Examining Domestic Terrorism And Whether Its Common Criminology Essay

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In the United States, acts of domestic terrorism are generally considered to be uncommon. According to the FBI, however, "between the years of 1980 and 2000, 250 of the 335 incidents confirmed as or suspected to be terrorist acts in the United States were carried out by American citizens" (Epic.org, 2005). I intend to explore a number of their cases to identify what their center of relation may be. In addition, I will expand on certain individuals and their specific cases.

Under current United States law, acts of domestic terrorism are those which: "involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State; appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping" (Epic.org, 2005).

As of right now, trying to decide which is the most dangerous is the biggest problem. I will identify several domestic groups and their targeted goals. I will also describe any incidents that have occurred as a result of their organization and the specific domestic incidents that are concealed since our government only chooses to focus on international threats.

Introduction

Terrorism is, in the most general sense, "the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion" (fincen.gov, 2001). At present, the International community has been unable to define a specific agreed legally binding definition of terrorism. Common definitions of terrorism refer only to "violent acts which are intended to create fear are perpetrated for an ideological goal and deliberately target or disregard the safety of civilians" (fincen.gov, 2001).

"Domestic terrorism is the commission of terrorist attacks in a state by forces inside or originating from that state, as opposed to terrorist attacks by forces external to the state" (Epic.org, 2005). All attempts or successes at assassinating government heads or officials are clear examples of domestic terrorism. In the United States, domestic terrorism is a rarity. As a result, when a terrorist attack occurs, often the first reaction is to presume that it was committed by foreigners. That exact accusation was made in the case of the Oklahoma City bombing, for which Islamist terrorists were initially blamed. In fact, Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh, our own citizens, were responsible for this act.

"Right-wing terrorist groups are motivated by white racial supremacy, as well as anti-government and anti-regulatory beliefs. They may also include extremist Christian groups such as those that bomb abortion clinics. Moreover, many acts of right-wing terrorism are classified as hate crimes rather than domestic terrorism. Left-wing terrorists have a revolutionary socialist agenda, and present themselves as protectors of the populace against the alienating effects of capitalism and U.S. imperialism" (Advamag.org, 2010).

Infamous Groups

Army of God

Army of God (AOG) is a Christian terrorist anti-abortion organization that sanctions the use of force to combat abortion in the United States. The Army of God is a diffuse and leaderless anti-abortion terrorist organization in the United States that advocates the use of violence against abortion providers and supporters. The Army of God has claimed responsibility for the murders of several abortion providers, for a spate of fake anthrax attacks in 2001, and for the fatal Olympic Park bombing during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. This group is defined as a right wing terrorist organization.

Black Liberation Army

The Black Liberation Army (BLA) was an underground, black nationalist-Marxist militant organization that operated in the United States from 1970 to 1981. Composed largely of former Black Panthers (BPP), the organization's program was one of "armed struggle and its stated goal was to take up arms for the liberation and self-determination of black people in the United States" (American Revolutionary Vanguard, 2007-2010). The BLA carried out a series of bombings, robberies, and prison breaks.

The Black Liberation Army (BLA) was a group that was ready to kill and did kill multiple times with gun fire. "Beginning in 1971 the BLA went to war against the police in several big cities across the country. Its members ambushed patrolmen and assaulted police stations in an effort to expel the "pigs" from their communities" (American Revolutionary Vanguard, 2007-2010). As a result, the BLA were intensely hunted, and many were killed or wounded in shoot-outs with the authorities. Even from jail they continued the war, organizing escape attempts and freeing captured members. In later years remnants of the BLA robbed banks and armored cars, shooting guards and police officers. This group can be described as a left wing terrorist group because of their alliance against the government and its practices.

Christian Identity Movement

Christian Identity is a religious group in right-wing ideology. Members believe that whites of European descent can be traced back to the "Lost Tribes of Israel" (Anti-Defamation League, 2005). Members consider Jews to be the Satanic offspring of Eve and the Serpent, while non-whites are "mud peoples" (Anti-Defamation League, 2005) created before Adam and Eve. Its racist and anti-Semitic beliefs are usually accompanied by extreme anti-government sentiments. Christian Identity influences virtually all white supremacist and extreme anti-government movements. It has also informed criminal behavior ranging from hate crimes to acts of terrorism. This group can be identified as a both a left and right wing terrorist organization since they bar no limits to their cause.

Oklahoma City Bombing

Timothy McVeigh and his partner, Terry Nichols were responsible for this act of domestic terrorism. On the morning of April 19, 1995, an ex-Army soldier and security guard named Timothy McVeigh parked a rented Ryder truck in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City. Inside the vehicle was a powerful bomb made out of a deadly cocktail of agricultural fertilizer, diesel fuel, and other chemicals. The human toll was one hundred and sixty eight lives lost, including nineteen children, with several hundred more injured. McVeigh was unremorseful and referred to the deceased children as "high collateral." (FBI.gov).

Timothy McVeigh can definitely fit into the category as a left wing terrorist. However, Timothy McVeigh was affiliated with the ways of the white supremacists but denied the accusations. More importantly, he was against our government. McVeigh staged the Oklahoma City bombing as revenge against the government for the Waco Texas incident that took the lives of seventy-six people. McVeigh was an advocate for gun rights and was against the governments regulations and tax processes. McVeigh's extreme level of hatred for the U.S. government and his plots for revenge make McVeigh a left wing domestic terrorist. McVeigh has been rated one of America's coldest most calculated domestic terrorists. His callousness is also remembered as he never showed any remorse for his actions.

Unabomber

The Unabomber, named for his initial attacks on universities and airlines, was responsible for placing or mailing sixteen package bombs and letter bombs that resulted in three deaths and nearly two dozen injuries in the United States. "After one of the longest and most expensive manhunts in the nation's history, the FBI seized Ted Kaczynski, a Harvard-educated mathematician turned recluse, who later pleaded guilty for the attacks" (FBI.gov, 2008). He decided to start a bombing spree after watching the wilderness around his home being destroyed by development. "He argued that his bombings were extreme but necessary to attract attention to the erosion of human freedom necessitated by modern technologies requiring large-scale organization" (FBI.gov, 2008). The Unabomber can be described as a left-wing terrorist since he had a socialist agenda. He focused on technology and how it is destroying human freedom. He acted out of his extreme beliefs and desires to make the growth of technology stop.

2001 Anthrax Attacks

Soon after 9/11 letters filled with the anthrax began circulating through the U.S. mail. Five Americans were killed and seventeen were deathly sickened in what became the worst biological attack in U.S. history. After a lengthy investigation the FBI had announced they had found their leading suspect. They named Dr. Bruce Ivins as the main culprit since he was a "microbiologist, vaccinologist, and a senior bio-defense researcher at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID)" (FBI.gov, 2008). Ivins took his own life before he could be arrested and thoroughly investigated about his motives.

Ivins was a Roman Catholic. Ivins also wrote several letters to a newspaper expressing his religious beliefs. "These letters were cited in the Department of Justice summary of the case against Ivins as suggesting that he may have harbored a grudge against pro-choice Catholic senators Daschle and Leahy, recipients of anthrax mailings" (FBI.gov, 2008). It is very possible that this domestic terrorism was a right- wing act of terrorism. However, most of the details are still unknown and the case remains unsolved. Only speculation draws form these little details which have no solid factual basis.

2010 IRS Building Suicide Crash

Joseph stack III was a software engineer upset with the Internal Revenue Service and launched a suicide attack on the agency by crashing his small plane into an office building containing nearly two hundred IRS employees. Before initiating flight, Stack apparently set fire to his house and posted a long anti-government screed on the Web. It read, "I have had all I can stand and I choose not to keep looking over my shoulder at big brother while he strips my carcass" (VERTUNO, 2010). Stack has several business failures and was also estranged from his wife.

His acts fit the profile of right-wing terrorism. His suicide crash was to alleviate him of his massive debts and also to send a message to the government. In his mind, by murdering IRS workers, he was preventing the government from capitalism. He despised the government and blamed them for his misfortune. He obviously believed that he should not have to pay taxes and this was his way of getting his point across.

Females in Domestic Terrorism

There are more unanswered questions in this area than probably any other topic in terrorism studies. Often we ask ourselves, why do women choose terrorism? One hypothesis claims that "terrorism is somehow liberating for women" (APSU, 2010). They serve a psychological function of promoting the terrorism.  They do this as recruiters and nurturers of male terrorists even if they are orphaned or widowed.  However, what do we categorize female suicide bombers? "One of the things related to the idea of liberation is equity, especially occupational equity" (APSU, 2010) .  Women have to fight constantly for recognition they are equivalent or better than men.  "Occupational equity involves the element of excitement in the tension between aspirations and achievements" (APSU, 2010).  One can also speculate that women are often recruited into such acts because it is easier for them to blend in with the rest of society. As a mother and a woman, no one expects such acts from a female which makes them an even bigger threat.

Department of Homeland Security

Incident Management

America has created a department that is responsible for our National Response Strategy. This is to ensure that we are aware of threats and vulnerabilities, that we are focused in prevention; we are prepared for an incident, that we are able to respond to incidents, and also recover quickly. This is vital when we experience domestic terrorism since we have to figure out the source, cap the threat, clean up the incident, and recover quickly in order to keep order. Their fundamental goal is to "establish a single, comprehensive, unified approach that integrates the Federal Government's domestic prevention, preparedness, and recovery plan" (RAND.org, 2003).

Border Protection

The DHS is responsible for our border protection and has been infiltrating many search and investigative tactics to prevent illegal immigration and the smuggling of weapons that can be used in terrorist attacks. The DHS has made entering the United States a difficult and lengthy process. Some immigrants must have background checks before entering the United States and also have their financial records investigated. In addition, any cargo entering U.S. borders in subjected to intensive visual searches along with x-rays and police dogs. Airports have also tightened up their security as it can typically take more than three hours to check into an international flight. This leads to much frustration but it is necessary in order to preserve our security from outside threats. However, how does DHS impact homegrown terrorism?

The DHS is concerned about American-bred extremists who travel abroad for terror training and then return home, sometimes quietly recruiting followers over the years. Therefore, many arrests have occurred in 2009 that involved homegrown terrorism. Several of these suspects were even women. Al-Qaeda and its affiliates are still committed to striking the US and homegrown extremist now poses a serious threat to our country. So, how do we begin combating such as issue? "Ultimately, there isn't more that the United States can do to prevent homegrown terrorism, other than maintain the counter-terrorism policies enacted by the Bush administration in the aftermath of 9/11, policies that proved so successful in preventing another terrorist attack on American soil" (Wordpress.com, 2010) . They must continue roving wiretaps on electronic devices, monitoring computer activity, keep the customs security department tightened, and follow up on any information of suspected terrorism.

Domestic Terrorism Biggest Threat

The hard to see threats are the most dangerous. Homegrown terrorism is the most dangerous form of terrorism since these are typically people that have lived in America and know how it operates. Al-Qaeda is harmless if they're nest is discovered. They are only harmful because they stay ahead of the game because they have our own people working for them. When they infiltrate their attacks it's because they have damaging information about its victim country. America completely underestimated al-Qaeda's ability to observe our weaknesses and analyze our reactions to their plots.

So, how do we analyze the terrorist with no ties to international terrorists? They are categorized as educated persons with extreme beliefs. Although they have not ties to international terrorist organizations, they still possess the same extreme ideology that powers the cause. Since our own people have the knowledge of our country's assets and liabilities, it is thought to be that domestic terrorism is the biggest threat.

Summary

Terrorism is, in the most general sense, "the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion" (fincen.gov, 2001). At present, the International community has been unable to define a specific agreed legally binding definition of terrorism. Common definitions of terrorism refer only to "violent acts which are intended to create fear are perpetrated for an ideological goal and deliberately target or disregard the safety of civilians" (fincen.gov, 2001).

"Domestic terrorism is the commission of terrorist attacks in a state by forces inside or originating from that state, as opposed to terrorist attacks by forces external to the state" (Epic.org, 2005). All attempts or successes at assassinating government heads or officials are clear examples of domestic terrorism. In the United States, domestic terrorism is a rarity. As a result, when a terrorist attack occurs, often the first reaction is to presume that it was committed by foreigners. That exact accusation was made in the case of the Oklahoma City bombing, for which Islamist terrorists were initially blamed. In fact, Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh, our own citizens, were responsible for this act. In reality, America is fast to blame outsiders before examining our own people. This is why domestic terrorism remains the biggest threat to America and will remain as such.

"Right-wing terrorist groups are motivated by white racial supremacy, as well as anti-government and anti-regulatory beliefs. They may also include extremist Christian groups such as those that bomb abortion clinics. Moreover, many acts of right-wing terrorism are classified as hate crimes rather than domestic terrorism. Left-wing terrorists have a revolutionary socialist agenda, and present themselves as protectors of the populace against the alienating effects of capitalism and U.S. imperialism" (Advamag.org, 2010). Therefore, it's difficult to pin point what type of terrorist America will produce. Sometimes American terrorists work for international terrorist organizations but more often will work off of their own beliefs and standards.

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