Saturday, December 4, 2010

US PSYOP War On Terrorists Too Compartmentalized

By Seth Mandel
December 4, 2010

There are three myths about terrorists that must be corrected if we are to battle terrorism effectively, according to Col. Matt Venhaus: that Muslim youth become terrorists for economic reasons; that they become terrorists primarily for religious reasons; and that they are recruited by al-Qaeda.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, terrorists are not motivated by poverty; they do not turn to violence in a fit of religious fervor; and al-Qaeda does not actively recruit them–they go looking for al-Qaeda, according to Venhaus.

“If you understand the phenomenon incorrectly then your solution’s going to be wrong,” Venhaus said at panel Dec. 2 at the Heritage Foundation on the role of psychological operations (PSYOP) in strategic communication in warfare. Venhaus, currently at the Department of Defense, spent a year interviewing more than 2,000 “foreign fighters” to determine the reasons young Muslim men were turning to terrorism in such large numbers. In his words, if putting a bomb in your underwear and getting on a plane is the answer, “then what in the heck is the question?”

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