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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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In this context, Civilitary Theory distinguishes between the enormous stockpiles of missiles amassed by territorial terrorist groups like Hamas or Hezbollah inside their terroristates and the missile arsenals held by sovereign states. The use of similar terminology when describing stockpiles of missiles amassed by conventional states, as well as those of territorial terrorist groups, fails to capture the terroristic nature of missiles amassed by the latter. Nor does it capture the massive harm that their ballistic capabilities, which are fired Other examples of coevolution include the constant fight between antibiotics and virus resistance, pesticides and insects, stealth fighters and radar systems, hackers and firewalls, computer viruses and antivirus software, and other similar reciprocal phenomena.

‫ ‏‬harles Robert Darwin, The Origin of Species (1859).

C See Steven Erlanger, Growing Reach of Hamas’s Rockets, THE NEW YORK TIMES (Jul. 13, 2014), http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/07/13/world/middleeast/the-growing-reach-ofhamas-rockets.html?_r=0.

Robert M. Gates, Address at the National Defense University, Washington, D.C. (Sept. 29, 2008), http://www.defense.gov/qdr/gates-article.html.

222 Harvard National Security Journal / Vol. 7 intentionally on densely populated residential areas, inflict on civilians. Civilitary Theory seeks a contemporary term that connects the act itself with terrorism.

Therefore, Civilitary Theory refers to the rockets or missiles amassed by territorial terrorist groups as terrorocketing or terroballistic capabilities.

Similarly, it describes the shooting of rockets or missiles by territorial terrorist groups not as missile attacks but as “terrorocketing” or “terroballistic attacks.” The strategic decision of territorial terrorist groups to acquire a large terroballistic capability changes the face of the modern battlefield. Furthermore, territorial terrorist groups need to find ways to successfully conceal their terroballistic capabilities and their respective launch pads from the enemy’s intelligence and surgical airstrikes. What would be the perfect way to conceal their capabilities? The answer lies in an additional characteristic of Stage III of the civilitary battlefield.

2. The Strategy of Ascivilation

In anticipation of surgical airstrikes that will destroy their terroballistic capabilities, and to enable them to continue launching terroballistic attacks, territorial terrorist groups undertake a strategic process of ascivilation. This new term (a portmanteau of the words assimilation and civilian) refers to the strategic and deliberate assimilation of terroballistic capabilities and launching pads into densely populated civilian areas.

Ascivilation can be illustrated by Darwin’s natural selection and adaptation theory. Evolutionary adaptation has yielded some incredible survival strategies in the natural world.111 Cryptic animal coloration, for example, enables certain animals to avoid, encounter, or escape danger by using markings to match the color and pattern of their surroundings.112 A certain type of spider crab, commonly known as the “decorator crab,” hides from predators by attaching local plants and animals from the surrounding habitat onto its back and legs.113 This behavior enables decorator crabs to move about, perfectly camouflaged by their disguised backs.114 See Peter FORBES, DAZZLED AND DECEIVED: MIMICRY AND CAMOUFLAGE (2011); see also Aaron Sewell, Aquarium Fish: Physical Crypsis: Mimicry and Camouflage, ADVANCED AQUARIST (Mar. 2010), http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2010/3/fish2.

See Martin Stevens and Sami Merilaita, Animal Camouflage: Current Issues and New Perspectives, 364 PHIL. TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOC’Y B: BIOLOGICAL SCIS. 423–27 (2009).

Kristin Hultgren and Jay Stachowicz, Camouflage in Decorator Crabs, in ANIMAL CAMOUFLAGE (M. Stevens and S. Merilaita ed., 2011). For a short movie about decorator crabs see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUfp5lhtML0.


2016 / Terrorism 2.0: The Rise of the Civilitary Battlefield 223 Like the decorator crabs, territorial terrorists move about under the camouflage of the poor civilians. They “ascivilate” into their habitat and place the civilians of a neighborhood or of a village on their backs. Once the ascivilation process of the terrorists is complete, it is almost impossible to differentiate between terrorists and civilians, or between military targets and existing civilian infrastructures.115 Many people use the phrase “human shields.”116 For the layperson, this term describes the deliberate placement of civilians near combat targets as a tactical move aimed to deter the enemy from attacking these targets.117 Some observers may recall civilians literally tied to specific structures in order to defend military infrastructure during the first Gulf War,118 or Bosnian Serbs who took UN peacekeepers hostage and used them as human shields against NATO airstrikes in the Balkans.119 From a terrorist perspective, both concepts—human shields and ascivilation—are similar insofar as both aim to shield military capabilities. Yet in practice, the term “human shield” may not capture the complexity, magnitude and severity of the new phenomenon of ascivilation. Civilitary Theory recognizes that some fundamental differences exist between‫‏‬the two.

Ascivilation is, first and foremost, a long-term strategic process and not a mere military tactic deployed in specific instances. Ascivilation requires a fundamental decision to invest money and time to develop proper techniques, skills, and strategy in order to purposely deploy advanced military capabilities in civilian neighborhoods. Simply put, the use of human shields involves placing civilians around existing military installations. Ascivilation, by contrast, reflects a strategic decision to deliberately place all military capabilities inside existing civilian neighborhoods.

In other words, asciviliation entails the systematic transformation of existing civilian neighborhoods into hybrid civilian-military installations. Human shielding is conducted, in most cases, on an ad hoc basis. It does not require See The Future Character of Conflict, U.K. MINISTRY OF DEFENSE (2010), https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/future-character-of-conflict.

See, e.g., Michael N. Schmitt, Human Shields in International Humanitarian Law, 47 COLUM.

J. TRANSNAT'L L. 293, 293 (“Human shielding involved the use of persons protected by international humanitarian law such as prisoners of war or civilians to deter attacks on combatants and military objectives. The tactic hardly represents a new battlefield phenomenon. Shielding occurred, for example, in both the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War.”).


See Putting Noncombatants at Risk: Saddam's Use of “Human Shields,” CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY (Jan. 2003), https://www.cia.gov/library/reports/general-reportsiraq_human_shields.

See Michael N. Schmitt, Asymmetrical Warfare and International Humanitarian Law, 62 A.F.

L. REV. 1, 11–48 (2007); see also‫ ‏‬Dennis ROSS, STATECRAFT: AND HOW TO RESTORE AMERICA'S STANDING IN THE WORLD (2007).

224 Harvard National Security Journal / Vol. 7 significant preparation. The process of ascivilation can take years of preparation, and it creates a large-scale, permanent change on the ground (and in many cases, under the ground as well). A successful project of asciviliation in an urban location can also cost millions of dollars. Once the process of ascivilation is complete, territorial terrorist groups are willing to take more risks and become more aggressive.120 III. Applying the Theory: Classifying 6 Territorial Terrorist Groups According to Models I, II and III Civilitary Theory explains the evolution of certain terrorist groups in the 21st century. As noted above, the Theory presents three models: the first occurs when terrorist groups become territorial terrorist groups by acquiring land, governing civilians and establishing terroristates (Civilitary Model I); the second occurs when territorial terrorist groups terrorize different groups of civilians, whether within their territory, in nearby states, or around the world (Civilitary Model II); the third occurs when terrorists, in response to airstrikes, acquire terroballistic capabilities and then ascivilate them in densely populated residential areas (Civilitary Model III).

The chart below illustrates the evolution of the six territorial terrorist groups. The X-axis represents the stages (Model I, II, or III) and the Y-axis represents the progress of the territorial terrorist group in each model. For example, a group could be classified under “Model II” and also get a mark of “high progression.” This means that the group has demonstrated all the patterns of Model I and Model II, but has not yet made the leap to Model III.

For example, ISIL has acquired land and governs civilians, all the patterns of Model I. It also demonstrates all the patterns of Model II, terrorizing different groups of civilians—in its territory, in nearby states and around the world—and has suffered serious airstrikes. Yet ISIL has not yet acquired terroballistic capabilities and has not strategically ascivilated. Based on this analysis, ISIL is classified under Model II with a mark of “high progress.” The models set forth are used as paradigms and ideal types to broadly illustrate the evolutionary trends of some terrorist groups. They are dynamic and somewhat fluid classifications, and some groups could arguably fit into more than one model.

See Nasrallah Threatens Israel: Our Rockets Can Reach Everywhere, I24NEWS.TV (Nov. 4, 2014), http://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/diplomacy-defense/49805-141104-nasrallah-closeairports-israel-war-hezbollah.

2016 / Terrorism 2.0: The Rise of the Civilitary Battlefield 225 As noted in the chart, Hezbollah and Hamas are both classified under Model III, yet Hezbollah has gained high progress in Model III while Hamas has only achieved medium progress. The next three territorial terrorist groups—ISIL, Boko Haram and Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis—are classified under Model II. Of these three, ISIL has achieved furthest progress within the model, Boko Harm only medium progress and Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis only low progress. Lastly, the Houthis in Yemen are classified under Model I.

–  –  –

Hamas has followed all three stages of Civilitary Theory as it gained territory and governed civilians (Model I), terrorized different groups of civilians within its land and in nearby states (Model II), and then, in response to airstrikes, acquired terroballistic capabilities and ascivilated them in densely populated residential areas (Model III).

Hamas evolved to be a territorial terrorist group and moved to Model I in 2007, after it took over the territory of the Gaza Strip and gained control over the lives of 1.8 million civilians.121 Hamas then moved quickly to Model II: first, it S. Samuel and C. Rajiv, The Hamas Takeover and Its Aftermath, 31 STRATEGIC ANALYSIS 843, 843–51 (2007); see also MATTHEW LEVITT, HAMAS: POLITICS, CHARITY, AND TERRORISM IN THE SERVICE OF JIHAD (2007).

226 Harvard National Security Journal / Vol. 7 terrorized its own civilians in Gaza;122 and second, it conducted terrorism against civilians in nearby states while shooting thousands of rockets into and launching numerous terror attacks against Israel.123 (However, it should be noted that Hamas activities apparently do not meet the final criterion of Model II, as there are no reports indicating its involvement in terrorist attacks around the world).

Since Hamas took over Gaza, it has had three major clashes with Israel— Operations Cast Lead in 2008,124 Pillar of Defense in 2012,125 and Protective Edge in 2014.126 In all of these clashes, Hamas had no answer to Israel’s aerial superiority. In the past, Hamas mostly fired short range homemade Kassam rockets and mortars.127 But Hamas has slowly introduced better and more sophisticated terroballistic capabilities and enhanced its ability to execute terroballistic attacks deeper into Israeli territory.128 In order to shield these terroballistic capabilities from aerial attacks, Hamas has also ascivilated its missiles in densely civilian populated areas in Gaza, transformed residential complexes into military installations129 and even shot from the vicinity of UN See Nathan J. Brown, Gaza Five Years On: Hamas Settles In, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (June 11, 2012), http://carnegieendowment.org/2012/06/11/gaza-five-yearson-hamas-settles-in.

See Minna Saarnivaar, Suicide Campaigns as a Strategic Choice: The Case of Hamas, POLICING 2.4 (2008): 423–433.‫‏‬ See Sergio Catignani, Variation on a Theme: Israel's Operation Cast Lead and the Gaza Strip Missile Conundrum, 154.4 THE RUSI JOURNAL 66-73 (2009).‫‏‬ See Shmuel Tzabag, Operation Pillar of Defense: Lessons for Modern Warfare, 7.3 ISRAEL JOURNAL OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS 79-93 (2013):.‫‏‬ See Anat Kurz and Shlomo Brom, THE LESSONS OF OPERATION PROTECTIVE EDGE (2014), http://www.inss.org.il/uploadImages/systemFiles/ZukEtanENG_final.pdf.

See Lian Zucker and Edward H. Kaplan, Mass Casualty Potential of Qassam Rockets, 37.3 STUDIES IN CONFLICT & TERRORISM 258-266 (2014).

The year 2008 saw a dramatic increase in the extent of Hamas rocket fire and mortar attacks on Israel, with a total of 3,278 rockets and mortar shells landing in Israeli territory (1,750 rockets and 1,528 mortar shells). These numbers are double those of 2007 and 2006, years that marked a fivefold increase over prior years. There was also a significant increase in the number of Israeli residents exposed to rocket fire. Prior to 2008, the city of Sderot (about 20,000 residents), as well as villages around the Gaza Strip, were the main targets of rocket fire and mortar shelling. In 2008, the cities of Ashkelon and Netivot came under attack by Grad artillery rockets with a range of about 20 kilometers. November 2012 witnessed a major escalation of Hamas rocket capabilities as the Iranian Fajr-5 artillery rocket was employed for the first time. With a range of about 75 kilometers, it had twice the range of rockets previously used by Hamas, and brought Tel Aviv and Jerusalem within range of Hamas attacks. Hamas Rockets, GLOBAL SECURITY, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/hamas-qassam.htm.

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