Terrorism: No Easy Definition

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Running Head: TERRORISM: NO EASY DEFINITION Why is Terrorism so hard to define? Violence Undefined TERRORISM: NO EASY DEFINITION Abstract My first Reaction Paper in Module 2 discusses why terrorism is so hard to define. This paper will address the many uses of extreme force and violence that is meant to make the government or population alter its direction. Dyson states, "it can take a variety of forms, including left wing, right wing, special interest, single issue, religious, ethnic, and hate." (Dyson, 2012, p. 34-35). Of course, some people believe, for instance, terrorism can only be performed in a group but they can be individual as well. TERRORISM: NO EASY DEFINITION 3 Violence Everywhere Terrorism is very difficult to define. When a person thinks of terrorism, the first thing they may think of is the pain, fear, and violence. Even though there are some actions that do cause pain and fear, it is not necessarily considered terrorism "A local street gang could induce fright on the part of the neighborhood . . Motorcycle gang riding down main street of a small community could generate fear to the townspeople . . strikers could be frightened by union busters. robber could cause extreme panic in his victim if he suddenly shot out the windows of the person's store." (Dyson, 2012, p. 19) Moreover, the word Terrorist was first used because of the Revolutionary government. It provided the example of future states in coercing their populations as well as inspiring a reaction by the traditionalists and other opponents. These terrorists used tactics such as murder and pressure for those who resisted the Revolutionary agents. Further, due to the violent political actions over the past few years, a majority of individuals assume that any extreme violence is considered terrorism because they believe it is for political intentions. Too, state, county, and local governments, have been known to use the FBI's definition. The definition is any unlawful use or action that intimidates or even coerces a government or its people for political or even social objectives will not be accepted at all. (Dyson, 2012, p. 25) Since the FBI is considered law enforcement and in their eyes specifically terrorism is a crime, other agency's that are more concerned with the intelligence of terrorist, is not bothered about the legal aspect. In addition, different particular interest and civil rights groups will more than likely work on the definition so that their interest is noted. In an effort to eliminate their members from the general population, the group representing a specific ethnic or religious group will want to TERRORISM: NO EASY DEFINITION 4 ensure their definition is broad enough. Therefore, not only is terrorism illegal but anyone in the field of fighting terrorism believes the definition should be the use of extreme violence meant to a change both the government and society. Although law enforcement and governmental agencies do not consider marches, demonstrations, etc. terrorism, special interest organizations want to be sure their definition be included. This ensures that the legal activities are included in the scope of terrorism. Just because the protests turn into riots does not mean it is actually terrorism. And, to understand the concept of terrorism, numerous questions should be addressed "does a terrorist have to seek the overthrow of the government? Does terrorist have to attempt to kill people? Does a terrorist have to frighten the entire population? Does a terrorist have to employ physical violence? Is there a minimal amount of damage that must be done be before an attack can be classified as being terrorism? (Dyson, 2012, p. 21-22) Depending on the type of terrorism, would determine the particular type of terrorism. For instance, the FBI's definition of domestic terrorism is “ . unlawful use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual based and operating entirely within the United States or Puerto Rico without foreign directions and whose acts are directed at elements of the U.S. government or its population.” (Dyson, 2012, p. 25) While the domestic terrorism deals with the United States, the International Terrorism deals with the unlawful, threatened use of force or violence directed at the United States. (Dyson, 2012, p. 25) Equally important are the different types of terrorism than can be both domestic and international. For instance, the left-wing extremist could be considered both because they desire to alter things not tried before and that although Americans are considered good, the government currently has the responsibility for its citizens. One example of the left-wing extremist is the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). FARC mainly operates in Columbia TERRORISM: NO EASY DEFINITION 5 with behaviors of extortion, weapons acquisition, logistics, kidnapping, bombings, mortar attacks and murder against the Colombian military. Economic and political targets, as well as guerrilla and conventional military action, are also performed by FARC. Because the United States supports the Columbian Government, FARC believes the United States personnel to be a legitimate military target. This group is against the government, capitalism, and the environment. Another example of the left-wing extremist is Ted Kaczynski, known as the Unabomber. He was against the development and progressive technology of the United States as he tried to improve a nature-centered form of a revolt. Another type of terrorism is the Right-Wing Extremism. These domestic terrorist groups are inspired by philosophies such as distrust of the government, anti-immigration, and tax, etc. Once such example is that of Timothy McVeigh, who set off a bomb at the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City twenty (20) years ago. His goal was to resist open-minded governments while conserving the traditional public orders as well as wanting to be considered by militias and gang. The fascist Nazi dictatorship and the Klu Klux Klan group are also examples of Right-Wing Extremism because they also, not only operate in the United States, but in Russia and Germany. The Right-Wing Extremism prefers not to have a government, which would make them anarchist and just like the Left Wing, can be considered both domestic and international. Next is the Single-Issue or the Special-Interest Terrorism. Although the group does not violently attack and does not have a political agenda, they are known to be responsible for the most number of incidents. They want to solve specific issues by conducting acts of violence for a particular cause for example animal rights, environmental, pro-life and anti-nuclear. Issues of both domestic and international terrorism are usually single-issue groups such as animal rights, TERRORISM: NO EASY DEFINITION 6 Anti-abortion, eco-issues, and anti-genetic engineering. Special interest terrorism is different from the traditional right wing and left-wing because the extremist special interest groups look to resolve particular issues, rather than influence more extensive political change. Domestic terrorists respond after a trigger happens, even though most are not psychotic. An example of is Timothy McVeigh. He was the individual who bombed the Murrah building in Oklahoma City after the FBI and ATF invaded David Koresh Branch Davidian compound. Another type of terrorism is Religious Terrorism. Religious Terrorism can be dangerous because the passion for sacrificing them for the cause comes into play. There are all kinds of tactics, such as suicide bombings, that is used to ensure their points are made and to help inspire this passion. The only other department that defines international terrorism is the State Department. They describe international terrorism as involving individuals of more than the one (1) country to control its population. In the late 1700 to early 1800's, the French Revolution had many executions. That was the first state terrorism. In conclusion, the difficulty in conveying a complete definition of terrorism remains not only in the motives, targets and methods that vary from case-to-case, but the connections within each group make it impossible. TERRORISM: NO EASY DEFINITION 7 References 1. Dyson, W. E. (2012). Terrorism: An investigator's handbook. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
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