Trends in terrorism Essay

Published: 2020-02-20 17:22:09
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Category: Terrorism

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Trends in terrorism can be defined as changes in the type, number and leathality of terrorist attacks, attitudes of terrorist groups plus other factgors over time. Terrorism has exacted some steep costs, Airlines and tourism suffered after September 11; that could happen again. Spending for the war in Iraq was vastly underestimated. But the damage has paled before the larger effect, which is not much. Terrorism hasnt destroyed prosperity or cross-border flows of goods, money and people.

People regard attacks around the world (in London, Madrid, Bali) as isolated tragedies and not a cause to alter their buying habits. The smaller size of terrorist cells means they are more difficult to detect and engage, they are less capable, but also less predictable and possibly more dangerous. Terrorists growing sophistication is exemplified in their use of the Internet.  Their increasing criminal activity is reflected their use of the same networks as transnational criminal groups.  The terrorists focus on Iraq is being aided by networks uncovered in several regions that supply a flow of foreign terrorists there.

An early and ongoing victim of terrorism, the commercial airlines industry has been a focus of domestic and international incidents. Initially, attacks against aircraft demonstrated publicity value, often achieved their aim, and proved attractive to state sponsors. The industry responded in a positive and responsible manner by implementing security improvements and fostering international protective cooperation. Hijacking and armed attacks occur less frequently in todays world”a measure of improved defensive awareness”although still posing a risk in locations where preventive measures are not stringently observed. A greater danger today lies in the sabotage or bombing of commercial aircraft, a menace which will only diminish in the face of constantly improving security precautions.

The changing threat to the airlines industry underscores the dynamic nature of terrorism. Motivations, targeting, strategy, tactics”even logistics”continue to evolve, in keeping with efforts on the part of security agencies to meet the challenges and to stay ahead of the dangers.

Terrorist atrocities in Algeria, characterized by the horrific slaughter of women and children; bombs hidden aboard a train in Pakistan which claimed 23 lives and injured 75 others; and the deaths of more than 260 persons as the result of truck-bomb explosions at the US Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, are reminders that terrorists retain the determination and ability to strike ruthlessly at a broad range of targets in many locations.

Motivation. Originally reflecting a largely left-wing ideological foundation, todays terrorists are increasingly likely to be motivated by campaigns of ethnic nationalism or religious extremism. Often the two go hand in hand, such as the aspirations of Sikh militants for an independent state of Khalistan or the fundamentalist Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), which seeks to establish an Islamic state in Egypt.

Religious Extremism. Islamic extremists literally pose the largest danger in terms of religious terrorism. In part an outcome of magnitude of numbers and Islams global reach, it is also because, unlike the cohesive grouping of the past, many militant Islamists are individuals who do not owe allegiance to any particular organization, making identification and trace checks very difficult. Sunni terrorists, such as Ramzi Yousef, convicted in the New York Trade Center bombing, tend to be representative of this trend, whereas Shia terrorists continue to pursue their goals in a more collective fashion, obtaining direction and support from Iran. Although the Sunni-Shia schism remains, some cooperation between members of the two branches of Islam has been evident.

 Extremist militants of other faiths also have an involvement in terrorist violence and must not be ignored. Christian religious groups, such as the Aryan Nations, are active in North America, and are becoming more closely associated with the Militia Movement. The Jewish Defence League maintains a presence in North America as well, but it is in Israel and the Occupied Territories where the combination of nationalism and religious fervor manifests itself in acts of Jewish terrorism.

Nationalism. Ethnic nationalism continues to be a significant motivational factor in a number of terrorism campaigns, some of which are long-standing (Northern Ireland, Basques, Palestinians, Kurds) and others which are relatively recent (Uighers, Timorese, Achenese).

Individually or in combinations, nationalism-separatism-irridentism have demonstrated a notable resurgence since the collapse of the former Soviet Union (FSU); several states currently experiencing politically motivated violence were previously members of the FSU or communist entities. Ideology does play a role in some nationalist movements, but the more usual accompaniment is religious fundamentalism. Strong religious beliefs and nationalist-separatist goals represent a particularly effective motivational combination.

The role of ideology has not been completely overtaken by the influence of religion. A number of left-wing movements continue to exist, such as the Turkish Revolutionary Peoples Liberation Party Front (DHKP-C), the Peruvian Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), and the Naxalites of India. Animal-Rights supporters and Environmentalists”the Issue Groups”tend to be found on the left of the political spectrum, as well. Right-wing motivation is much more prevalent, however.

Targeting and Methodology. Improved international cooperation against terrorism and strengthened security for diplomatic and military facilities have prompted a shift in terrorist targeting and methodology:

Random attacks on tourists and the deliberate killing of foreign-aid and NGO workers are disturbing trends;

Incidents of kidnapping and hostage-taking have become frequent occurrences in South America and the former Soviet Union;

Terrorist attacks focused on economic infrastructures can be expected to continue, including those related to energy distribution, transportation, banking and tourism;

Hoaxes, particularly bomb threats, have been employed on occasion to seriously disrupt transportation and tourism, causing significant local impact;

The Internet is becoming a resource more frequently used by terrorists as a means to access information, spread propaganda, raise funds, communicate, and plan operations.

The gun and the bomb retain the lead as favored methods of terrorist assault, as witnessed by the shooting death of former provincial governor Hakim Said in Pakistan and the grenade attack against an Israeli bus stop in Beersheba. Vehicle bombs have proven a particularly attractive medium for terrorists, in part because the trend in recent years has been toward high casualty, indiscriminate targeting, and in part because of ease of manufacture, delivery, capacity, and lethality, with instructions on the Internet and components widely available. Threats and incidents of suicide attacks have increased in some regions, such as the Middle East and Sri Lanka, and are likely to be repeated.

The approach of the Millennium is considered to raise the potential for independent action by individuals with extreme beliefs, especially those associated with cults, increasing the possible resort to a chemical, biological or nuclear radiation device.

The use of a nuclear weapon remains the least likely scenario, given current levels of security surrounding nuclear weapons and the undoubted reluctance of any state to support the use of such a weapon for terrorist purposes. The dispersal of a radioactive substance in a terrorist incident does remain a possibility. Nonetheless, despite the seemingly advantageous potential of nuclear, chemical or biological methodology, conventional weapons are still considered to be favored by terrorists, principally because of familiarity and ease of use.

Generally more frequent, domestic incidents are usually the result of a shooting or bombing attack directed against security forces or specific civilian opponents; such incidents produce smaller numbers of casualties. Occasionally the numbers of casualties are higher, such as an incident aboard commercial transportation, or one involving a car-bomb or an explosive device placed in a crowded area, as was the case in the bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. International incidents are characterized by large-scale casualties because the incidents, although less frequent, are designed to achieve maximum publicity and shock effect.


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