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«2016 / Terrorism 2.0: The Rise of the Civilitary Battlefield 199 ARTICLE Terrorism 2.0: The Rise of the Civilitary Battlefield Gil Avriel* * Legal ...»

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2016 / Terrorism 2.0: The Rise of the Civilitary Battlefield 199


Terrorism 2.0: The Rise of the Civilitary Battlefield


Gil Avriel*


Legal Adviser to the Israeli National Security Council, Prime Minister’s Office and a Wexner

Israel Fellow, Harvard Center for Public Leadership; MC-MPA, Harvard University Kennedy

School of Government, 2015. I would like to thank Professor R. Nicholas Burns,

Joseph S. Nye Jr., Brian S. Mandell and Kenneth Winston from Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Philip B. Heymann from Harvard Law School and William J. Denn, (the CoPresident of Harvard Kennedy School Armed Forces Committee's For the Common Defense Seminar) for the help in conceptualizing the premise of the theory, and also to the Editors of the Harvard National Security Journal. In particular, I would like to thank the Wexner Foundation and Debra David for her extraordinary help. The paper represents the views of the author in his personal capacity.

Copyright © 2016 by the Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College and Gil Avriel 200 Harvard National Security Journal / Vol. 7 Abstract Why it is so hard to understand ISIL? Terrorist groups around the world have changed the modern battlefield. Yet the words used to describe events and dynamics in the global fight against terrorism have remained mostly unchanged.

As a result, political leaders, legal and national security scholars, diplomats and journalists are using outdated words to describe new phenomena. Bridging the gap between the reality of today’s events and the words used to describe them is essential because wrong words create wrong perceptions and thereafter may lead to wrong decisions and judgments at the highest levels.

Using the right terms is important. Yet the right terms should be applied in the right context. Therefore, this Article presents the evolution of terrorist groups by proposing a new analytical framework: Civilitary Theory. Civilitary—a new term coined from the words civil and military—aims to capture the state of play imposed on the international community by ISIL and other radical forces of violence in the 21st century that has placed civilians at the heart of military conflict.

Civilitary Theory has three objectives: (1) to shed light on current developments in the Middle East and Africa through an analytic and structured theory; (2) to demonstrate patterns in the evolution of terrorist groups which could indicate the future trends of certain groups; and (3) to impact the political, diplomatic, legal, academic, military and public discourses, in an effort to bridge the gap between outdated terms and the new reality. Meeting these three objectives will help the international community to better understand, and thereby address, the national security challenges of our time.

Civilitary Theory has three stages or models: In Civilitary Model I, terrorist groups exploit weakened central governments and overall turmoil to add a clear territorial dimension to their previously virtual infrastructure. They also govern the lives of civilians. The territorial dimension of terrorism has become so extensive that the traditional term “terrorist safe haven” is outdated. It does not adequately capture the magnitude of the phenomenon, where ISIL controls land in both Syria and Iraq equivalent in size to Ireland; Boko Haram controls land in northeast Nigeria equivalent to the size of Belgium; and the Houthis in Yemen wish to govern in a country larger than Spain. Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis in the northern Sinai Peninsula also maintain clear territorial boundaries.

Similarly, the language used in UN Security Council Resolution 2249, passed in November 2015, which calls upon member states "to take all necessary measures... to eradicate the safe haven they [ISIL] have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria" is stale. The Syrian regime does not provide shelter or a "safe haven" for ISIL. To the contrary, ISIL and the Syrian army 2016 / Terrorism 2.0: The Rise of the Civilitary Battlefield 201 continue to clash over Syrian territory. ISIL seeks to establish its own state and to rule in place of the Syrian regime.

In Civilitary Model II, after these groups gain territory and govern the lives of civilians, they move forward and terrorize those civilians in their territory, in nearby states and around the world. At this stage, some states (or coalitions of forces) respond to these threats militarily. They use surgical airstrikes against the terrorists, in accordance with their inherent right of individual or collective selfdefense, to degrade the terrorists’ capabilities. The US-led coalition strikes terrorist installations in Syria, as does the Russian Air Force, while the Saudi-led coalition jets raid the Houthis in Yemen, the Egyptian Air Force conducts strikes in the Sinai Peninsula, Nigerian and Chadian fighter jets operate against Boko Haram in Nigeria, and the Israeli Air Force strikes terrorists in Gaza and Lebanon.

In Civilitary Model III, Terrorists respond to these surgical airstrikes by developing adaptive strategies to ensure their survival. They acquire rockets and ballistic missiles and embed these weapons in densely populated residential areas in order to shield them from surgical attacks.

Civilitary Theory also proposes new terminology to help adjust the language to reflect the changing realities. For example, in illustrating the analytical framework of Civilitary Model I, the Theory coins two new terms: the Theory distinguishes between traditional terrorist groups and those that evolved by gaining territory and governing the lives of civilians. The latter groups are “territorial terrorist groups,” and include groups like ISIL, Boko Haram, Hamas, Hezbollah, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis and the Huthis in Yemen. In addition, Civilitary Theory proposes to coin a term to capture the territorial dimension of terrorism, calling such territories “terroristates.” To help illustrate the analytical framework of Civilitary Model III, the Theory coins three new terms: the missile arsenals acquired by terrorists for terrorist purposes are described as “terroballistic capabilities” or “terrorocketing capabilities”; In addition, the act of missile launching by terrorists against civilians living in densely populated residential areas is named a “terroballistic attack”; and last, the terrorists’ strategic decision to embed their missiles and other terrorist infrastructures among civilians living in densely populated civilian areas is named “ascivilation” (a portmanteau of the words “assimilation” and “civilian”).

The Article then classifies the activities of six territorial terrorist groups into Models I, II, and III and demonstrates how their patterns of behavior comply with the analytic framework: Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon are classified as Civilitary Model III groups; ISIL in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis in the Sinai Peninsula are all classified as Civilitary Model II groups; and the Houthis in Yemen are classified as a Civilitary Model I group.

202 Harvard National Security Journal / Vol. 7 Understanding the evolution of terrorism through the lens of Civilitary Theory will help leaders to shape better national security strategies. It will advance interdisciplinary scholarship by national security experts, legal scholars, counterterrorism specialists, military strategists and others. And it will help diplomats and journalists to generate in depth analyses that could help both leaders and the general public to better understand ISIL and similar groups and thereby to meet the national security challenges of our time.

2016 / Terrorism 2.0: The Rise of the Civilitary Battlefield 203

Table of Contents

I. The Gap: Old Words, New Reality

II. Civilitary Theory: Evolution From Terrorist Groups to Territorial Terrorist Groups

A. Civilitary Model I: Territorial Acquisition

B. Civilitary Model II: Triple Terrorism Strategy

C. Civilitary Model III: Acquiring and Using Ballistic Missiles and Embedding Them in Densely Populated Residential Areas.......220

1. Terrorocketing or Terroballistic Capabilities

2. The Strategy of Ascivilation

III. Applying the Theory: Classifying 6 Territorial Terrorist Groups According to Civilitary Models I, II and III

A. Model III types: Hamas and Hezbollah

1. Hamas

2. Hezbollah

B. Model II Types: Boko Haram, ISIL and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis........228

1. Boko Haram


3. Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ISIL in the Sinai Peninsula)................235 C. Model I Types: The Houthis in Yemen

IV. The Future Use of Civilitary Theory

204 Harvard National Security Journal / Vol. 7

I. The Gap: Old Words, New Reality

Terrorist groups around the world have changed the modern battlefield.

Yet the words used to describe events and dynamics in the battlefield have remained mostly unchanged. As a result, political leaders, legal and national security scholars, diplomats, and the international media are using outdated words to describe new phenomena.1 There is a need to bridge the gap between old words and new realities because wrong words create wrong perceptions2 and thereafter lead to wrong decision-making and wrong judgment at the highest level.3 It is also important to close the gap because of the rapid pace with which this new type of battlefield is developing. It is spreading in different geographic areas (Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Yemen, Lebanon, Somalia, Gaza, Sinai Peninsula, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, to name just a few) and is affecting the lives of millions of civilians. Bridging this gap is additionally relevant in the course of shaping the strategy of the U.S-led coalition forces to degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.4 In his 1946 landmark essay, Politics and the English Language, George Orwell warned of worn-out words and metaphors that “have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves.”5 Orwell envisioned a future in which scholars, As Henry Kissinger insightfully stated, while “the U.S. administration has been right to recognize terror as a global problem that is deeply threatening, the U.S. has not been able to operationalize a response or develop a language to discuss it.” PHILIP BOBBITT, TERROR AND CONSENT: THE WARS OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY (2009)‫‏‬.

See Robert Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics (1976); William D.

Casebeer & James A. Russell, Storytelling and Terrorism: Towards a Comprehensive Counter Narrative Strategy (2005); A.B.A., National Security Law in the News: A Guide for Journalists, Scholars, and Policymakers (2012). For a more general framework, see Stephen Holmes, In Case of Emergency: Misunderstanding Tradeoffs in the War on Terror, 97 Cal. L. Rev. 301 (2009);

Warring with Words: Narrative and Metaphor in Politics Ch. 5 (Michael Hanne, William D.

Crano, and Jeffery Scott Mio, eds. 2014); Wojtek Mackiewicz Wolfe, Winning the War of Words:

Selling the War On Terror From Afghanistan To Iraq (2008).


(2004). See also Graham T. Allison & Morton H. Halperin, Bureaucratic Politics: A Paradigm And Some Policy Implications, 24 WORLD POL. 40 (1972) See Barack H. Obama Addresses the Nation on Keeping the American People Safe, THE WHITE HOUSE (Dec. 6, 2015), https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/12/06/address-nationpresident; Barack H. Obama, Remarks at the Leaders’ Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism, THE WHITE HOUSE (Sept. 29, 2015), https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-pressoffice/2015/09/29/remarks-president-obama-leaders-summit-countering-isil-and-violent; Barack H. Obama, Remarks from the State Room of the White House on Combatting Terrorism and ISIL THE WHITE HOUSE (Sept. 10, 2014), https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/09/10/presidentobama-we-will-degrade-Band-ultimately-destroy-isil.

George Orwell, Politics and the English Language (1946), https://www.mtholyoke.edu/ acad/intrel/orwell46.htm. (The problem, Orwell argued, was that some words “have been twisted out of their original meaning without those who use them even being aware of this fact.”). See also 2016 / Terrorism 2.0: The Rise of the Civilitary Battlefield 205 diplomats, and leaders would “let the meaning choose the word, and not the other way around,” noting with sorrow “the worst thing one can do with words is surrender to them.”6 In Book XII of the Analects, Confucius said that, if he were asked to administer the country, his first action would be to correct language usage or, in his words “to rectify names.”7 Similarly, the ancient philosopher Xunzi (Hsün Tzu) stated that “the wise man is careful to... regulate names so that they will apply correctly to the realities they designate. In this way he...

discriminates properly between things that are the same and those that are different.”8 For the ordinary person, the term “war” conveys the notion of sovereign states’ militaries confronting each other. Yet today the global “war” on terrorism takes place mostly in residential areas where sovereign states attempt to pinpoint evasive terrorists or hidden terrorist infrastructure.9 These terrorists embed themselves in dense civilian populations to ensure their own survival10 and intentionally place men, women, and children in the line of fire. The use of the term “war”11 may be imprecise and ill-conceived12 to the extent that it fails to fully capture the hybrid nature of the modern battlefield.13 Other terms also seem to miss the mark, such as “military conflict” or “military clashes,” as they focus on the military aspects of the battlefield and do not adequately address the tragic loss of civilian lives.14 MICHAEL L. GEIS, THE LANGUAGE OF POLITICS (2012); STEVEN PINKER, THE LANGUAGE INSTINCT: THE NEW SCIENCE OF LANGUAGE AND MIND (1994).‫‏‬ Id.

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