Terrorism: Profile of a Terrorist

The name of the main terrorist in this TERRORIST PROFILE is fictitious.  Certain dates, places, names, and other information may have been customized to fit the author’s views.  The blueprint for the profile was furnished by: Emergency Response and Research Institute (ERRI).

a.k.a. Samir Basim, Abi Zan Dabul, Josef Zachar, Tarni Jumari.


DATE OF BIRTH: October 20, 1957 (Approximation)

PHYSICAL STATISTICS: 5′ 8″, 180lbs, Brown eyes, Black hair. Shathef has a full grown beard (more than 2 inches in length), or he may be clean shaven. He has a vertical scar on his left cheek (about 2 inches in length and ¼ inch wide).

FAMILY CONNECTIONS: Son of Zamar Shathef, mother deceased (Leading co-conspirator of the September 11 attacks).

POSITION: Unspecified leadership role of Al-Qaeda Terrorist Organization within United States – Operational Planner/Coordinator

DETAILS OF ARREST: Arrested July 17, 2004 near Al Ukaylah, Libya. The Department of Defense and the White House confirmed the identity and his involvement with the September 11 attacks, as well as other terrorist campaigns.  Four other men associated with Shathef were also arrested.  The four men were questioned and released.

BACKGROUND: Shathef was raised in an impoverished part of Syria.  He deeply believes in the Jihadist movement and is willing to die for his cause.  His ties with al Qaeda originated when Shathef was in his early twenties.  He started at the bottom of the organization; however his charisma and ingenuity moved him high up the ladder.  He studied in the United States and obtained a Bio-Engineering degree from the University of Arizona, Tucson. He graduated from the university in 1988 and shortly after started organizing terrorist campaigns on U.S. and foreign soil.

LANGUAGE CAPABILITIES: Shathef speaks several languages, including: Arabic, Kurdish, French and English.

Shathef is still incarcerated for his atrocious crimes pending trial.  He has no immediate family and he severed any ties to al Qaeda.  He is uncooperative and continues to deny any involvement.  Recent arrests of other clandestine cells within United States implicate Shathef and clearly define his connection to terrorist attacks worldwide.

— June 12, 1991 bombing of a prominent resort in Saudi Arabia. One of the lead coconspirators in this operation.
— May 23, 1999 bombing of a U.S. Embassy in Israel. Suspected architect of this attack.
— September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center buildings in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.

“MOHAMMED MANSOUR JABARAH. A Kuwait-born Canadian arrested in March 2002 in Oman and placed in US custody. Jabarah was dispatched by Shathef to Singapore on September 10, 2001, to activate an Al-Qaeda cell there and assist with a planned bombing campaign against American and Israeli targets in Malaysia. The plot was foiled when Singaporean authorities arrested 13 members of the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist organization who had supplied their members for the attack” (ERRI, 2003).

Added to Executive Order 83229 “Most Wanted” terrorists list October 12, 2001.
Profiling a single terrorist is very difficult, unless, there is sufficient intelligence gathered.  Even then, a lot of information is still not compiled until after another terrorist attack has been executed.  Therefore, it is imperative to address key points when creating a terrorist profile.

The profile above is an example of how much compartmentalized information goes into such a document.  The terrorist profile should allow the persons who read it to understand not only the basic and demographic information, but the historical, psychological, and sociological standpoints.  It will allow law enforcement and counter terrorism agencies to understand the profile as a whole.  Therefore, any efforts to seek and capture profiled terrorists can often be expedited based on the information therein.  There may be other variants used, but in the end, most terrorist profiles are reliant on the subject matters included above.

Since it is very hard to successfully counter terrorism through profiling individual terrorists, one must profile terrorist groups instead.  In my opinion, profiling an individual terrorist is like eating an apple from the inside out, and profiling a terrorist organization is like eating an apple normally; consequently getting to the inside part of it, therefore, allowing for more cohesive individual profiling and dismemberment of the terrorist cell or organization.

Terrorist organizations like al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and the Armata Corsa have waged different wars in order to support their causes.  However, one terrorist group is different from another.  A terrorist group may comprise individuals of all social and political backgrounds, no matter the economic status of such persons.  Also, religious and ideological individuals join a terrorist cause due to strong beliefs in the same message the group is trying to get out to the world.

There are political terrorist organizations, like the Armata Corsa (founded in 1999), whose main purpose is to achieve separation and sovereignty (Goldstein, 2006).  Groups like the infamous al Qaeda and Hezbollah are very active in the Jihadist movement.  Even though these groups share a common interest, they are not necessarily doing the same things.  For example, al Qaeda’s proclaimed leader, Osama bin Laden, waged the “Holy War” against the U.S. and other world superpowers that consciously help the U.S..  Hezbollah is part of the Jihadist network, however, their other branches are functioning on a basis of politics.  Hezbollah runs political offices and furnishes social services in Lebanon.  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict consumes a lot of resources from the Hezbollah as the group believes that Israel needs to be destroyed (White, 2006).  Hezbollah is considered to be an illusive force behind Jihadist, Nationalistic, Pan-Arabic, and International movements.  Their organizational umbrella harbors clandestine cells in many regions of the world.  This is done with a continual change of strategy.  In my opinion the Hezbollah organization is tremendously ingenious in the way it runs its organization.  These aforementioned groups are considered to be colossal forces in the world of terrorism (many are self-funded).

It is evident that not all groups share the same cause, and the groups that do, may have other more important missions to accomplish first.  One group’s priority may be another group’s secondary, or even, last objective.  Some individuals who join such terrorist groups are often “well rounded;” with a solid upbringing and a disposable income.  They may believe strongly in the cause or the ideology of a particular group.  But, we cannot forget about the people who aren’t socially accepted or exude extreme ways of thinking.  Others may have personal agendas involving revenge or monetary gain.  Consequently, a terrorist organization can be a haven for such individuals, where antisocial behavior and mercenary pretexts are widely accepted, and often, they are glorified in order to develop a high level of morale (White, 2006).


Goldstein, D. (2007). Essential Background to Terrorism. Retrieved March 25, 2007, from Boston University, Vista Online Website: http://vista.bu.edu/webct/
White, J.R. (2006). Terrorism and Homeland Security. (5th Ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson-Wadsworth.
Zakis, J. (2003). Terrorist Profile. Retrieved March 25, 2007, from Emergency Response and Research Institute Web site: http://www.emergency.com/2003/Khalid_Shaikh_Mohammedprofile.htm

Article written by Radek Gadek

Radek holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University. He is currently doing consulting work and runs this blog to provide relevant information on criminal justice degrees, colleges and related careers.

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