1. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Messages:
    4,076
    Likes Received:
    4,438
    Location:
    Pennsylvania

    What are these terrorists trying to accomplish in this scene?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Catrin Lewis, Apr 27, 2021.

    I'm circling back through my novel, and the most intense rewriting is leading up to a new scene where my terrorist leader "breaks" my heroine.

    When terrorists release videos of them interrogating, taunting, and terrorizing hostages, what so they want? "To terrorize people" won't fly: Terrorists use terror to bring about some political goal, not to scare people because that's how they get their jollies. So what are videos like this supposed to accomplish?

    The situation: My heroine, a private American citizen, is being held hostage by a Red cell in West Germany in 1983. The terrorist leader interrogates her on camera, accusing her of being a member of the CIA, etc., etc., though he knows she isn't. She clamps down and refuses to say anything. Afterwards, she's proud because she's given them nothing; the terrorists are happy because they think her pathetic bravery will pull the public heartstrings and force her government to force theirs to give in to their demands.

    The press don't show the video, however. Policy.

    The next day, after a failed escape attempt and more physical duress, she is videotaped again. I know what her interrogator will say to break her emotionally, I'm just foggy on why they want her to say it.

    It's got to be something they think will be effective even if only government officials see it. Help me get into their heads. Their overall goal is to get all the Red prisoners in West Germany released. What kind of hostage video might move a government with a No Negotiations policy to give in to their demands? Keeping in mind, of course, that the pressure would have to come from America and the primary audience is the U.S. government.

    (Note: Having read up on the subject, it wasn't unusual for groups like the Red Army Faction to carry out missions, the purposes and effects of which weren't all that well thought out. One writer remarks that the whole movement was ultimately suicidal. The essential thing for my story is that the terrorists' immediate goal should seem logical to them at the time.)
     
  2. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2019
    Messages:
    4,050
    Likes Received:
    4,830
    Location:
    The White Rose county, UK
    When terrorists release videos like this, they do so to either prove a point, or to extract political gain.

    So, for example, they want to prove that the CIA really IS involved in undercover operations (and this is one of those things that can't easily be disproved, no matter what the hostage says), or it's basically a ransom note - pay up, release our prisoners, or the hostage dies.
     
    Iain Aschendale likes this.
  3. Le Panda Du Mal

    Le Panda Du Mal Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2020
    Messages:
    413
    Likes Received:
    429
    I'm not sure how it was with the RAF, but similar groups in Italy around the same time were heavily infiltrated by intelligence/ security personnel, sometimes by people from different organizations at cross purposes. Sometimes this explained some of their more boneheaded moves. Leaving that aside, simply getting media exposure- any media exposure- and hence increased recruitment or funding is sometimes the goal of these videos. That's how it seemed to work for IS, though of course they had internet, whereas your RAF militants will have a much more uphill battle getting viewers.
     
    Catrin Lewis likes this.
  4. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2021
    Messages:
    942
    Likes Received:
    628
    The U.S. has swapped prisoners with governments considered terrorists. In one case, many of the public didn't think the AWOL U.S. prisoner was worth it though.
     
  5. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Messages:
    4,076
    Likes Received:
    4,438
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I'm thinking that "breaking" my heroine will mean making her beg for her life, rather than forcing her to say the terrorists are right or making her confess on camera to working for the CIA or the Pentagon. The last one would only make the U.S. government go "Whut?"
     
  6. Robert Musil

    Robert Musil Comparativist Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2015
    Messages:
    1,096
    Likes Received:
    1,195
    Location:
    USA
    Yeah, in the Internet era I think these videos are mostly about getting publicity and new recruits, not extracting specific concessions from governments.

    It's hard to imagine there would be one specific thing they would have to get her to say. If they're just trying to generate sympathy for her, so the US government will do something to release her, seems like any kind of mistreatment could accomplish that, theoretically.
     
  7. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I don't feel tardy.... Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    Messages:
    9,681
    Likes Received:
    16,979
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    Honestly? I'd have a hard time believing terrorists would think it would work without public pressure, as you mentioned. Especially for a hostage the terrorists know isn't a US government agent. The terrorists would have to be pretty naive (or blindly ideological) to think the US would choose to release all Red prisoners rather than toss away the life of one stranger nobody would ever hear about.

    How ideological are they? They obviously believe this plan will work despite the evidence to the contrary, but that's never stopped terrorists before. How vicious are they? If they're that committed toward their political goals, I'd expect them to actually kill a hostage or two and send that videotape to Washington. That's an attention-getter. You probably can't kill your MC, but do you show them killing other hostages in similar situations so the US (and more importantly, the reader) know they are capable of it?
     
  8. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2016
    Messages:
    20,467
    Likes Received:
    23,829
    Location:
    East devon/somerset border
    If you look at the stuff the RAF did its actually much more hard core https://www.dw.com/en/red-army-faction-a-chronology-of-terror/a-2763946 the people they tried to kidnap were notable citizens, except for mass hostage takings like the Stockholm Embassy siege and the airliner

    For something like this they wouldn't care at all about whether she 'beaks' emotionally... the MO would be "release XYZ or we shoot her in the head" the pressure on the USG (and more pertinently the west german government since they are the ones holding the prisoners) is the same regardless of whether she's stoic or sobbing hysterically.

    For something big like "the release of all RAF prisoners" they wouldnt kidnap one unimportant american... i mean they took over a whole embassy to try to get three leaders released... they also Hijacked a Lufthansa plane with pretty much the same end in mind. So I'd tend to suggest you need to think again about what it is they want and bring it down to something more in scale

    I supose another option is that she know something explosive about the USG or the west german govt and they want her to announce it to the world... but the difficulty then is the they could force pretty much anyone to speak in very short order...
     
  9. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Potatoes again? Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Messages:
    17,776
    Likes Received:
    34,143
    Location:
    Face down in the dirt
    Currently Reading::
    Telemachus Sneezed
    Yeah, I think she'd have to be someone of note, or related to someone of note, to have them succeed at all. Jane Schmidt from Peoria, Illinois who knows she's descended of German stock, always wanted to see Munich and Berlin and ended up getting snatched isn't going to get much moving, especially before Twitter and YouTube. Jane Hormel, Jane Schmidt (nee Kennedy), or Jane IBM, daughter of Jim IBM, who is the CEO of Westinghouse (gotcha!) might be a good lever.

    OOH OOH, Edit: When the bad guys grab her, they think she's just Jane Schmidt. They knock her around, she keeps her mouth shut, they release a video. Nobody in the government who sees it realizes she's Jane Schmidt, (nee powerful family name). Then overnight one of the terrorists realizes who they have. Maybe they see her picture in the society pages, maybe she gets reported missing and ends up splashed over the front pages "Heiress Missing! Did She Elope?" with her picture and a mystery man. The next video goes out with a message to the appropriate powerful father who starts to Pull The Strings.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2021
  10. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Messages:
    4,076
    Likes Received:
    4,438
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Thanks for the entertainment! Actually, her getting snatched has to do with a personal vendetta, though she doesn't know that.

    Prior to this, my terrorists have assassinated a prominent banker (before collecting the ransom), and their primary prisoner is an internationally famous German violinist and conductor. There's a personal element in targeting him, too.

    My heroine falls into their hands when she is duped into a scheme to help rescue the violinist, who is an old friend of hers.

    But everyone's point is well-taken, about the W. German and American governments not caring that much about a random Jane Doe. It's this fact that is driving her husband crazy as the rescue effort is being planned. Her capture has given the authorities some valuable clues about where the cell's primary hideout is, but they aren't going in just to rescue her. Nothing's happening until they can mop up the group all over West Germany.

    Note that the rank and file members of the cell have already questioned their leader's choice of victims. He isn't listening.
     
    Iain Aschendale likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice