ATbar Schweitzer, Yoram

Schweitzer, Yoram

Senior Research Fellow, INSS, Israel

An expert on international terrorism and head of the INSS Program on Terrorism and Low Intensity Conflict, has been a researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), which incorporated the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies (JCSS), since February 2003, following a distinguished career in the Israeli intelligence community as well as in the academic world. Among other positions, he served as a consultant on counter-terror strategies to the prime minister's office and the Ministry of Defense, Head of the Counter International Terror Section in the IDF, and a member in a Task Force dealing with Israeli MIAs at the Prime Minister's Office. Mr. Schweitzer was a researcher and head of Educational Curriculum at the International Policy Institute for Counter Terrorism (ICT) at the Inter Disciplinary Center in Herzliya.

Schweitzer has lectured and published widely on terror-related issues, and serves as a consultant for government ministries on a private basis. His areas of expertise include al-Qaeda and its affiliates – also known as the "Afghan alumni phenomenon," suicide terrorism, and state-sponsored terrorism. Among his publications are The Globalization ofTerror: The Challenge of Al - Qaida and the Response of theInternational Community (co authored with Shaul Shay, 2003) and Al-Qaeda and the Internationalization of Suicide Terrorism (with Sari Goldsetin Ferber, 2005), and he is the editor of Female Suicide Bombers: Dying for Equality? (2006). Schweitzer's current research involves extensive meetings with failed suicide terrorists and their operators in an effort to analyze their motivations and objectives.

Schweitzer holds an MA in military and diplomatic history from Tel Aviv University.

For a full list of professional activiies, see Labat Terrorism.

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Suicide Terrorism and the September 11 Attacks


The terror attack in the United States was first and foremost an operation performed by suicide terrorists. As such, it was based on the willingness of the participants to take part in a collective act of suicide. Although the Al-Qaida organization and other Islamic terror organizations that identify with the World Jihad had already perpetrated suicide attacks beforehand, the September 11 attacks constituted a precedent from the point of view of the scope of participants and the method of operation. This capability is a clear product of Bin-Laden’s terror industry in Afghanistan, which invested considerable efforts in the development of a “reservoir” of fighters willing to carry out suicide attacks in the name of Islam. Admittedly according to Bin-Laden most of the participants in the operation were informed of the details of the operation just a short time before its execution,[1] but it is evident that this was based on their early preparation and willingness to take part in a suicide mission of whatever nature.

Reprinted from the book An Expected Surprise — The September 11th Attacks in the USA and their Ramifications YoramSchweitzer & Shaul Shay, Mifalot, IDC & ICT Publications, August 2002.

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Hizballah - A Transnational Terrorist Organization


President Bush’s declaration of a war on international terrorism and the inclusion of the Lebanon-based Hizballah in the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations has caused Hizballah to launch a vigorous propaganda campaign aimed at clearing its name. Hizballah’s main claim is that they are not a terrorist organization but a “national liberation movement,” whose activities are solely limited to liberating Lebanon from the Israeli occupation.

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Iran - Terror by Proxy

The capture of the “Karine A,” a vessel loaded with more than 50 tons of high quality arms and explosives has not only shed light on the strategic aims of the Palestinian Authority, but also on those of Iran. What is known about the arms deal thus far points to very close cooperation on an official level between Iran—via its primary sub-contractor and proxy, Hizballah—and the Palestinian Authority. Ironically, until recently, the PA was a bitter enemy of both Iran and Hizballah.
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Suicide Bombings - The Ultimate Weapon?


The violent confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians has escalated in recent months to a state of a limited, but constant, war. In this war, the Palestinian Authority has emerged as a terrorism-supporting entity, operating alongside the “traditional” terror organizations who carry out intensive terrorist and guerilla activities. One of the main means of attack open to these organizations is suicide terrorism. The choice of this type of attack emanates from the fact that it is easily put into practice and materially “inexpensive” to execute, while at the same time very damaging to the enemy’s morale. This article will endeavor to briefly examine the phenomenon of suicide attacks perpetrated today by the Palestinians, before examining other aspects of the phenomenon worldwide. The ultimate goal is to determine whether such attacks constitute a “winning” strategy as employed by terrorists around the world or whether it is merely one more in a progressive series of spectacular, but limited “show case” operations.

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Iranian Transnational Terrorism

The recent State Department Report on International Terrorism (issued on 30 April), together with the Turkish “non paper,” showing Iran’s involvement in terrorist actions in Turkey, provided yet another proof that Iran qualifies for the dubious title of the world’s leading “terror-sponsoring state.”
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