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Is Terrorism Here To Stay?
Introduction Many of us remember a world much safer than the one we see today. Not long ago terrorism was seen as a foreign event far from the national territory. In the last decade or so, terrorism has touch the lives of all American citizens and residents of the nation. We all know of someone that has been touched closer than others by a terrorist act here within our borders or overseas. The question we all ask is: Could We Stop Terrorism Now? Terrorism. Not a new form of violence. It has been used since the early times of recorded history; it can be relatively hard to define terrorism. Terrorism has been described variously as both a tactic and strategy; a crime and a holy duty; a justified reaction to oppression and an inexcusable abomination. Obviously, a lot depends on whose point of view is being represented. The United States Department of Defense defines terrorism as "the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological." Within this definition, there are three key elements - violence, fear, and intimidation - and each element produces terror in its victims. Outside the United States Government, there are greater variations in what features of terrorism are emphasized in definitions. The United Nations produced the following definition of terrorism in 1992; "An anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi-) clandestine individual, group or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reasons, whereby - in contrast to assassination - the direct targets of violence are not the main targets." The British Government definition of terrorism from 1974 is "...the use of violence for political ends, and includes any use of violence for the purpose of putting the public, or any section of the public, in fear." According to data from the Global Terrorism Database by the University of Maryland, College Park, more than 61,000 incidents of non-state terrorism, resulting in at least 140,000 deaths, have been recorded from 2000 to 2014. Boston. San Bernardino. Paris. Orlando. Berlin. Istanbul. Fort Lauderdale. London. Saint Petersburg. Stockholm. No longer just locations stretching across the globe, these cities now call to mind tragedy. Each fell victim to a terror episode, leaving them to be associated with carnage, controversy and confusion as to why it happened, how it could have happened, who caused it and most importantly, how could we stop them before the act. Since the attacks of 9/11 in New York City—when many awoke to the reality of terrorism—authorities have endeavored to prevent the next attack. Though law enforcement can almost certainly claim victories in thwarting numerous plots—people only remember the occasional failures. Billions of dollars are being poured into prevention efforts yet terrorists seem to remain one step ahead. Terrorism is rampant, unpredictable and destructive—and we are virtually helpless to stop it. There are scores of substantive disciplines affected by terrorism—anywhere from insurance policy, to immigration policy, to national security. A practical understanding of the law is also critical. Banking law. Constitutional and criminal law. At some level, even sharia or Islamic law is needed to understand the extremist mindset. The underpinnings of society and the disciplines related to a society’s institutions are all touched by terrorism. Forty years ago, most of the terrorist activity was essentially from Marxists. You had the Red Brigades in Europe. The Baader-Meinhof gang in Germany. In the United States, you had the Weather Underground. FALN [Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional, which is translated Armed Forces of National Liberation] was active, as well as the Black Panthers. These leftist-oriented groups were largely the main cause of terrorist activity. However the hostage crisis (On November 4, 1979, a group of Iranian students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking more than 60 American hostages) in the Middle East state of Iran, injected the religious component into terrorism in a much larger way. Since those days we all have seen an increase of this component for forty years. The tactics of Marxist and religion-based terrorists are similar in some ways, but religious terrorists are definitely more committed. Partially because their cause is larger. There is a difference between wanting to overthrow a government to assert some Marxist/Leninist orientation versus overthrowing a government to provide for “what Allah requires,” as in the case of an Islamic terrorist. A willingness to die and undergo great hardship to assert an agenda caused a dynamic shift in the war on terror. The media, including all television experts and others (in most cases politicians) use many labels when addressing or reporting terrorism. This practice seems to be based on many avoiding the use of terminology especially when Islam is involved. The common terms we read or hear are terrorist, extremist or radicalism. We need to understand that there are great differences between these words. A terrorist act is totally separated from extremism and radicalism. It is not illegal to be radical or extremist! Although there are differences between extremism and radicalism, they relate to a person holding views or believes outside the norm, with that person is engaging in or advocating an extreme action. It is a very broad term. Radicalism is similar in that it is related to a person having extreme views. Many of us may be radicals or extremist about something. Terrorism is essentially the use of force or violence, or threat of violence to cause a political, religious or ideological end. It is designed to create fear in the larger populace. The word by itself carries a negative connotation. Once one becomes a “terrorist,” one are generally considered to be “bad.” Therefore, some are reluctant to use it—even after a blatant attack. One of the political debates over the last number of years has been, “What do we call these people who want to kill us?” If we call them terrorists, we now have put a normative label that a lot of people want to avoid. But again, a terrorist is generally someone with extreme views who is willing to kill and die for those views—you can’t be a terrorist without being an extremist but you can be an extremist without being a terrorist. Some groups, when involved in a "liberation" struggle, have been called "terrorists" by the Western governments or media. Later, these same persons, as leaders of the liberated nations, are called "statesmen" by similar organizations. Two examples of this phenomenon are the Nobel Peace Prize laureates Menachem Begin and Nelson Mandela. WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange has been called a "terrorist" by Sarah Palin and Joe Biden. Is Julian Assange a real terrorist? The terrorist attack in Manchester a few of days ago was Britain’s biggest since July 2005. A suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured at least 59 when he detonated an explosive in a main exit at one of Europe’s biggest concert venues. Tragically, many of the victims were teenagers, mostly young girls. Even now, social media is full of pleas from desperate parents trying to track down their missing daughters. Although attacks like this are now somewhat routine, nobody has a solution. Unfortunately, if the past is any guide, the Manchester attack will be headline news for a few days before it slips quietly from memory as Britain returns to life as normal. The ‘Keep Calm and Carry on’ mentality of the British government is a deadly approach to terrorism. It does capture an admirable characteristic of the English, their indomitable spirit and capacity to remain resolute in the face of adversity. But it can also be a colossal handicap. This trait was on display in London on March 22, when an Islamic terrorist in a rental car mowed down more than 40 people on Westminster Bridge, smashed into the fence that protects Britain’s Houses of Parliament, and fatally stabbed a policeman. Within minutes of the attack, the main message radiating from every corner of Britain was: “Keep calm and carry on.” That evening, Prime Minister Theresa May encouraged the nation to behave as normal. “Tomorrow morning, Parliament will meet as normal. We will come together as normal. And Londoners, and others from around the world who have come here to visit this great city, will get up and go about their day as normal” It is really hard for a mother of a girl shredded by a nail bomb to keep calm, or for a father of a son killed by the blast of a nail bomb to do nothing. The messages coined in the 1930s and actually never used officially by the British government has found its way to the light of day. But the main question remains: what to do against terrorism?  In what way do we stop terrorism coming to America? According to a new report from the British Security Industry Association (BSIA), there are between 4 million and 5.9 million CCTV surveillance cameras in the UK. The United Kingdom has 1% of world's population but 20% of its CCTV cameras. Perhaps one of the nations with more surveillance cameras in the world and yet the British Security apparatus failed stopping the recent and the previous terrorists attacks. Let us be fair on this one. Not because a government has all the CCTV one could imagine, the intentions of the terrorist are seen by the system.   A U.S. government database of known or suspected terrorists doubled in size in recent years, according to newly released government figures. The growth is the result of intelligence agencies submitting names more often after a near-miss attack in 2009. There were 1.1 million people in the database at the end of 2013, according to the National Counterterrorism Center, which maintains the information. About 550,000 people were listed in the database in March 2010. No data available as to 2017. Observing people, listening to their phone conversations, getting on their web blogs, recording the places they have visited even knowing all the buildings, structures, monuments, stadiums, arenas, ports and airports they have photographed is not enough to stop acts like the ones in Manchester, Boston, San Bernardino, Paris, Orlando and many more places needed to be included in this list. All the activities listed above and many others could be the signal of suspicious activities and could turn anyone from a regular every-day citizen to a suspect before the eyes of our law enforcement organizations. Nevertheless, one of the only real actions taken is the insertion of one more name to a database already packed with potential terrorist suspects. As of today, it is perfectly legal to photograph what any public object. What Do Terrorists Want? Although there are a number of classifications of terrorism, today what we are looking at  is religious terrorism or terrorism with religious foundations, specifically Islam. Terrorism with foundation in Islamic extremism has overtaken national separatism to become the main driver of terrorist attacks around the world. Since 9/11 there has been a five-fold increase in deaths from terrorist attacks. The majority of incidents over the past several years can be tied to groups with a religious agenda. Four of the terrorist groups that have been most active since 2001 are Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, the Taliban and ISIL. These groups have been most active in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria. 80% of all deaths from terrorism occurred in one of these five countries. From the western perspective, this is from the United States point of view; terrorist groups want to destroy our way of life. They want to destroy our social structure and impose on Americans terror, fear and the extend of Islam as worldwide religion. From terrorist groups such as Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, the Taliban and ISIL, they want power they want economic and military power to begin with; secondly they want to impose on all peoples the form of Islam they believe is the one valid as the one religion for all. One of the main differences between a conventional war and war against terrorism is the ideology behind the enemy, in this case the terrorists groups or single individual acting as a terrorist. Terrorists are not organized as a conventional army, nor they ware uniforms identifying an organization, they do not act upon a war plan not they follow international rules of combat. Moreover, a terrorist desires to die afflicting his/her enemies. How to combat against this ideology! A terrorist is willing to die, better yet; he/she desires, expects and wants to die afflicting damage and destruction to his/her enemies while dying as a martyr for the cause. The premise makes harder to protect and combat terrorism. Because terrorist do not follow international rules of any nature, a person or a group of terrorist could pose as tourists on the train or airplane, they could be the priest or the software professional conversing with you on board an airplane during a business trip, they could be the ones helping you to carry your heavy suitcase. This is a variable making terrorism hard to eradicate. Extreme measurements are to be adopted and a few liberties may be on the table to discuss. Visit the streets of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv at any point in time. For Americans the presence of heavily armed forces mixed with people on the street generates a feeling never experienced in any of the cities in America.  From this to extreme vetting at border points, stricter migration rules with some human rights potentially violated and more are some of the tools attempting to combat terrorist and terrorism. Coming back to the original question posted at the beginning of this article: Could We Stop Terrorism Now? Sadly the answer to this question is a strong NO. We will not be able to stop terrorism without imposing extreme measurements. However, this is not a practice to be observed only in America. To stop terrorism many nations of the world ought to participate in these measurements, protocols and procedures with a one hundred percent commitment.  Terrorists organization need all the components an operational organization requires: Funding, Transportation, Operational Centers, Telecommunications equipment, Computing, Human Resources, Arms and Ammunition, Warehousing, Medical Facilities, Fuel and Mechanical Parts and many more. Of these, perhaps funding is the most critical as without financial resources nothing else could be achieved. Having the monetary support is not enough without the financial institutions needed to carry over transactions for purchasing and payments in general. These services are provided by a number of different nations depending upon the groups each nation may align with. For example, Palestine Liberation Organization, Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and other groups considered to be terrorist organizations, were funded by the Soviet Union. The Stern Gang received funding from Italian Fascist officers in Beirut to undermine the British Mandate for Palestine. Pakistan has created and nurtured terrorist groups as policy for achieving tactical objectives against its neighbors, especially India and many more. Without stopping the financial channels to terrorist groups, we will continue not only seeing them but fearing them as well. Basically this means that to stop terrorism we need to completely eradicate all funding mechanisms to terror organizations. Without funding terrorists organizations do not have access to weapons, ammunitions, transportation, computers and all other needs they need to satisfy. If we could as a society of nations achieve this goal, this will create an additional problem as these groups could resource to other forms of violence to obtain the financial resources they need. New Technologies According to the historical record, terrorism has endured and evolved through several millennia to flourish in the modern information age, terrorism continues to adapt to meet the challenges of emerging forms of conflict, and exploit developments in technology and society. Terrorists have shown the ability to adapt to the techniques and methods of counter-terror agencies and intelligence organizations over the long term. The decentralization of the network form of organization is an example of this. Adopted to reduce the disruption caused by the loss of key links in a chain of command, a network organization also complicates the tasks of security forces, and reduces predictability of operations. Although not the same subject, here in the United States and in Mexico, the drug cartels operate similarly to these groups in that the organization is not centralized in one single commanding line. Terrorists are improving their sophistication and abilities in virtually all aspects of their operations and support. The aggressive use of modern technology for information management, communication and intelligence has increased the efficiency of these activities. Weapons technology has become more increasingly available, and the purchasing power of terrorist organizations is on the rise. The ready availability of both technology and trained personnel to operate it for any client with sufficient cash allows the well-funded terrorist to equal or exceed the sophistication of governmental counter-measures. Again and again, as sad the following statement could be for all of us, the reality is that if funding and channels of financial services are not completed eliminated to these groups, terrorism will be here to stay!
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May 27 2017