Essay: Terrorism Final Examination Questions

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[. . .] Question 3

Why do some terrorist groups use suicide bombing as a strategy? Please include at least three reasons in your answer.

Terrorist groups use suicide bombing as a strategy is because suicide bombs are dramatic public displays of violence often taking place in sensitive areas. Consider suicide bombings in Israel, Palestine, and other areas in what is referred to in the west as the Middle East. The bombings are on public transportation and even school buses. The bombings take place in marketplaces or in other areas where there are high concentrations of civilians as well as military personnel. The targets of suicide bombings are mainly average civilians because their deaths instill the most tragedy and provide the maximum dramatic impact. Shafiq and Sinno state:

Perpetrators use suicide bombing as a high-profile and cost-effective tactic in the hope of producing cultural, economic, social, or political change (Berman and Laitin 2006; Pape 2003). In different conflicts, suicide bombings have targeted civilians, military personnel, political personnel, or some combination of these targets (Gambetta 2006)…In addition to claiming thousands of casualties, suicide bombs destroy infrastructure and private property, weaken the investment climate, undermine the tourism industry, and lead to the reallocation of resources in a way that undermines economic growth. (2010,-Page 147)

Though saddening, to receive notification that enlisted soldiers in a war died as a result of the war activities is within the normal realm of reason or speculation. Currently in this country, soldiers volunteers to put themselves in harm's way as part of the strategies to defend the United States. Children, families, the elderly, and the wounded are not parties expected to die as a result of a bomb explosion. The contrast is stark and the affect is dramatic.

Terrorists use suicide bombings as intentionally public ordeals with the purpose of drawing attention to the terrorist group and its objectives. Suicide bombings communicate that the time for talk or negotiations is over:

Violent actions such as suicide bombings are unusual and unnatural forms of human behaviour. Their mere occurrence indicates the presence of a serious problem in interpersonal interaction. Violence signals the collapse of dialogue and resort to unconventional means of communication. (Khashan, 2003,-Page 1049)

Terrorist groups use suicide bombing because such a strategy is a loud declaration or communication by the terrorist group about their goals and the lengths to which they will go to achieve them.

Suicide bombings garner an exceptional amount of attention from global press and media. Therefore, if a terrorist group wishes to draw the simultaneous attention of people, governments, and countries around the world, suicide bombing is an effective strategy to attract sufficient attention. Suicide bombings grab global attention instantaneously and grip consumers with terror. Suicide bombings in public areas disrupt the sense of order and safety that societies depend on to function as such. Suicide bombings additionally alert audiences that members of the terrorist group(s) responsible for the execution of the bombings are so profoundly dedicated to the groups ideals and to the achievement of its goals, that members of the group willingly (implied) sacrifice their lives in the name of the group's beliefs. That caliber of dedication is attention-grabbing, frightening in some cases, and in circumstances outside of terrorist activities, is profoundly humbling and rare. One of the most prominent aspects of suicide bombings is the willingness to surrender one's life in horrifically violent and public way. Most humans value their lives, or at least wish them to carry on for as long as possible. Suicide bombings are scary because the bombers agree to die and agree to kill as many other presumably innocent people with them as possible as one of the primary objectives. Unyielding commitment, loyalty, and sacrifice are necessities in terrorist organizations that utilize suicide bombings. (Kramer, 2012)

Consider the Kamikaze fighter pilots from Japan and their suicide attacks during World War II. Needless to say, Americans and people around the world were exceptionally shocked to learn and be attacked by pilots intentionally diving into aircraft carriers, submarines, speedboats, and other watercrafts. Up until that point in American history, the U.S. had not encountered an enemy with that much dedication and the willingness to sacrifice to such a great degree. Consider the suicide bombings that occurred in London in 2007 occurred in the London tube or metropolitan transit system. The bombings were scheduled to occur during peak hours in the morning. These terrorist attacks were clearly intended to injure as many civilians as possible. This was not an attack on a police station or a military base. It was an attack on everyday citizens. Suicide bombings that occur in areas that are of high use by many people in the locality or in areas where the safety of that area is taken for granted or presume by the public, dramatically display commitment to the terrorist cause. Suicide bombings, as with many organized terrorist actions, necessitate a great deal of planning and meticulous orchestration so as to be successful. Bombers must learn the local culture and language, find ways to sustain him or herself, and blend in with the locals. In many cases, the suicide bombers must earn and subsequently sacrifice the trust of local civilians as part of the plot.

A third reason as to why terrorist groups use suicide bombings, as part of their strategies is to disperse feelings of hopelessness and helplessness to the surrounding and viewing populations. Terrorists do not only attack buildings, buses, or train stations. Terrorists also attack people and they attack them in more than just physically. Terrorists attack victims psychologically and physically. In fact, the psychological damage may be just as important, if not more important, than the physically violent aspect of the action taken by the terrorist organization. Psychological damage and physical damage are primary affects of suicide bombings, in addition to terrorist activities in general.

Suicide bombings instill fear in the local community as well as the global community. Suicide bombings and other forms of terrorism disrupt and dismantle people's senses of safety in their homes and when traveling abroad. Suicide bombings make people afraid or much more anxious to travel via public transportation as many suicide bombings occur on buses, trains, school buses, and in subway stations or trains underground. Following the attacks in New York City on 9/11, the New York City Mass Transit Authority in conjunction with the local city administration, launched an entirely new marketing and messaging campaign in the trains, buses, and stations. The campaign centers around the slogan, "If you see something, say something." The campaign is still active to this day. It includes the diffusion of signs, advertisements, and regularly scheduled announcements by train staff while the train is in motion. Conductors and drivers either make the announcements live or play a pre-recorded message over the PA system of the train or bus. These announcements did not exist before 9/11. Furthermore, the messages and posters appear in several of the majorly spoken languages in New York City including English, Spanish, Mandarin, Korean, Russian, and Hebrew.

This campaign is a direct result of the fear and panic that washed over the city and the country after 9/11. The campaign itself, though designed to combat fear and empower citizens, the announcements and posters actually increase the fear and anxiety. Now more citizens are paying an excessive amount of attention to strangers trying to see something so they can say something, as the ad goes. Some New Yorkers, and more likely visitors to New York City will be additionally on edge and suspicious -- on the prowl for unsavory characters. The terrorism has caused an increased sense of fear and anxiety in the local area. Americans, after 9/11 were terrified and even advised by members of the media such as journalists and news broadcasters to not go abroad. Due to terrorist acts committed in the country and terrorism occurring internationally, Americans were encourage to stay within the country's borders and not dare venture forth. It simply was not safe for us. This is how terrorism takes away a person's sense of safety. This is how terrorism grips people with fear and does not let go, as it has been over ten years since 9/11 and New Yorkers are still very sensitive about the matter.

Existing in a constant state of fear and anxiety makes people vulnerable to threats and susceptible to suggestions. Fear weakens people's defenses for the most part. A certain level of fear can activate the release of adrenaline to prepare to flee or fight as a survival mechanism. Excessive levels of fear and anxiety wear people out quickly; they are quite literally exhausted from being afraid all the time. Those suffering from excessive fear and anxiety will have greater difficulty sleeping as compared to those who are not. Those who are gripped by feelings of excessive fear, panic, and anxiety are more susceptible to suggestions, especially to ones that claim to protect and ensure safety. Those who are… [END OF PREVIEW]

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