Looking At New Terrorism Forms And Proceedings Criminology Essay

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Terrorism has been a sordid feature of human actions since the beginning of the recorded history. The combined effects of the assassinations of great leaders, the commitment to commit acts of incredible violence by groups and individuals and the enormity of the acts, have put the global nations and cities under the guillotine, all with the intended outcome of protecting the greater good. Terrorism, nonetheless, defined has for eternity challenged the solidity of societies and the harmony of everyday populace. Today, the force of terrorism, this ability to terrorize, is not limited to specific locations or regions where terrorists aggress. In the modern era, the age of television broadcasting, satellite communications, Internet, and the world wide news coverage, graphic images of terrorist atrocities are broadcasted immediately in to the habitats of hundreds of millions of people. Terrorist organizations fully understand the power of these images, and they influence them to their gain as much as possible. Terrorist states simultaneously operate and fully value the power of immediate information, thus try to control the "spin", that is the reports on their behavior. In numerous facets, the commencement of the 21st century is an era of worldwide terrorism. [1] . It is important to question the concept of the term New terrorism as it indicates that there is something old, and that there is a distinction between new and old, none the less the trends of new terrorism are not necessarily different to that of old terrorism, essentially the aim of this paper is to recognize that many of the underlying trends in terrorism today can be identified years ago.

A number of acts of political violence are undoubtedly acts of terrorism. For the most part, we would agree that politically motivated or aggravated fixing of bombs in market places, and the killings of enemy civilians, in the eye of the terrorist, and the practice of torture by governments are terrorist acts.

September 11, 2001: The Birth of a New Era.

The terrorist attacks on the U.S native soil were seen by many as a defining moment in the history of political aggression. Immediately after the aftermath of these attacks the materialization of a new international terrorist group was repetitively described by scholars, journalists and national leaders. We often heard that within the new environment, non state actors now had the ability to use and have the will to use weapons of mass destruction to cause extraordinary casualties and demolition of enemy targets. The 9/11 attacks appeared to confirm the words of warning from experts in the 1990's that a New Terrorism using "asymmetrical" methods would exemplify the terrorist environment in the new millennium. [2] 

It will become apparent in the following chapters that the historic account of terrorist behavior extends into ancient times and the universal classifications and ideologies are evident throughout the scope of history.

What are your first impressions of terrorism? The philosophy of AL Qaeda has a symbolic interconnectedness with the globalization of terrorism in the 21st century. The organization is professed by many to represent an auto prototypical model for small groups of likeminded revolutionaries who aspire to wage large-scale international insurgencies against strong adversaries. Whilst Al Qaeda undoubtedly exists as a loose group of somewhat independent cells, it has developed in to an idea-a philosophical fighting strategist that has been embedded in the views of sympathetic revolutionaries worldwide. One often asks the question, what are the philosophical ideas behind Al Qaeda? and how does this accumulate to the belief that a network of religious revolutionaries would develop in to a effective insignia of international opposition against its opponents. The question one must ask is which of the fundamental commonalities attract motivated Islamist activists?

The Al Qaeda network time after time releases public pronouncements of their goals, leaders such as Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri possess such attributes to enhance they aims and set they goals. The deliverance of such pronouncements is communicated by video and international news broadcasting, for instance Al Jazeera in Qatar. Based on these methods of communication the subsequent values outline the ideology of Al Qaeda. [3] 

The struggle, a clash of civilizations

The rage of a holy war is a religious duty and essential for the salvation of one's soul and the defense of the Islamic nation.

Only two sides exist

There is no archetypical model in this catastrophic conflict between Islam and the forces of evil. The Muslim and Western nations that do not contribute to Al Qaeda's vision of true Islam are enemies.

The purpose of violence

Violence in a self-protective war on behalf of Islam is the only course of action. There is no room for peace with the West.

Legality of War

Al Qaeda argues because this is a just war, many of the theological and legal limitations on the use of force by Muslims do not apply.

Brutality of the attacks

Al Qaeda is aware that the U.S and Western power is based on their economies, major-scale mass casualty attacks focusing on economic targets is a primary goal for the network.

The Muslim Governments

Cooperation of Muslim Governments with the West and the adoption of strict Islamic law are essential, for those who don't obey the law and cooperate with the west, they must be violently overthrown.

The above philosophical principles have become a unified ideology for Islamist extremists who in fact have little ties to Al Qaeda. As a consequence it is often argued the war on terrorism is not on its own a conflict against a network but furthermore a conflict against a belief system.

Defining Terrorism

Although there is some agreement amongst academics as scarce as such an event might be, there is no universal understanding thread through the perceptions of violence evident in terrorist actions. Definitions have been developed by Governments and the individual agencies within Governments, private agencies have also put forward they own definitions, providing a vast array of experts the opportunity to propose and examine. Due to the lack of universal understanding evident throughout every nuance of the private and public subdivisions, such concepts provide the established actuality when analyzing such forms of political violence.

A considerable amount of intellectual oomph has been dedicated to identify formal essentials of terrorism. As illustrated by Alex Schmid's examination, which identified more than a 100 definitions. [4] 

The concept of terrorism is one of great debate, yet the term terrorism poses great difficulty when defining. Of the 109 definitions according to Alex Schmid, most of the definitions included the common features of "violence" "political" and Civilians". [5] 

The above mentioned definitions clearly demonstrate how complex it is to define the word terrorism. Of the 109 definitions according to Alex Schmid , many were unsatisfying, and the definition in the Oxford English Dictionary was interpreted too literal and historical to be of contemporary use.

Within Europe, Nations have continued terrorist campaigns and have written officially printed definitions of terrorism further illustrating the range of definitions.

"the use of threat, for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause, of action which involves serious violence against any person or property"

The British definition of terrorism. [6] 

"enduringly conducted struggle for political goals, which are intended to be achieved by means of assaults on the life and property of other persons, especially by means of severe crimes"

The German definition of terrorism. [7] 

"terrorism is .. the use, or the threatened use, by a cohesive group of persons of violence to effect political aims.

The European Interior Minister definition of terrorism. [8] 

Scholars have also attempted to define terrorism. This is exemplified by Gurr as "the use of unexpected violence to intimidate or coerce people in the pursuit of political or social objectives" [9] it was further illustrated by Gibbs as "illegal violence or threatened violence against human or non human objects, so long as that violence meets additional criteria such as secretive features and unconventional warfare. [10] Academic such as LeonardWeinberg, Amy Pedahzur and Sivan Hirsch Hoefler have examined 73 definitions of terrorism in a number of leading journals of which they conclude: "terrorism is a politically motivated tactic involving the threat or use of force or violence in which the pursuit of publicity plays a significant role." [11] 

The scholar Bruce Hoffman described and identified terrorism in his writing as follows:

"We come to appreciate that terrorism is ineluctably political in aims and motives: violent - or, equally important, threatens violence; designed to have far-reaching psychological repercussions beyond the immediate victim or target; conducted by an organization with an identifiable chain of command or conspiratorial structure (whose member wear no uniform or identifying insignia); and perpetrated by a sub national group or non-state entity.

We may therefore now attempt to define terrorism as the deliberate creation and exploitation of fear through violence or the threat of violence in the pursuit of change. [12] In further reference to the variety of definitions, Whittaker in his writings encompasses the subsequent descriptions of terrorism by terrorism experts.

"Contributes the illegitimate use of force to achieve a political objective when innocent people are targeted"

Walter Laqueur.

"A strategy of violence designed to promote desired outcomes by instilling fear in the public at large"

Walter reich

"The use or threatened use of force designed to bring about political change"

Brian Jenkins.

From the above thoughts, we can recognize the widespread features of the most formal definitions:

The use of illegal force

Sub national actors

Unconventional methods

Political motives

Attacks against "soft" civilian and passive military targets

Acts aimed at purposefully affecting an audience [13] 

The United States definition of terrorism

The United States has not agreed upon a single definition of terrorism. The U.S. government relies on government agencies on the development of definitions. This reflects the U.S. approach to distinguish terrorism acts from more common criminal acts. The subsequent definitions give us a illustration of the official U.S approach towards terrorism.

The U.S Department of Defense defines terrorism as:

"the unlawful use of, or threatened use, of force or violence against individuals or property to coerce and intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives. [14] 

The U.S Code defines terrorism as unlawful violence that attempts to:

"intimidate or coerce a civilian population;… influence the policy of government by intimidation or coercion; or… affect the conduct of government by assassination or kidnapping" [15] 

In use of the above definitions, the subsequent widespread fundamentals can be used to create a combined American definition.

Terrorism is a premeditated and illegal act in which groups or agents of some principal engage in threatened or actual use of force or violence against human or property targets. These groups or agents employ in this behavior intending the purposeful intimidation of governments or people to affect policy or behavior with a fundamental political objective. [16] 

The frequent elements illustrate the narrow and legalistic approach adopted by the U.S. towards defining terrorism. In reality these elements can be assigned to individual suspects, whom may be labeled and held as terrorists. One must bear in mind under such circumstances where a detainee is held there is often much controversy. Post - September 11, 2001 a number of counterterrorist practices have called for a debate as a result of the atrocities. If we take for example enemy soldiers, when they are taken as prisoners, they are conventionally given the right of legal protection as prisoners of war. A convention wholly recognized by international law. None the less during the war on terrorism numerous enemy soldiers were detained as "enemy combatants" and were not given the legal right of prisoners of war. Proponents and opponents have had some fiery debates on such practices.

Today, terrorism has acquired a negative meaning, so that, of the few terrorist states who support and adopt the behavior of political violence, would not refer to themselves as terrorists. None the less the same states and networks blatantly signify extremism in they faith and violence in the actions. The power to appeal to an audience and the manipulation of malicious threats are often used to justify their cause. The question of morality is often debated of whether the justification of such behavior can be morally satisfied, such that acceptance of such behavior would authenticate extremist actions, or as in law and fact terrorism intrinsically wrong.

It is useful to assess two concepts which are used in the studies of criminal law. The terms mala prohibita and mala in se [17] These concepts are applied to behaviors that society defines as unexpected acts. These concepts are very helpful for the study of terrorism. Mala prohibita acts are "crimes that are made illegal by legislation." [18] These acts are unlawful because society has affirmed them wrong; none the less they are not defined as wicked, evil or intrinsically wrong. Mala in se acts are crimes "that are immoral and wrong in themselves" [19] These kinds of acts cannot be justified in society, they have a unacceptable quality, examples include premeditated murder and are, legalization in never a option for such acts.

The Definitional Problem: Perspectives on Terrorism

One often question terrorist methods, the wickedness and evilness of such methods questions the fundamental nature of such behavior. The images we often see on our TV screens of mass civilian killing, the images of maximum or supra violence, to kill in big numbers in the name of a superior cause. Can society accept such behavior? Can the actions of killings and bombings be justified? And is it for us to judge whether terrorism is right or wrong. "where you sit depends on where you sit" [20] Accordingly if the bombs are falling on your head, is it or isn't it a act of terrorism? Conversely if the bombs are falling on your enemy's head in the name of liberty, can one question the concept of terrorism? can it be accepted as terrorism?

It should now be clear that the defining of terrorism can be a semantically excersizing task determined by one's perspective and international view.

The question of morality is not always one of comparative consideration. The subsequent quotations will help to deal with these complex moral questions.

"One person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter"

"One man willing to throw away his life is enough to terrorize a thousand"

"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice"

"It became necessary to destroy the town to save it." [21] 

"One Person's Terrorist Is Another Person's Freedom Fighter"

We are not entirely aware of who made the above statement. None the less the concept personified is very simple. Terrorists would never think of labeling them selves as "bad guys" in their fight towards what they perceive to be freedom. The terrorist may confess that he has been forced in to fighting against a powerful opponent such as they have to adopt terrorist methods; they even so see themselves as freedom fighter. If the terrorists were to admit they were bad guys this may jeopardize they cause to recruit and present they clients as freedom fighters. Similarly the nations that use the powerful and ruthless force to attack civilian targets justify these actions as a sacrifice to the greater good of the cause.

The above perception will be useful throughout my paper on examining terrorist groups, individuals and movements.

The quotation "one man willing to throw away his life is enough to terrorize a thousand" was printed by the Chinese military philosopher Wu Ch'I, who wrote,

Now suppose there is a desperate bandit lurking in the fields and one thousand men set out in pursuit of him. The reason all look for him as they would a wolf is that each one fears that he will arise and harm him. This is the reason one man willing to throw away his life is enough to terrorize a thousand. [22] 

This quotation is the source for the today's known statement "kill one man, terrorize a thousand" A tactic you will often see, suggesting the selfless application of lethal force, in combination with the accurate timing and precision. For many terrorist groups this is a invaluable weapon for example if we take the terrorist group of Al Qaeda, it would almost certainly be fair to suggest it is a group outgunned and outnumbered by the more superior and powerful USA adversary.

Old and New Terrorism

Immediately after the September 11 attacks various debates took place about the nature of the new terrorism. An appealing debate was in the pages of the journal Survival [23] within the immediate discourse of the journal the writers argued that the core idea of new terrorism was about the employment and use of weapons of mass destruction and the key player was Osama bin Laden. Bruce Hoffman a well known scholar of terrorism then the Director at the RAND Corporation opposed. Hoffman emphasized that although religious inspired terrorism formed a part of new terrorism, it would be wrong to focus on one person whom is part of a global network. Hoffman went further and questioned the across board "obsession" of WMDs when the substantiation showed terrorists were to remain and always have been operating conventionally. [24] 

The above exchange clearly indicates how people with similar comparables, assumptions, and backgrounds accepted that the era of new terrorism had emerged yet still differed and had different opinions of what it was. Without a doubt the 1990s were confusing for all, it appeared nobody really had a firm and a shared understanding of new terrorism, the extensive debates between both supporters and opponents resulted in confused minds, this due to the poor if not any understanding of the concept and the key characteristics. Indeed nobody in reality had a shared understanding. Thus it would be important to drip feed the first ideology's and filter the "core" of the new terrorism ahead of attempting to explain its existence. As a way of describe the change from 'old' to 'new' terrorism, the changes that have occurred will be analyzed in three erratic changes which together will give us a feel of terrorism within its interconnectedness in the social occurrence. [25] First of this variables refers to the structures in which the terrorists are organized. Indeed almost every terrorist group differs in size, they almost certainly smaller than they adversaries. In reality it is the notion of being potholed against a much stronger and much powerful enemy force that often determines they perception of the struggle in which they are engaged. In addition whilst there are terrorists operating much more openly, a good example would be when a state sponsor or a 'weak' state provides safe haven for the terrorist, we will none the less in a trouble free environment have an element of conspiracy which is mirrored in they method. [26] 

There seems a clear distinction between a terrorist and a criminal, essentially what makes a terrorist different to that of a criminal are the aims of their activity. Indeed we don't approve of terrorist ideas, none the less terrorist groups are political organizations, they aims and activities are not to set to gain financially, rather to transform the social and political order. The principle aim for a terrorist group would be to become the 'one' model to which all societies follow. They aim very much different in nature in comparison to nationalist, Marxist, fascist aims.

As a final point, it is the method of achieving political change by which terrorism can be differentiated from the mainstream social phenomenon. The terrorist method for political change is clear. Terrorists view 'violence' as they hope for political change. Bizarre as it may seem, the notion of relying on supra violence or extra normal violence whose purpose is to create fear by way of symbolic acts. The method of achieving political change clearly shows how weak a terrorist is. The perception and the belief that acts of spectacular violence are necessary in order to get through to their audience. The inspiration may come from the idea that such violence may provoke the much more powerful adversary in the hope of triggering of the uprising of the terrorist network in the masses. [27] For the terrorist this particular strategy amongst others is convincing enough to bring their hope to reality.

From the above one can break down what terrorism consists of. There being a small suspicious (structure) with an (aim) to achieve political change, through the symbolic acts of supra violence as a (method). These three variables would distinguish terrorism from any other kind of organized violence, most importantly giving us a notion of how changes have occurred within terrorism. We would indeed need to use the above three categories of "structure", "aim", and "method" to construct together the model types of terrorism, together identifying the key trends and also explaining the origins.

Contrasting old and new terrorism

Writers of new terrorism often argue that the developments of new terrorism can also be found in historical precedents, thus the concept of terrorism as a whole is flawed. [28] the transformation from old to new terrorism will be examined in the following chapter, demonstrating how the transformation has took place and how old terrorism is today naturally embedded in to new terrorism.


The first area in which change has taken place is that of terrorist group structures. Terrorist group both old and new have always represented themselves as regular armies, portraying themselves with real authority and engaging in justifiable struggles, moreover demonstrating real authority.