Terrorism

Terrorism has deep historical roots as a threat to peaceful existence of nations and common citizens. Terrorism, as opposed to other forms of violence, is the systematically applied threat or use of illegitimate force with the designed intent of achieving a goal by means of such a method as coercion. It is violence used as a policy; it is fear or terror engendered on an organized basis.
Terrorism is defined as (1) “intended to inflict death or seriously bodily harm upon civilians or other persons (presumably military personnel) not taking part in hostilities and (2) its purpose is to intimidate a population or persuade a government or international organization to adopt a certain policy” (Weiss, 2002, p.25). Terrorism has many applications, including purely criminal purposes; it is politically motivated terrorism, however, which is of major concern in the modem context. Motivational basis, therefore, is examined first in assessing the nature of the threat presented by the phenomenon of terrorism. Included within the context is brief reference to the contemporary historical development of terrorist activity, because in many cases the two aspects are rooted together. Following Oliverio, “The process by which the definition of terrorism is shaped and enforced involves a theoretical approach that recognizes “terrorism" as a historically and contextually produced discourse, and understood in contemporary U.S. society is the by-product of an androcentric discourse in which relationsod domination are central to an understanding of identity” (Oliverio, 1997, p. 48).
Prior to the mid-1960s, terrorist activity could be feasibly described as relatively localized in scale and intensity, being generally confined within specific countries or narrowly limited to certain regions as a consequence of cross-border intrusions. In the wake of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, however, a new dimension became evident when the PLO began international reprisal attacks against Israeli targets in foreign states. Terrorism began to change in character from what had been previously viewed as something of a domestic problem to that of a threat having major international proportions.
Historically, terrorism used in this context has been principally domestic in nature, typical of groups such as the Ku Klux Klan in the USA, and more recently the activities of the Black Liberation Army, Posse Comitatus, and the Jewish Defence League. An alarming international character has evolved, however, in the resurgence of Muslim fundamentalism emanating from the seizure of power in Iran by the Ayatolla Khomeini and his supporters. Suicide bombing attacks mounted by fanatical Shi'ias have markedly raised the threshold of danger, especially to western interests. Today, terrorism represents modern civilization and has been largely used as a political tool. “The concept of terrorism is inextricably associated with the formation and expansion of modern nation-states, including control of territory, moral boundaries, human resources, and the construction of political identities” (Oliverio, 1997, p. 48).
In parallel with all of the foregoing there has been growth in the use of terrorism by radical ideological movements. The Charles Mattel Club of France, the Black Order of Italy, the Angry Brigade of England, and the Communist Combatant Cells of Belgium are illustrative of the broad spectrum from the far Right through fascism and anarchism to the far Left. More widely publicized, of course, have been the activities of the Red Army Faction of Germany and the Red Brigades of Italy. Of late, an offshoot has appeared in the use of terrorist-type tactics to highlight the objectives associated with environmental protection, pollution, nuclear proliferation, and even the rapid advance of modern technology. Examples of the trend are found in the bombing by Direct Action in Canada of a firm engaged in the manufacturing of parts for cruise missiles, the attacks by a Swiss ecology group against military training areas in that European nation, assaults upon computer firms by Action Directe in France, and the placing of bombs in the vicinity of nuclear reactor sites in West Germany. Animal-rights activists in Britain and anti-abortionists in the USA have also demonstrated a willingness to resort to terrorist methods in an attempt to draw attention to their aims (Hewitt, 2002).
Dramatic strides in technological innovation, sharply defined international power blocs, and the striving for influence in developing nations, as well as religious, ethnic, and cultural discord are all roots of terrorism. “Nonstate terrorism includes both anti-state terror and vigilante terror, but it is usually anti-state terrorism that is the focus of attentionв ”violence against recognized states by small groups without the power of a state” (Stout Vol 3, 2002, p.4).
While the police have a front-line responsibility for response to terrorism in Canada, should their resources be overstressed in an emergency, the military are capable of providing assistance. The CF, especially the Army, have a long history of providing military aid to the civil power. During the early years of the nation, the call for such aid was frequently abused by municipalities that disliked the idea of funding a regular police force. The years between the two world wars brought a distinct change to the policy, and in recent times the military has been more usually summoned to assist at time of national disasters, e.g. floods and forest fires. (Hewitt, 2002)
Racial ethnic and religious frictions are sources of militancy in which terrorism has featured in an attempt to secure particular goals. Psychologists identify terrorists as psychopaths who “are law-breakers, deceitful, aggressive, and reckless in disregarding the safety of self and others. They do not feel remorse for hurting others. As some individuals cannot see color, psychopaths cannot feel empathy or affection for others” (Stout, Vol. 3, 2002, p.6).
From the standpoint of the practicalities of response, identification of the motivation underlying acts of terrorism offers more benefit than a pedantic attempt at definition of the phenomenon. A number of reasons support that opinion, such as the feasibility of developing appropriate policies of response, recognition of likely targets of terrorist interest, aggregation and assignment of suitable protective resources, as well as other measures which must be implemented, not the least of which being the nature of publicity to be devoted to the problem. “Thus, in a society characterized by a culture of racism and prejudice it is not surprising that acts of terrorism occur” (Stout, Vol. 4, 2002, p.13).
Closely aligned to movements with nationalist aspirations, separatist and irredentist groups have formed a conspicuous part of the international terrorist membership. Some groups, as in the case of the FLQ in Canada, succumbed in the face of determined governmental opposition; others, such as ETA in Spain, continue to survive despite strenuous efforts by security forces to suppress them. One variety of this category, unable to surface within their homelands, has transported terrorism to other nations where its chosen targets are diplomatic or exile communities. The cost in lives and in property destroyed by terrorist atrocities has been considerable, despite disclaimers that the loss of life is proportionally minor when compared to other statistical evidence.
State terrorism is not a novel form of behaviour and has been a regular practice over the centuries in many countries. Colonel Gaddafi, for example, has been guilty of its application in his pursuit of dissidents both domestically and internationally. He is not unique in the abovementioned activity activity; Stalin had his agents follow Trotsky to Mexico for assassination.
The openness of liberal-democratic societies is a factor in making them vulnerable to terrorist assault. Undoubtedly different laws do contribute to difficulties on the part of the law enforcement and intelligence services, especially in terms of information sharing within the international community. The legislation has also resulted in the destruction of valuable intelligence records, created expensive administrative arrangements and caused ridiculous use of security classifications. Nonetheless, it has added to the nations' strengths by allowing citizens to observe the workings of their respective governments at close range, be reasonably certain that covert wrongdoings will ultimately be exposed and that the democratic system of government will not be subverted or undermined. Following Cohn, it is possible to say that “the only path to safety and security is through international law, not vengeance and retaliation” (Cohn, 2002, p. 25).
Hewitt cites emergency legislation and the use of security forces as examples of the former; the liberal-democratic policy of adherence to the rule of law would also fall within that category. In other words, macro policy is one which has a wide application and a general dimension. The British Government's traditional policy of maintaining an unarmed police force in Great Britain would equate, too, although representing a course of inaction. Micro policy, on the other hand, is suggestive of a more narrow involvement, such as hostage negotiations and surveillance techniques. Micro policy encompasses individual circumstances, means, and methods. (Hewitt, 2002)
Terrorists attacks on September 11 have posed many problems in the development and administration of immigration policy forcing it to become increasingly attuned to more positive emphasis on the reasons and means for admittance. The application of force against terrorists, without any corresponding effort to understand their grievance or to implement specific reforms to rectify what may be legitimate problems, may produce some immediate results but usually does not constitute a viable strategy and may, in fact, only postpone the ultimate threat. “This war in increasingly being seen as an attempt by extra-regional powers to implement a form of neo-imperialist domination at the beginning of the 2lst century” (Cohn, 2002, p. 25). Today, the unitary system of government of the USA is a distinct advantage in coping with the threat of terrorism.
To protect its citizens from terrorists’ attacks nations should have a strong national interest in formulating an effective policy to counter domestic and international terrorism, and need to be able to develop special strengths and resources to deal with the challenges of modern terrorism.

References
1. Cohn, M. Understanding, Responding to and Preventing Terrorism. Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ), 2002, p. 25.
2. Hewitt, Ch. Understanding Terrorism in America: From the Klan to Al Qaeda. Routledge, 2002.
3. Oliverio, Annamarie. The State of Injustice: The Politics of Terrorism and the Production of Order. International Journal of Comparative Sociology, Vol. 38, 1997, p. 48.
4. Stout, Chris E. The Psychology of Terrorism: Theoretical Understandings and Perspectives Vol. 3, Praeger, 2002.
5. Stout, Chris E. The Psychology of Terrorism: Programs and Practices in Response and Prevention Vol. 4, Praeger, 2002.
6. Weiss, Peter. Terrorism, Counterterrorism and International Law. Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ), 2002, p. 25.


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Terrorism 9.5 of 10 on the basis of 966 Review.