Terrorism Essay, Research Paper
The word terrorism first appeared during the French Revolution (1789-1799). Some of the revolutionaries who seized power in France adopted a policy of violence against their enemies. (World Book, Terrorism) The period of their rule became known as the Reign of Terror. Terrorism is the use or threat of violence to create fear and alarm. Terrorists murder and kidnap people, set off bombs, hijack airplanes, set fires, and commit other serious crimes. However, the goals of terrorists differ from those of ordinary criminals. Most criminals want money or some other form of personal gain. Nevertheless, most terrorists commit crimes to support political causes. Terrorism has become an increasingly destructive force in the United States, and has been the backbone for the PLO?s ability to become a sovereign state.
The American FBI defines domestic terrorism as the “unlawful use of force or violence, committed by a group(s) of two or more individuals, against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives. The number of terrorist attacks in the 1990s has made America realize the vulnerability amongst them.?
(Anderson, 44-46). In February 1993, a bomb exploded within the World Trade Center in New York City. The bomb?s location was in the parking area underneath the building, damaging the under lying base and the subway tunnels. Six people were killed; more than 1,000 were injured. The FBI joined the Joint Terrorist Task Force in the investigation. They resulted in bringing 22 Islamic fundamentalist conspirators to trial along with the suspected mastermind Sheik Raham .
In April 1996, federal agents arrested Theodore Kaczynski and charged him with crimes committed by what they categorized as “Unabomber”. The Unabomber, who preyed upon university scientists and airline employees, had been haunting authorities for over 18 years. The FBI stated that the suspect had killed three people and injured 23 others by means of disguising bombs as mail packages. The FBI?s theoretical motive for the actions of the Unabomber was that the new and more advanced technology present in the world had dehumanized society.
The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April 1995 killed 168 people and injured more than 500 others. (Appendix A) The trial of the suspects Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, who were charged with murder and conspiracy, commenced in the final months of 1996. The two were connected to a militia movement, which opposes the expanded powers of the federal government and believes that their right to bear arms had been threatened. The Oklahoma City bombing occurred two years after federal troops stormed the Branch Dividian compound outside Waco, Texas. Federal prosecutors believe that the reasoning behind these heinous actions was retaliation towards government officials due to the death of 78 Branch Davidian militia members. (Anderson, 66-68)
During the Summer Olympic Games, in July 1996, a pipe bomb exploded at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia. This occurrence killed two people and injured more than one hundred others. Officials suspected this was an act of domestic terrorism, acted out by members of a local militia group; suspects were questioned without any results. (Appendix B)
Airlines are a major concern to government?s of the world, due to their utilization by terrorist highjackers for means of ransom and or currency. On July 17, 1996, TWA Flight 800 exploded in midair off the coast of Long Island (shortly after taking off from New York’s Kennedy International Airport). The explosion killed all 229 passengers and crewmembers. Speculation circulated throughout government branches and media representatives. These concerns questioned the legitimacy of the crash, implying that a terrorist attack was a feasible cause for the incident. (Clapp, A4)
In 1964, the Arab states created the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). While it was supposed to represent the Palestinians, in reality it represented the views of President Nasser of Egypt, who guided the formation of the PLO. Its first leader made threats to drive Israelis into the sea, and had little support among Palestinians for he was seen as a puppet leader of the Egyptians. In the 1960s, Palestinian students began to form their own organizations independent of control by Arab governments (although the Syrians, Libyans, and Iraqis continued to fund and control particular groups). Yasser Arafat founded an independent Palestinian-run party called Fatah. He is said to have the backing, for most of the recent past, of about 80% of the Palestinian people. (Appendix C) (Nassar, 119) The position of the Arab governments was that a PLO under Arab League supervision would be the best way of satisfying the demands made by an emerging Palestinian national consciousness. In addition, it was felt that through such an organization Arab governments could control Palestinian political activities. (Seymor-Jones, 33-45) Ten years after it?s founding, the PLO was raised to the status of government. Moreover, in 1988, the PLO’s status was to be raised again, this time to a state in exile. After several negotiations, Arafat became a Terrorist leader and administrator of self-rule in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
This increase in support was made possible because of the Al-Fatah’s ability to access to the growing numbers of volunteers from refugee camps, which were freshly swollen due to the 1967 war. Most of these refugees suffered the frustration of having been displaced twice in a lifetime. This generated, especially among the young, a mood of defiance, as they were ready to question the credibility of the idea of relying on Arab governments to liberate Palestine. Furthermore, because of the war a large proportion of the Palestinian community became territorially united. This brought the possibility of direct interaction between the various sections of the Palestinian community that had previously remained isolated from each other. Conversely, the inability of the PLO’s conservative leadership to promote any effective resistance operations culminated in the eventual transfer of power to the armed-struggle orientated guerrilla organizations. Thus, initially, the PLO had a broad base of support and represented the desires of the majority of the Palestinian people.
Prior to the PLO declaration of a state in 1988, it functioned much like one.(Appendix D) This was reflected in much of the powers it possessed. The PLO has been able to exert what amounts to sovereign powers over the Palestinian people in war situations. The PLO represented the Palestinians in wars with Jordan and Lebanon, and during various incursions into Israel. The PLO also exercises extradition powers, as on many occasions Arab governments have turned over to the PLO Palestinians charged with criminal activities. They were tried and sentenced by the PLO judicial system. In these ways, it was supposed to represent the people. Nevertheless, various problems within the PLO undermined its legitimacy as the sole representative of the Palestinian people. Arafat’s ascendancy to power by using the Palestinian issue had naturally provoked rivals to try the same tack in their own interest. As a result, maintenance of his supremacy within the PLO became Arafat’s full time preoccupation. Far from laying the basis for secular or democratic institutions that one day might serve as a nation, Arafat recruited Sumni Muslims like himself into a body known as Fatah, loyal to him on confessional lines. (Nassar, 150-156)
Whether Palestinians outside the Occupied Territories would in fact accept the legitimacy of the PLO as their representative was put to test in Jordan in 1970. Jordanian frontiers were the result of British map-making, which left half of the country’s inhabitants Palestinian by origin. The rapid financing and arming by Arab power holders of Arafat’s mercenaries offered these Palestinians in Jordan a chance to refute against King Hussein and declare themselves nationalists for the new cause. Unexpectedly, Arafat’s power challenged to replace King Hussein with a PLO state in Jordan. After 18 months, while tensions were running high, the PFLP hijacked international airliners, three of which were brought at gunpoint to Jordan. Taking advantage of this anarchic rivalry between Palestinian groups, King Hussein ordered his army to overpower the movement. Palestinians in Jordan and on the West Bank gave evidence of their real feelings by denouncing the PLO and PFLP activists to the authorities and occasionally even helping to round them up.
The Chairman’s primacy within the PLO had been seriously compromised due to the secret negotiations that had led to the September 13, 1993 agreement with the Rabin government. The relationship with the masses that the charismatic Arafat had enjoyed was diminished by the concessions he gave to Israel. (World Book, PLO)
In modern day politics, he remains a symbol of Palestinian nationalism, as does the PLO. However, he faces much opposition. On the left, various socialist groups think Arafat is too, close to business and banking interests and too willing to negotiate with Israel or cooperate with America. The Islamic groups on the right of the political spectrum feel the PLO is too willing to cooperate with socialists, as well as too willing to negotiate with Israel. They feel there should be a united Palestine where Jews could live but which would not be governed by Jews. The largest of these groups is called HAMAS, the Islamic Resistance Movement. Several Palestinian radicals have their own military organizations such as Abu Nidal. Nidal is violently opposed to the PLO for what he sees as its moderate positions. He has carried out airplane bombings, attacks on civilians, and has attempted to assassinate Arafat on numerous occasions. He opposes any negotiation with Israel, and is speculated to be funded by the Iraqi government.
In recent events, Yasser Arafat has decided to scrap the anti-Israeli section of the PLO charter calling for its destruction. Some have said that this is due to Israeli pressure in the peace process, which demanded the change before new talks and settlements. Shimon Peres has called it the “most important ideological change of the century”, but it is sure to upset the Islamic fundamentalists, and those in the PLO who desire a completely pro-PLO solution. While there is so much contention and opposition to PLO decisions, the PLO cannot be called the sole representative of the Palestinian people, although it has a large following. (Hudson, 200-221)
It is evident that terrorist acts are committed for various reasons. Some terrorist groups support a particular political philosophy. Other terrorist organizations represent ethnic groups such as the PLO seeking liberation from governments in power. Dictators use violence to frighten or eliminate their opponents. 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 or object to their causes, which symbolizes opposition. Common victims of terrorist kidnappings and assassinations include diplomats, business executives, political leaders, judges, police, and innocent bystanders. Terrorists also attack churches and synagogues, oil refineries, and government offices. At other times, terrorists simply choose any target certain to attract media coverage, a prime example of this would be the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta. As the world makes a transition into the new millennium, it is crucial that all nations ban together to fight against the increasingly violent and destructive actions of terrorists.