International Terrorism State Department Defines Modern Thesis

Pages: 7 (2174 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Terrorism

International Terrorism

State Department defines modern terrorism as "premeditated and politically motivated violence by sub-national groups or clandestine agents against non-combatant targets" often to influence a particular audience.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation describes it as:

…"the use of serious violence against persons or property, or the threat to use such violence, to intimidate or coerce a government, the public, or any section of the public in order to promote political, social or ideological objectives."

The British government's formulation for many years now defines modern terrorism as "the use of violence for the purpose of putting the public or any section of the public in fear." United States domestic law, U.S. Code Title 18 Section 2331, provides a legal definition of international terrorism as used in U.S. courts.

It denotes:

"…violent acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or any State, or… if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State."

appears to pursue as goals:

"…to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion or affect the conduct of a government by assassination or kidnapping…"

and occurs mainly outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States or transcends national boundaries. Section 2332 proscribes a strict definition and description of modern terrorism as acts "… transcending national boundaries, such as killing, kidnapping and maiming." On the other hand, international law does not define but proscribes to specific thought central or related to terrorist activities. It uses varying words in referring to intent or motivation to influence certain political persons.

Sources of Modern Terrorism

These are Islamic extremism and Al-Qaeda, which date back from the 13th century. In the time and reign of Charlemagne in Europe, the court of Harun al-Rashid in Baghdad was unrivalled as the patron of the arts, philosophy and literature. The West and the seat of the Islamic world co-existed in harmony until the Mongols crushed Baghdad and its civilization in 1258.

It gave rise to the concept of jihad, a physical struggle to defend Islam against its enemies. The concept has passed on to modern terrorists. Believers in Islam consider their religion perfect. Islamic theologians thus perceive the destruction of their caliphate as an imperfection. The Al-Qaeda ideology, the puritanical form of Islam, evolved from this perception. The Wahhabism movement contributed to the evolution of the Al-Qaeda ideology. In the 18th century, a Saudi cleric Muhammad Abd al-Wahhab decried all deviation from the original precepts and practices in the Koran as blasphemous. He was allied with the Saudi shayks who later acquired power over the Arabian Peninsula in 1932. The Salafism movement of the 19th century also contributed to the Al-Qaeda ideology. It draws from the principles of first-generation Muslims, called the salaf-al-saliheen, meaning "pious ancestors." Wahhabism and Salafism, though not terrorist in origin, later assumed radical tendencies, which had violent consequences.

Contemporary Terrorism

Political Islam started to take shape since the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

For more than half a century, it evolved from a secular Arab nationalist under Nasser to a Marxist- leftist force to what it is today. Many observers believe that its current form is likely last longer, as it is the product of 13 years of evolution with the Salafi concept at the core. Other factors appear to insure the longevity of Islamic extremism. One is that the anti-Soviet struggle in Afghanistan trained and prepared terrorists and served as a model of successful expulsion of a foreign occupant. The presence of U.S. military forces in Saudi Arabia from 1990 to 1991 became the occasion to expel "the infidel" from their holy lands. The Muslims are now deeply incensed by the Western occupation of the seat of Abbasid in Baghdad. The other factors are Western authoritarian behavior in many Muslim countries, these Western powers' cynical use of Islam to establish their legitimacy, their failure to institute economic and political reforms, and the impact of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This conflict became the symbol of Muslim humiliation not only in the Arab world but far beyond it. To Islamic extremists, this is a manifestation of a Zionist-Crusader alliance against Islam itself.

Strategies

The rationale of modern terrorism can be traced back to the policy of propaganda by deed by anarchists of the late 19th century.

Their violence was meant to gain publicity, foment repression and consequently to undermine the government. Their main objective was to create consequences way beyond the immediate victims. This was demonstrated by the September 11 campaign and concluded that Al-Qaeda terrorism had been stalled. In order to succeed, the goal of modern terrorism is to appear irresistible enough for groups to want to trade their weakness for time. That time is the dimension during which to undermine the moral of the target State and in which to increase support for the groups' support. If their campaign manages to frustrate and humiliate the target State, they can increase the people's feeling of vulnerability and eventually question the purpose of their government's anti-terrorist campaign. At the same time, the strategy should never become so extensive as to lead the State to make the groups' destruction a central goals of its national security policy. Unlike anarchists, modern terrorist groups use names in associating with armies and military organizations, freedom and liberation symbols and righteous vengeance and neutral positions. They claim to have been forced to take up arms and to commit violence. Most of them operate clandestinely because of their weakness. They perform dramatic acts of violence to call attention. These acts of violence are said to be the defining characteristics of terrorism, rather then the motivation or justification.

Money Supply for Terrorism

The search for Usama Bin Laden, freezing his assets or unseating the Taliban could not cripple terrorism.

Many anti-U.S. terrorist groups will simply replace Bin Laden's group and obtain support from countries, which hate the U.S. Effectively curbing terrorism requires the cutting off of money support to these terrorist groups and their supporters. The September 11 attacks established that all terrorists are criminals and that illegal drugs and money laundering are illegitimate. The United States and the West also incurred huge economic losses to these terrorist attacks. The U.S. lost close to a trillion dollars in lost revenues. The sources of money supplied to terrorists and other international criminals have not been severed. Unless and until the U.S., as the leader, is able to do so, the global war on terror will be lost. The organizations or States financially supporting terrorist groups are a threat to democracy, the free market and freedom. In addition to cutting off money supply, support systems to terrorism must also be dismantled. These are criminal organizations, money launderers, and illegal drug manufacturers and traffickers.

Problems in Combating Global Terrorism

The UN Security Council ordered all member-states to set up legislative and executive measurers to fight terrorism in the state and international levels.

While it is the only approach for effectively dealing with a global threat, five important problems remain. The first is the divergence of views on the exact nature of terrorist threats among member-States. The U.S. designated Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Syria and Sudan as "state sponsors of terrorism," but not all UN member-states agreed to the assessment. The U.S. should lead in setting a consensus on the nature of the threats while providing sustained attention to the concerns of other States and coming to a common understanding of the threat of terrorism. The second is the selection of the authority to determine who is violating, who is being violated, and who will decide on responses to non-compliance. The Security Council should set minimum standards of compliance to Resolution 1373 and guidelines for dealing with member-States, which will not comply. Below-minimum-standard compliance should incur punitive measures, such as political, economic and even military sanctions. Above-minimum-standard compliance will be rewarded. Decisions will be made by the Security Council members collectively. The third problem concerns the long-term implications of the use of force. The U.S. should take the lead in setting the criteria for the use of force in self-defense against terrorists and State sponsors of terrorism. And the fourth is the implementation of the UN's counterterrorism measures. Most member-States do not possess the required monitoring and enforcement capabilities. The U.S. And other Security Council members should provide these resources to implement the counter-measures. They should also extend technical assistance and a mechanism to finance counter-terrorism programs in member-States with monitoring and enforcing problems.

The UN can significantly contribute to the campaign against terrorist in four ways.

It can enhance the legitimacy of State actions against State sponsors of terrorism. It can help create international norms and international standards of accountability. It can help share the economic burden of the fight against terrorism, especially with the United States. And the UN can share the political burden as a potent and useful political bulwark in the struggle.

The Global Strategy Against Modern… [END OF PREVIEW]

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