How Significant A Threat Is Terrorism Today Criminology Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Terrorism is a special type of violence and is difficult to get a standard definition for. Historians often see it is a tactic used in peace, conflict and war. The threat of terrorism is always present, and an attack is likely to occur when least expected as shown by the September 11 bombings. A terrorist attack is usually shown by an event that marks the transition from peace to conflict or war. A definition of terrorism is "The calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological."[1]

Terrorism is not random but is calculated, terrorists in most cases know what they are doing and their selection of a targets is planned and rational. Modern terrorism offers it followers many advantages. One of these advantages is by not recognizing innocents, terrorists have an unlimited number of targets. They select their targets and determine when, where and how they attack very precisely. The range of choices gives terrorists a high probability of success with minimum risk. If the attack goes wrong or fails to produce the intended results, the terrorists can deny responsibility. The terrorist bombings of the New York World Trade Center and the Oklahoma City Federal Building prove how easy it is for terrorists to operate in a free and democratic society. It has always been seen that terrorist attacks are meant to have less people dead and more people watching, this was to make a point and for changes to be made. However, more modern terrorist attacks seem to have the opposite way of thinking with mass amount of casualties.

Terrorists are inspired by many different motives. Terrorist can be classified into three categories, these are rational, psychological, and cultural. The Rational terrorist thinks through his goals and options, making a cost benefit analysis. They seek to determine whether there are less costly and more effective ways to achieve their objectives. To assess the risk, they look at the target's defensive capabilities against their own. The key question is whether terrorist will work for the desired purpose, given the public siuation at the time.

Psychological motivations for terrorism come from the terrorist's personal unhappiness with their life and accomplishments. Although no clear Psychopath is found among terrorists, there is an element in them that can be described as the "true believer." Terrorists tend to project their own antisocial motivations onto others, creating a "we versus they" outlook. The other common characteristic of the psychologically motivated terrorist is the pronounced need to belong to a group. With some terrorists, group acceptance is a more powerful motivator than the standard political objectives of the organization.

Cultural Motivation cultures build values and motivate people to actions that seem extreme to foreign observers. Many people are unwilling to appreciate the great effect of culture on behavior. The treatment of life in general and individual life to be specific is a cultural characteristic that has huge impact on terrorism. At times, terrorists seem to be eager to give their lives for their organization and cause. The lives of others being taken in the terrorists value system can be taken with little or no regret. Fear of cultural extinction can lead to violence, which to someone who does not experience this feeling seems crazy. All human beings are sensitive to threats to their own values by which they see themselves, these can include language, religion, group membership, and homeland or native territory. The chance of losing any of these can cause defensive reactions. Terrorism in the form of religion can easily become violent. Like all terrorists, those who are faithfully motivated see their acts as being for a just cause. What would otherwise be viewed as insane becomes a spiritual duty in the mind of a loyal religious motivated terrorist. This helps explain the high level of commitment to risk death among religious extremist groups.

Terrorists organise to function in the environments where they plan to carry out their acts. Organisational details are situation-specific, there are, however, a few general organisational principles. Because terrorists must operate in a hostile environment, security is their key concern. Security is best served by a cellular structure in which members do not know and cannot identify more than a few of their social group in the event of capture or defection. Terrorist groups that are not supported by a government usually create a support structure of sympathisers and people who have been forced into helping them. The support structure may include active and non-active members. It places the active terrorists with logical support, intelligence, and distribution of propaganda, recruiting, and money. Terrorist recruitment and training are predictably security-sensitive. Within groups that are not ethnic-based, the usual sources of recruits are school and college students who show commitment to the cause that they get forced upon them. Culturally based terrorist groups recruit new members that they personally known, people whose backgrounds are known and who often have family ties to the organisation. Intelligence infiltration of organisations recruited in this way is extremely difficult. Typical training for terrorists includes instruction in the use of small arms and explosives as well as with intelligence collection and training in the group's ideology. Terrorist actions include the traditional assassinations, bombings, arson, criminal taking, Hijacking, kidnapping, seizure and occupation of a building, attacks on a facility sabotage, and perpetration of hoaxes. They also include newer operations such s largely potential "high-tech" terrorism using nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and materials. One form of biological terrorism is the distribution of Anthrax, this is mainly a disease of grazing animals. Yet, the chances of the newer "high-tech" terrorism are less likely due to the odds of success against it.

In any country or region, there are not many terrorists compared to the population. Identifying and capturing them becomes difficult and requires well-trained police and intelligence workers. Anti-terrorism efforts are also kept quiet and mostly unsuccessful, requiring patience and running opposite views to that of the normal culture. Perhaps the most annoying factor of defense against terrorism is that the success made is hard to identify. Terrorists rely on surprise and the victim's confusion at the time of an incident to gain greater results. Commanders and staffs must plan their response to terrorist threats and incidents very carefully in order not to provoke a situation ever more.

The universal availability of weapons, explosives, and technical timing and triggering devices, as well as the total communication revolution, adds to the terrorists' capabilities. Increased capabilities also include coordinated, nearly simultaneous attacks in different countries. Since terrorists need publicity to inspire fear, knowledge of this causes them to seek more unusual events that captures and gets the public attention. Although technology does help in the defense against terrorism, it does provide terrorists with increased opportunities to strike. Terrorists can operate in via the Internet to destroy or manipulate information for their own purposes and gain more support. Skilled terrorist hackers can access all but the most secure databases, allowing them to steal or change information or even destroy it.This gives them the for example, the power of manipulating the stock market for their own profit or to create a sudden inflation or depression. There has been evidence of large-scale counterfeiting of money to purchase weapons but this could be other threats for different countries and not just terrorists. Access to police and other security files can keep terrorists one-step ahead of their opponents, as well as chemical weapons becoming increasingly powerful and easy to get a hold of.

To conclude it seems ever since September 11, 2001 with the attacks on America and its people, terrorism has become more of a well-known threat across the world. Terrorism has always been a wide based topic of interest, but now it is probably the number one topic on people's minds. Yet to assess the actually threat of terrorism is very difficult as it acquires assumptions based on past and future events.

In reality, the danger of terrorism is minor, this is particularly true for those of us in the West. Historically, high casualty terrorist attacks have been remarkably rare. Also in relative terms, terrorism accounts for very few deaths on a global scale. An example is that 40,000 people die each day from hunger, and over 3,000 children die from preventable diseases daily