Terrorism and Politics
- Definition of Terrorism
Terrorism is not a new practice, and although it has been happening since the period of recorded history, it could be relatively difficult to define (Law, 2009). Terrorism could be defined differently as both a scheme and policy; a criminal activity and a sacred task; a reasonable response to subjugation and an unpardonable outrage. Evidently, much relies on the viewpoint being signified. Terrorism has frequently been a successful approach for the weaker side in a conflict. As an asymmetrical kind of conflict, it presents coercive supremacy with most of the benefits of military strength at a portion of the outlay. Attributable to the tight-lipped nature and the minimal extent of terrorist groups, they normally offer enemies no evident approach to ward off or to put off. This is the reason behind the preemption being deemed extremely significant. In a number of instances, terrorism has been a way of carrying on a conflict devoid of the opponent accomplishing the reaction to the danger, misconceiving terrorism for a criminal undertaking. Due to such attributes, terrorism has turned progressively widespread amid the people pursuing great objectives across the globe.
Nonetheless, regardless of its recognition, terrorism could be an indefinable occurrence. Even the United States organizations accountable for diverse tasks in the continuing battle against terrorism and radicalism employ varying definitions (Laquer, 2004). For instance, the United States Department of Defense describes terrorism as the planned application of illegal hostility or threat of criminal aggression to instill fear; with the purpose of compelling or intimidating governments or organizations to attain objectives that are usually political, ideological, or religious. The application of the aforementioned definition encompasses three major components that include hostility, fear, and intimidation, and every component creates affright in the victims.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines terrorism as the illegal application of force and aggression against people or property with the intention of intimidating or compelling a government, the public, or any part thereof, in advancement of social or political goals. In its part, the United States Department of State identifies terrorism as the planned politically stimulated hostility perpetrated in opposition to non-fighter targets by sub-state groupings or secret agents, normally meant to sway an audience. Away from the US government, there are wider deviations in what aspects of terrorism are highlighted in definitions (Stiles & James, 2002). The United Nations defined terrorism as an anxiety-stimulating means of frequent cruel activity, applied by (semi-) undercover people, organizations, or national actors, with the purpose of achieving idiosyncratic, unlawful, or political motives, whereby contrary to assassination, the specific targets of terrorism are not the core targets.
The mainly extensively applied definition of terrorism is the one by the United Nations with some addition wording. The government of Britain has for long been defining terrorism as the application of hostility for political reasons, and encompasses any use of aggression with the intention of putting the public, or a section of the public, in terror. In brief, terrorism denotes a criminal activity that sways an audience past the specific victim. The approach of terrorists is to commit actions of violence that attracts the concentration of the local population, the government, and the globe to their reason (Lessing, 2010). Terrorism is designed to realize the utmost publicity, selecting targets that signify what it is against. The success of terrorism does not lie in the undertaking itself, but the response of the government and the public to its occurrence.
- State Terrorism
State terrorism denotes the actions of terrorism carried out by a nation in opposition to another country, foreigners, or its residents. Countries usually resort to terrorism to sway sections of the population or depend on powerful characteristics of state establishments. A government that carries out state terrorism terrifies its citizens to influence or suppress them. Such activities normally amount to the acknowledged strategy of the government and employ official establishments, for instance, the judiciary, police force, and armed forces, in addition to other government institutions (Freilich & LaFree, 2015). Modifications of legal systems allow or support torment, killing, or property damage in carrying out government strategies. In some undertakings, government officials engage in the use of terror attacks. Such actions could be designed against another country’s interests, its own citizens, or foreigners perceived to be unsafe to the nation. In the majority of instances, the actions of state terrorism occur under official approval though such endorsement is seldom done openly.
An example of state terrorism is the application of death squads. Officials or functionaries of the government (for instance, the policemen or intelligence agencies) could carry out such unofficial activities in opposition to some citizens with the aim of suppressing or intimidating them. Though such functionaries will not own up such actions and mask their contribution, it is usually made evident that they are performing for the government. Maintaining such actions unofficial allows the government institutions deniability and evades the requirement of altering legal, as well as judicial procedures, to validate repression. This undertaking differs from pro-state terrorism, which is carried out by organizations or people with no official status and devoid of official support (Freilich & LaFree, 2015). Although pro-state terrorism could lead to positive results in favor of the government, its application of unlawful techniques without support from the government could cause disclaimer and penalization of the involved terrorists, which is reliant on the principles of the government under consideration.
State terrorism is normally a great problem since the nations have the authority to define terrorism operationally and punish the terrorists. Different from non-state organizations, nations have legislative authority to declare what terrorism is and determine the punishment for the terrorists. The governments have the power at their disposal, and they could lay assertion to the legal application of aggression in different practices that the public cannot, to an extent beyond the possibility of the public (Freilich & LaFree, 2015). The public just has language at their disposal and can just label state aggression terrorism but cannot act in punishment of the terrorists. In this regard, the disagreements involving the nations and their opponents have a rhetorical aspect.
There is a great disagreement regarding state terrorism with respect to whether it is really terrorism. Terrorism is known to target innocent civilians, and this aspect creates disagreement as to whether state terrorism is terrorism in actual sense since it does not target innocent civilians (Freilich & LaFree, 2015). There has been arguments that the declaration of warfare or allowing the armed forces to engage in war against militaries from other countries and that the application of hostility to reprimand the criminals that have been convicted of violent criminal activities is not terrorism. On the contrary, similar to the notion of equating any action of armed forces with terrorism, there are people that associate any application of government command or power in opposition to any section of the populace with terrorism.
- How Terrorism Has Changed
Terrorism has been constantly changing. Though by the look it remains the planned application of illegal, violent behavior or threat of illegal hostility to instill fear, it is quickly turning into the major tactical instrument of the enemies (Comas, Shrivastava, & Martin, 2015). With terrorism changing into the major irregular war policy of the contemporary times, it is acclimatizing to the modifications in the global socio-political setting. A number of such modifications enhance the capacities of the terrorists to function, obtain financial support, and develop new skills such as the making of weapons of mass destruction and raising lethal ways of destruction. Other transformations are progressively changing the terrorism into a different connection with the globe, in general.
Terrorism is greatly destructive and feared in the contemporary times. All through the advancement of terrorism, terrorist groups have realized many tactical innovations to achieve their objectives more successfully (Comas et al., 2015). Recently terrorist groups have resorted to the application of weapons of mass destruction to instill fear in their enemies though the soundness of this approach is not comprehensively comprehended. Weapons of mass destruction encompass such things as biological, chemical, and nuclear weaponry. The increasing cruelty employed in terrorism, such as the utilization of chemicals and suicide bombs by the al Qaeda in carrying out their operations, evidently demonstrates that terrorists are greatly ready to employ techniques that are more destructive. It is hard to think of a more radical approach to terrorism than the application of high-powered weapons of mass destruction. Be it biological, nuclear, or chemical, weapons of mass destruction have the capacity to kill a huge number of individuals at a high cost to the terrorists.
Terrorists are currently employing chemical weapons, which are highly lethal synthetic poisons that are generated as a gas or liquid, and that can effortlessly kill or fatally wound huge numbers of people in regions that are densely populated. Since chemical weapons are simply generated privately, it is easy for terrorists to use them as a terror stratagem. In addition, the application of chemical weaponry by terrorist groups creates a reasonable next stride in the intensification of terrorism brutality with time. Biological weaponry has also become a practical terror approach for terrorist groups with the manpower and finances to implement their plans accurately (Comas et al., 2015). The rationale behind the application of biological weaponry is the diffusion of pathogenic microorganisms into the populace to lead to illnesses and fatalities. Biological weaponry has been attractive in terrorism as it could be confused with a natural eruption that is dispelled gradually, and this allows the terrorists to depart from the sight leaving the liability for the attack hard to establish.
Nevertheless, both biological and chemical weapons appear trivial when judged against the possible application of nuclear weapons, which release an enormous quantity of energy from nuclear reactions. Nuclear weapons are very expensive and can only be generated by scientifically superior personnel (Comas et al., 2015). Though it is hard to foretell the natural sequence of terrorist cruelty, it appears as if the cost efficient and non-labor exhaustive generation of chemical weaponry will turn their extensive application by terrorist organizations a possible next stride in the development of terrorism. The biggest hindrance to the use of weapons of mass destruction in terrorism is the intricacy of obtaining adequate levels of the desired materials, in addition to the shortage of technological proficiencies needed for the production of the weaponry. Presently, the extensive use of weapons of mass destruction in terrorism is an improbable threat though future advancements could make it possible. In this regard, cooperation by governments is vital to make sure that materials and expertise needed in weapons of mass destruction are restricted and turned away from terrorists with harmful objectives.
(3) Old and New Terrorism
The perception of new terrorism was started in the 1990s. Nevertheless, it was following the occurrence of September 2011 that the notion of a new and radically changed kind of terrorism attained extensive grasp and spread out to strategy spheres. Following the unparalleled happenings of September 2011, and the tremendous discernments they unavoidably roused, the idea soon became a section of the existing trendy, conservative understanding and the international shared political imaginary. From that time, the issue of old vs. new terrorism has been contended strongly (Comas et al., 2015). Proponents identify a radical change in the nature of terrorism, which, when judged against the old terrorism with its slack set of connections rather than organizational pecking orders, is international, instead of being localized in its operations.
Unlike the old terrorism, the new terrorism is highly targeted at the guiltless civilians, stimulated by spiritual extremism, instead of political ideologies, and set to result in maximum devastation. Hence, revolutionary acts as the distinction and a very sharp difference of the new from the old terrorism (Hoffman, 2006). The massive threats of new terrorism are calling on the governments across the globe to construct new structures for consideration and scrutiny. On the other hand, skeptics affirm that the notions of new terrorism are suggestive of the amnesic status of the 9/11 controversy surrounding terrorism and that the present terrorism is not an essentially or qualitatively new occurrence but based on a developing historical background.
The conclusions of the new terrorism are assumed unrestricted and non-flexible. In the new terrorism, terrorists are believed to have no red lines. On this note, the objectives of the terrorists are achieved mainly from religious beliefs that encourage transmutation and apocalyptical viewpoints, normally linked to Islam, though existing in all monotheistic religious convictions. The new terrorism is believed to detest Western, and particularly American, principles, mores, civilization, and the way of life. The aggression is momentous, not tactical, or subservient, and the devastation is a conclusion in itself, instead of a way to a conclusion (Hoffman, 2006). On the contrary, the objectives of the old terrorism are believed to have been flexible and restricted. The traditional goals of terrorism were comprehensible and tangible, characteristically associated with concerns of territorial sovereignty. In the old terrorism, deals could be made as the States could negotiate with the terrorists. In this regard, conflicts would be resolved as, to some extent, the terrorists were sagacious.
The approaches of the new terrorism are believed to be dissimilar from the ones of the old terrorism. The argument is that attributable to the ends of the new terrorism being unrestricted, so, also, are the approaches (Comas et al., 2015). In the new terrorism, the terrorists are supposed to be eager to cause the largest possible number of deaths amidst their rivals and be ready to sacrifice some of their own in the progression. On this note, the new terrorism is normally linked to the initiation of suicide terrorism with the terrorists also believed to be greatly inclined to organizations with the application of weapons of mass destruction. Apocalyptical stimulations are assumed to result in an unparalleled lethality. Presumably, for the new terrorism, the means have turned into an end, not a method of getting to an audience apart from the divine being. This way, the terrorists just concentrate on destroying as they are convinced that their deaths will automatically earn them a place in paradise and not merely political transformation. In contrast, the old terrorism is deemed more controlled and particular in targeting. In the old terrorism, the terrorists desired to have individuals watching and not their death. On this note, the terrorists imposed restraints on their endeavors since they centered on altering the perceptions of the popular audiences with the purpose of acquiring their assistance in the realization of their objectives. Though liable of turning greatly destructive, the old terrorists opted not to be intensely destructive.
The formation of the new terrorism is considered essentially dissimilar the one of the old terrorism. In the new terrorism, the terrorists are assumed to be decentralized, with flat interconnected machinery instead of just a hierarchical organizational formation. The terrorists are motivation-driven and frequently encompass amateurs. The sub-sections are expected to have considerable independence, and the structure is authentically international. On the contrary, the formation of the old terrorism was identified to be centralized and top-down where individual heads did not matter much (Comas et al., 2015).
Amid the aspects in terrorism is that valid grievances make some people establish that it is ethically permitted to kill civilians with the purpose of reversing a condition of political oppression and that the guiltless targets are intended as theatrical/representative violence. The terrorists claim that the ends validate the means (Kill Americans Everywhere, 1998). The acts of terrorism are meant to inculcate fear and are carried out for a spiritual, ideological, or political objective, and which purposely target or ignore the well-being of the innocent civilians. The acts of terrorism are usually politically reinforced and psychologically charged, which highly compounds the complexity of a perfect solution. An expansive array of political groups has carried out terrorism to realize their goals. The use of innocent civilians as symbolic violence by terrorists is meant to increase fear for them to attain their objectives easily. Nevertheless, the killing or injuring of innocent civilians is not rationally or ethically defensible (News Desk, 1996). In their actions, the terrorists intend to cause the death or severe injury to civilians to frighten a populace or force a government to grant their demands.
For instance, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is causing great problems past the confines of the two nations in the Middle East where it has a territorial foothold (Turner, 2015). This has raised inquiries regarding the sufficiency of the administration’s policy of fighting the group past its present territories. The disregard of appeals for mercy from across the Muslim world has result in the killing of innocent civilians by the ISIS, such as the beheading of Alan Henning, where the group has sought to perpetrate such acts in its approach for video terror brutality. The brutality by the ISIS is partially religious, a public assertion that its own ultra-destructive understanding of Islam is more genuine as compared to the descriptions of Muslim politicians, intellectuals, and common individuals that desire living in peace and getting on with the contemporary world. It commands identification that Islam can be propagated by the sword in the modern times, as in the past. The brutality is anchored in the political civilization of Syria and Iraq, the nations from which the group originated. The limits to which the leaders of the group and their supporters have progressed in opposition to Westerners has made the culture evident on a global platform, though they only reflect the actions that the leaders of the countries, and in a way their colonial masters, carried out or have been implementing for decades.
In the course of Iraqi warfare in 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also called the ISIS, issued many videos that demonstrated its cruel treatment of the innocent civilians, the majority of whom had actually been targeted because of their religion or society. In one instance, the ISIL killed Iraqi army soldiers and about seventeen civilians in one street (Turner, 2015). In a different instance, the ISIL led to the death of over one thousand innocent civilians in Iraq while injuring over 100o others. Following the release of the videos showing ISIL fighters killing many youthful civilians, the United Nations affirmed that the cold-blood killings by the terrorists in Iraq evidently amounted to serious infringements of the laws and practices of warfare thus resulting in criminal responsibility.
The actions of ISIS in Iraq were accompanied by ongoing fighting in Syria. Around mid last year, the ISIS attacked a village in Syria where around fifteen civilians lost their lives, encompassing, about 6 children. A mortuary in the region confirmed receiving the fifteen bodies. Moreover, a man aged 102 years was killed together with his entire family in the Hama province of Syria. Studies establish that the ISIS killed more than two thousand individuals in the course of the last 6 months, with the majority of them being civilians. In Syria, the ISIS executed a Shariah school syllabus that prohibited the teaching of subjects such as art, Christian religious education, and music (Turner, 2015). The ISIS has declared patriotic songs blasphemous and issued commands to eliminate some images from school course books. In this regard, some Iraqi parents have greatly stayed away from schools where the new programs of study have been initiated.
Following the seizure of metropolis in Iraq, ISIS provided directives on the manner in which wearing of uniforms and veils ought to be done (Turner, 2015). ISIS commanded women in Syria to cover their entire face with veils if they did not want to encounter severe punishment. A cleric confirmed that the ISIS fighters had commanded him to read out the issued commands in the mosque in front of the congregation of the worshippers. ISIS also commanded the faces female and male fashion models to be covered and prohibited the almost naked fashions. ISIS issued notes termed as the contact of the city, which were a set of regulations to be followed by the civilians.
One of the regulations issued by the ISIS demanded women to stay at home devoid of going outside unless obligatory (Turner, 2015). Another regulation affirmed that theft would be penalized through amputation. Over and above the Muslim custom of prohibiting the selling and consuming alcohol, the ISIS outlawed the selling and smoking of cigarettes and pipes. ISIS carries out the killings of both males and females that are charged with different allegations and confirmed guilty of criminal activities in opposition to Muslim practices, for instances, homosexuality, infidelity, pornography, smuggling, raping, murder, and profanation to mention a few. Prior to the execution of the accused, their allegation are read out to them, in addition to the spectators. Executing the guilty is done in different ways that include stoning to death, crucifying, decapitating, burning to death, and throwing the individuals from storey buildings.
The European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN), the US, and the UK among other countries have declared the ISIS a terrorist grouping (Turner, 2015). More than sixty nations have either directly or indirectly declared war against the ISIS. ISIS has been majorly known for its well-financed internet and social media misinformation that encompasses videos showing the decapitation of civilians, the soldiers, and other workers. To fund its operations, ISIS is stealing artifacts from Iraq and Syria and receiving donations from its supporters. ISIS attained success in its terrorist activities after it overpowered the Iraq government and forced it away from major western metropolis in the country and carried out attacks in opposition to the government of Syria and rebel groups.
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