ISIS Terrorists Remain Problematic for U.S. Troops
Part 1 of this research paper will advise why ISIS suicide terrorists are still the most effective threat to U.S. troops and why it will remain a constant threat to U.S. troops throughout the world. This research paper advises about the attack in 1983 in Beirut, Lebanon against the U.S. Embassy, a deadly attack that killed four marines in Syria where they were eating dinner, and four military were wounded in Kabul about a vehicle collided into a NATO vehicle. In depth detail about why terrorists appeal to suicide bombing, why this strategy is so effective and the training that goes into becoming a suicide bomber. Reasoning like democracy, religion, family infrastructure and intelligence play such a huge role into suicide bombing. Part 2 of this research paper will conduct an analysis of one or more U.S. homeland security policies plus strategies and reasons why they were implemented due to ISIS. The policies consist of the Patriot Act, Transportation Security Administration and critical infrastructure being kept safe.
There are many reasons why terrorists exist, in theory; it could be religion, political or just ignorance. However, terrorism exists for whatever the reason. While terrorism is nerve wrecking; most terrorist use a commonly known tactic when attacking U.S. troops; suicide bombing. For example, suicide bombers have been and will continue to be a threat to American troops throughout the world. Examples include one of the first attacks 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon, how four United States troops were wounded in Kabul after a bombing terrorist in a vehicle was targeting them, and more recently a deadly suicide attack on U.S. troops in northeastern Syria claimed by ISIS. This paper will prove that suicidal bombers has always and will always remain a threat to the United States troops security because it is a popular method of choice that terrorist groups pursue.
Suicide terrorists will always be a threat to American troops throughout the world. History is evidence that suicidal bombing will continue in the future. In April 1983, a suicide bomber targeted the United States Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. This was the first mass casualty that was carried out by a suicide bomber against a U.S Embassy. The terrorist was driving a van carrying explosives. The explosive killed 63 people which included 17 U.S. citizens/soldiers when it destroyed the front side of a seven-story building (Manaton, 2018). Later that year in October; a truck driver drove onto a compound in the Beirut International Airport and detonated explosives killing many U.S military. The death toll from this attack was “241 servicemen: 220 Marines, 18 Navy personnel, and 3 Army soldiers” (Manton, 2018). It still remains uncertain which organization is responsible for the bombings, however, a tiny group funded by Iran, named Hezbollah (Party of God) or Shiite terrorists are the perpetrators suspected (Morgenstern, 2006, p. 34).
A Taliban suicide bomber rammed a van into an armored NATO bus in Kabul in October 2011 killing Thirteen American troops. The armored vehicle as known as a Rhino, was between a convoy of resistant military vehicles travelling on a four-lane road frequently used by NATO forces in the south-west of the Afghan capital. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack along with a suicide bombing outside a government intelligence office. This attack occurred near the entrance of the American University. It was the deadliest single attack against the Westerners since the Taliban shot down a NATO helicopter on August 6 in an eastern Afghan province, killing 30 US troops – most of whom were elite Navy Seals – and eight Afghans (Leake, 2011, p. 50).
In January 2019, 4 Americans were killed in a restaurant located in Syria. A bomber entered a restaurant where the group of Americans were eating wearing an explosive vest. In this group, 2 were service members, 1 was a Pentagon civilian and a U.S government contractor. During this incident, three U.S. service members were wounded. This incident occurred because the Pentagon began withdrawing troops from Syria (Louisa & Missy, 2019). Officials said that a bomber had detonated a bomb while wearing an explosive vest as a group of Americans, which includes two service members, a Pentagon civilian and a U.S. contractor slain in the attack. They were meeting with local military officials at “a restaurant in the northern city of Manbij”. Three more servicemen were injured during this event too.
Suicide bombings are popular among terrorist organizations and using an individual using their body as a weapon is a very old tactic. The Journal of Strategic Security shows a study that “suicide terrorism from the perspective of an individual attacker have focused on, and emphasized, the irrationality of the suicide act”. An act of laying down one’s life in the name of a bigger struggle into normalized behavior (Ismayilov, 2010, p. 4). While understanding the motivations for suicide terrorism are difficult researchers have advised of two underlying reasons. One reasoning being epistemic. This is from curiosity about “phenomenon” and what this means is how terrorist use the readiness of beliefs not only to massively murder innocents, but also to sacrifice their lives in the process. Religious sanctification is the act which is first and foremost in order to get the recruit to contradict his or her religious faith. For this, terrorists rely on “Fatwas” or religious opinions by others. One such Fatwa was made by Osama Bin Laden in 1998, where he stated that attacking any American anywhere was completely justified. The well-known promise of 72 virgins in the “after-life” is another potential “reward” for suicide terror (Morgenstern, 2006, p.37). The second reasoning for suicide bombing is pragmatic. Understanding a terrorists’ motivation is a necessary condition for altering it, and it offers an important tool for counterterrorism. Muslims “feel rejected by, and alienated from, the local societies” tends to be the popular reasoning. Hamas terrorists’ main motivation concerned entering “Paradise… being in the presence of Allah… meeting the prophet Muhammad” and while reaping the rewards of a Holy war they will choose to participate in this cause. Other possible motives are believed to be humiliation, exposure to violence, occupation, lack of alternative prospects, modernization and restoration of Islam, poverty, moral obligation, desire to enter “heaven”, and money and support of someone’s family (Kruglanski, Chen, Fishman & Orehek, 2009). The result is a dehumanizing way or an increasing focus on group values, and an increase in the likelihood of an individual taking his or her own life for the sake of the group. Dr Kobrin advises in her books that Muslims are used to obeying one brutal leader, be it a state tyrant, a clan leader, a particular religious leader, the men of one’s own family, and particularly one’s father and husband. He often lives more comfortably and has more freedom than his wives and children do; indeed, this distance is a measure of his honor and power. He is nevertheless feared, hated, obeyed, and abjectly adored by his sons, daughters, and wives. This kind of family life may be the psychological template for the relationship between many Muslim people and their political rulers (p. 85). The leaders live more comfortably and has more freedom and are normally the masterminds for the suicide decoys. These boys and men sustain psychological issues from the beginning. Many sons are trained to mistrust, police, batter, and sometimes murder their female kin—daughters, sisters, cousins, mothers, and wives. Islamic suicide terrorism is often controlled by the child’s experience that force and violence can control others. This is a learned behavior, which is ingrained early in a child’s life. The desire for revenge has been proposed as a common motive for joining a terrorist organization and for engaging in extremist activities (Jacques & Taylor, 2007, p. 320).
Terrorism has taken a new dimension and is used by all terrorist groups throughout the world. When sacrificing one of their own to take out 10’s, 100’s or 1,000’s our American troops is risk that terrorist are willing to take on. Now, after understanding why suicide bombing methods is important when trying to injure American troops; let us understand why terrorist use this method in detail. The culture that many are born into and the poverty (Ateek, 2002). A popular feature is being used with terrorists; women and children are used in suicide bombings (Nnam, Arua & Out, 2018, p. 35). This research shows women are active members for terrorist organizations such as the Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), Tamil Tigers, the Italian Red Brigades and the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The decision-making thrust of women and children could or could not be sought and acquired before using the women and children for suicide bombings. This implies that women and child can carry out instructions only to be given to them by men in the men-dominated mainstream culture. The men are seen as a stronger force in commands, whether good or bad, and the mission must be carried out because of cultural or religious beliefs (p. 37). The concept of a child is deemed relative and this means different things to different people which does differ on cultural backgrounds. This opinion can change from time to time, and is influenced by a country’s legal dynamics which includes crime patterns, the trends and security situations of the country’s warfare. As an example, if a child that has been influenced from its country’s dynamics is a person under the age of 18 years, which the majority of children that are victimized into terrorists are “street urchins” [homeless children]. The religion aspect plays a huge role in how men are perceived by women and children. Suicide bombing attacks have not always had a religious motive. In World War II the Japanese, which earned the name of “kamikaze” were involved pilots crashing their planes on to ships of the approaching US fleet. The pilots committed suicide by the thousands; killing and damaging numerous U.S. property. This so-called “kamikaze campaign” damage, “sinking or damaging 375 ships and killing 12,300 Americans”. If a bomb would not have been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki the damages would have been increasingly more severe (Ineichen, 2014, p. 104). Ineichen discusses in depth the theory and practice of suicide bombing. Many researchers have numerous opinions and explanations about suicide bombing, and even though it’s not surprising with these events; Ineichen considers the valuable information when examining these roles and functions of the terrorist and their organizations. Ineichen believes that these roles are more political than religious (p.106).
Terroristic suicide bombing strategy is effective because suicide bombers can enter a security perimeter and they do not have to have or rely upon needing an exit strategy (Asad, 2007). Also, family structures can be influential on terrorist participation. When imposing terror, the terrorist does not care who is jeopardized. When terrorism behavior is passed down through family generations it shows that radical beliefs are given to groups that tend to be religiously unaffiliated (Alexander, 2019, p. 47). This causes the terror attacks to be carried out by family that are “linked terrorists including suicide bombings” and more likely there are many members of the family that have contributed to the attack and/or incident. According to Alexander, “one sibling may serve as a bomb maker, another may take part in placing or wearing the bomb in a future attack. (p.47)” In January 2017, a commander of the Taliban that was located in northern Afghanistan, Kamal Khan, had accidentally killed himself and his sons while attempting to building bombs at his home. His children were upstairs when the bombs detonated when Khan was piecing the roadside bombs together to use at a later date. Any family members of any terrorist leaders tend to be considered participants in terror attacks (Alexander, 2019, p. 49). When a terrorist sacrifices themselves; it instills fear. This is their main goal. It effects the survivors causing PTSD regarding severe stress symptoms; the psychological implications of terrorist attacks in the United States show indication that the survivors suffer from severe PTSD. Researchers have pointed to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as “one of the most prominent and prevalent expressions of psychological distress following terror attacks” (Mahat-Shamir, Hoffman, Pitcho-Prelorentzos, Hamama-Raz, Lavenda & Ring, 2018, p. 307).
Terrorism has come into view over the last ten years as some of the most critical issues that governments have struggled to maintain and will always struggle to maintain. When terrorists attempt to manipulate the population by creating fear, uncertainty and division of society it creates a psychological warfare. In the Muslim faith many sons are trained to mistrust, police, batter, and sometimes murder their female kin—daughters, sisters, cousins, mothers, and wives. Islamic suicide terrorism depends on how the child experiences violence and force. If violence and force are used from an early age then it shows that it can control others. It is learned behavior, this can be taught from early age in life (Kobrin, 2010). So, any person(s) that would kill his mother can easily terrorize another human despite the cause. Other reasons that While recruiting they terrorist tend to look into the extremist groups. An eternal concern for those involved in preventing crime (and terrorism) has been the concept of “offender profiling” (Horgan, Shortland & Abbasciano, 2018, p. 85). Recruiting violent extremist to join a cause doesn’t take much effort. An ancient proverb reads “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
The Department of Homeland Security has implemented many policies to reduce terrorism within the United States. The most popular policy most Americans know about is The Patriot Act. On September 11th, 2001, planes were used as a vessel of weapons when 19 terrorists hijacked numerous planes crashing them into The World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and one plane crashed in a field as passengers fought back to keep it from crashing into the White House. The Patriot Act was approved by Congress and signed by President George Bush II on October 26, 2001. This policy helped law enforcement and the intelligence community to enforce “four ways” to fight terrorism. The first step was to use “investigative tools” to fight against organized crime. The second step removed all legal actions that prevented the intelligence community from sharing with non-intelligence communities, such as local police. The third step implemented the use of newer technology to be used to help identify new potential threats. Lastly, the fourth step help increase the repercussions of terrorist crimes.
When legalizing the greater range of tools to non-intelligence agencies it allowed many advantages for law enforcement to help reduce terrorism. According to The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. Authorized Edition this allowed “law enforcement to use electronic surveillance against the full range of terrorism-related crimes”, allowed federal agents to wiretap terrorists that was approved by a FISA judge, and allowed federal agencies to the inspect records, especially business records, if there was any suspicion of funding terrorist organizations. When federal agencies revised the legal “barriers” which halted intelligence communities from sharing information to other non-intelligence agencies a smoother process evolved to help counter terrorism throughout the United States. The newer technology “allows warrants to be obtained in any district in where the terrorism activity being investigated occurred”. When increasing the repercussions for terrorist crimes this “created a new offense that prohibits harboring people involved in terrorist offenses” and “increases the maximum penalties for terrorist crimes” (Module 2: Homeland Security Strategy and Policy).
When the Patriot Act was introduced, as with any new and unknown subsidy, comes a lot of piqued inquiries, and with this particular policy, personal privacy has risen concern. The question now is which is more important, privacy or security? According to Robert Mueller, the former FBI director, he said “the Patriot Act has proved extraordinarily beneficial in the war on terrorism and has changed the way the FBI does business. Many of our counterterrorism successes, in fact, are the direct results of provisions included in the Act” (Patriot Act, 2017). However, civil organizations have claimed the Patriot Act invades their Constitutional Rights and the intelligence communities will spy on the population or search their personal homes. This theory has been disproven as all Americans are exempt from being spied on by their government (Patriot Act, 2017).
The second most popular policy that the Department of Homeland Security implemented post September 11, 2001 was the Aviation and Transportation Security Act which gave federal agencies the responsibility of screening all passengers prior to flying. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created months after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Prior to September 11, 2001 the security throughout airports was contracted to private security companies (O’Connor, This Is What It Was Like to Go to The Airport Before 9/11, 2016). Before the attacks on September 11, 2001 passengers could bring on “baseball bats, box cutters, darts, knitting needles and scissors”, and also batteries. Since the attacks, these items have been banned from being allowed on board. The TSA inspect bags and screen for delirious behavior in passengers. TSA has began using “explosive detection systems” and “full body scanners” to help reduce the likelihood of a terrorist smuggling weapons or bombs on to a plane (O’Connor, 2016). Liquids in carry on bags have been approved that passengers can “carry on liquids, gels and aerosols in containers of 3.4 ounces or less in a single, clear, resealable 1-quart plastic bag” (O’Connor, 2016).
Protecting the critical infrastructure is an added strategy, which was chosen by the Bush administration. This strategy helped protect and manage potential targets like our “economy, including agriculture, water, energy, transportation, banking and finance, the chemical industry, information and telecommunications, and so on (Miller, 2003). A huge infrastructure now is cyberterrorism which attacks networks and other communication devices. Many government agencies tend to think that the next attack on the United States would not be a physical attack, but a virtual one.
Suicide terrorists will remain a threat to the United States troops because of democracy, religion and because of the effectiveness as demonstrated above in examples. Suicide bombers were easier to spot 40 years ago because they would carry their bombs in “nylon backpacks or duffel bags” rather than in using vests, shoes, or belts that would conceal bombs beneath their clothing as it has been done within the last decade. Terrorists were also easier to profile as they were male, younger aged; typically, between 16- 24, and were not married. Now terrorists use their entire families as comrades to terrorize the public and can be of any age. The authorities are having a harder time to profile these terrorists and as the years progressed; they have gotten more intelligent and more resilient. Until religion becomes a past life; this will always remain a threat because we are considered infidels and do not serve under the same God.
The efforts to enhance the security for the United States could not be denied. Enhancing homeland security was explained in three words: “prevent, protect, and respond.” (Miller, After the 9/11 Disaster: Washington’s Struggle to Improve Homeland Security”, 2003). In order to prevent terrorist attacks, we must improve the antiterrorism intelligence. When terrorists’ organizations, such as ISIS, can keep themselves hidden and their plans secret, it is very unlikely that anyone can prevent an event, such as the attacks that happened on September 11, 2001 from happening. By implementing numerous policies over the last several years to increase security to the United States and their allies has helped stop numerous malicious acts from happening. The intelligence communities have “extensive surveillance of suspicious groups or individuals” (Miller, 2003). Because of individuals that have been identified as suspects with planning the September 11, 2001 attacks this has “made the American body politic more tolerant of empowering the government to engage in more aggressive and more intrusive surveillance of potentially threatening parties” (Miller, 2003). The technology, such as the 702 program, can detect, collect and review information on suspicious persons of interest for an analysis. Government agencies such as Transportation Security Administration, National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security and many more are more than capable of keeping America safe.
In conclusion, September 11, 2001 was an unexpected tragedy that left almost 3,000 people dead. The government vowed to never forget, nor never to let an event like this happen on U.S. territory again. While some controversy has been discussed about security and privacy, the United States population ceases to remember that Benjamin Franklin said “they who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”. The policies implemented by the federal government are for the better and as long as Americans choose to be free; freedom does not come free.
- Alexander, D. C. (2019). How are Family Structures Influential in Potential Terrorist Participation? Security: Solutions for Enterprise Security Leaders, 56(4), 47–49. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.umuc.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=heh&AN=135658957&site=eds-live&scope=site
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- Horgan, J., Shortland, N., & Abbasciano, S. (2018). Towards a typology of terrorism involvement: A behavioral differentiation of violent extremist offenders. Journal of Threat Assessment and Management, 5(2), 84–102. https://doi-org.ezproxy.umuc.edu/10.1037/tam0000102
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- Manaton, M. E. (2018). Beirut bombings. Salem Press Encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.umuc.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ers&AN=89102933&site=eds-live&scope=site
- Mahat-Shamir, M., Hoffman, Y., Pitcho-Prelorentzos, S., Hamama-Raz, Y., Lavenda, O., Ring, L., … Ben-Ezra, M. (2018). Truck attack: Fear of ISIS and reminder of truck attacks in Europe as associated with psychological distress and PTSD symptoms. Psychiatry Research, 267, 306–312. https://doi-org.ezproxy.umuc.edu/10.1016/j.psychres.2018.06.021
- Miller, S. E. (2003, February 28). After the 9/11 Disaster: Washington’s Struggle to Improve Homeland Security. Retrieved from https://www.belfercenter.org/publication/after-911-disaster-washingtons-struggle-improve-homeland-security
- National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (2004). The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. Authorized Edition. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.
- Nnam, M. U., Arua, M. C., & Otu, M. S. (2018). The use of women and children in suicide bombing by the Boko Haram terrorist Group in Nigeria. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 42, 35–42. https://doi-org.ezproxy.umuc.edu/10.1016/j.avb.2018.07.004
- O’Connor, L. (2016, September 16). Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/airports-before-911_n_57c85e17e4b078581f11a133
- Patriot Act. (2017, December 19). Retrieved from https://www.history.com/topics/21st-century/patriot-act
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