Terrorist training camp

A terrorist training camp is a facility established to train individuals in the ways of terrorism, often without the consent of the trainees. By teaching them the methods and tactics of terrorism, those conducting such facilities aim to create an "army" of individuals who will do their bidding. They are often located in, but not confined to, regions where it is intended that acts of terrorism will be carried out, or in traditional areas of extremism, such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.[1][2] Wide-open spaces such as parks[3] and wilderness areas[4] are common sites for these camps.


Most camps are located in the Middle East, with the most infamous in Syria and the Arabian peninsula. Many camps are located in regions of conflict. The call to jihad has seen many Muslims enter such camps, followed by US drone strikes.


These encampments provide recruits with weapons training, protocol training, interaction with skilled veterans, and a secure geographic location for operations. Recruits are regularly indoctrinated in the goals and beliefs of the organization.[5] Organizational leaders attempt to isolate recruits from their outside social connections and force them to establish a new identity. This allows the organization to become the “family” of the recruit and generate loyalty to the organization’s goals.

Psychological traits

Depending on the type of organization, the religion and “strength of faith” of the recruit is often an indicator of their status within the organization. Those who are not willing to comply, even after completion of training, are often punished and undergo training to strengthen their observance. Terrorist recruits are tested on knowledge of their religion and of rival groups. Recruiters do this to verify that each recruit has the necessary beliefs, which ensures organizational unification. Religious verification ensures that each member is working towards mutual goals.[6]

Recruiters use techniques that exploit or create mental trauma in order to produce a dissociated mindset in recruits — a condition in which the identity and awareness of the recruit is reset.[6] Typical recruits look to join terrorist organizations because they are angry, alienated and/or disenfranchised. Common thought processes include: believing that their current political involvement does not give them the power to effect change; identifying with perceived victims of the perceived social injustice they are fighting; feeling the need to take action; believing that violence is not immoral; having friends or family sympathetic to the cause; and craving social and psychological rewards such as adventure, camaraderie, and a heightened sense of identity. Internet and cyber-skills are sought after as technically knowledgeable recruits can help the organization.

Examples of physical demands

Many terrorist organizations train recruits in guerrilla warfare. Recruits must be in shape in order to learn these tactics. An ISIS workout video shows that cardiovascular fitness is important.[7] Recruits often train in full uniform, with weapons in hand. Recruits need to be able to survive in their environment with little nourishment. Recruits learn that if success is not attained, they will not be rescued.[8]


  1. 4000 Britons trained at terror camps in Afghanistan: Paper The People's Daily, July 12, 2002.
  2. Is Somalia next for 'war on terror'? BBC News. 7 June 2006.
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 17 January 2009.
  4. CBS News May 26, 2004: U.S.: Cleric Eyed Ore. Terror Camp
  5. Lihou Dr. Norman T. Lihou (25 January 2015). "Terrorist Indoctrination Turning People into Killers". LinkedIn. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  6. 1 2 DeAngelis, Tori (November 2009). "Understanding Terrorism". American Psychological Association. Archived from the original on 2010-01-09. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  7. Nolan, Hamilton (19 June 2014). "A Fitness Critique of the ISIS Terrorist Workout Video". Domesticity. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  8. Forest, James (2006). Terrorist Training Centers Around the World. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Security International. pp. 296–309.
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