Jessica is a practicing attorney and has taught law and has a J.D. and LL.M.
Definition of Terrorism
If you ask anyone you know, it is likely that they will be able to recall exactly where they were on September 11, 2001. This sad day in American history was a defining moment in the war on terrorism that exists in the United States today.
Terrorism consists of criminal activity. There is no single definition of terrorism since it encompasses a range of activity all designed to intimidate and instill fear. However, one well-known definition of terrorism is in the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Policy and Counterterrorism Guidelines. This definition states that terrorism is ''a violent act or an act dangerous to human life in violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any state to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.''
Types of Terrorism
There are two types of terrorism. Initially, there is domestic terrorism. Domestic terrorism includes acts of terror which are committed by those who are located in and operate from the United States. Moreover, the efforts of a domestic terrorist are solely aimed towards the United States. Conversely, international terrorism is a type of terrorism which includes acts of terror committed by individuals affiliated with foreign countries. The efforts of international terrorism is typically to further a political or social objective.
History of Terrorism
In the 1960s and the 1970s, domestic terrorism saw an increase in the United States. Groups known as the Black Panthers, the Weathermen, and other radical groups frequently challenged authorities. Moreover, in the 1980s, international terrorism began to grow. For instance, terrorism in Israel began to grow with bombings occurring frequently. The war in Lebanon also started, which brought with it terrorist acts which shocked the world.
In 1993, the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City started a new era of a threat of international terrorism activity in the United States. Then, in 1995, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This was known as homegrown terrorism, since these were individuals born and raised in the United States seeking to terrorize fellow Americans. Thereafter, in 1996, the Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski (an individual terrorist), was arrested and charged for killing three and injuring twenty-three individuals. Kaczynski created bombs he sent through the postal system and demonstrated how a single person can create a threat of terrorism.
In 1998, Islamic terrorist Osama bin Laden attacked American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing American citizens. Then, in 2001, bin Laden successfully funded and organized the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing approximately 3,000 individuals.
Currently, cyberterrorism, which is terrorism through the use of computers and the internet, is a primary focus of law enforcement's efforts. There are concerns that the nation's economic, business and military systems may be attacked. Therefore, there are increased efforts to minimize the risks.
In 2013, a total of 9,707 terrorist attacks occurred worldwide, resulting in more than 17,800 deaths and more than 32,500 injuries. In addition, more than 2,990 people were kidnapped or taken hostage. Of the attacks for which perpetrator information was reported, more than 20 percent were attributed to the Taliban, operating primarily in Afghanistan. In addition to carrying out the most attacks, the Taliban in Afghanistan was responsible for the greatest number of fatalities in 2013.
Terrorism consists of violent acts which are designed to intimidate and harm. Terrorists seek to influence a government or population to attain a particular objective. There are two types of terrorism: domestic, which involve acts of terror which are committed by those who are located in and operate from the United States, and international, which is a type of terrorism which includes acts of terror committed by individuals affiliated with foreign countries. A subgroup of domestic terrorism is called homegrown terrorism, since attackers in this category are individuals born and raised in the United States seeking to terrorize fellow Americans.
There is also the growing threat of cyberterrorism, which is terrorism through the use of computers and the internet. It is a primary focus of law enforcement's efforts. A history of terrorism demonstrates that terrorist efforts are growing as technologies increase. Furthermore, statistics demonstrate that of reported information, the Taliban in Afghanistan was responsible for the largest number of deaths due to terrorism in 2013.
Types of Terrorism
- Domestic: Acts of terror committed by people located and operating in the United States
- International: Acts of terror committed by people affiliated with foreign countries
- Homegrown: Acts of terror committed by people born and raised in the United States with the purpose of terrorizing fellow Americans
- Cyberterrorism: Terrorism through the use of computers and the internet
After you've finished, you should be able to:
- Recall the accepted definition of terrorism
- Discuss the different types of terrorism
- Identify some of the major terrorist events in recent history
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