Terrorism Summary 1Terrorism, use of violence, or the threat of violence, to create a climate of fear in a given population. Terrorist violence targets ethnic or religious groups, governments, political parties, corporations, and media enterprises. Organizations that engage in acts of terror are almost always small in size and limited in resources compared to the populations and institutions they oppose. Through publicity and fear generated by their violence, they seek to magnify their influence and power to effect political change on either a local or an international scale. 2In their struggle to bring an end to British rule over Palestine and to reclaim it for the Jewish people, radical Jewish groups such as the Stern Gang and the Irgun resorted to terrorist acts in the late 1940s.
The most notorious of these attacks was the bombing of British government offices at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, which killed more than 100 people. Acts of terrorism by Israel’s Arab adversaries accelerated in the 1960s, especially following the Six-Day War in 1967, which led to the Israeli occupation of territory populated by Palestinians. A succession of terrorist groups such as Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, loosely organized under the umbrella of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), conducted commando and terrorist operations both within Israel and in other countries. In 1972 a Palestinian splinter group called Black September took hostage and then killed 11 Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. Although the PLO renounced terrorism in 1988, radical Palestinian groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad have continued to wage a campaign of terror against Israel and its allies.
In 1996 a series of suicide bomb attacks in Israel by supporters of Hamas killed more than 60 Israelis and imperiled the fragile peace between Israel and the PLO. Hostility to the support of the United States for Israel led to numerous acts of terrorism against American citizens by Palestinian radicals or their sympathizers. In 1983 attacks by Shiite Moslem suicide bombers on the U.S. embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, and on the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut killed nearly 300 people, most of whom were Americans. In 1988 a bomb destroyed Pan American Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 people on board, including 189 United States citizens.
In 1991 the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency charged two Libyan terrorists with the crime. In 1996 a truck bomb exploded outside an apartment building housing U.S. military personnel in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 American servicemen. 3One of the most spectacular terrorist episodes in U.S.
history was the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City in 1993 by Islamic radicals. This incident aroused anxiety about the threat posed by foreign residents from nations hostile to the United States. Six people died in the blast, which caused an estimated $600 million in property and other economic damage. Trials that followed convicted six people of carrying out the attack. 4 In addition to concerns about foreign-sponsored terrorism, the United States has an ample history of domestic terrorism. Early in the 20th century, labor leaders such as William Dudley (Big Bill) Haywood openly espoused a philosophy of revolutionary violence and a commitment to the destruction of government power. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, during the latter stages of the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, left-wing groups such as the Weather Underground bombed buildings on university campuses throughout the country and at corporation headquarters and government buildings in New York City.
Between 1978 and 1995, an anarchist and terrorist known as the Unabomber planted or mailed homemade bombs that killed 3 people and wounded 23 others in 16 separate incidents throughout the United States. The Unabomber, who claimed an allegiance with radical environmentalists and others opposed to the effects of industrialization and technology, targeted university professors, corporate executives, and computer merchants. In April 1996 federal agents arrested Theodore Kaczynski, a suspect they thought to be the Unabomber. Kaczynski, a Harvard-educated former math professor who became a recluse, pled guilty to 13 federal charges in 1998 in exchange for agreement that prosecutors would not seek the death penalty during sentencing. The court sentenced Kaczynski to four life terms plus 30 years and ordered him to pay $15 million in restitution.
Evaluation 1In April 1995 a truck bomb exploded in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, killing 168 people and injuring more than 500, making it the deadliest terrorist attack in United States history. Federal agents arrested two men for the crime, Timothy J. McVeigh and Terry L. Nichols. Both McVeigh and Nichols identified with the “patriot movement,” a loose alliance of extremist groups advocating resistance to national laws and political institutions.
In June 1997 McVeigh was found guilty of murder in connection with the bombing and sentenced to death. Later in the year Nichols was convicted of the less severe charges of manslaughter and conspiracy, and he was sentenced to life in prison in June 1998. 2In 1996 President Bill Clinton signed antiterrorism legislation to strengthen the power of the federal government to anticipate and respond to both international and domestic terrorism. The law bars fundraising by foreign terrorist groups and provides for the death penalty in cases of international terrorism and for killing any federal employee because of the employee’s association with the federal government. The law also allows for the deportation of alien terrorists without the need to disclose classified evidence against them, and it authorizes expenditures of up to $1 billion on state and local antiterrorism efforts.
Both the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Rifle Association opposed portions of the legislation that they claimed would provide the federal government with too much power, including an enhanced ability to wiretap and in other ways encroach upon the rights of citizens. Features of terrorism. Terrorist acts are committed for various reasons. Some individuals and groups that use terrorism support a particular political philosophy. Others represent minority groups seeking liberation from governments in power. Dictators and totalitarian governments also use violence to frighten or eliminate their opponents. Most terrorist groups are small.
They believe the threat or use of violence to create fear is the best way to gain publicity and support for their causes. Generally, terrorists attack people who oppose their cause or objects that symbolize such opposition. Common victims of kidnappings and assassinations include diplomats, business executives, political leaders, police, and judges. Terrorists also attack churches, mosques, and synagogues, as well as oil refineries and government offices. At other times, terrorists choose any target certain to attract media coverage. Some terrorists hijack airplanes.
Then they hold the passengers hostage and make demands to further their cause. They often threaten to kill the hostages if their demands are not met. Bombings make up about half of all terrorist acts. 3Terrorism may cross national boundaries. A quarrel in one nation may produce terrorist attacks in severa …