to maximize the difference between the deprives group(s). Violence is increasingly viewed as a legitimate means of fighting injustices against a targeted group as an us vs them or good vs evil.

I found the Borum’s Pathway to be the most applicable as it is the most general and to be applied to a much wider variety of radicalization cases. In this model, individuals perceive their circumstances as undesirable and unfair, targets an outgroup, and vilifies that outgroup as the root of all perceived problems. This can not only be easily applied to instances of those who engage in terrorism but can be applied to general extremist groups that are not influenced by terrorist ideology, such as domestic extremist groups. 

4.  The general process that an individual goes through as they become extremists, is not something that happens overnight. There are different stages that can lead an individual whom is a law abiding citizen to becoming an extremists. Some factors that can lead to radicalization are grievances, networks, ideologies, and support structures and enabling environments. One model that can describe one of these factors is the Borum’s Pathway. The Borum’s pathway can be used from the factor of ideology. The Borum’s Pathway has four stages which are as followed: it’s not right- the individual is the one making a judgement on the issue. It’s not fair, the individual decides to compare the issue to other issues and determines inequality. It’s your fault, the individual has targeted an outgroup to be responsible for the issues. Finally. the individual applies the negative stereotypes and applies them to the entire group.  Another model that can describe an individual gradually becoming an extremists is the “Staircase to Terrorism” by Moghaddam. This model uses six stages that will describe an individual becoming an extremist begins with pointing the feeling of deprivation as an initial factor, second stage will be social mobility and procedural justice, third stage the individual begins to focus on the target, fourth stage they begin to justify terrorism, fifth stage the individual joins an actual terrorist group, and finally the last stage the individual will commit the act of terrorism. 

The model that I find most useful or applicable would be the Borum’s Pathway. The reason why I chose the Borum’s Pathway is because when we research why an individual would become a terrorist or extremist we go through their past. After analyzing an individuals past you can see the stages form in front of your eyes. For example, an individual is a victim that occurs by another group, that individual believes it is not right that something happened to them. The individual then does not receive justice and they determine it’s not fair. Then, the individual sees a group of people and places blame on that group of people because what has happened to them. Finally, the individual begins to believe the negative stereotypes of that group as a whole and becomes violent to the group to receive justice.

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