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ANALYSIS: ‘Martini Terrorism’ Finding a Useful Metaphor in Old TV Advertisement

ANALYSIS: 'Martini Terrorism' Finding a Useful Metaphor in Old TV Advertisement Homeland Security TodayIn the 1970s and 80s, one way of selling a product was to create an image of a lifestyle that was seen to be fashionable, and often involved exotic pictures of people on beaches in remote and far-flung places around the world. If you owned certain furniture, or drove a particular kind of car you, were considered to be part of an exclusive club.

This also applied to the way the drinks industry marketed their products. One stands out — the Martini advertisement. The jingle that went along with it implied that to have this modern, luxurious lifestyle, a person just had to drink a Martini “any time, any place and anywhere.” It was, the advertisement suggested, the drink that would enable you to feel you were part of an exclusive minority of society.

This idea of any-time, any-place and anywhere is something that can also apply to a description of contemporary terrorism. It could be called “Martini Terrorism.” It’s old on the basis of the person becoming involved being a member of an exclusive club — jihadis. Images portraying the lifestyle of those who become involved in terrorism in Syria and Iraq also have an impact; they seduce vulnerable people into thinking they are becoming part of an elite group. Many persons who have travelled from all over Europe to become involved in jihad genuinely believe they’re entering on a journey that is exclusive and only open to a few who hear the call to arms that is so carefully published on jihadi social media.

Today, of course, it is social media that now consumes a great deal of the television marketing budgets. Organisations seeking to market their brand have to be present in those areas of the media where their target audiences are most likely to be present. For trans-national terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda, they simply have to have a presence on social media or run the risk of being thought out of touch.

It is through social media that these terrorist groups convey a number of simple messages. One of them is an encouragement for anyone to become involved in jihad. They attempt to make vulnerable people chose a pathway of violence. If those attracted to this message feel they are not able to make the journey to Iraq and Syria, then they are encouraged to undertake operations “wherever they live.” The aim is to make such operations spontaneous so as to keep security authorities off balance.

This kind of messaging first started with Al Qaeda with the arrival of their magazine, Inspire. It was a vehicle for spreading the idea of what today may be called “lone wolf terrorism.” The aim was simple: While major plots were being planned and developed, a range of single, apparently isolated attacks, would continue to take place, creating a drum-beat of fear in society underpinned by the less frequent major events such as the attacks in London or Glasgow Airport.

This call to arms initially sent out by Al Qaeda almost went un-noticed in many quarters. The headline terrorist events in Madrid, London, Mumbai and Boston were of sufficient magnitude to drown-out any isolated incidents had they occurred – which they did not. This lack of appetite for terrorism led to a number of commentators actively bemoaning the “cowardice” of some individuals. A favourite question of the time was, “what is holding you back?”

Notwithstanding the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, Al Qaeda has largely sunk from view as an international terrorist group. Its ability to conduct operations in the Western world has been severely hampered. The Pakistani Army, American drone strikes and a leeching away of support from Al Qaeda to ISIS has created a situation where the organisation is in danger of becoming irrelevant. Its leader seems to be on the run and unableto pause long enough to generate even a basic message claiming to be behind the attacks in Paris.

Meanwhile, ISIS has moved to center stage. It is the organisation that everyone who wants to be involved in jihadist terrorism now aspires to join. It is the one jihadi group on social media showing images of what it is like to live under the banner of ISIS. Markets are full of food, people can now holiday in ISIS’s own luxury hotel in Syria and ISIS rewards them for their contribution with stipends of $1,000 dollars a month.

Those who join also get a sense of purpose in life. They feel they are contributing to the creation of a new caliphate – rolling back history to the time in the 12th and 13th century when Islam dominated the world and Baghdad was arguably the center of contemporary developments in algebra, art and pharmaceuticals. This is a fight that is worth, in their minds, sacrificing their lives if it becomes required. And, if open source reporting is to be believed, thousands already have make that ultimate sacrifice.

As ISIS becomes increasingly ubiquitous and former Al Qaeda franchises flock to its flag, the dangers for the West increase. The message from ISIS to become involved in lone wolf attacks is gaining traction in the West. Examples from Dallas to New York, to Ottawa and a number of incidents in France before Christmas and Copenhagen all show the threat from the lone wolf has escalated.

This presents an important challenge to emergency services. A single individual armed with guns or knives can create mayhem in a carefully selected location where many people are present in a relatively confined space. In China, knife attacks by supporters of transnational terrorist groups in 2014 killed nearly 30 people and well over 100 were severely injured.

This kind of action can readily be nick-named “Martini Terrorism.” It is being actively encouraged by ISIS and some of their adherents are responding. The examples quoted above did occur at random using a variety of different means. Knives, cars, bombs and guns have all been used.

The looming problem is, it won’t be long before we see improvised chemical weapons being added to jihadists’ portfolio as a way of conducting larger scale terrorist attacks.

To take a slight variation on the historical marketing jingle, this is Martini Terrorism that can occurs “any time, any place, and anywhere.”

Contributing Writer Dr. Dave Sloggett has spent over 40 years working with the United Kingdom military forces as a scientific advisor and analyst analyzing international security issues. He is a recogniZed authority on counter insurgency operations and is used as an advisor by NATO to lecture on this subject in support of training missions seeking to help countries establish their own military forces. His most recent books are, Focus on the Taliban, and, Drone Warfare.

Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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