Terrorism is defined as violence or the threat of violence intended to create an atmosphere of fear or alarm in order to effect social and political change. This definition is consistent with the explanation provided by a South American jurist more than 30 years ago: “Terrorism consists of acts that may be classified as classic crimes, such as murder, arson, or the use of explosives, but differ from classic crimes in that they are committed with the deliberate intent of causing panic and terror within a structured or organized society1. It is the use of violence, and especially the fear it instills in people, for political purposes.2

The Terrorism Research Center defined it as “the systematic use of physical violence against civilians.”

noncombatants, but with a larger audience in mind than the immediate victim, in order to create a general climate of fear in a large population in order to effect some kind of political and social change”3.

Terrorism is defined by the FBI as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the population, or any segment thereof in furtherance of political and social objectives.”

4. Terrorism is defined as the act of inflicting terror on people in order to achieve personal or political goals5.

Although the above definitions correctly conclude that there is no precise or widely accepted definition of terrorism, it is widely accepted.

Terrorism is defined as the use of covert violent actions to achieve specific goals. It is a type of covert attack directed at targets that are not clearly military in nature. Though the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington DC are prominent examples, the majority of terrorist attacks are directed at domestic regimes or other targets within the terrorist’s own country7.

Terrorism is not a new phenomenon on the global stage. Northern Ireland had been dealing with terrorists for over forty years, Israel with Palestinian terrorists for nearly as long, and Spain with Basque terrorists for nearly as long.

Although the use of terrorism as a political tool dates back centuries, recent decades have seen an increase in its use.

There has been an increase in the practice for a variety of reasons. One example is the overwhelming advantage that governments typically have in terms of weapons over dissident groups. Because many governments are armed with aircraft and other high-tech weapons that opposition forces do not have, it has become nearly impossible for armed dissidents to use conventional tactics.

Second, terrorist targets are more easily accessible than in the past: people are more concentrated in urban areas, including large buildings; there are numerous airline flights; and more and more people travel abroad. Third, the widespread availability of instant visual news via television and satellite communications allows terrorists to easily gain an audience. This is significant because terrorism is rarely directed at its victims.

Instead, it is meant to frighten others. Fourth, technological advancements have resulted in the development of increasingly lethal weapons that terrorists can use to kill and injure large numbers of people. Biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological weapons are among the technological “advances”7.

Terrorist attacks are a fairly common occurrence. There were 423 international terrorist attacks in 2000, many of which occurred across national borders, as well as numerous incidents of domestic terrorism. Throughout this period, however, Americans were unconcerned about terrorism. For example, in a 1999 poll that asked Americans to name two or three top foreign policy concerns, only 12% mentioned terrorism as a concern. 8

The terrorists of September 11, 2001 shattered this American’s sense of security.

The World Trade Center was destroyed, the Pentagon was severely damaged, a hijacked airliner crashed in Pennsylvania, and over 3,000 people were killed.

President George W. Bush quickly responded by declaring a war on terrorism9. A coalition of forces led by the United States intervened in Afghanistan, toppling the Taliban government that had supported Al Qaeda and attacking Al Qaeda forces there. Later, President Bush claimed that Iraq, Iran, and North Korea formed a “axis of evil” that was guilty of state terrorism, among other things. In March 2003, the United States, in collaboration with the United Kingdom and other countries known as the Coalition of the Willing, launched an attack on Iraq, claiming, among other things, that Iraq’s support for terrorism justified the attack.

It is a global threat and an outlaw nation. 10

Terrorists use a variety of methods to achieve their goals, whether they are individuals or groups sponsored by a state. Some of these are briefly stated below:

Kidnapping: Taking one or more victims and transporting them to a safe location. The Niger Delta Terrorist Movements regularly kidnap people using this method.

Barricade Hostage: Seizure of a facility with whatever hostages are available, contingent on terrorist demand.

Bombing: A major bombing is the use of any type of explosive or device for terrorist purposes, including those delivered through the mail, and when there is enough demand or casualties, the terrorist group claims responsibility. For example, in March 2004, a commuter bombing killed 191 people and injured 1800.

London bombings on July 7 – On the first day of the 31st G8 Conference, bombs detonate on a double-decker bus and three London Underground trains, killing 56 people and injuring over 700. The attacks are Western Europe’s first suicide bombings.

Hijacking: An attempt to seize an airplane, ship, or other vehicle containing a hostage in order to force some action or movement to another country in exchange for an agreement by authorities involved in the terrorists’ demand.

Armed attack: An attempt to seize or damage a facility with no intention of holding it for negotiations.

Assassination: An attempt, whether successful or not, to kill a predetermined victim, usually with small arms or letter bombs, is carried out in this small category; in many cases, there is a motive.

specific intended victim.

Sabotage is the intentional destruction of property through any means, including bombing.

Exotic Pollution: The use of exotic substances, such as atomic, chemical, or biological contaminants, to contaminate materials in the targeted state. For example, the presence of mercury in oranges shipped from Israel.

Threat for hoax: A terrorist group’s stated intent to carry out an attack or a false alert of authorities about a terrorist attack by a named group.

Most of the methods terrorists use to carry out their activities are becoming obsolete as most governments become more effective in combating terrorist elements.

Few governments are as eager as they were a few years ago to free captured terrorists simply to avoid further trouble.

Terrorists carry out attacks. In dealing with hostage situations or cases, most governments have adopted a non-concessions, non-negotiation policy. 11

Physical security around potential targets, for example, has become more difficult, though it is still possible to smuggle weapons abroad via airlines. Embassies are turning into virtual fortresses (especially after the terrorists attack on the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998).

Diplomatic and top executives frequently travel in armored limousines accompanied by armed body guards (for example, the coming of former United States President Bill Clinton into Nigeria and Ghana with armored limousines and several CIA and FBI agents). Despite these undeniable achievements, the global volume of terrorist activity has increased. Terrorism has also increased.


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