There are those that will say that terrorism is a new form of warfare. The truth of the matter is that terrorism can be traced back to the days of the Zealots and the Assassins. Terrorism comes in many forms and is used in many forms to accomplish the mission of destroying the sense of security, by installing fear.
The history of Terrorism
To understand the world of Terrorism one must first understand the true mission of terrorism. The primary purpose of terrorism is to use it as a “calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear” (Terrorism-Research.com). The history of terrorism can be traced back to the 11th and 13th centuries. The Hashhashin (assassins) who where an, Islamic secretive group active in Iran and Syria, are identified as the first organized terrorist group in history. The Hashhashin earned their reputation by caring out the assassinations of the Abbsid and the Seljuk who served as the political leaders of that time in an extremely violent public display. The assignations of said individuals struck fear in those who challenged their political views.
Terrorism is viewed by many to be a modern occurrence. The main reason behind this is that there were no modern nation states in existents until 1648. The lack of organized government made it difficult to use terror as a technique of distressing a political change, as no single prevailing political authority existed (Terrorism-Research).
As controlled and centralized forms of governments began to develop so did the use of terrorism. The biggest period of evolution for terrorism came during the time of the French Revolution as several important theories of social revolution developed during this time frame. Terrorism evolved into two forms of ideologies during this time with the extremism leading the groundwork for the use of violence as a form of political ends.
The two ideologies that supported the use of violence in an attempt to cause change were Marxism, which would later evolve into communism, and the second was anarchism. Both ideologies called for the destruction of the government systems in place. Communism focused its efforts on an economic class of warfare, and called for the seizure of state power by the working class of the state. This would call for total control of the state by the people and would call eventually for the disposal of the state. Anarchism called for the immediate rejection of all forms of government. The belief here was that once the state had been destroyed; there would be nothing to require replacing it. This would allow people to live and interact with one another without any form of governmental coercion. Communism was the more flourishing of the two ideologies; however, Anarchism is still preferred by extremists to this day. A perfect example of Anarchism is display in the latest Batman move currently playing in theaters.
Another evolution trend among terrorism appeared in the late 19th century as the tide of nationalism became popular. Nationalism is defined as the process in which the combination of the identity of the people of the nation and the political state combined. The best example of this is the multi-century struggle of the Irish nationalism movement known today as the Irish Republic Army (IRA). In the 20th Centuries early year’s nationalism and revolutionary political ideologies were the principle developmental forces acting upon terrorism. Russia and Communism played a role in ideological bases of political terrorism from the onset and would take a considerable role as the 20th century unfolded.
The right or the left
Terrorism can relate to either wing and each wing does have a version of terrorism. To explain the difference between each wing on must first understand what the ideology to each is. Keep in mind that the terms are used as they are used in the America. The right wing is often described as the category and includes social conservations. The right wing is often referred to or identified as the Republican Party. It is often identified with the Republican Party because of the strong Christian beliefs and free market liberals. The right wing is set to imply a commitment to the conservation of Christian values supports a strong tradition of family values and supports a free-market system. Right-wing terrorist groups, as described by the FBI, are motivated by notions of hatred (FBI). Examples of right wing terrorist beliefs are white racial supremacy as well as anti-government and anti-regulatory beliefs. Also include Christian extremist groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church and their Pastor Fred Phelps. The militia movement of the 1990s is also a perfect example of the right wing, an example of this would be the Minutemen (FBI). The right wing groups are integrated by a mistrust of, or hatred for, the federal government, often joined with a conspiratorial view of history and politics. Examples of terrorist acts by the right wing include the Oklahoma bombing, and Joseph A. Stack who crashed his plane into the IRS to show anger toward the IRS.
The left wing is often related or identified with the Democratic Party. The left wing in short implies a loyalty to egalitarianism, support for social policies that favor the working class, and multiculturalism (Political Spectrum). The FBI states that the left wing is not significant and special interest terrorism has tended to be obscured (FBI). The death toll is much smaller on the left wing side but is not without incidents that have claimed lives and loss of property.
Types of Terrorism
The different types of terrorism are broken down into the following categories: State Terrorism, Bioterrorism, Cyber-terrorism, Eco terrorism, nuclear terrorism, and Narco terrorism. Each of these types of terrorist has taken on the actions that will bring them the best results, but the main mission is to strike fear in those that oppose there viewpoints or the mission that they are trying to accomplish. The most dangerous and most destructive form of terrorism would have to be nuclear terrorism, followed by bioterrorism.
With the introduction of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) into the art of war by civilized nations, it would only be a matter of time before terrorist organizations would attempt to get their hands on them. Weapons of mass destruction are weapons designed to release a toxic or poisonous chemical or any weapon designed to deliver a biological agent, or any weapon intended to release radiation or radioactivity at a level dangerous to human life (Absolute astronomy). Examples of such weapons are nuclear bombs or toxic agents such as anthrax. In the hands of civilized nations these weapons are dangerous but not as dangerous as they can be in the hands of terrorist organizations.
As the world has evolved and countries have risen to power and others have fallen the availability of WMD are greater than ever. The end of the cold war and the fall of Russia have flooded the black market with WMD. Terrorist organizations that have purchased or attempting to develop such weapons have made it very difficult for law enforcement to track their activities. The main reason behind this is that most organizations that have WMD are typically hiding them in remote dessert or mountainous reigns. This is what makes detecting them so difficult and the methodologies of fighting the war on terrorism are changing as law enforcement attempts to keep up with the threats.
Terrorism vs. DHS
The United States of America always has had a zero tolerance policy concerning to dealing with terrorist. The United States of America has been prepared to tackle terrorist attacks abroad but not so well when it came to the securing the home front. Modern terrorism has reshaped the manner in which the United States of America has had to deal with terrorism. The events of 911 forced the United States to take a different look at how they deal with Terrorism. After the events of 911 the United States of America was forced to create and fund the Department of Homeland Security. The DHS is not really a new department, but rather a consolidation of 22 other agencies that where brought together under the Bush administration. “The Bush administration has taken a number of steps since the Sept. 11 attacks to beef up security across the country, including stricter security procedures in the nation's airports and the deployment of more than 50,000 trained airport screeners and thousands of air marshals and a nearly 40 percent increase in the number of FBI counterterrorism agents” (Government Executive).
Blessing in disguise
The modern trend in terrorism has been a blessing in disguise for the security of the nation. The relationships and communication levels between the law enforcement agencies at the federal, state, and local levels pre 911 attack to say the least were nonexistent. Post 911 attack the creation and consolidation of DHS, and the levels of communication between all levels of law enforcement are at levels never seen before. There has been an increase in the amount of information shared among the different levels of law enforcement and security providers. The funding and opening of Fusion Centers in all major jurisdictions has been of great help as the officers on the field obtain information in real time. Information sharing is the priority of the agencies as they attempt to work as one unit fighting the war against terror. The key factor in the war on terror is to remember that the secret weapon against terror is not who has the biggest guns, or the biggest budgets, but rather who has the best intelligence. Intelligence is communication and the side that is better able to communicate the mission at hand is the side that will win the war against terror.
No matter what way one looks at terrorism is a criminal act. Victimizing the innocent in an attempt to strike fear in others is a criminal injustice no matter if it is done under a dictatorship or a democracy. The meaning or the mission behind terrorism has not changed much over the years, the so-called reasons or beliefs however have. Some might use it as a tool in a Holy War, others as a form of forcing a policy change, and other for the mere pleasure of instilling fear. One thing is for sure the tactics used to cause terror have evolved through out time. Terror organizations use to threaten or carry out actions by shooting or beheading, today they employ the use of WMD’s, or attack innocent unsuspecting bystanders such as the attack that took place on 911 to get the point across.
Another thing that is certain and ever evolving are the tactics and methodologies used by law enforcement and security agencies in the United States to combat the war on terror. As the terrorist become more blazing so do the actions of those fighting the war against it.
Absolute astronomy; Weapons of mass Destruction; defined; http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Weapons_of_mass_destruction; extracted July 26, 2012
American Heritage Dictionary; Terrorism; extracted July 2012
Ballard, Tanya; Government Executive Magazine; Homeland security department absorbs agencies; February 28, 2003
Cross, Paul (Commander); Types of Terrorism; El Paso County Sheriff’s Office; UTEP Professor; July 2012
Ellis, Richard J. The Dark Side of the Left: Illiberal Egalitarianism in America. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1998.
Ortiz, Frank; El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Homeland Security Commander; July 2012
Terrorism-Research; Terrorist behavior and evolution; http://www.terrorism-research.com/; extracted July 2012
Terrorism-Research; What is Terrorism; http://www.terrorism-research.com/, extracted July 2012
Watson, D; FBI: The terrorist threat confronting the United States; Feb 6, 2002; http://www.fbi.gov; extracted July 25, 2012