Counter Terrorism : A Democratic Dilemma



Written by Garima Tiwari
“Terrorism often thrives where human rights are violated,” and “the lack of hope for justice provides breeding grounds for terrorism.”[i]  The recent February 2013 blasts in Hyderabad, India have brought to light the weakness of the intelligence and the laws to create any deterrence. After 9/11, the threat from terrorism has been identified as the most dangerous threat by states. This is because of the unpredictability, widespread reach, lethality and ruthlessness of the attacks. The trend toward higher casualties reflects the changing motivation of today’s terrorists. Terrorist groups lack a concrete political goal other than to punish their enemies.

The Hyderabad blasts are a stark reminder of the shortcomings of Indian counter-terrorism capabilities. Since 2008, India has had 11 more terror strikes in which 60 people have been killed across five cities. The government has taken measures to beef up its security and intelligence agencies. But implementation on the ground is often stymied by India’s notorious bureaucratic red tape. The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism squad, for example, has a capacity of 935 personnel but is actually working with just 300. A $28.5 million proposal to improve security around Mumbai was announced soon after the 2008 “26/11″ attack—involving 5,000 CCTV cameras at key junctions, motion detectors, night vision for security forces, thermal imaging for the police, and vehicle license plate identification capability. But it never took off. [ii]

The whole counter –terrorism strategy involves a democratic dilemma which consists of two parts. The first is how to be effective in counter-terrorism while still preserving liberal democratic values , and the second is how to allow the government to fulfill its first and foremost responsibility of protecting the lives of its citizens without using the harsh measures at its disposal.[iii] It is generally assumed that the ‘criminal justice model’ is the better option for democracies to overcome the ‘democratic dilemma’ they face. Terrorism inevitably involves the commission of a crime. Since democracies have well-developed legislations, systems and structures to deal with crime, the criminal justice system should be at the heart of their counter-terrorism efforts.[iv] But then special laws with higher deterrence values are required and justified, on the grounds that the existing criminal laws are not adequate to deal with the militancy because what is at stake is the very existence of state and another reason cited is the obligations under the prevailing international environment and obligations like under Prevention of Terrorism Act in India after the 9/11 attack and the UN Resolution 1373. Then there are security forces empowerment laws in India that give immunity and additional special powers to the security forces like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act; Laws of proscription that criminalises terrorist groups and a range of undesirable activities like the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and other exclusive laws on control of finances, money laundering, drug-trafficking, cyber warfare and so on. [v] Counter-terror laws in India have come into being reflecting the Indian style of handling terrorism – namely, ad hocism. No single law has prevailed throughout. From time to time, depending on the regime at the Center, legislation has come into being and then faded.

When one tries to look at the counter-terror laws of India the following characteristics would come to picture which actually highlight various aspects of where the democratic dilemma is leading:

  1. Hasty enactment without giving much room for public debate or judicial scrutiny;
  2.  Overly broad and ambiguous definitions of terrorism that fail to satisfy the principle of legality;
  3.  Pre-trial investigation and detention procedures which infringe upon due process, personal liberty, and limits on the length of pretrial detention;
  4.  Special courts and procedural rules that infringe upon judicial independence and the right to a fair trial;
  5. Provisions that require courts to draw adverse inferences against the accused in a manner that infringes upon the presumption of innocence;
  6.  Lack of sufficient oversight of police and prosecutorial decision-making to prevent arbitrary, discriminatory, and disuniform application; and
  7.  Broad immunities from prosecution for government officials who fail to ensure the right to effective remedies.[vi]

Despite the experience of 26/11, India’s internal security still remains vulnerable because we have not acquired appropriate capacities and determination to prevent such an exigency. The laws emphasise more on protection of state rather than people. The Indian politicians do not accept national security with the kind of gravitas it demands.[vii] Overall, neither the laws create deterrence nor do they protect the lives of civilian population.

What is needed in not just a strong all encompassing law, but strict implementation and vigilance with respect for human rights.  There have to be proper safeguards against misuse and abuse of law. There has to be clear cut definitions of crimes and penal provisions to avoid excessive discretionary powers. Enactment of special laws should not be in haste; for greater awareness and acceptance, the process has to be transparent and should be subject to public debate and judicial scrutiny. Special laws should possess review mechanisms and ‘sun-set’ clauses for periodic assessments.[viii] Most experts have suggested strengthening policing from the grass root level, enacting tough laws and speedy trial of cases would go a long way in preventing and controlling terror attacks in the country because the terror attacks are often carried out with the help of some local elements. Then again the external factors like politicisation of the police force should be checked to ensure its effectiveness.[ix]

Terrorism is a threat which most states are today facing. We can only defeat terrorism in the long term by preventing the next generation of terrorists from emerging. We must reduce the breeding grounds of terrorism. This is, of course, not an easy task.[x]

[i] Supreme Court of India in People’s union for Civil Liberties vs. union of India, AIR 2004 SC 456, 465

[ii] Hyderabad’s Terror Attack: Speculation Swirls as Critics Point to Government Failure

By Nilanjana Bhowmick Feb. 22, 2013available at

[iii] Excerpt by Boaz Ganor, Trends in International Terrorism and Counter Terrorism, Editors: Dr. Boaz Ganor and Dr. Eitan Azani available at

[iv] Lindsay Clutterbuck, “Law Enforcement,” in Audrey Kurth Cronin and James M Ludes (eds.), Attacking Terrorism – Elements of a Grand Strategy (washington, D.C.: Georgetown university Press, 2004), p. 141

[v] Dr. N. Manoharan, Special Laws to Counter Terrorism in India: A Reality Check available at

[vi] Anil Kalhan et al, “Colonial Continuities: Human Rights, Terrorism and Security Laws in India,” Colombia Journal of Asian Law, Vol. 20, no. 1, 2006, p. 96.

[vii] C. Uday Bhaskar, former director of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, a New Delhi-based think tank available at

[viii] N. Manoharan, Trojan Horses? Efficacy of Counter-terrorism Legislation in a Democracy Lessons from India, Manekshaw PaPer No.30 , 2011, available at

[ix] Strong local policing, strict laws will curb terror attacks’, Tuesday, 26 February 201, available at

[x] Excerpt Gijs de Vries, Trends in International Terrorism and Counter Terrorism, Editors: Dr. Boaz Ganor and Dr. Eitan Azani available at

Unroll the War Drums, Change the Paradigm

By Ronald Rogo (

In October 2011 Operation Linda Nchi (Kiswahili for “Protect the Country”) was launched by the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF). Operation Linda Nchi was the code name for Kenya’s military incursion into southern Somalia. The ostensible goal of the military adventures was to crash and hopefully eliminate the threat posed by the Al Shabaab, a terrorist organization operating in Somalia and with reported links to the Al Qaeda terror group. The immediate cause of this unusual turn of events was the kidnapping of two Spanish aid workers working with the Médecins Sans Frontières, an international humanitarian organization, from the Dadaab refugee camp in Northern Kenya. It was alleged that this kidnapping was planned and executed by the Al Shabaab. With this military incursion, Kenya joined a growing list of countries that have used the war against terrorism as justification for waging ‘war’ outside their borders .

However, the war paradigm cannot be used as justification for a “war” against terrorism as it does not fit into any of the recognised legal categories of armed conflict. Instead, nations need to come up with another perspective when confronting terrorism that will both be tenable and legally justifiable. First, the UN Charter recognizes the right of a state to respond by force using its armed forces in cases of self defence. However, the initial attack must rise to the level where it causes “necessity of self-defense, instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation” for the responding state. This means that the state must be put in a position where the only feasible option would be to roll out its armed forces. Clearly, it is doubtful whether a solitary terrorist attack would be able to meet this qualification.

Secondly, an armed conflict is seen to arise whenever there is “any difference arising between two States and leading to the intervention of members of the armed forces”. This definition presupposes that there are two sides to the conflict who engage in arms in order to resolve their conflict. There is usually a state of armed conflict between two parties. In addition, the traditional view has been that war is generally an international armed conflict that takes place between two nation states, each trying to assert its will on the other. Based on the above it is doubtful whether one could legally engage in an armed conflict with terrorists. Whereas it is correct that the armed forces of a particular state could be deployed to hunt out, capture and kill terrorists, such as the KDF has done in Somalia, the terrorists do not, in turn, have an armed force that could then result in an armed conflict. In reality any “war” against terrorists does not have the typical ingredients of a battlefield clash; be it in the air, on the land or over the waters. Since terrorists engage in their criminal activities under the cover of ordinary daily occurrences, it is unrealistic to expect them to engage directly with a country’s armed forces. Instead, depending on the particular modus operandi of the particular terrorist organization one would expect that they would attempt to mingle with innocent civilians.
In the Lubanga case the International Criminal Court held that an armed conflict is of an international character if “it takes place between two or more States” and that “this extends to the partial or total occupation of the territory of another State, whether or not the said occupation meets with armed resistance.” Again, the ICC in the Bemba decision, held that “an international armed conflict exists in case of armed hostilities between States through their respective armed forces or other actors acting on behalf of the State” .
A non international armed conflict, on the other hand, must occur within the territory of the State . The Additional Protocol II , provides that the non state actor must be “under responsible command, exercise such control over a part of its territory as to enable them to carry out sustained and concerted military operations”. Thus, in order for an internal conflict to be qualified as a non international armed conflict and therefore to be covered by IHL there are certain necessary ingredients that must be met. The main one is that the threshold of the conflict must exceed that of internal disturbances and tensions, such as riots, isolated and sporadic acts of violence or other acts of a similar nature. In applying this provision the ICTY Appeals Chamber decision in the Tadic case held as follows:
“an armed conflict exists whenever there is a resort to armed force between States or protracted armed violence between governmental authorities and organized armed groups or between such groups within a State. International humanitarian law applies from the initiation of such armed conflicts and extends beyond the cessation of hostilities until a general conclusion of peace is reached; or, in the case of internal conflicts, a peaceful settlement is achieved. Until that moment, international humanitarian law continues to apply in the whole territory of the warring States or, in the case of internal conflicts, the whole territory under the control of a party, whether or not actual combat takes place there” .

Further in the Lubanga decision, while setting out the characteristics of a non international armed conflict the court held that one should consider “the force or group’s internal hierarchy; the command structure and rules; the extent to which military equipment, including firearms, are available; the force or group’s ability to plan military operations and put them into effect; and the extent, seriousness, and intensity of any military involvement” .

Again, in order for a conflict to be characterized as a non international armed conflict, it must “take place in the territory of a High Contracting Party” . This means that the theatre of the conflict should have been in Kenya, not Somalia. While the government of Somalia could make the argument that when it combats Al Shabaab it is engaging in a non international armed conflict, the KDF cannot. Significantly, the KDF operation cannot meet the requirements of a non international armed conflict on this score too. Apart from repeated isolated attacks in Kenya it cannot be said that the Al Shabaab controlled a part (or any part of Kenya) of Kenya as at the time of the invasion. Further, the KDF has not engaged militarily with any Al Shabaab terrorist groups within Kenya. Lastly, the law requires the military operations of the armed group to be “sustained and concerted”. Although the Al Shabaab has conducted raids on Kenyan soil, it would be a stretch to characterize them as either sustained or concerted.

From the above, it is evident that the use of a war paradigm when confronting the Al Shabaab terror group in Somalia-or any other terror group for that matter-is tenuous. In reality, attacks by terrorist groups ought to be considered as criminal activities that require police response-even militarized police response if necessary-rather than acts of war. As Stacie Gorman has stated:

“terrorists are criminals, and not soldiers of war… The practice of trying terrorists in a court of law suggests that the United States has, in the past, recognized that it is limited in its ability to declare war against terrorist groups”

It is therefore important for more police action-rather than military activity-to be involved in this “war” against terrorists in the region. The former are not only more efficient in counter terrorism operations but will not suffer legal incongruity.

Organized Crime & Terrorism: Making Room for New Friends

Written by: Regina Paulose

The bond between organized criminals and terrorists appear to be growing in the status quo. This connection should be worrisome as these networks have found common interests. Considering the different objectives of each group, some may question whether they truly have anything in common. Terrorists are generally motivated by politics, whereas organized enterprises are motivated by money. Despite this philosophical difference in the bottom line, some examples prove that this connection is strong. “In some cases terrorists and criminals appear to be deeply intertwined in ways that go well beyond fleeting alliances of convenience. The Dubai-based Indian criminal Aftab Ansari is believed to have used ransom money he earned from kidnappings to help fund the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. And some people, like the Pakistan-based Indian crime boss Dawood Ibrahim, even go on to pursue dual careers as both criminal and terrorist leaders.”[1]

Despite the different goals of the two illicit groups, differentiating between the two – sometimes – can be challenging. Terrorists are involved in the black market in order to generate needed revenue.[2]  This revenue is what allows them to pursue their political or religious agendas.[3] Organized criminals have resorted to modeling violent techniques which are used by terrorists to advance their monetary agendas.[4] “Criminal organizations can become ideological over time, following the path of terrorist groups.”[5]  Many famous mafia stories highlight how monetary gain is closely tied with political power. The more power the illicit group yields, the easier it becomes to allow the black market to flourish. Who these groups are and who they can turn into poses a challenge for the rule of law everywhere.

So how do the international conventions address this particular bond?[6] The United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), which entered into force in 2003, is the main international legal instrument which deals with organized crime.[7]  The Convention is accompanied by three Protocols which deal with human trafficking, smuggling, and arms trafficking. The Convention aims to criminalize participation in organized crime, increase cooperation among state parties, and protect human rights. Given its mandate, naturally, UNTOC does not address the issue of the organized crime – terrorism nexus. With a very broad reading, one could infer that the UNTOC may address this issue. For instance, Article 5 of the Convention calls for criminalization of participation in an organized criminal group. The language of Article 5(ii) states:

Conduct by a person who, with knowledge of either the aim and general criminal activity of an organized criminal group or its intention to commit the crimes in question, takes an active part in:

a. Criminal activities of the organized criminal group;

b. Other activities of the organized criminal group in the knowledge that his or her participation will contribute to the achievement of the above-described criminal aim.

An argument could be made that a terrorist who purchases a weapon from or supplies weapons to an organized group is taking “active part” in the “criminal activities” of the group. Or even the language of section (b) makes it clear that if the terrorist has “knowledge” that his participation will “contribute” to the criminal aim, he could be penalized for his association.

This example should serve as a cautionary tale. We must avoid conflating the two groups because it could pose its own set of legal challenges, especially considering that terrorism is mainly viewed via the law of war. If terrorists are engaging in the same activity as organized criminals, it is probably safe to assume that these operations are a means to an end.

Another international instrument to consider is the International Convention for the Suppression of Financing Terrorism. This particular Convention expressly deals with punishing perpetrators who finance terrorism. Under Article 2, any person could be held culpable for directly or indirectly facilitating, participating in, or aiding or abetting in the commission of various offenses as listed in the annex of the Convention.[8] Some of the offenses listed are: unlawful seizure of an aircraft, taking of hostages, terrorist bombings, endangering the safety of civilian aircrafts, and endangering maritime vessels. This particular Convention could provide relief against this particular nexus, depending on how it is enacted domestically.

The international community has recognized that terrorists do use different resources to accomplish their aims. In 2006 the UN General Assembly adopted the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. Specifically one of the aims of the “holistic” strategy is:

“to strengthen coordination and cooperation among States in combating crimes that might be connected with terrorism, including drug trafficking in all its aspects, illicit arms trade, in particular of small arms and light weapons, including man-portable air defence systems, money laundering and smuggling of nuclear, chemical, biological, radiological and other potentially deadly materials.”[9]

While many scholars still argue that the link between these villains is “nebulous”[10] and that the empirical data to support that the groups are working together is little, there still appears to be a small link, at the very least, that should be acknowledged by the rule of law. It is probably time to address the importance of these issues and make the necessary changes required to have states implement more robust language in their national laws. The state parties to these conventions may not have envisioned a world where the underbelly of society forms alliances (however brief) to achieve their various goals. Unfortunately that is the current reality and it seems as though it is far more than a passing trend.

[1] Rolle Lal, “Terrorists and Organized Crime Join Forces” NYT Opinion, May 24, 2005, available at:

[2] See David Kaplan, “Paying for Terror” US News and World Report, November 27, 2005, available at:

[4] Karen Parrish, “Link Grows Between Terrorism, Organized Crime, Officials Say” American Forces Press Service, March 28, 2012, available at:

[5] Lal , as cited above

[6] My analysis for the purposes of this post is limited to two Conventions and is not meant to be an exhaustive or comprehensive look at every single treaty that exists and could potentially address this problem. For anyone wanting more information on finding treaties or researching this issue in depth, I suggest referring to the UN Treaty Collection:

[7] The “guardian” of the instrument is the UNODC. For more information on the UNTOC visit:

[8] International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, available at:

[9] UN Action to Counter Terrorism, A/RES/60/288,  September 20, 2006,  p.5 available at:

[10] Annette Hübschle, From Theory to Practice: Exploring the Organized Crime-Terror Nexus in Sub-Saharan Africa, Perspectives on Terrorism (Journal), Vol.5 No 3-4 (2011), available at:

Lone Wolf Terrorism

Cover Lone Wolf Terrorism


When the Irish Republican Army failed in an attempt to assassinate British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1984, the terrorist group issued the following chilling statement: “Today we were unlucky, but remember, we only have to be lucky once.  You will have to be lucky always.”  In those brief words, the IRA got to the heart of the problem of combating terrorism.  No government or society can realistically expect to always be “lucky” against terrorists since the targets of terrorists are limitless and their strategies and tactics are always evolving.

And that is where the lone wolf terrorist comes into play.  As difficult as it is to try to prevent terrorist groups and cells from perpetrating a major attack, it is even more difficult to prevent a lone wolf from doing so.  In my new book, Lone Wolf Terrorism: Understanding the Growing Threat, I try to unravel some of the unique aspects of the lone wolf threat and outline some steps that can be taken to try to reduce the risk of attacks.

I first became interested in lone wolf terrorism when I conducted a case study of an individual (Muharem Kurbegovic) who had terrorized Los Angeles in the 1970s.  Known as the “Alphabet Bomber” he single-handedly brought the city to a standstill and caused widespread fear by his actions and threats, which included a deadly bombing at Los Angeles International Airport and threats to unleash nerve gas over populated areas.  It was then that I realized that the lone wolf could be a powerful actor in the world of terrorism.  In fact, lone wolves have proven to be as dangerous, and have as much of an impact upon governments and societies as the better-trained and organized terrorist groups and cells.

Recent years have witnessed several major attacks by individual terrorists, ranging from Anders Breivik’s massacre of scores of youths on an island in Norway shortly after setting off a bomb in Oslo to Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan who is accused of killing thirteen fellow soldiers and others at Fort Hood, Texas.  The fact that Breivik is an anti-Islamic extremist and Hasan is an Islamic extremist, underscores the diversity in the growing lone wolf terrorist threat.  Lone wolves come from all parts of the political and religious spectrum.  There have also been terrorist incidents and plots by neo-Nazis, white Supremacists, and “single-issue” extremists.

One of the factors that distinguish lone wolf terrorists from those who are members of a group or cell is their freedom to act upon any scenario they might think up.  There is no group decision-making process or group pressure to stifle creativity.  This has resulted in some of the most innovative terrorist attacks in history.  For example, lone wolves were responsible for the first vehicle bombing (1920), major midair plane bombing (1955), hijacking (1961), product tampering (1982) and anthrax letters attack (2001) in the United States.  Lone wolves think outside the box, which is an advantage in trying to come up with new ideas for terrorist attacks.

Lone wolves are also dangerous because the have little or no constraints on their level of violence.  They are not concerned with alienating supporters (as would many terrorist groups) nor are they concerned with a potential government crackdown following an attack.  That is why they are potential candidates to use weapons of mass destruction (WMD).  There has already been a bioterrorist attack (the anthrax letters) committed by a lone wolf in the U.S.  Lone wolves have no supporters or financial and political backers who might be alienated by a WMD attack and no headquarters or training camps that could be hit in retaliatory raids.  A lone wolf might also believe that committing a conventional terrorist attack similar to those occurring regularly around the world would not yield as much publicity and notoriety as an attack with a chemical, biological, or nuclear weapon.

Lone wolves are also more difficult to identify and capture since they work alone.  There are usually no communications to intercept or members of a group to arrest and learn about potential plots.  They can also sometimes by mentally unstable, yet still very effective, such as Theodore Kaczynski, the infamous Unabomber, who sent package bombs throughout the United States from 1978 to 1995.

Although lone wolves have been active in the past, we are witnessing a new wave of attacks due to the revolutionary impact of the Internet.  The Internet is at the center of what I label as the Technological Wave of terrorism.  Technology is there for all to take advantage of, including lone wolves.  If the Internet did not exist, lone wolves would probably have had to invent it.  They use the Internet for a variety of purposes.  This includes conducting online research for targets, tactics and weapons; becoming self-radicalized by visiting terrorist websites and/or engaging in extremist chat rooms; and posting blogs and manifestos online, sometimes announcing to the world what they intended to do.  For example, Anders Breivik, the Norwegian lone wolf, posted a 1500-page manifesto shortly before his attack where he extolled the virtues of killing large numbers of people for maximum publicity.  In another case, an American woman, Coleen LaRose, who identified herself as “Jihad Jane” in her online postings, used the Internet in an attempt to form her own terrorist network.

It is this desire to communicate through the Internet that provides one of the best opportunities to identify potential lone wolves before they strike.  Through the monitoring of the Internet (without violating law abiding individuals’ civil liberties) much can be learned about who the lone wolves are.  This includes the identification of individuals who, as noted above, are visiting extremist chat rooms, purchasing bomb making materials and other suspicious items online, or posting threatening blogs or manifestos.  Additional strategies that may prove helpful in preventing lone wolf attacks are the expansion closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in public settings, improved detection devices in post offices and other facilities to identify package bombs or letters containing anthrax spores, and further advances in biometrics, including the use of gait analysis which assesses how somebody is walking to determine if a person may be carrying a bomb or other weapon.  Increased public awareness is another important strategy, such as the reporting of unattended packages in airports, bus terminals, shopping malls, and other potential targets for a terrorist attack.

The lone wolf is forcing us to rethink some of our basic concepts about terrorism.  No longer can we view terrorism as emanating solely from organized or decentralized groups and cells.  The lone wolf has proven to be a formidable foe in the battle against terrorism.  This is likely to continue in the years ahead.


Jeffrey D. Simon is an internationally recognized author, lecturer, and consultant on terrorism and political violence. He is president of Political Risk Assessment Company., Inc., and a visiting lecturer in the Department of Political Science at UCLA.  His most recent book, Lone Wolf Terrorism: Understanding the Growing Threat, was published in 2013(  A former RAND analyst, Dr. Simon has conducted research and analysis on terrorism for more than twenty-five years.  His writings on terrorism, political violence, and political risk have appeared in many publications, including the Journal of the American Medical Association, Foreign Policy, and the New York Times.  His website can be found at

Between Welfare And Warfare: The Two-Faced Character Of Hamas


The article aims to point out the double nature, as welfare agency and, at the same time, as armed group, of Hamas, leaving apart the theoretical issue concerning the definition of terrorism and focusing on the implications that this ambivalence implies from an international perspective, specially connected to the blacklisting.


Hamas, the acronym of Harakat al Muqāwama al Islāmiyya (Islamic Resistance Movement), was established in Gaza in 1987 as the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood[1]. This latter was founded by the schoolteacher Hasan al Banna in Egypt in 1928. At the beginning it was a trade union for Arab and Egyptian workers employed in constructing the Suez Channel. It aimed to promote a culture of solidarity from an Islamic perspective. Ten years after its foundation the organization could count 500.000 members, belonging primarily to the poorest levels of the society. Recalling the traditional Islamic values the league promoted a political view of Islam, also through the opening of  “islamized places”, where relations were involved just among Muslims, without any western contamination. In order to achieve its goals it rooted in the mosques through the means of preaching, da’wa, and was very active in the social services and welfare system. Its presence in the educational and social agencies has been a feature still today, verifiable within the Brotherhood and its affiliate organizations, among them, precisely, Hamas.

As its parental organization, Hamas’ attention and commitment towards the people is a distinctive character which connotes its action and, at this regard, article 21 of the Covenant of Hamas states: “Mutual social responsibility means extending assistance, financial or moral, to all those who are in need and joining in the execution of some of the work. Members of the Islamic Resistance Movement should consider the interests of the masses as their own personal interests”.

The Covenant helps also to figure out the movement’s goals and ideology. Article 1 concerns Islam, perceived as origin and source of interpretation: “The Movement’s programme is Islam. From it, it draws its ideas, ways of thinking and understanding of the universe, life and man. It resorts to it for judgment in all its conduct, and it is inspired by it for guidance of its steps”. From the religion springs the awareness about the conditions of the Palestinian people and the decision to fight: “The basic structure of the Islamic Resistance Movement consists of Moslems who have given their allegiance to Allah whom they truly worship, – “I have created the jinn and humans only for the purpose of worshipping” – who know their duty towards themselves, their families and country. In all that, they fear Allah and raise the banner of Jihad in the face of the oppressors, so that they would rid the land and the people of their uncleanliness, vileness and evils[2].

With regard to Israel and its existence, the statute is clear: “Moreover, if the links have been distant from each other and if obstacles, placed by those who are the lackeys of Zionism in the way of the fighters obstructed the continuation of the struggle, the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realization of Allah’s promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said:

“The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.” [3]. The goal of Hamas is to eliminate the State of Israel and to replace it with an Islamist State in all of what was once the land covered by the British mandate, since Palestine is a waqf, an holy endowment, which has to be Islamic[4]. Accordingly, in 2006, when the organization won the political election in Gaza, it imposed in the Strip a strict observation of sharī‘a.

The slogan of Hamas, at article 8, is an effective summary of the organization’s belief: “Allāh is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Qur’an its constitution: jihād is its path and death for the sake of Allāh is the loftiest of its wishes”.

In order to achieve its aims, Hamas is committed in social welfare activities: the organization’s annual budget is estimated in 70 million dollars[5] and the substantial part of it, the 75-80%[6], is devoted to the social services network, which has ensured that support to the organization, which led this latter to the electoral victory. Moreover, it is engaged in political activity and in guerilla and terrorist attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians. The political wing has always had the control on the entire organization, hence also on the military component: the ‘Izz al Dīn al Qassām Brigades, for which it buys weapons and raises funds. The military wing, in turn, takes part to the decision making process even with regard to the political issues[7].

Starting from 1988, Hamas has begun to act, for first just in the Gaza Strip, then also in Judea and Samaria, targeting villages and towns and taking hostages. There has never been any distinction between soldiers and civilians because: “Every Jew or settler is a target and must be killed. Their blood and their property are forfeit[8]. In Mehola (Israel), April 16, 1993, Hamas opened the season of the suicide terrorism with a car bomb, bringing in the Israeli cities the same dynamics that, ten years before, Hizballāh used in Lebanon. This deadly campaign, which increased in the ‘90s and during the so-called “second intifada”, was responsible for the 40% of all the attacks and caused the 44% of the victims of terrorism in Israel[9].

Hamas’ social services, made of mosques, hospitals, orphanages, schools, religious societies, associations and sport teams, attract funding from abroad, through charitable societies and benefactor States, among them, for instance, Iran, as it was proven once again[10] during the last war in Gaza in the end of 2012, and Syria which also hosted the organization’s foreign contingent, also known as the external leadership, until November 2012. This latter has been in charge of keeping relations with the third Countries: Yemen as well as Iran. Syrian support was granted to Hamas by Hāfiz Assad and then by his son Bashār. The Country is a communication route with Iran, crossed by persons, goods and weapons, and a hosting territory for training camps[11].

Through the Islamic duty of zakāt, charities controlled by Hamas, for instance the Union of Good[12], collect a huge flow of money, especially from Saudi Arabia[13]. However, the Kingdom has been undertaking some agreements with Israel, since the support to the Palestinian cause should be seen from a wider perspective, inserted in the Middle-east chessboard, which implies the struggle for the control on the Region. Thus, from 2001, the flow of funds from Saudi Arabia to Hamas has been progressively reduced in a way inversely proportional to the increasing Iranian funds[14].

In 2003 the European Union listed Hamas in its terror blacklist, replacing the ‘Izz al Dīn al Qassām Brigades (in the list since 2001), opting for an unified consideration of the organization. The European awareness to be dealing with an unique, even articulated, movement has been the result of a different approach, antithetic to the previous one, which was used to split the military from the political wing. National authorities do not always confirm the Community decision: the United Kingdom has blacklisted just the Brigades, due to the consideration towards the organization’s social activities; furthermore, France keeps open channels and relations with it[15]. Outside the Union, Australia and New Zealand have taken the same decision of the Great Britain, on the contrary, United States and Canada have blacklisted the entire organization. In 2006 the Russian newspaper Rossiiskaya gazeta published the list of the terrorist groups drawn up by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. According to the words of the general Yuri Sapunov, at that time head of the antiterrorism at the Federal Security Service, the absence, in the list, of Hamas and of the Brigades was justified by the unclearness, on the international scene, about the nature of the organization. Moreover Hamas, and the Brigades as well, did not represent a threat to the Russian security, since they were not linked to the groups operating in Caucasus[16].

With regard to Hamas, as we have seen, the European Union reached the unanimity required by the Council Regulation 2580/2001 in order to list Hamas and to impose on it the provided restrictive measures. On the contrary, this consensus has always been missing when Hizballāh is at stake. Although also recently, after the suicide bombing of a bus full of Israeli tourists in the Bulgarian city of Burgas, Germany[17], United Kingdom and Netherland[18] have called for banning the Lebanese group, the European Governments are not able to find a common position about. Within the Union, just Netherland and Germany have banned Hizballāh, while Great Britain blacklisted only its military wing.

This disagreement is caused by organization’s relevance as social agency in Lebanon. As well as Hamas, the movement since its origin has been committed in providing assistance and services to the Lebanese Shi’ite community, hospitals, schools, summer camps, and creating job positions for the people from the southern quarters of Beirut and the Bekaa Valley.  However these agencies are also finalized to the recruitment of new members for joining the group. Hizballāh uses its summer camps to indoctrinate youngsters with its ideology, celebrating the terrorist culture, teaching to hate Israel, feeding the cult for Hassan Nasrallah’s personality and glorifying the organization’s martyrs[19].

Hamas services too are basins of votes and laborers: the funds are used for financing the social agencies, helping the poorest but also for buying weapons and for sustaining the families of those who were killed or imprisoned during the operations against Israel. Schools and summer camps for children and kids, which host 100.000 minors every year, are places aimed also to indoctrinate the young generations, training them to the hate for Israel, to the military techniques and to the charm of the martyrdom. The following example is a grammar exercise taken from a schoolbook provided by Hamas: “Believers who sit at home, other than those who are disabled, are not equal with those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives[20].

The European Union, with regard to Hamas, has been able, so far, to perceive that the organization is one, now it is at a crossroads: it is called to decide if it wants to apply the same interpretation to the national blacklisting processes and to Hizballāh or if it wants to make a step back and to remove from the list Hamas’ political wing, keeping it as speaker and including its leadership in the peace deals.

[1] Article 2, The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement, 1988

[2] Ivi, article 3

[3] Ivi, article 7

[4] Ivi, article 11

[5] Jonathan Masters, Hamas, Council on Foreign Relations, last update 27 November 2012, available at the website (last visit 21 February 2013)

[6] David H. Gray, John B. Larson, Grass roots terrorism: how Hamas’s structure defines a policy of counterterrorism, Research Journal of International Studies – Issue 8 (November, 2008), p. 126

[7] Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Hamas and the terrorist threat from the Gaza Strip, March 2010

[8] Hamas leaflet 65/1990. Source: Boaz Ganor, Hamas – the Islamic resistance movement in the Territories, International Institute for Counter Terrorism

[9] Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Profile of the Hamas movement, February 2006

[10] Saeed K. Dehghan, “Iran supplied Hamas with Fajr-5 missile technology”, The Guardian, 21 November 2012, available at the website (last visit 6 March 2013). Iranian support to Hamas has been ensured also through Hizballāh, which has provided its infrastructures to Iranian instructors training Hamas’ members

[11] See supra, note 9

[12] Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Country Reports on Terrorism 2011, U.S. Department of State, available at the website (last visit 8 March 2013)

[13] David H. Gray, John B. Larson, see supra note 6, p. 129

[14] See the U.S. Patterns of Global Terrorism, from 2001 on.

[15] Steven Erlanger, “France admits contacts with Hamas”, in The New York Times, 20 May 2008, available at the website (last visit 8 March 2013)

[16]  Robert Parsons, “Russia: Supreme Court approves List of 17 terrorist groups”, in Radio free Europe. Radio liberty, 28 July 2006, available at the web site (last visit 8 March 2013)

[17] Benjamin Weinthal, “Top German politician calls for EU to ban Hezbollah”, The Jerusalem Post, 23 August 2012, available at the website (last visit 8 March 2013)

[18] News agencies, “UK seeks to add Hezbollah to EU’s terror watch list”, Ynetnews, 7 September 2012, available at the website,7340,L-4278524,00.html (last visit 8 March 2013)

[19] Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, (last visit 8 March 2013)

[20] Itamar Marcus, “From nationalist battle to religious conflict: New 12th grade Palestinian schoolbooks present a world without Israel”, Palestinian Media Watch, February 2007, available at the website (last visit 8 March 2013)