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Essay/Term paper: An explanation of terrorism

Essay, term paper, research paper:  History Essays

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An Explanation of Terrorism

After browsing through Stephen E. Atkins book Terrorism, I soon learned many
interesting things regarding the history of terrorism. It seems this form of
protest has been around since Biblical times. Also, the main goal of a
terrorist is not to do damage to one peticular person or place, but to gain
publicity for an idea they support. (page 1) Evidence of this can be found by
looking at the recent past of the United States. The Oklahoma bombing was one
man's way of expressing his dislike of the government. The exact definition of
terrorism is not a solid line, it is a very wide line that isn't defined. The
general definition of terrorism is an attack of some sort against a person or
place that involves violence and/or destruction of property and is usually
politically motivated. (Terrorism 3)

Our fight against terrorism became something the terrorists might fear in 1970,
at the Hague Convention. This United Nations convention basically defined .
..hijacking as a crime and required contracting states either to allow the
extradition of hijackers to their country of origin, or to prosecute them in the
state where they were arrested. (The Terrorists 146) Atkins states that one of
the reasons it took so long to do anything about terrorism is that it is so hard
to define, and therefore just as hard to enforce. He also says Declarations and
conventions from the UN have lacked effective enforcement mechanisms, so they
have been ignored by member states and have been characterized as "largely
cosmetic. Basically, the UN is doing this to satisfy the public and little
else. This lack of understanding of the meaning of terrorism has also been a
hindrance when law 8:56 PM 12/14/96enforcement was actually implemented. Police
aren't trained to handle terrorist type attacks, instead they handle them like
ordinary criminal attacks. (Terrorism 26-27) This gives the terrorists exactly
what they wanted, publicity for their cause.

The media is a terrorists best friend. Without the modern wide-spread media,
terrorism would be worthless. The human nature that makes us stop and look at
the horrible traffic accident is another reason why terrorism is effective. Ask
someone 20 years from now what they remember about the 1996 Summer Olympics, and
they will say the terrorist bombing. This event was literally blown out of
proportion by the media. It wasn't a terrorist attack, there was no one taking
credit, and no reason for doing it. Any juvenile delinquent could have easily
found this information off the Internet. According to the infamous Jolly Rogers,
homemade weapons are easy to make. He doesn't gloss over the fact that
attempting to make these weapons is usually illegal, and dangerous. There are
approximately 50 different types of illegal activities detailed in the text file,
which is over 100 pages long. This document isn't hard to find to anyone
looking. (http://space.acm.ndsu.nodak.edu/~rykramer/cookbook.html)

There are usually a few kids every year who remove fingers trying to build home
made bombs, and those kids are the lucky ones, many have died making the
explosive kitchen creations. One example is the tennis ball bomb. Supposedly,
a tennis ball is cut open and filled with broken off match heads. The only
thing the article doesn't mention is the chances of filling the tennis ball up
with match heads before friction ignites the thing in the builders hands.
Another dangerous thing is the light bulb bomb. This is built by placing black
power inside a light bulb. The theory behind it is that the filament will
ignite the power, thereby sending glass fragments throughout the room. The only
problem is when the builder forgets to turn off the light switch before screwing
in the explosive light bulb. (http://space.acm.ndsu.nodak.edu/~
rykramer/cookbook.html) It is also true that two high school students built a
small nuclear weapon in a chemistry lab from instructions found on the Internet.
Resources like Jolly Roger's Cookbook and the Phreak filez are easily available
on the Internet, but contrary to what most mass-media mediums would like people
to believe, the bomb making instructions do not suddenly jump up on the user's
screen. The Internet user must go out and look for the information, and if they
are really that dedicated to their terrorist cause, the will be able to find the
information anywhere, not just the Internet. As far as the modern terrorist is
concerned, the Internet doesn't have any new information that isn't already
easily accessible.

Terrorist form groups to make it easier to get their message across. Atkins has
a very good list of modern terrorist groups. One group is the Arab National
Youth Organization for the Liberation of Palestine. (ANYOLP) This group was
found by the president of Libya, Qaddafi. This group isn't as active as when it
started in 1972, but it was never officially disbanded by Qaddafi. (Terrorism
102) One of the most famous groups is the Black Panther Party. (BPP) This was
founded in the United States in the 1960's, in Alabama. This groups wasn't
really a terrorist group, but more a self-defense group that pushed the lines of
self defense. Most people associate Martin Luther King Jr.'s name when they
hear this group because this was a very racially oriented group. (106) One of
the oldest terrorist groups is the Irish Republican Army. (IRA) It started
during the 19th century when Ireland was fighting for its independence. Unlike
other groups, this group is respected by many people because they are trying to
unify the island of Ireland. This group also has a more radical splinter group
called the Irish Republican Army Provisional Wing. (Terrorism 116-117)

Terrorist groups have also become very good plots for movie makers. The movie
Delta Force is based solely on a terrorist taking over an airplane. There has
also been a movie made recently which shows the Islamic Jihad group of Iran and
their attack in 1983 against Marines in Beirut. (Terrorism 118) Another movie
that mentions the Islamic Jihad is "Executive Decision" This is just another
example of how the media loves dramatic stories, and why not, it sells!

I believe terrorism is a very real and very dangerous threat to the United
States. We spend millions to support a large "peace keeping" military, but yet
a single terrorist attack could easily bring our nation to it's knees. The
media loves the blood and gore, so it reports all the details. What paper would
print a cover story about the recent Nobel Peace Prize recipients instead of the
recent plane that may have been bombed or the "terrorist" attack at the Olympic

Works Cited

Atkins, Stephen E. Terrorism: A Reference Handbook Santa Barbara, California:
ABC-CLIO, Inc., 1992.

Payne, Ronald and Dobson, Christopher. The Terrorists: Their Weapons, Leaders
and Tactics. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 1982.


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