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Understanding Motivation in Criminal, Terror, and Military Attacks


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During Dr. Ron Paul’s 2012 Presidential campaign, as we were quietly sitting in a car, Dr. Paul suddenly asked me, “John, do detectives look for the motives of criminals?” I replied, “Well sir, the good ones certainly do. Knowledge of the motive can help prevent future crimes.” This very brief interaction stuck with me through the years. I knew Dr. Paul was right. Knowledge of motive was crucial to understanding the deterrence of criminal, terror, and military attacks. I came to understand that there was a real nexus between what I had done as a detective and what we should be doing as a country. Understanding motive.

Recently, the mainstream media has reported, and government sources have allegedly confirmed, that the Houthis in Yemen, supported by the Iranian regime, were the perpetrators of an attack on Aramco facilities in Saudi Arabia. The Houthis have been consistent in their insistence that they conducted the attack with ten drones. It is said that cruise missile debris could contradict their claim and possibly point to Iranian complicity. This is all from mainstream media reports as well as US intelligence. Media reports and US intelligence reports are not to be relied on as truth. We all know what occurred in Iraq with the claims that country possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction.

We must also take heed of Dr. Ron Paul’s statement that “Iraq had never attacked the United States.” According to President Trump the United States is now “locked and loaded” due to the recent attack. He may well walk back on these words and seek to impose sanctions on Iran (really just another act of war).

Nowhere in the that same media do we see reports that in 2015 Saudi Arabia attacked Yemen because a coup there ousted the Saudi-backed dictator. The average American citizen likely has no knowledge of this military attack on a sovereign nation.

As an expert in criminal investigation and criminal motivation I have always felt there was very little emphasis placed on the motivation of terror, freedom movement, or military attacks. In this case it seems logical that if a nation is militarily attacked it will respond with a military attack. So who is the “bad guy?” If we follow the “just war” theory the Saudis would be the aggressor and the Houthis of Yemen the defenders. Is it just that simple? Yes, it is. Anyway you frame it this is “blowback” a term often used by the late author Chalmers Johnson, scholar Robert Pape, CIA authorities Phil Giraldi and Michael Scheuer, and the great Dr. Ron Paul. In this day and age one must ask himself if the President of the United States is ignorant of “blowback” and the 2015 Saudi military invasion of Yemen or if he just conveniently ignores these facts.

If a real criminal investigation was conducted into the murderous 9/11 attacks the murderers would be identified (15 of the 19 were Saudis) and the motivation would be uncovered without much difficulty. The motivation, “stop occupying and bombing our land.” There would be no finding of, “we hate you because of your freedom.” It wouldn’t take an expert in criminal motivation to come to this finding. Just a competent, unbiased investigation. It is just this type of investigation that would help to inform our foreign policy decisions. The conclusion is simple-we need to be a non-interventionist country. The motivation for blowback would be erased very quickly. I must add the fact that as a citizen and as a NYC policeman with families in the Police and Fire Departments of New York City I lost many a friend during and because of 9/11. But my status as a professional detective requires that I look for motive without letting anger or sorrow cloud my judgement.

So how does this relate to criminal motivation? A detective can go to court and win a case without showing motivation. This happens all the time. But a professional detective will always look for motivation. Why? Because if the detective can understand the motivation correctly, he (and his department) can change policy and procedures to stop the behavior from happening in the first place. I was a sex crimes detective and even knowing the motivation of these criminals, who have a very high recidivism rate, there are things that can be done to prevent future attacks. One is to put together a rock solid case and put the offender behind bars for a very long time. Another is to warn future victims and inform them of safety measures they can take based on the motivations of these offenders. I would always recommend victims consider carrying a weapon (preferably a firearm) if they felt comfortable doing so - although this was strictly against department policy and New York City law.

Knowledge of the motivation of the various types of sexual offenders also allowed me to link unsolved cases thereby giving me more clues with which to solve a case. Sex crimes are very difficult to deter but it can be done. Other crimes such as robbery and burglary are much easier to deter when the motivation of the offender is known. With a proper investigation the motivation of an attack-either terror or military-can be known more easily than a sex crime.

I have always believed that motivation for any type of attack needs to be investigated as a criminal investigation in order to determine motivation. The police may not be capable of conducting all aspects of every investigation so they may need unbiased competent assistance. Sometimes the military will be called on to conduct their own investigation. The tricky part is getting a non- biased investigation free from political influence. Impossible? No. But only if we as citizens demand an investigation free from outside pressure.

Lastly, we must ask if we as a nation should strike another nation militarily (sanctions included) if they have not struck us first. The President should refrain from any interventionism in Yemen and Iran based on the motivation of the attack. And there is something called the Constitution he must follow-only congress can declare war.

Baeza is a retired NYPD detective.

Copyright John Baeza. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

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