The realm of terrorism and its globalisation

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There is no unanimously accepted definition of terrorism. Terrorism originated way back in the 1st century, when the Zealots, a Jewish sect, battled Romanian occupation of present day Israel. At the onset of the 19th century, terrorist activities picked up an added political and revolutionary course. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, radicals in Italy, Spain, and France used terrorism. The origin of the word "terrorism" dates to the last part of the 18th century and is derived from the French "terroriste" as well from the Latin "terreo". In the times of Cicerone the dissimilarity between terror and fear (between "terreo" and "metus") was embedded in that the former caused the latter. [6] 

Terrorism aims at ethnic or religious assemblies, governments, political groups, corporations and media concerns. Terrorism that takes place all over the world is termed as global terrorism. It is undoubtedly the worst kind of crime that has ever existed. Not only does it result in killing general public, it also terminates livelihoods, economies and refined world order that took ages to develop. Individuals or groups responsible for carrying out these crimes are called terrorists. Only a few of them operate in isolation, but generally they belong to one of the many existing global organisations with a recognisable structure.

Endeavours of various countries to define the term stumbled primarily due to variances of view between numerous participants in the context of usage of force in the background of clashes over national liberation and autonomy. [7] 

The United States Department of Defence explains terrorism as "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." [8] Embedded in this definition are three key features; violence, fear and intimidation, and each of them invokes terror in its victims. The FBI uses this: "Terrorism is the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives." The U.S. Department of State expresses "terrorism" to as "premeditated politically-motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience."

Terrorism is an unlawful act that impacts an audience well beyond the direct victim. The underlying idea of terrorists is to carry out deeds of violence that attracts the attention of the local population, the government and the entire world to their central cause. The terrorists design their attack to achieve maximum publicity by selecting targets that represent what they oppose. The success of a terrorist act does not lie in the act, but in the populace's or government's response to this act. Citing an example, at the Munich Olympics in 1972, the Black September Organisation slayed 11 Israeli athletes. The Israeli athletes were the immediate sufferers of the tragedy but their real target was the estimated population of one billion viewing the telecast of the event. The vast visibility of the Olympics was utilised by the Black September Organisation to project the plight of the Palestinian refugees successfully. [9] 

Likewise, in October 1983, some terrorists from the Middle East bombarded the Marine Battalion Landing Team Headquarters at Beirut International Airport. Again, their direct victims were the 241 U.S. soldiers who were slaughtered and more than 100 others who were injured but what they actually targeted was the American public and the U.S. Congress. This incident can be called a success because it was instrumental in influencing the withdrawal of US Marines from Beirut.

Terrorists are refining their innovativeness and skills in practically every facet of their tasks and upkeep. The belligerent usage of up-to-date technological expertise for controlling and passing information, communication and intelligence has improved the proficiency of such actions. Terror groups have boosted their financial capabilities and weapons are readily available. Since, both technology as well as trained manpower is voluntarily available, well-financed terrorist match or at times even exceed the superiority of governmental counter-measures. Similarly, owing to the surge in information channels, and rivalry with growing numbers of other communications, it necessitates terrorism to now depend on amplified violence or novelty to entice the response or attention it seeks. Major media elements are vying for top billing and the profits are too large if the number of the audience they can capitulate on increases. This forces terrorists to escalate the influence and ferocity of their actions in order to benefit from this sensationalism. Currently, many specialists are of the opinion that certain parts of the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan are proving to be the main command nodes for terrorism. Spans of disorder, exploitation and corruption have seen Islamic fundamentalist groups plug the power void in this area and continue to churn out an startling number of religiously inspired terrorists.

The ghastly attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Centre at New York has made it amply clear that terrorism is no longer limited to countries and regions but has assumed a global stature and the world community will have to come together in a collective effort in order to root it out. The UN and its member stated denounce this scourge and the fight against terrorism is on top of the priority lists. However, as per the UN, in the war on terror, no human right convention or law should be violated.

Some definitions are listed below [10] :-

Terrorism is the use or threatened use of force designed to bring about political change.

Terrorism is the premeditated, deliberate, systematic murder, mayhem, and threatening of the innocent to create fear and intimidation in order to gain a political or tactical advantage, usually to influence an audience.

Terrorism constitutes the illegitimate use of force to achieve a political objective when innocent people are targeted.

In November 2004, a United Nations Security Council described terrorism as any act "intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a government or an international organisation to do or abstain from doing any act." (Note that this report does not constitute international law.)

Terrorism can be broadly classified into the following categories [11] :-

Civil Disorders. A type of combined violence interfering with the harmony, security and normal working of any community.

Political Terrorism. Forceful criminal actions designed to inculcate fear in the public or substantial section of it, for political gains.

Non-Political Terrorism. Conscious strategy to generate and maintain a great degree of fear for coercive motives, but the end either individual or collective gain and not political.

Quasi- Terrorism. The activities of crime or violence that are alike forms and techniques of genuine terrorism but lack its essential ingredient.

Limited Political Terrorism. Terrorism activities which are committed for conceptual or political purposes but do not a part of an intensive operation to seize control of the State.

Official or State Terrorism. Countries where rule is centred on fear and repression that extends to levels similar to terrorism or similar magnitudes.

Cyber Terrorism. Any kind of terrorism activity that is created or assisted with the usage of computer. This may be disruptions of networked systems or illegal entry into financial information networks.

Intra State Terrorism. Discontentment based on ethnicity or class fall in this category. On the rise and India can be quoted as an example. [12] 

State Sponsored Terrorism. Many definitions of terrorism confine it to acts by non-state players. However, the persuasive case has been made that states do engage in terrorism in the sense that they utilise force or the threat of force, without announcing war, to terrorise residents and accomplish a political objective. The United States considers Iran as the most prolific patron of terrorist acts because Iran arms groups, such as Hezbollah assist in carrying out its foreign policy goals.

Narcoterrorism. The several meanings of Narcoterrorism include violence used by drug traffickers to effect governments or thwart government efforts to discontinue the drug trade as also in recent times, narcoterrorism has been linked to funding of terrorist groups by drug trafficking.

Nuclear Terrorism. This includes attacks on nuclear facilities, gaining access to or building nuclear weapons or any other way to disperse radioactive material.

Bioterrorism. Bioterrorism indicates the intentional discharge of toxic biological agents to injure and terrorise citizens, under the garb of a political or other cause.

Eco terrorism. Eco terrorism is a newly coined term to denote violence in the interests of environmentalism. Environmental extremists sabotage assets to cause economic damage on industries like fur companies or actors they consider harming animals or the nature.

Terrorism is systematic, co-ordinated and has laid down objectives. It is an act of an organized body has a pre-planned aim which may be political and more often than not it is a result of some kind of perceived injustice or political problem. Organized terrorism always derives its strength from internal or external support.

Most definitions of international or domestic terrorism are based on some fundamental elements :

The Victims. Usually civilians or non-combatants.

The Targets. Victims are direct targets but terrorism acts have secondary or ultimate targets, generally leaders of governments to whom the coercive message is conveyed.

The Intent. To threaten or coerce a civilian populace for influencing or manipulating policies of governments.

The Means. Violence or its threat against persons or property such as bombing, hijacking, assassination, hostage taking and other similar acts.

The Motivation. The motivations may be political, ideological, religious or nationalistic.

Terrorism is a phenomenon which has existed all through history, concluding in the present danger posed by transnational terrorism. The latitude provided is the widest possible and comprises transnational, international and local terrorism. It also includes terrorist groups; solitary terrorists; diverse methods of historical terrorism; schemes and strategies like kill-zones and choke-points; logistics; the terrorist arsenal of weapons and their devastating effects; patronage, comprising political and religious support; terrorism in the framework of guerrilla warfare, criminal attack, and acts of war; the terrorism-media connection; anti and counter-terrorism; and finally, the systematic extermination of terrorism vis à vis emergency suppression. With the threat of nuclear terrorism and the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction assuming realistic proportions, the challenge has become global.

Global terrorism is when terrorism happens on a universal scale. Terrorism is criminal viciousness wreaked upon innocent onlookers. Terrorism does not spare anyone and affects men, women and children alike all over the world. Prominent terrorists such as Osama Bin Laden have executed criminal acts with such surprise and ferocity in various countries throughout the world that he has acquired a status verging on the mythological in contemporary media depictions of terrorism and have made him a wanted man. Organisations like Al Qaeda are emerging as highly adaptive capable of reproducing and spreading its tentacles even if their leader is killed.

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