Terrorism - Criminology Diploma 13.
The Final Assignment of my Criminology Diploma....
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13.1 Analyse what terrorism related crime is and the nature of its aims.
The Origin of Terrorism.
Terrorism is not new; it has been in existence for millennia, the word “terror” comes from a Latin word meaning “to frighten”. It became part of the phrase “terror cimbricus” which was used by ancient Romans in 105BC to describe the panic that ensued as they prepared for an attack by the fierce Cimbri warrior tribe.
The Jacobins political party, to describe their “reign of terror” during the French revolution 1793-1794, later coined the word “terrorism”. Any opposition to the Jacobins were immediately quashed, usually beheaded on the guillotine, and people lived in fear of retribution. When the Jacobins lost power the word “terrorism” then became a word of abuse, people began using the word “terrorist” to describe a person who abuses power through the threat of force.
Definition of Terrorism.
Even though most people can recognise terrorism when they see it, experts have struggled to come up with an internationally agreed definition. The State Department in the USA defines terrorism as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by sub national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience”. In another attempt to produce a definition, Paul Pillar, a former deputy chief of the CIA’s Counter-terrorist Centre, argues that there are four key elements to terrorism: -
1. It is premeditated: planned in advance rather than an impulsive act of rage.
2. It is political: not criminal, like the violence that groups such as Mafia use to get money, but designed to change the existing political order.
3. It is aimed at civilians: not at military targets or combat ready groups.
4. Sub-national groups carry it out: not the army of a country.
Although its definition is not ironclad agreed and whatever it is eventually defined as, to the common person, terrorism, excluding “cyber terrorism”, is intentional acts of violence that are designed to harm or kill citizens in order to intimidate others. Acts of terrorism in this manner are often deliberately spectacular, designed to startle and influence a wide audience, beyond the victims of violence itself. The point is to use the psychological impact of violence or the threat of violence to effect political change. As the terrorism expert Brian Jenkins bluntly put it in 1974, “Terrorism is Theatre”.
This then means that terrorisms effects are not necessarily aimed at the victims of the terrorist’s violence. Making the victims into objects to exploit by the terrorist’s for their effect on a third party.
Course literature tells us that there are at least six types of terrorism: -
· Left wing.
· Right wing.
Logically. A terrorist from any of the above groups may use techniques such as bombing, hijacking, kidnap, assassination or even cyber terrorism to bring fear to their intended audience.
Does this not then mean that the six, buttoned examples are types of terrorist as opposed to types of terrorism?
Thus making bombing, hijacking, kidnaping, assassination and cyber terrorism into types of terrorism?
National terrorists believe that they have been suppressed, treated unfairly or persecuted by the ruling majority. Their actions are intended to attract attention to the plight of their group, their aim being to eventually form a separate independent state for their group.
National terrorists have and will continue to use violence or the threat of violence against military and civilian targets to attract their audience. They are though the most successful at winning international sympathy and concessions, it has been noted that they have tended to calibrate their use of violence, using enough to gain attention but not too much as to alienate support; refusing to be classed as terrorist they call themselves freedom fighters or even revolutionists.
A typical example of the Nationalist terrorist is the Irish Republican Army (IRA), devoted to removing British forces from Northern Ireland and unifying Ireland. Generally it is the Catholic community that favour the unified Ireland, regarding themselves as Irish people and defining themselves politically as Nationalists. The protestant community generally favouring the political union with Great Britain, regarding themselves as British citizens and defining themselves politically as unionists. Many lives have been lost during this conflict.
Terrorism of a religious nature is carried out by those whose motivations and aims have a predominant religious character or influence. Religious terrorists act on many major faiths but can also act on small cult beliefs.
Quoting Bruce Hoffman, “For the religious terrorist, violence is first and foremost a sacramental act or divine duty executed in direct response to some theological demand or imperative. Terrorism thus assumes a transcendental dimension, and its perpetrators are consequently unconstrained by the political, moral or practical constraints that may affect other terrorists”.
Using Islamic terrorists as an example, they are inspired by the media and by certain verses from the Quran (Muslim Holy Book), which are often misunderstood or misinterpreted by extremists and taken to preach a view of the Jihad (religious duty of Muslims) that justifies and encourages the attacking of infidels. Ordinary Muslims do object to any terrorism in the name of Islam, though they can and do become labelled simply because of their belief of Islam.
State Sponsored Terrorist.
State sponsored terrorism is a term loosely used to describe terrorism sponsored by Nation States, again the definition is open to dispute, heated dispute.
One could argue that the United Kingdom is guilty of supporting Loyalist paramilitary groups such as the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) or the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). These groups support the territory of Northern Ireland being part of the UK. If the UK provided intelligence, training, firearms and explosives to these groups, would that not be classed as State Supported Terrorism?
Narcoterrorism is a term coined by former President Fernando Belaunde Terry of Peru in 1983 when describing terrorist-type attacks against his nation's anti-narcotics police. In the original context, narcoterrorism is understood to mean the attempts of narcotics traffickers to influence the policies of a government or a society through violence and intimidation, and to hinder the enforcement of the law and the administration of justice by the systematic threat or use of such violence.
This is not directly a physically violent method of terrorism. It involves computers, networks and the information they contain. Research shows that the term cyberterrorism can be generally defined as “The premeditated use of disruptive activities, or the threat thereof, against computers and/or networks, with the intention to cause harm or further social, ideological, religious, political or similar objectives. Or to intimidate any person in furtherance of such objectives ”. Basically it is the leverage of a targets computer system, particularly via the Internet, causing physical, real world harm or severe disruption of infrastructure.
The Media and Terrorism.
The function, roles and responsibilities of the media in relation to coverage of terrorist activities are dependent on the perspective of the reader/viewer.
The terrorist wants his show viewed around the world.
The newspaper editor wants to sell more and more newspapers.
Government perspectives will vary depending on the incident; who is responsible; what the demands are; etc.
The common person could react with fear initially, then with disgust or even sympathy, again dependent on the whole story.
The terrorists’ aims are to create a show of their capabilities often involving violence and death.
Showing that they are capable generates fear of them.
They believe that through us fearing them that they can make demands that must be met.
If their demands are not met they will create another show.
The threat of Terrorism! Comments greatly appreciated!
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