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Even though terrorism has been in use since the beginning of recorded history, it has no uniform definition. It has been described variously as both a tactic and strategy; a crime and a holy duty; a justified reaction to oppression and an inexcusable abomination. Terrorism confers coercive power with many of the advantages of military force at a fraction of the cost. Terrorist organizations are small in size and secretive by nature, thereby giving their opponents no clear organization to defend against or to deter.


[edit] Why should I be aware of this?

Get Involved!
Zero tolerance to terrorism
The Mumbai Terror Attacks
Satish Kumar on Terrorism
Could you forgive your father's killer?
Have you met your Green Ghost?

The act of terrorism affects not only the immediate victim but also influences an entire audience comprising the whole nation, the region or the world. The terrorists’ acts draw attention to the general populace to their cause. The effectiveness of their act lies not in the act itself, but in the public’s or government’s reaction to the act. In the 1972 Munich Olympics 11 Israelis were killed in the Black September Organization attack. Though the Israelis were the immediate victims, the true target was the estimated 1 billion people watching the televised event.

Terrorism is no longer restricted to only small societies, such as isolated third world countries which fell victim to regular terrorist attacks, but the whole world is becoming more familiar with terrorist attacks. The terrorist violence that is on the rise today has informed citizen all over the world about different types of terrorism.

Terrorism therefore today creates psychological effects that reach farther beyond the impact on the immediate victims of an attack. Terrorists frighten and scare a wider crowd, such as a rival ethnic or religious group, an entire country and its political control, or the entire international community.

[edit] How does this affect me?

Terrorism is a fact of life in our world today. It is not something that we as individuals can control and, frustrating though it may be, we must accept the fact that terrorist acts happen every day in countries all over the world.

Terrorists attempt not only to create panic but also to weaken confidence in the government and the political leadership of the target country.

[edit] All about terrorism

Though terrorism has been there all along, today the world is experiencing a global rebirth of attacks. One of the earliest examples of terrorist acts can be traced back to the Roman occupation of the Middle East during the first century. The Sicari used daggers to murder other Jews that they deemed apostate while the Zealots generally targeted Romans and Greeks to execute, both in daylight in front of witnesses.

During the 11th century there were the Assassins. Their name, literally meaning “hashish-eater” murdered politicians and clerics who did not adopt the version of Islam that they were spreading. Like many religious terrorists today, the Assassins viewed their killings as a sacrifice and guarantee for entry into heaven.

The last religious-inspired terrorists until the 20th century were the Indian group Thugees who ritually strangled random travelers in order to make a sacrifice to the Hindu goddess of terror and destruction. The Thugees were active from the seventh to the mid-nineteenth century and are responsible for about one million deaths.

The guillotine was popularly used for terrorism during the French Revolution. Over 40,000 people lost their lives to the guillotine and from then on the word ‘terror’ has been used in a negative light.

One of the earliest examples of state-sponsored terrorism was In the 20th century, before World War I, when many government officials in Serbia sponsored and trained many Balkan terrorist groups, such as the Young Bosnians”, who helped assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Terroristic activities have shifted to the Middle East and Africa since after World War II. Places like Algeria, Kenya and Malaysia have resorted to both terrorist and guerilla warfare against the French and British.

During the 60s and 70s, terrorist groups like the Provisional Irish Republican Army, Palestinian Liberation Organization, and the Italian Red Brigades began forming for ethnic basis. They were motivated not by nationalism but by ideological values. In the United States groups like the Black Panthers used some terroristic means to popularize their agenda. By the mid-80s terrorism re-emerged in countries like Libya, Syria, Iran and Iraq.

[edit] Types of terrorism

  • Nationalist-Separatist Terrorism. They take to violence to establish a separate state for their own national/ethnic group. (FPA).” The Irish Republican Army, Basque Homeland and Liberty and the Kurdish Workers Party belong to such groups.
  • Right-Wing Terrorism hopes to end liberal democratic governments using murder and destruction as its tool. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols are the most famous right-wing terrorists that bombed the Oklahoma City Federal Building in 1995. (FPA)
  • Nationalist-Separatist Terrorism. This is defined as “violence undertaken by those seeking to establish a separate state for their own national/ethnic group (FPA).” The Irish Republican Army, Basque Homeland and Liberty and the Kurdish Workers Party.
  • Religious terrorism. Religious terrorism comprises groups such as al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah who use violence to further what they conceive as divinely commanded purposes, often targeting broad categories of ‘enemies' in an attempt to bring about sweeping changes(FPA).”
  • Left-Wing Terrorism - The German Red Brigades, Red Army Faction and Prima Linea are groups that fall under this group, created to seek to destroy capitalism and set up a communist or social government by violent means.

[edit] What can I do?

Rather than waste our energies worrying about when and where the next terrorist attack may occur, we should focus our energies toward preparing ourselves to respond after an attack.

  • We can help by being more observant, by being more aware of how serious terrorism really is, the next time you go shopping or take the tube to work or when taking your children to school, watch what the person next to you is doing.
  • If traveling on a bus even high in the sky make a little note of what your fellow passenger is wearing. Make an image diary in your head of what they look like, note little tell tale signs as in i.e. tattoos scars jewelry whatever. Such information can come to use if police are involved and you may hold the key to conviction.
  • If you find yourself face to face with a terrorist attack, be prepared to take command of the situation and help those who are unprepared and in need of assistance until emergency services arrive.
  • In spite of being scared like all others if you appear confident, others will think you are confident and their sense of panic and fear will pass and enable all of you to recover more quickly. Fake confidence, if necessary.
  • If you have a phone available, contact emergency services (police, fire, ambulance) and a family member or friend and inform them about what happened.

These steps wont solve all your problems in the event of a terrorist attack, but they will help you to respond properly and survive.

[edit] CopperBytes

  • There were a total of 9,179 international terrorist attacks from 1981 to 2000, (excluding intra-Palestinian violence), averaging at 459 attacks a year.
  • The number of terrorism attacks was at its highest in mid-1980s. The average number of annual attacks between 1985 and 1988 numbered about 630.
  • Terrorism declined in the mid-1990s and was at its lowest in 1998, when only 274 attacks were recorded. It increased in 1999 to 392 attacks, and 423 attacks in 2000.
  • Businesses are the target of choice of international terrorists. From 1995 to 2000, an average of 67 percent of international terrorists targeted businesses.

[edit] References:

  • What is Terrorism?
  • Global Terrorism
  • Terrorism. Be prepared