Together with organized crime and proliferation of mass destruction weapons, terrorism – and its international form in particular – pose one of the greatest threats to the entire human civilization. The global character of this dangerous phenomenon is documented by the fact that a substantial part of the world has been hit or is threatened with terrorism of political and religious nature, acts of regional or supra-national terrorist and extremist organizations and groups. Despite the immense efforts of the security agencies of all democratic states to eliminate international terrorism, around fifty to sixty countries become the venue of its acts every year. Tightening up sanctions has practically no effect. International terrorists – whose demands include change of domestic and foreign policies and legal systems, release of imprisoned terrorists or payment of ransom and guarantee of safe escape – are determined to resort to any means; nothing will deter them, they are often ready to die in suicide attacks. To thwart their planned action is therefore extremely difficult, and so is any kind of prevention. This increases the importance of the role played in this respect by the intelligence services, which collect and analyze information on the intentions and movements of terrorist organizations, groups and individuals, and makes it truly irreplaceable. In this context it is necessary to highlight the very good cooperation and communication between BIS and its partners in democratic countries.
Most European and American jurisdictions define terrorism as a premeditated, planned use of violence or threat by violence, usually aimed against disinterested persons with the purpose to raise fear and use it for achieving the fulfilment of political, religious or ideological demands. Unlike organized crime, it does not directly pursue the goal of financial profit. Its concrete manifestations include bomb attacks against people and facilities, use of letter bombs, taking hostages, murders, hijacking people and planes, blackmail and threats by violence. A fertile soil for the emergence of terrorism is mostly provided by political, religious, racial, economic or social discrimination, denial of the right to self-determination, autonomy and independence. But in many cases it involves also ideological abuse of some population groups in a struggle for power and influence in a state, region or part of the world.
Depending on the point of view, terrorism can be divided into domestic and international, political (seeking political, ideological and religious benefit), criminal (seeking material benefit) and psychotic (self-satisfaction of a mentally ill person). Political terrorism can be further divided into the following categories: Islamic-fundamentalist (Palestinian groups, the Near and Middle East regions), religious-ethnical (IRA, the Indian-Pakistani dispute about Kashmir, the events on the Balkans), nationalistic (ETA in Spain, the nationalists in Corsica) and subsiding left-wing terrorism (the Red Brigades and the Anti-imperialistic Cell in the FRG, the French Direct Action). Of the above-listed forms, psychotic terrorism is regarded as the least scrutable as its perpetrators are quite content with attracting attention and raising terror by their actions, which in turn brings them perverse pleasure and satisfaction. In this case the use of violence is not a means of asserting a certain demand but an end in itself.
Islamic-fundamentalist terrorism, stemming from Islamic extremism, is considered to be the most dangerous. Its ideology condemns the Western political principles and system of values, and recognizes a world order based strictly on the rule of Islam as the only correct one. In the name of this ideology, Islamic fundamentalists feel justified to use violence in confronting the Western world. They increasingly strive to infiltrate the life and societies of European states. It is known, for instance, that they have tried to recruit agents from among Muslims in Bosnian refugee camps. The Balkan peninsula apparently serves as one of their marshalling grounds from where different militant groups try to cast their information and intelligence nets into Central Europe.
A serious danger for Europe is represented by the activities of radical Islamic organizations. Examples include Algerian groups whose activities reflect the precarious situation in their homeland and proceed from Algeria’s historical links with France. A proof to this effect is a series of terrorist attacks in France as well as the fact that strongholds of Muslim extremists from the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) have been repeatedly exposed in Belgium. A major threat is also posed by the activities of other Islamic radical organizations, such as the Islamic Resistance Movement – HAMAS, Hezbollah and Gamaa al Islamiya. Another reason for concern which should not be overlooked is the emerge of a new phenomenon typical of Europe in the 1990s – namely the spread of nationalistic and ethnic conflicts which have a secondary impact on life in advanced West European countries.
The level of threat to which the Czech Republic is exposed in connection with international terrorism is the subject of the chapter called “Results, findings”.
The term extremism is routinely used to describe extremely radical views and ideologies which are hostile to democracy. Under certain circumstances, extremist currents of thought of both right and left inclinations, often highly militant, may result in quite concrete destructive – so-called subversive acts with the purpose to destabilize the state and overhrow its democratic system. Groups of extremist orientation include left-wing groupings professing communist ideology, anarcho-autonomist alliances of anarchists, members of the non-ideological autonomist movement, supporters of nationalistic and Pan-Slavic attitudes (who strive for the unification of Slavonic nations under the leadership of Great Russia), and Neo-Nazi groups calling for a racially “pure” society.
The situation on the Czech extremist scene and the goals of the above-mentioned groupings are described in greater detail in the chapter entitled “Results, findings”.
Organized crime represents a grave global anti-civilization threat to the security and stability of states. The tremendous amount of means kjwhich it possesses helps it to infiltrate economic, financial, political and government structures and influence their decision-making, management and control mechanisms. Highly organized crime not only forms a structure governed by a strict hierarchy and its own rigorous laws, but also completely ignores state frontiers. By its very nature it exceeds the limits of morality, too: human beings are regarded as inanimate material and are treated accordingly. In its essence, organized crime is a system of superiority and exclusivity which relies on manipulation and domination, on a religion of money and power.
The intelligence services of all democratic countries call organized crime their “new agenda” after the disintegration of the bi-polar world. And it needs to be stressed that the task of secret services – including BIS – is not to expose its individual, partial manifestations (organized prostitution, drug traffic, extortion, illegal migration, car thefts etc.) but in the first place to concentrate on its “macro-effects” and “macro-consequences” (its penetration into public administration, financial circles and politics).
Organized criminal groups which operate in the Czech Republic are dealt with separately – with emphasis on the Russian-speaking mafias – under the heading “Results, findings”