The urban guerrilla campaign is a kind of revolutionary operation that takes place in the urban environment.
Where traditional guerrilla war is fought in the rural countryside, the guerrilla struggle in the urban setting is forced to take a different shape because of the circumstances and increased repression. Historically, the campaigns organized by the FNL in Algeria and the Acao Libertadora Nacional in Brazil are good examples of urban guerrilla organization.
Che Guevara's brand of guerrilla theory cautioned that urban guerrilla warfare in particular is extremely dangerous. He was not wrong. The densely populated terrain is heavily infiltrated with police and military. It is an environment that is under full surveillance. It is an environment that is crawling with informants. Worse yet, it is an environment where there are very few places to hide and where being encircled by police is a greater possibility. Because of these dangers, guerrilla fighter and theorist Carlos Marighella restructured traditional guerrilla organization in order to better suit the urban struggle.
The basic goals of the urban guerrilla campaign is to bring the regime of oppression, which is centralized in the cities, to its knees. This can only be possible through a broad base of popular support, without which the campaign is doomed from the start. The urban guerrilla must depend on the people fully to move about anonymously, gain information, resources, and at the height of urban guerrilla struggle, rise up against the regime in full blown peoples war.
The cities is where empire is at its most vigilant and its most vulnerable. A well organized urban guerrilla campaign that is leveled at the bureaucratic structures, institutions, and centers of power can cause massive damage to a regime that will eventually eliminate it.
Step One: Are Conditions Right For A Guerrilla Campaign?
Conditions are best for guerrilla struggle to begin when all other forms of popular dissent have been exhausted. There must be an adequate and palpable amount of discontent for the current regime in the eyes of the people. If there isn't, you can continue escalating the situation with protests and other direct action campaigns until the anger is at the proper level.
Step Two: The Guerrilla Group
The guerrilla foco or "firing group" as Marighella called it, consists of 4-5 fighters. In the urban setting the group is loosely structured and functions horizontally. There is no one person who is in command though members may naturally take leadership roles as needed. You must find members who are extremely trustworthy, discreet, and can work as a team. The group will be tight-knit and its small size is to prevent state infiltration. Instead of waiting for commands from a centralized leadership, it is up to the guerrilla group itself to determine its course of action. Multiple independent guerrilla groups operate both together and autonomously in the urban terrain with no clear central command or a very loosely based central command that is non-hierarchical and participates in the fighting. The decentralized urban guerrilla network functions to limit the chances of a security breach and increase the movements ability to act.
Step Three: Popular Support
Remember that popular support is a basic necessity for the survival of any guerrilla movement, and is even more imperative for the urban campaign. The failure to secure popular support will result in the swift extermination of you and the movement. The state controlled media will attempt to label the guerrilla activities as terrorist attacks. The people must know that the urban guerrilla movement is not a terrorist organization but a genuine revolutionary organization that is an expression of the peoples interest. You must show this by providing the basic needs of the people through the theft and radical redistribution of resources. Stealing from the rich to give to the poor disrupts the balance of power and is a sure-fire way to popularize guerrilla insurgency. You must also make use of communication with the people via radio, video, internet, print, and above all word of mouth.
Step Four: Getting Familiar With The Terrain
The urban terrain is the greatest weapon of the urban guerrilla and one that the guerrilla will use time and time again to inflict damage onto the oppressors while escaping danger. The guerrilla fighters must know every in and out, every neighborhood, every street corner like the back of their hand. It is helpful to also know the sewer systems, rooftops and the electrical lines.
When planing a getaway from the police the urban guerrilla must know every short-cut, crevice and passageway. They must know the urban environment better than the police. Most importantly, the guerrilla fighter must know the location of every police precinct in the city. When planing a guerrilla mission you should always map out the closest police precinct in the area and predict the response time. The urban guerrilla is always one step ahead of the police because they are smarter than the police and have had the advantage of observing and knowing the enemy.
The urban guerrilla's secret power is the ability to strike and then disappear among a sea of random people. The guerrilla fighter, always wearing a mask to hide their true identity, can easily and quickly abandon their disguise to become an anonymous face in a crowd. And when popular support is where it needs to be, the crowd will refuse to cooperate with the police in giving up the guerrilla fighter.
Step Five: Guerrilla Operations
The kinds of missions the urban guerrilla will be engaged in are generally sabotage, theft, and targeted attacks on administrative infrastructure and officials. Because the interest is always toward popular support, these attacks are made with the most careful consideration of the safety of innocent people. The chief difference between a terrorist and urban guerrilla fighter is one of political ethics. The guerrilla fighter's target are the structures of oppression present in the current administration.
Missions of the urban guerrilla should begin with robberies of known members of the ruling class bourgeois. These robberies are used as a training ground for novice guerrilla fighters to learn the ropes of guerrilla tactics. They are also used to supply the guerrilla group with resources, weapons, and money to be redistributed to the masses of people. The guerrilla movement should then graduate to robbing banks and corporate entities. When the guerrilla fighters are sufficiently trained and have enough resources, the targeted attacks on the administration should begin. These may include power outages of government buildings, theft of government documents, bombings, cyber attacks, kidnappings and/or assignations of key regime officials.
Step Six: Peoples War
The urban guerrilla campaign reaches its height when enough of the general public is radicalized and the regime is in such a weakened and demoralized state that the people themselves take the necessary steps to bring an end to the regime. The guerrilla movement serves as an inspiration for wide-scale revolt. In such a situation the number of urban guerrilla groups multiply with new recruits who form their own guerrilla units. The urban guerrilla, who is also the street protester, may help to coordinate large scale protests, rioting, general strikes and industrial sabotage. The urban guerrilla movement itself works in close cooperation with the people, provides protection from military repression, and provides the space for the people to deliver the final blow to the administration.