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A Terrorist Group’s Strategic Communication—The Case of the Red Army Faction

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Abstract

Recent terrorist attacks in Europe point to the intense terrorism-propaganda-connection that has been described by both communication and terrorism studies scholars. The current debate, however, neglects the fact that Europe, in the past, has already experienced attacks from terrorist groups that were accompanied by sophisticated public relations and propaganda, their motives, however, being social-revolutionary, not religious. Therefore, this article elaborates to what extent the Red Army Faction applied strategic communication in order to achieve its (political) goals. Theoretical considerations about the concepts of terrorism as propaganda of the deed, terrorism as a media event and Fourth Generation Warfare precede the case study. An important finding is that even though the RAF was indeed a very media-savvy group at the time, this savviness did not help them to achieve their long-term goal of political revolution.

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... A diferencia del cri-Adrián Tarín men social, cuya preferencia es permanecer en el anonimato, el terrorismo es una expresión de violencia política, y la política consiste en hacer algo público (Errejón y Mouffe 2015). Por esa razón, resulta habitual que las organizaciones armadas combinen actividades clandestinas, como los atentados, y abiertas, como la difusión de comunicados justificando sus postulados ideológicos y militares (Rothenberger 2017). Parece existir un amplio consenso en vincular ambos fenómenos (comunicación y violencia) en, al menos, dos sentidos: (1) analizar las propiedades comunicativas inherentes a las acciones armadas, y (2) comprender cómo el terrorismo necesita ser comunicado (Matusitz 2013;Alonso 2016;Rothenberger, Müller y Elmezeny 2018). ...
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Key Definitions for CrisisCrisis Management ProcessGeneral Nature of Crisis Communication ResearchCrisis Communication: Overview and HistoryConclusion References
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Informationen sind Waffen. Das gilt besonders in Zeiten asymmetrischer Kriege. So schreibt das Britische Magazin Economist zu Beginn einer Serie über „Terrorism and civil liberty“: „In every war, information is a weapon. In a ‚war against terrorism‘, where the adversary wears no uniform and hides among the civilian population, information can matter even more.“ (Economist v. 22.09.2007: 65) Nicht erst seit dem 11. September 2001 wissen wir: Information kann nicht nur von Bedeutung sein. Sie muss für einen globalen Terrorismus verfügbar und gestaltbar sein, um seine Ziele zu erreichen. Die Terroristen sind auf die öffentliche Wahrnehmung ihres Handelns angewiesen, um ihre Botschaft der Bedrohung und der gewaltsamen Durchsetzungsfähigkeit ihrer Forderungen in der Wahrnehmung einer Gesellschaft oder eines politischen Systems zu verankern und womöglich auch Sympathie und Anerkennung zu gewinnen. Jeder Terrorakt transportiert einen Komplex an Botschaften, die bei verschiedenen Zielgruppen unterschiedliche Wirkung erzielen sollen. „Anschläge [...] sind zugleich immer auch kommunikative Akte.“ (Kraushaar 2006: 37)
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