Criminal Justice - Counterterrorism International Terrorism Issues Essay

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Criminal Justice - Counterterrorism


Compare and contrast several definitions of terrorism. Include definitions employed by government agencies as well as by scholars. Which definition do you find to be most accurate or most useful? Why? Also, by extension, why do you find certain definitions deficient?

According to the U.S. State Department, Title 22 of U.S. Code section 2656f (d) defines 'terrorism' as the "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub-national groups of clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience" and defines 'international terrorism' as "terrorism involving citizens or the territory of more than one country." This definition is comprehensive and accurate except that is seems to exclude (1) individual perpetrators and (2) acts of terrorism perpetrated strictly for malice or revenge without any motive to influence future actions of policies.

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines "terrorism" as "the unlawful use of force or 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 "and includes both domestic and international terrorism depending on the "origin, base, and objectives of the terrorist organization." This definition does not seem to exclude individual perpetrators but, like that of the State Department, seems to omit violence perpetrated strictly for malice or revenge rather than to influence future actions and policies.

TOPIC: Essay on Criminal Justice - Counterterrorism International Terrorism Issues Assignment

The Vice President's Task Force defines "terrorism" as "the unlawful use or threat of violence against persons or social objectives. It is usually intended to intimidate or coerce a government, individuals or groups, or to modify their behavior or politics." That definition seems more accurate because it focuses on acts rather than the identity or classification of perpetrators; likewise, the word usually allows for exceptions such as motivation by malice or revenge. Finally, the United Nations defines "terrorism" as acts of any person who, acting independently of the specific recognition of a country, or as a single person, or as part of a group not recognized as an official part or division of a nation, act to destroy or to injure civilians or destroy or damage property belonging to civilians or to governments" to achieve political objectives. That definition omits the prospect of terrorism perpetrated by recognized nations.

2. How do terrorists come to justify their actions -- particularly when innocent, non-combatants are killed? As a part of your answer, consider the roles of group reinforcement and the Doctrine of Necessity.

Terrorists often justify their actions that kill innocent noncombatants either by (1) equating the violence against those innocent victims as comparable to violence or injustice perpetrated by the victim's nation or the political entities that they support, albeit indirectly, or (2) claiming that the magnitude of the harms "necessary" to achieve their justified objectives are outweighed by the harms and injustice of the actions or policies their actions are intended to redress through terrorism.

Group reinforcement plays a major role in supporting terrorism, whether by promoting terrorists as moral warriors (as in the case of radical Islamic terrorists), or by indoctrinating their local community to maintain the same beliefs and objectives as the terrorists, (as in the case of Palestinian terrorists throughout the Palestinian territories whose communities are largely united in the belief that violence against Israeli civilians is absolutely justified).

3. Explain the structures and methods of organization common to terror groups. What elements of their structure is most challenging for group leadership in your estimation? Also, how might law enforcement and intelligence agencies exploit the structural impediments found in terror organizations? What aspects are most challenging for law enforcement and intelligence agencies?

Generally, many of the same structural principles apply to successful terrorist groups as to other organizations. Specific responsibilities and tasks are divided with different subunits assigned specialty areas or operations. To complement the work of other units. Extreme secrecy is a common primary focus as are funding issues. Most modern terrorist organizations employ cells as their basic units and columns comprising multiple cells. Those cells are typically divided into different areas of responsibility, such as cell command, internal discipline, column command, tactical operations, intelligence operations, supply operations, other logistics, and training responsibilities.

More particularly, modern terrorist cells are typically organized in a pyramid structure of command, active cadre, active supporters, and passive supporters, from top to bottom. The largest terrorist networks often combine numerous pyramids within an umbrella organization that shelters, manages, supplies, secures resources, provides… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Criminal Justice - Counterterrorism International Terrorism Issues.  (2009, February 18).  Retrieved October 24, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Criminal Justice - Counterterrorism International Terrorism Issues."  18 February 2009.  Web.  24 October 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Criminal Justice - Counterterrorism International Terrorism Issues."  February 18, 2009.  Accessed October 24, 2021.