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The Longman dictionary of contemporary English defines terror as a feeling of extreme fear and terrorism as the use of violence such as bombing, shooting, or kidnapping to obtain political demands such as making a government of a country do something. It's also defined as a systematic induction of fear in order to make someone do something they do not want to do. At present, there is no satisfactory definition to this word especially after the recent event of terror famously known as the 9/11 which happened in the US in 2001. The hard part of the meaning of the word "terrorism" is that it doesn't mean the same universally as some parts of the world that constitute the International Community aren't agreeable with the meaning and/or the legal side of it isn't clear to everyone or doesn't address every ones' concern.
Some common definitions of the word "terrorism" don't clearly address the criminality side of the acts that are accepted universally. But only refer to those acts of violence that are intended to deliberately create fear and confusion amongst the general masses for political or ideological ends. These acts are perpetrated by organizations or sometimes by individuals. We have often heard of these organizations making public statements claiming responsibility and stating their reasons behind their actions but many don't have clear objectives but rather murky and undefined purposes. Also the difficulty in providing a clear meaning to the word is because its not only charged political but also emotionally. It is very common especially in most African countries where all political rivals to the government are being termed as terrorists. Now, whether this is a strategy of the state to undermine its opponents or legitimize the use of its armed forces in order to crush opposition is an interesting question to ponder.
There is no doubt that terror acts have been used by many, organizations, groups as well as individuals and sometimes governments in order to further their objectives. Political organizations, revolutionaries and even religious groups have used these acts as their strategy to gain publicity for their causes. One of the many forms of these acts of terror is against noncombatants (civilians). And as I have stated before, these acts are political oriented fundamentally (Hoffman 1998). They are tactics used because those who use them believe that they will effect the desired action or change. In this sense, the desired change is not only equated to the lives of innocent civilians, but is far more precious and thus the crossroad between religion and terrorism.
When the struggle in the religious context is met with political hurdles such as a control of a gold-rich holy mountain for example, for the religious committed, their own lives or those of innocent civilians are less than the possession of the holy mountain. The victims of these terrorist acts are targeted not because they are obstacles to the cause, but because they represent a corrupt organization (in this case the government) thus making them corrupt beings as viewed by the terrorists. Their suffering communicates the terrorists' message across to those intended (government) thus proving that they are a force to be reckoned with is their wishes are not granted.
The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 11 September 2001 were acts of terror that the world has never seen before. These have sparked a world wide debates and opinions on how to combat, prevent and root out such evil out of the world if possible. Hundreds of innocent civilians loosing their lives over nothing significant and many others wounded or sustaining lifelong disabilities and traumas isn't a very good price to pay especially if you don't know what you are paying it for or why.
In this paper I am going to assess the prevention strategies of terrorism acts in an Arab populated city considering that I am the Senior Counterterrorism Official for the Federal Government, the scope of those strategies and the ethical boundaries. Also the status and rights of perpetrators, citizens and non citizens of the US captured in or out of the country in regards to torture. And lastly I will discuss the justification of the war on terror, the remedy to the anti-Americanism in the US soil and the success of the USA patriot Act in order to prevent another such tragedy as that of September 11, 2001.
America is a very large country with very large populous cities filled with very different kinds of people. Terrorist acts are not acts that are only practiced by Arabs, because we have seen individuals such as Timothy McVeigh. Thus it won't be a rational decision to focus only on the Arab- populated parts of the city although these areas should be given top priority. Considering that costs are not a problem for me, meaning I wont have a problem with financing the proposed projects in order to prevent my city from terrorists the first and foremost strategy is to divide the city into smaller zones.
Those zones with the highest number of Arab population will be identified and marked as hot zones. Because what are at stake here are human lives then I would combine every means in order to ensure successful results. Infiltrating every community will be one option because these acts are acts that will be done with extreme secrecy and thus agents have to go undercover. Whether in community events such as district meetings, social events and even religious events will have to be monitored in order to spot the first sign of danger.
Not only that, but also, another option is to develop informants. This strategy can be dangerous if these individuals are discovered they might be killed but it is worth it as the loss of lives such as what we have seen in the 9/11 attacks is definitely an experience that should be prevented at any cost whatsoever. Definitely this will be expensive and time consuming but these strategy are short term solutions, thus long term strategies will have to be put in place in the mean time.
Of course it is impossible to be a watchman of every one in such a large city like New York or Las Vegas. This is why a participatory strategy will have to be introduced. To sit on the phone and wait for people to call when something suspicious is noticed won't be a proper way of gaining information. People should be involved in order to protect themselves and their loved ones. The times of "minding your own business" are over. In Tanzania for example, for every ten households there is a leader who is elected and is concerned with the security and other issues especially census issues. These leaders know their members and what they do and can easily spot a suspicious character in his/her area and report it to the authorities than a police patrol or a towns' sheriff.
I know this sounds impossible, in American cities, but the question is how far can America go to protect its citizens? A nationwide education programmes and awareness seminars should be conducted. People should know and recognize their neighbors, who they are, what they do and if they are immigrants then that too should be known. If it's a motel then proper identification procedure should be put in place whether the clients are paying cash or not. Because why would anyone not like to be known? There must be something hidden then! And we all know that secrecy nurtures evil. Thus as the Counterterrorism Officer I would like to know what is the secrecy about, if there is a threat on your life then the authorities should be notified.
Company managers, religious leaders, School principals should not only know and possess information about who their colleagues and workers are but they should make sure they also know where they live. This information should also be with the street leader and also the immigration department for an immigrant for crosschecking purposes. Countywide awareness programs about the benefits of being your own guard from the classroom to the political campaigns should be introduced.
This is not impossible at all, but the problem is those that practice these acts are those powerful rich individuals. A normal American who waits for his/her weekly wage wouldn't care to be anonymous. But the rich and powerful, those who can pay others to do their bidding, the influential, those who would like to disappear into an island without being noticed are the problem. A curriculum should be introduced in academic circles, so that from an early age, the importance of knowing your neighbor is made clear.
This should be a long term plan, a policy developed and implemented so that information is not sought but provided. And because of this there won't be a need for infiltration and informants whatsoever. This will at least minimize secret activities and those characters next door who nobody knows about. The ethical issue comes because the current system has so many glitches such that mistakes are so many that people start to loose confidence with the authorities. When someone's identity is confused and he/she undergoes rigorous interrogation procedures and then at the end of the day is found clean what do you think he/she will say to his/her relatives when released? But when someone is caught, charged and locked up for good nobody will demand rights because nobody will sympathize with someone who was preparing to blow an airplane full of people to bits.
Status and rights of terror perpetrators and Torture
It is my belief that any individual who has deliberate intentions of killing other people is a criminal. An American citizen who is caught planning, collaborating or involved in any way in such acts should be accountable to the American laws. What I do not agree with is the term "war on terror". In my opinion this term wasn't well thought through as no one can fight fear. Let's consider an example of a person who is terrified of the dark. Is fighting this fear to never put off the lights? Probably yes, but will that then be a victory over the darkness or the fear of darkness? The fear will definitely be there. So my point here is the fight against terror is the reason behind that should be sought and not otherwise (Juergensmeyer2000).
Capturing criminals who have involved themselves in terrorist acts should be paramount but more than that should be to learn from them. As what are the reasons behind their actions? We should also understand that a government shouldn't act as a person who succumbs to pressures and demands especially a government as powerful as the American government. All individuals captured abroad or inside the American soil, foreigners or citizens before being treated as criminals first they should be models to be learned.
Considering the young Nigerian man who wanted to blow an American airline in December 2009, wouldn't it be more important to know what drove him to such terrible decision? Isn't it more important to know what he was told to convince him that what he was doing was just? I think before rushing him to court and subject him to torture it is wiser to learn and understand these individuals as torturing them won't stop others like them from surfacing. Viewing terrorist activities as war tactics is wrong in my opinion and thus this notion only create more complications and even incite hatred towards the American government and its people. I agree that it is a crime and should be treated as such by the American law but caution should be observed as it is better to know why the hatred than who is the culprit. In my opinion torturing them is also trying to terrorize them.
But the difference is they kill many innocent people than when the government captures them mostly its one or two individuals. I think the Bush administration acted under pressure. I think a new act should be put in place to help provide the insight and understanding of the reasons why these individual get to so much trouble and risk their lives to execute hundreds of innocent people. This should also provide a signpost as to how someone who was ready to die will learn of his mistakes and provide an example to others intending to do what he did by locking him in jail which is sometimes a better environment than the one he was before.
A just war and anti-Americanism
When there is fighting between two or more countries or between opposing groups within a country, involving large numbers of soldiers and weapons is a phenomenon known as war according to the Longman dictionary of contemporary English. Often war results in among other things loss of lives. What can possibly justify the loss of lives? Loss of lives maybe! If I may rephrase the question, what can be a good reason that justifies one to become a killer? If other people kill, does it mean that you should also kill? I think not. In my opinion there can never be a just war. The war on terror as baptized by the George W. Bush's administration is the common term presented as the military conflict, political, legal and ideological battle against terror groups and regimes supporting them.
The objectives put forth for this war are to protect the US, its allies and citizens, to ensure the safety of US business interests and its allies in home soil and abroad and also to dismantle terrorist networks and their activities in the US and elsewhere in the world. This term, the policies it denotes, and the actions followed have created a controversy all over the world as criticism rages on its justness and the way it has been conducted as it abuses the international law and human rights.
Not only that, let us analyze the reason behind any kind of war. War can only arise because there is a conflict of interest between two parties. Nevertheless, no war is fought if one knows that there is no chance of winning. The reason that countries go to war is often because the belief of winning is there, it is very rare to see a nation go to war as an act of desperateness. But also in most cases those that make the decision to go to war are not the ones that fight, with the exception of those kings of the agrarian age where they led men into war themselves. This gives rise to conflicts based on arrogance and personal ambitions and interests.
That said, I believe a just war exist only in our minds and that is the reason of resentment and dislike of the citizen towards their own country (Schneider and Jim 2009). Most governments go to war not because the citizens want to go to war. This is because the price of war is not only far too expensive to pay but the price of a human life can't be paid by anything not even another life because that only doubles it. The shading of blood can only bring chaos, which is why those men and women who come back from war are not the same anymore. Some even commit suicide and others suffer sever mental trauma. This is because there is nothing just or good in any kind of war (Rodin 2006).
Anti-Americanism is nothing but the result of America's arrogance which comes from its military mightiness. Because of this the other options to solve a conflict are not fully explored and applied so as to avoid the bloodshed that comes with wars. Americans are loosing lives and are seeing how other fellow human beings are dying and it doesn't paint a good picture into their consciences. Of course Americans ask themselves why they are hated so much if they haven't done anything wrong, or could it be that among other domestic problems there is something that is not made clear to them concerning those "interests" being protected abroad. This creates doubts and trust to their government is lost. Therefore any kind of war even the one on terror can never be just because a just solution to conflict in my belief will never be through war or any kind of confrontation.
I would say that anti-Americanism has increased in the recent years especially during the George W. Bush administration immediately after the invasion of Iraq. It is not that the Americans didn't want any action to be taken after the 9/11, but the type of actions taken weren't what they expected. But expressing this concern shouldn't lead to another conflict within or more bloodshed, thus supporting acts of terror just because you don't like what the government is doing concerning a particular matter in my opinion isn't right.
Giving money to people who buy bombs to blow buildings should be charged as a criminal offence. Schools, mosques, and charities that indirectly support terrorism should be closed down as they breed a generation of individuals who only see that violence is the only solution to problems while that isn't the case. All those that are proved to incite violence, support groups that engage in terror activities should be accountable for those actions otherwise people will continue to die.
The Patriot Act of the United States of America has definitely played its part in reducing the terrorist activities in the US soil since it enactment. The Federal Bureau of Investigations have been more efficient and effective in its actions and so far since the 9/11 attacks there has been no terror act but one attempt which tarnished its record since then. Despite the improvements shown so far, there is still so many loopholes that terror groups can spot and use to inflict as much damage as they possibly can if no immediate measures are taken.
The December 2009 event that caused a spat from president Obama signifies that the Bureau's sharing and collection of information its agents and other agencies is not good at all. The security measures that the bureau has taken are not as thoroughly and as extensively applied and implemented as it would have expected to be. The Joint Terrorism Task Forces, National Counterterrorism Center and the Terrorist Screening Center have shown what president Obama termed as a "systemic failure" of the US security systems.
Although since its enactment the act have played a vital role in counterterrorism because it has enabled the Federal Bureau of Investigations department to make some improvements in fighting terrorism but it seems not all that was supposed to be done have been done. Still, investigations that involve terror cells, coordination between intelligence personnel and law enforcement agencies and information exchange is poor. The Act has been appreciated for enabling intelligence agents and investigators to share information that they acquire about crime suspects and terrorists. The agents should now be able to employ national security wiretaps during a criminal investigative process (Gouvin, 2003).
If now the foreign intelligence information can easily be obtained and shared within the US intelligence community then how come such a young man barely in his twenties was able to board a plane strapped with explosives right under the noses of such powerful organizations. Clearly something isn't right. If the US is to be safe from these actions then the vice president Joe Biden is not only to modify his foreign policy strategies but also the homeland security agencies are to modify their approaches in tackling the terror threats.
Yes I still stick to my proposal that these individuals besides being prosecuted and tortured we should draw lessons from them that will give us insights not only on how they operate as they have shown that they change to the better, but on why they think the way they think. The removal of the legal restrictions that earlier prevented the intelligence, law enforcement agents and the national defense communities to coordinate their work through cooperation still couldn't help in preventing the young man from boarding that plane
Generally I believe the enactment of the US patriotic act is a good idea as I have said before secrecy what others would call "privacy" nurtures evil but is still think more has got to be done in reaching out to these individuals so as to be able to see what they see. The Patriot Act will benefit us far better than it is now because it provides new tools through which sources of terrorist financing can be tracked down. Also the Act has strengthened the regulation which bars anyone to participate in unlicensed business transactions so as to clump down those who finance terrorist activities as these terrorist uses such primitive ways to transfer their funds.
Before it was enacted, the law enforcement agents of course were not able to investigate and obtain wiretaps from all crimes committed by terrorist. But now the law enforcement authorities are able to investigate terrorist crimes and conduct electronic surveillance on all crimes that can be committed by terrorists like to collect information when investigating terrorism related crimes such as terrorism financing, use of weapons of mass destruction and chemical weapon offenses.
It is obvious that international terrorists are very highly trained to escape detection and surveillance by changing communication devices and locations. But fortunately the technological advancements the US has should make it easy for the security agencies to catch these individuals. With up to date technology at their disposal Americans should feel safe in their own soil. In my opinion there is a need for a continuous improvement and update of the act so as to be able to tackle new developments in the changing environment with which the terrorists operate.
It is my belief that the above mentioned proposals have thoroughly touched every aspect of the terror counter measures that are to be taken into consideration when approaching the problem of terror attacks in the US's major cities with high Arab populations. As a senior counterterrorism official as I have stated above the only way you can tackle the problem is to device short and long term measures. But only after dividing the city into smaller zones and those with high Arab populations given high priority and marked as hot zones.
But of course these won't be long term measures and definitely won't finish the problem; therefore there is a need to improve the involvement of the masses in guarding themselves. Every one in America should be involved in keeping our country safe and it should start from the grass roots. It shouldn't be only a concern of the US relationship with the wider world but the relations within.
The concentration shouldn't only be focused to Arab Americans but every one as there are other Americans who are able of worse acts. Of course infiltrations and informants won't be ruled out as it will take every strategy to stop the loss of lives which no one would like to see it happen again. The ethical issues should be considered, yes, but I think this should not be much of a concern if Americans themselves will participate in taking care of their own country. It is my belief that even the use of torture wont be necessary unless definitely it is absolutely necessary which wont raise so much concern if the everyone is educated and made aware of what terrorism and its prevention measures is all about because it is my belief that the lack of understanding is what causes such concerns.
I agree in the treatment of terrorists as outlaws who should be treated as such by the American laws and regulations. Whether they are Americans or not, captured inside or outside the US they remain outlaws according to the US law. But the term "war on terror" in my opinion is not a very sufficient term to be use to denote the fight against terror (Habad and Jose Llera Ramo 1995). War isn't a good thing and will never be just by any means. Yes I do believe that there are some people that will condone war and even term it as just even but there are other means that should also be explored as they can produce better results than what war can achieve. Therefore I personally don't believe in any kind of confrontation whatsoever that is just.
The fact that America invaded Iraq has been the most unpleasant experience to most Americans and it is at this particular time when anti-Americanism started to rise. It is my belief that Americans understand that the reason they are targeted isn't because as Americans they are termed as evil in the eyes of others but it's because what the government they put into office represents, and it is with this understanding that they resent their government. The seriousness of this anti-Americanism isn't as much now as it was during the George W. Bush administration but of course it depends on the performance of the current government especially on the issues of foreign policy.
In order to prevent terrorist activities all funds that are used to fund or support terror should be traced and confiscated also all those aiding in any way whatsoever in inciting violence directly or indirectly should be considered as terrorists as well. All those institutions that also engage in acts that seem to incite or promote these acts should be closed down and the individuals in charge should be treated as terrorists.
Despite the enactment of the USA patriot act, still there is a lot of improvement to be done as America is still not safe and is still a target. I believe the act should be improved to such an extent that the secrecy surrounding institutions or individuals' activities in terms of finances and day to day activities is minimized because there is no need for privacy if what is done is right because it is my belief that nothing can be right in secret and wrong in the open.
In a right position, yes, I would vote for a renewed act and probably suggest new ones to be made. Despite the shortfalls of the act I still believe it has played a big role in reducing acts of terror in the USA but still more is needed to be done. The attempt to blow an American airline on 31st of December 2009 is a sign that America should still be careful and cautious on all fronts such as politically, economically etc.