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MCRP 3-02E Terrorism

The Individual's Guide for Understanding and Surviving

1 These factors are accentuated by media coverage of the event and of sympathetic outside groups. 2 In the hostage-taker's mind, this coverage and sympathy may justify violence toward the hostage. 3 The hostage may represent the "system" or whatever the hostage-taker wishes to harm, and 4 therefore the hostage is in danger. This situation often recurs in clusters because of the attention 5 of the media and outside sympathetic groups. The more attention the hostage-taker gets, the 6 more likely it will cause an epidemic of "wronged person" hostage-taking. Gentle persuasion is 7 required to convince the hostage-taker that what he needs to end the situation will be provided.

8 To deal with the religious fanatic requires time, patience, and sensitivity. Often a failure who 9 looks for divine powers to bolster his self-esteem, he may join a cult or religious group for the 10 satisfaction of strong affiliative needs. He may consciously see himself as superior simply because 11 of his beliefs. Those religious groups that perceive their adherents to be in an adversary position 12 with the rest of mankind spawn the most dangerous hostage-takers. The hostage-taker perceives 13 his source of power as coming from outside the hostage-holding area, whether that be his God or 14 the leaders of his group. If the hostage-taker belongs to a group or cult, usually the leader is not 15 directly involved in the actual hostage-taking. He just gives the orders. Some cults attract people 16 from the fringes of society, and tend to make them even stranger. A member may feel that he 17 must succeed or die for his faith. If he does not die for his faith, he may believe that he will have 18 to relinquish it. In fact, some religious fanatics believe that to die at the hand of the non-believer 19 is the holiest achievement possible. He may be suicidal as the result of that belief. He may seek a 20 violent resolution to the situation by killing hostages in order to satisfy the conscious or 21 unconscious drive to die himself.

22 Obviously, the threat to the hostage may be very high throughout the entire incident. The hostage 23 can also be seen as a sacrificial lamb and led to his death. The fanatic can act as a loner or as part 24 of a group. If he is part of a group, it is unwise to demean his leader. The religious fanatic who is 25 a loner and who claims to be operating on direct divine orders is probably the most dangerous and 26 the least susceptible to reason. The fanatic hostage-taker generally is very touchy and defensive 27 about his religion. He may not tolerate any misdirection of it, so it's important not make any 28 assumptions about his motive. Attempting to change the hostage-taker's beliefs as a method of 29 gaining surrender will probably lead to defeat.

30 Not normally associated with an organized terrorist group, the mentally disturbed person 31 category represents 52 percent of hostage-takers within the United States. Hostage-taking may 32 be spontaneous or planned. It is surprising how well-planned situations may be in spite of the 33 hostage-taker's obvious psychosis. For many mentally ill persons, there are intermittent periods of 34 lucidity, so it may take some extended period of contact before mental illness is revealed in the 35 hostage-taker's speech. The delusions and hallucinations probably will not impair his ability to 36 accomplish his goal. Rapport may be difficult to achieve and maintain, but efforts should be 37 consistent. Usually, the mentally ill hostage-taker acts alone. He may be capable of hurting 38 hostages, just like other hostage-takers. The mentally ill hostage-taker may also have a death wish 39 that can be satisfied by the murder of the hostages, suicide, or both.

40 Personal Contingency Planning


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