Terrorism, an issue that plagues our world every minute of everyday. You never know when or where a terrorist organization is going to strike. All groups reasons are different, some for political or religious reasons, others for hatred.
The roots of terrorism are believed to have started in 1007 A.D. Hassan ben Sabbah born in Qom, Iran was an Ishmaili Muslim and opposed all other Muslim groups except for the Ishmaili’s. He is believed to be the father of terrorism. Ben Sabbah’s actions had started a whole new trend, people began to follow his actions and started to form terrorist organizations. Terrorism started back then and its motives and tactics have continued to evolve through the reign of Stalin and Lenin in the Soviet Union and Mao Tse-tung in China. Many people consider what Hitler did in Germany to be terrorism, and when you actually think about it, it makes sense. When you define terrorism most definitions say it is the act of violence and/or intimidation to achieve certain political or religious goals. The definition of a terrorist is a person that employs terror or terrorism as a political weapon. And when you think about that definition that pretty much fits Hitler. He wanted to create a society that fit his personal political agenda. Of course the examples are from world history, but what about in the United States? Do we have terrorism in our own country committed by our citizens? Of course we do, take the Oklahoma City Bombing for example. Timothy McVeigh, out for himself and his own political agenda. The first act of terrorism recorded in the US was in 1622 committed by Indians, when they massacred the people in the settlement of Jamestown. Terrorism is problem everywhere not just the middle east, contrary to what people think.
People think there is such a thing as a “typical terrorist”, but there really is not. I guess it could be said that terrorists are stereotyped in many ways. Many people believe that terrorists in the Middle East are either Muslims or Islamic, which is not true either. Just because a person is of one region of the world it does not mean they are a terrorist. As far as I am concerned it could be a next door neighbor. But to understand what terrorism is you must first understand the causes; the motivation to commit these acts of violence.
First, at the government level states may use terrorism against their own people or other nations for several reason. One states may wish to force their message of ideology, politics, or religion upon people or other nations. Second states may use terrorism to eliminate dissent among the population. Third governments may resort to terrorism to eliminate normal political systems or because of fear of another system developing and being embraced by citizens. Fourth, the government may use terror to harass, control, or eliminate political, religious, or radical minorities. Fifth, the government may be in constant conflict with external enemies. Sixth, the government may be in business purely for itself and for what it can get without regard to the welfare of its citizens(Mullins 90).
Then there is the reasoning behind individual terrorism. An individual terrorist’s act is very different from that of a group or how a government would use terrorism. Although the ideology and motivation is the same; to invoke a violent act to achieve some political ends, how it is wanted by the individual. Some reasons for an individual committing terrorist acts are: First, minorities that are economically or politically repressed with poor job opportunities are prone to terrorism. Second, rising employment and inflation can result in people turning to terrorism in and attempt to force improvements in economic and workforce conditioned.
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Terrorism in the United States
Terrorism is an international problem, which includes more than terrorist acts. It includes sabotage, destruction of property, efforts to injure, efforts to kill, propaganda that attempts to justify violence, intimidation, and threats. However, terrorism is defined as "the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives," by the FBI (The Terrorism Research Center). Most terrorism is blind in that its acts are not meant distinctively for civilians, servicemen, or politicians. Thus terrorism can be deleterious to all people, regardless of religion, creed, age, gender, or social status.
The approaching millenium brings even more terrorist acts than ever due to the fact that the millenium is thought to be the Apocalypse. Satan, the Christian version of the Devil, and its counterparts are prophesized to roam the earth after the Apocalypse. Some terrorists think that they are trying to prepare this world for them. Even though this group numbers few, the destruction its members cause is quite large-scale.
Currently, there are over 90 major terrorist organizations worldwide, making terrorism a very urgent ever-growing problem. However, the number of counterrorist organizations varies from nation to nation. Even though most nations have counterrorist special operations forces (SOFs), they usually are undermanned, lacking in training, and underequipped (Special Operations.com). There are some exceptions to this generalization though. Israel and Thailand both have high-tech SOFs that are very successful at their designated tasks. This generalization is also not true of the United States and other world powers, such as Great Britian, Russia, and China.
In the United States, there are eight major SOF units. They are: the U.S. Navy Special Warfare Units; the U.S. Army Special Operations Units, the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Units, the U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations-Capable Units, the Joint Special Operations Command Units also known as (aka) JSOC Units; SFOD-D aka "Delta Force", Task Force 160 aka "Night Stalkers", and DEV Group aka "SEAL Team Six" (Special Operations.com). These various SOF units all have distinct areas in which they specialize and have precedence in. Yet, most of these units work together in order to eliminate the possibility of mistakes and to lessen the burden of the task.
Even though these SOF units are very successful, the United States government can do much more to combat terrorism. Present counterterrorist legislation is much too lax for the Computer Age, in that it does not account for security measures pertaining to all areas and events where masses of people gather. The U.S. government should make new staunch comprehensive legislation in order to successfully deal with terrorist activities within the United States and its territories and protectorates (Security Resource Net's Counter terrorism).
Terrorism will become the new type of warfare after the upcoming millenium for a variety of reasons. Since almost every country will have massive stockpiles of weapons, be they nuclear or not, and most countries are against using nuclear weapons, it is much more likely that terrorist attacks and biological warfare will be used. Thus, terrorism will be used much more widespread than they are presently. In reaction to this, security in all public and private buildings should be greatly increased. However, security will never be able to reach the point where Americans are totally safe and if security is increased enough to make citizens feel safe, it will be too much. This is due to the fact that most people only feel safe when they are totally safe and in order to do this, it will require hundreds of security guards in every building nationwide.
Terrorism occurs frequently enough in the United States to warrant strong legislation that impedes upon individual rights. Terrorist acts occur so frequently that at anytime of any single day anywhere an act of terrorism can be witnessed (The Terrorism Research Center). Comprehensive legislation about terrorism should be enacted no matter what rights it encroaches upon.
Defending the nation against terrorism in the twenty-first century could be very costly. Since terrorism will be the biggest threat to national security, no monetary figures should be taken into account when trying to defend against it. Even though counterterrorist measures will be very costly, they will insure against nationwide havoc and anarchy.
Recently, the U.S. has given large sums of money to countries in order to improve anti-terrorist policies. This aid is very important and should be continued indefinitely because of the U.S.'s novice status in dealing with terrorism. Even though the threat of terrorism is apparent when the U.S. gives financial aid to other countries, it is well worth it because the more money the U.S. gives out, that much less of a threat terrorism is. As a result of the U.S.'s status, foreign powers, such as Israel, should definitely give aid to the U.S. especially in the areas of tactics and training, where the U.S. can benefit the most. However, the United Nations is not doing enough to prevent international terrorism. Even though the United Nations knows the countries that promote terrorism, they do not enact many measures against these countries. If the UN did more to prevent terrorism, it would not be as widespread a problem as it presently is. Immigration should be regulated somewhat in order to prevent international terrorism. When immigrants try to get into this country, an extremely comprehensive background check should be made in order to insure that known terrorists and members of terrorist groups do not enter.
When countries support or harbor terrorists, the U.S. government may not be obligated to attack as retaliation but must be obligated to enact measures against the offending country. For example, if Russia harbors terrorists that bombed the Pentagon, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives should cut off aid and trade to Russia, making a statement that the U.S. does not approve of their actions. A non-violent response will not portray the U.S. as a weak state but a non-active one will. However, if retaliatory violence is used, it will lead to further attacks and extents as drastic as war.
Osama bin Laden is very treacherous and will be extremely dangerous in the years to come. The U.S. should not wait for him to launch another attack but rather should attack his forces and bases as soon as the Kosovo Mission with NATO is complete. If the U.S. is inactive, the risk would be far greater than if the U.S. does act because, other nations will feel that the U.S. has softened and will be more willing to attack or take action against us.
When dealing with domestic terrorism, much emphasis should not be put on the protection of individual rights because if emphasis is put upon their protection, there will be no way to combat domestic terrorism. The cost of human life easily transcends the cost of losing one's individual rights because terroristic acts usually hurt a large amount of people, not only one. The FBI should be given the power to use wiretaps because it is an extremely plausible way to combat terrorism. It would not infringe upon constitutional rights because some of these rights are expendable for protection and national security. The rights of the individual do not outweigh the safety of the greater majority. Also, gun control is not mandatory in protecting against domestic terrorism because if a person has a gun or not, it will not decide whether or not that person will commit a terroristic act. A reformation of the habeas corpus right will go against the defense of individual rights because it will still protect but it will be changed a little.
The U.S. government's policy of counter-terrorism is somewhat effective but could be much more effective if it was stauncher and not as lax. New legislation should be enacted and less leeway should be given to citizens. Also, rights should be withheld on certain accounts. When constitutional rights are involved nothing is too far except violating the First Amendment.
Terrorism can range from airplane hijackings to a World Trade Center bombing and everything in between. Terrorism will become the prominent form of war in the twenty-first century and will cause much havoc if more is not done by the United Nations as a whole. Terrorists will overrun many a country if stauncher policies are taken by the major world powers, especially the United States, in order to counteract terrorism.
Counterterrorism and Security International. [Online] Available. http://www.antiterrorism.org, 3/11/99.
The Counter - Terrorism Page. [Online] Available. http://www.terrorism.net, 4/2/99.
ICT - Terrorism and Counterterrorism. [Online] Available. http://www.ict.org.il/, 2/27/99.
The Library of Congress. [Online] Available. http://www.loc.gov, 2/29/99.
Maechling, Charles Jr. "Terrorism." Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. 1998 ed. Computer Software.
Security Resource Net's Counter Terrorism. [Online] Available. http://nsi.org/terrorism.html, 3/27/99.
Special Operations.com. [Online] Available. http://www.specialoperations.com, 4/1/99.
The Terrorism Research Center. [Online] Available. http://www.terrorism.com, 3/20/99.
U.S. Senate. [Online] Available. http://www.senate.gov, 2/11/99.
The U.S. State Department Policy: Counterterrorism. [Online] Available. http://www.state.gov/www/global/terrorism/, 3/8/99.