The Asymmetric Threat of Self Initiated Violent Actors
Jonathan D. GreensteinIn a previous article I proffered the term: Self Initiated Violent Actors (SIVA
) and my rationalefor its inclusion into the lexicon applied to typing of individuals who seek to or engage in violent actsunder the auspices of terrorism. This article is a continuation of and possibly part of a longer series of articles that will speak to the asymmetric threat posed by SIVAs.
SIVAs are defined as individuals who engage in acts of violence under the umbrella of terrorist causes without specific tasking by a higher authority. While they may undertake target specificattacks as proffered by the group to which they follow; their actions are not directed. They likelymaintain a high degree of support; commitment; and possibly their intent to pursue martyrdom(shahada
). Their backgrounds can be quite varied; educational, socioeconomic and religious adherencecan span the scale as can their ethnicity, race, age and gender. Granted this wide inclusion of potentialSIVA candidates may seem overly broad, but by reviewing historical data the reader will quicklyappreciate the fact that violent actors can come from any background.While the primary focus of attention and discussion tends to be on those individuals who alignthemselves with Al Qaida (
), one of its associated groups such as Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula(
), Al-Shabaab or similar groups such as Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (
), a SIVA can self associatewith any group, with any cause. Their affiliation or alignment can be with racist, separatist or politicalgroups that use criminal violence.What differentiates SIVAs from direct affiliates or supporters of a terrorist group is their self initiation of violent acts. This includes individuals who collaborate in attack planning, logistical or financial supportprovided their activity is initiated of their own volition.A SIVA
include individuals who are mission tasked by a higher authority. While this is asomewhat complex construct to articulate; for the purposes of this article I will rely on the generalframework of a tasked individual being someone who is selected and steered towards action. Thus, anindividual who is selected and indoctrinated with the specific intent to utilize them in act of terrorismwould not be a classified a SIVA.The asymmetric threat posed by SIVAs is not a new concept. The threat is that they will engage in an actof violence; the asymmetry is that they act alone and as such remove some of the traditional detectiontools. ___________________________________
The term “Self Initiated Violent Actor” and ac
ronym SIVA was first coined by the author in the course of professional research and development in 2011.2- The word shahada is derived from the Arabic verbal root shahada, which means to 'see', to 'witness', to 'testify', to 'become a model and paradigm'. Shahadatherefore literally means to 'see', to 'witness', and to 'become a model'. A shahid is the person who sees and witnesses, and he is therefore the witness, as if themartyr witnesses and sees the truth physically and thus stands by it firmly, so much so that not only does he testify it verbally, but he is prepared to struggle andfight and give up his life for the truth, and thus to become a martyr. In this way, and by his struggle and sacrifice for the sake of the truth, he become a model, aparadigm, and an example for others, worthy of being copied, and worthy of being followed.