Psychological Warfare is a war of the mind. It is considered to be a plan operation to convey selected information and indications to audiences and influence their emotions,motives, behaviors, objective reasoning towards a particular aspect. It is a weapon used in all aspects of war and whose effectiveness is limited to the commanders ingenuity that has been using it.
Psychological warfare or also known as Psychological Operations (PSYOP) is considered ed as one of the oldest weapon in a man’s arsenal,an important force,protector and a non-lethal weapon system.
It is simply learning everything about your enemies belief,likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, vulnerabilities and your main motive is to determine their weak point that will make you win.
Here a comprehensive study about Psychological Warfare will be tackled and how terrorists maximizes the use of Internet in doing Psychological operations that will make or break their motives towards a particular enemy. The factors that influences an individual to develop Psychological Warfare and their morale as well as other related dilemmas will also be discussed.
Psychological Warfare is broadly defined as a planned use of communication to influence people’s attitudes and behaviors and which main target is the emotion that will support the attainment of national objectives. “The form of communication can be as simple as spreading information covertly by word of mouth or through any means of multimedia.” (Rouse, 2007)
The U.S. Department of Defense defines psychological warfare (PSYWAR) as: “The planned use of propaganda and other psychological actions having the primary purpose of influencing the opinions, emotions, attitudes, and behavior of hostile foreign groups in such a way as to support the achievement of national objectives.” Psychological Warfare is also known as infowars. This type of warfare is often used in modern situations, such as the dropping of leaflets and propaganda campaigns. Psychological warfare could be considered a type of unconventional warfare. This is because it attempts to influence the mind of the enemy rather than destroy its military. The press is one of the most commonly used weapons for spreading propaganda. (wikipedia)
Here, the primary weapons are sights and sound since it can be disseminated by face to face communication, through radio,television,newspaper,books, magazines or posters. The real deal is not how the message is sent but it is more about the message and how that message impacts the beliefs of an individual. Most of events and terrorist attacks involves Psychological warfare that utilizes tactics (psychological Operations or PSYOP) that will inculcate fear towards the enemy and catches people’s attention to unite with their motives. As communications and technology advances, greater chances for mass propaganda is developed.
Psychological Operations (PSYOP, PSYOPS) are techniques used by military and police forces to influence a target audience’s emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and behavior. Target audiences can be governments, organizations, groups, and individuals, and are used in order to induce confessions, or reinforce attitudes and behaviors favorable to the originator’s objectives. These are sometimes combined with black operations or false flag tactics. (wikipedia) It is also classified as white, grey and black whereas white is said to be true and not biased and the source of information is acknowledge. Grey is largely truthful it contains no information that can be proven as wrong and the source may or may not be revealed. Black propaganda is worst because it is really intended to deceive enemies.
“History provides the strongest proof of the importance of moral factors and their often incredible effect: this is the noblest and most solid nourishment that the mind of a general may draw from a study of the past.” (Clausewitz, 1976,p.185)) Psywar and PSYOP is a directed war propaganda at their enemies to induce surrender, disruption and insurrection. It is also said to be more effective when based on military tactics and realities. Since we are now in the twenty first century, mass media now allows the dissemination and reception of information from enemies.
Their messages are provided through leaflets, radio, television and know the world wide web invasion is also a medium for Psychological warfare. Through the Internet various propagandas that attempts to persuade people to think and influence people is made possible by individuals that wants to achieve a certain degree of power through their opinions and firm conviction regarding a certain claim. Most individuals who use the net as a means of promulgating informations that attacks certain party are those people whom they called terrorists.
Terrorists in the modern sense are classified as people who are violent and uses harmful acts to threaten or directly harm civilians for their political and ideological goals. Terrorists are now increasingly using the Internet to communicate with their co-terrorist and to the rest of the people in the world who uses this medium of communication. Most people have seen certain propagandas like videos that are published on the world’s news networks and other websites made possible by these people.
The Internet is a powerful tool for terrorism to be done. Certain websites contains forums, message boards and chat rooms that shares information to coordinate attacks and spread each propaganda to continuously recruit people to be part of their terrorists groups. It serves as a mind opening and soul awakening for an individual to develop more of their Psychological warfare to revolt and act against a particular group. Such websites also serves as training grounds from newbies in the terrorists’ world where tutorials on building bombs,firing missiles and shooting guns are offered. It also host messages that raises morale and for further expansion of recruting and getting funds for their group.
The greatest advantage of using Internet is that terrorists have greater edge of disseminating information and they began to develop more sophisticated encryption tools and creative techniques that are efficiently provided by these medium. It also provides a global pool of recruits and greater fund raising means since it has become a commonplace for organizations to accept donations through usage of credit cards and wire transfers.
Certain websites that contains terroristic motives was already discovered and disciplinary measures were given to those caught using this as a Psychological Warfare weapon to influence people and inculcate terrorism into the minds of people. An article entitled “Briton convicted of terrorism offenses” was retrieved and In this article Mohammed Atif Siddique21 years of age and a British Muslim was accused of terrorism offenses and he was also plead guilty of his acts. This is because he was possessing and distributing materials for aspiring Islamist terrorists via world wide web between March 2003 and April 2006. He’s threat of becoming a suicide bomber made also cases to be filed against him.
He cannot deny the fact behind the judge’s decision since the presiding Judge, Lord Carloway told him that having those articles in his possession that are connected with the commission made him convicted of significant attempts of terrorism attacks. A video on Mr. Siddique’s computer that shows a man threatening to bomb Britain serves as a strong evidence on his case. The same video was also shown to his fellow students at Glasgow Metropolitan College. Even his cousin Shazia Rehman received 6 e-mails than advocates suicide bombings. Which for him finds most pleasing in the eyes of Allah because blowing himself cannot be considered suicide but rather being a martyr. In spite of the evidences cited against him, he denies the accusation and charges against him by saying that he has those materials for research purposes only.
Nevertheless he was sentenced on October 23, 2007 of 15 years imprisonment. His good lawyer. Aamer Anwar wants to appeal on his case since he finds it unfair because according to him what his client does is just a typical everyday activity of young people who surfs the Internet everyday looking for answers. He claims that it is a r\tragedy of justice and freedom of speech that differentiates his client among terrorists. (Fontanella, 2007) I can say that in his case, such evidences and activities is credible enough for him to be sentenced. It is better for him to be vindicated than to allow him to be free and put the lives of many people in danger. However, a parole maybe given if he behaves monitor his activities if there will be another terrorist attempt for him.
Shutting down of a terrorist website is one immediate solution on this scenario hence it is also considered as a temporary disruption if the web master is not stopped. Thats why an immediate action like filing a case and sending the accused in jail is a better solution on this case. Because if certain web masters are still allowed to be free even though the website is already shut down,a worst case of integrating another website can be done to develop another Psychological warfare grounds and make terrorist activities possible.
A disappointing article about a successful terrorist act is entitled “Bomb blasts in Pakistan kill at least 25” The outskirts of Pakistan capital, Islamabad were were bombed on September 4, 2007 claiming the lives of 25 innocents and injured 60 more. The blasts happened on two separate accounts in a military garrisoned town of Rawalpindi. The target of the first explosion was a military bus in an encampment of the general headquarters which automatically placed the two areas under high alert.
The alert was just lifted a couple of days prior to the bombings. The explosions are deemed to be a succession of terrorist acts happening in Pakistan in the past few months. Government officials indicate that the attacks were suicidal in nature. The military claimed that the motives behind the blasts will be revealed after an investigation. Security officials viewed the attacks as a retaliation to the military operations against the militants in the country’s border.(Bokhari, 2007)
The failure of the Pakistani Armed Forces to serve and protect the civilians are becoming more of a habit, rather than a mistake.In recent instances, the Pakistani army is showing that they cannot counter the Islamic Extremists who plague their country. The bombings of the military headquarters obviously prove that the security as well as the military’s competency is highly questionable.
The massive difference in number between Pakistani soldiers and Islamic rebels prove that the Pakistani Army needs strategical and tactical training in order to penetrate the base of a small rebel assembly. Furthermore it is clear as day that the military officials are ill-equipped to distribute soldiers to different tasks in order to eliminate terrorist activity and presence in Pakistan, it is blatant that they use quantity rather than strategy in conducting operations. They should have further research about the group before going into war and they should have determine it earlier if they already gathered enough informations about this terrorist by surfing in the web about the propagandas of this group.
One might say that morale has been a boosting factor for terrorist to push thorough their acts of being determined in having a Psychological warfare. Morale is a subject clearly less glamorous than high-technology precision weapons and information systems but no less important. There has been no “revolution in morale affairs” to make the gray shades of morale more black and white. Instead, because morale keeps us flying on instruments “in the soup,” it serves as a governor to check the hyper pace of modern warfare. Morale inertia also carries an imperative that the will to win the fight is something the victor must maintain and the vanquished must lose. (Tzu, 1963, p.54).
Having a moral boost makes a person more determined in doing an activity according to his/her belief and the conviction to triumphed in that particular matter. And since Psychological operations (PSYOP) is officially the business of targeting the mind of the person, (Collins, 1999, p.58) it serves as a weapon to communicate the message directly toward morale, PSYOP uses television, radio broadcasts, and other methodologies like Internet websites rather than physical destruction to convince the enemy to do something and much worst scenario is expected to happen when it was successfully done like the article stated above that killed innocent people.
Having enough time to contemplate before thinking of having and building the concept of Psychological Warfare is really an issue for an individual. Because being committed in such group requires a lot of moral dilemmas and many things should also be taken into consideration. Informations generated and are used as weapons of catching up people’s attention is critically analyzed by web masters and terrorist who took advantage of technology in influencing people’s attitudes and behaviors and targets their emotions to get sympathy and encourage others to be a part of their group that will support the attainment of national objectives according to their sets of principle.
It requires good decision making whether you wanted to be affected by these factors and it is also your decision that will make or break your personality as an individual and how you view the world in a brighter perspective. After all Psychological Warfare starts with the mind its all up to us how we are going to be influenced by these stuffs. And we also have to overlook the outcome of every decisions that we make. Deciding with the mind and of course with the heart.
Bokhari, Farhan in Islamabad. (2007) Bomb blasts in Pakistan kill at least 25. FT.com Financial
Times retrieved December 5, 2007, from: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ad231bc6-5aa6-11dc- 8c32-0000779fd2ac.html
Clausewitz, Carl von. (1976). On War, ed. and trans. Michael Howard and Peter Paret. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, p. 185.
Collins, Steven. (1999) “Army PSYOP in Bosnia: Capabilities and Constraints,” Parameters 29, no. 2 (Summer)p. 58.
Fontanella,James and agencies. (2007)Briton convicted of terrorism offenses. FT.com Financial
Times retrieved December 5, 2007, from:
Psychological Warfare (2007) U.S Department of defense definiton. Wikipedia.org retrieved
December 5, 2007, from:
Rouse, Major Ed. (2007) Psychological Operations/Warfare. psywarior.com retrieved December
5,2007 from: http://www.psywarrior.com/psyhist.html
Tzu, Sun. (1963). The Art of War, trans. Samuel B. Griffith. London: Oxford University Press,p.54.
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