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1. Discussion Questions: What is the purpose or the point of terrorism?
The definition of terrorism from the Britannica dictionary is “terrorism, the calculated use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective. Terrorism has been practiced by political organizations with both rightist and leftist objectives, by nationalistic and religious groups, by revolutionaries, and even by state institutions such as armies, intelligence services, and police.” In the simplest terms terrorism is the act of using fear through violence or the threat of violence to receive a desired result. Why are innocent people attacked? Often soft targets are chosen for a statement. If it was a force on force attack it could go unnoticed, but when innocent people are attacked it makes a huge statement to the masses. It strikes fear center stage and makes people who normally feel safe realize that even they can be a target.
The three terrorism events that I chose are the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, The subway attacks in Japan, and Operation cyclone with the Al Qaeda.
October 23, 1983, two truck bombs struck buildings in Beirut, Lebanon. The attack killed 307 people including American and French service members taking part in military peacekeeping operation during the Lebanese Civil War. A group called Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the bombings and said that the aim was to force the peacekeepers out of Lebanon. The attacks eventually led to the withdrawal of the international peacekeeping force from Lebanon. Why was this important? At this time in history the United States was the world’s largest superpower and through the attack of 2 vehicle born IED’s by a small group of terrorists it caused a with draw and the destabilization of the entire region. This would set the board for later David on Goliath like attacks all over the world.
March 1995, in Tokyo, Japan, by members of the cult movement Aum Shinrikyo coordinated attacks on several targets to include the Tokyo Subway system. the terrorist released sarin on three lines of the Tokyo Metro during rush hour, killing 13 people and severely injuring 50. The attack was directed against trains passing through Kasumigaseki and Nagatacho, where the Japanese parliament is headquartered in Tokyo. The group, led by Shoko Asahara, had already carried out several assassinations and terrorist attacks using sarin, including the Matsumoto sarin attack nine months earlier. The Groups mission was to take overpower of Japan and start world war 3. Why was this important? For the first time in modern history a small home grown group of terrorist extremist came close to completely destroying and modern government and trying to put them selves in power. This showed the world that attacks don’t always come from outside one’s own boarders.
Born out of the cold war in December of 1979 the Al Qaeda was originally an ally of the United States. In 1985 Operation cyclone was created by the CIA to fund and train the Al Qaeda in order to help in the war against Russia. During this time the U.S. provided funding, training, weapons, tactics, and intelligences. After aiding in the defeat of the Soviet Union and it’s withdraw from Afghanistan in 1989 Al Qaeda wanted to expand their operations globally, and through this they became any enemy of the United States. The tools provided in the 1980s would later be the same that provided the means for several terror attacks on the United States to include the USS Cole and September 11. Why was this important? It would later become a lesson in that the friends of yesterday can become enemies tomorrow and would pave the path to our modern understanding of the political terror environment as we all know today.
2. The purpose and point of Terrorism are to damage or otherwise influence to some affect the national integrity, stability, or culture of the target of the terrorist act. Terrorists and those who participate in such acts of terror and destruction are motivated by many varying reasons, whether through economical disparities, cultural and religious differences, or the desire for a shift or change in the governing power. Each respective group will have varying reasons as to why they believe their acts are justified and each one has a differing goal they work toward. These acts of terror to bring about change can and often are brought about internationally as well and need not be confined to the country or area these individuals are based out of. Additionally, by targeting civilians they gain the attention and platform that they believe they need to spread whichever message they deem the most important and, by killing noncombatants, often gains far more attention as opposed to those who may be killed in the line of duty.
Three important moments of modern terrorism are: the suicide bombings of the hotels in Baghdad, the Isis insurgents gaining control of Mosul, and the most recent event in which a suicide bomber destroyed a Shi’ite Mosque in Pakistan. The suicide bombing of the hotels in Baghdad resulted from the hanging of Ali Hassan al-Majid, a major player of Al Qaeda and cousin to Saddam Hussein. This act occurred January 25th, 2010. These acts of terror were likely in response to his death by hanging which was enacted by the government. In this act, many noncombatants were killed in response to the government executing one of their head individuals. This led to Al Qaeda further reorganizing as more of their higher founders were continuing to be killed. The second example wherein Isis insurgents gained control of Mosul shows that these organizations can be incredibly resourceful and think very strategically. This act occurred June 4th through the 10th, 2014. In their assault of the city, careful planning and strategy was utilized alongside mass quantities of suicide bombings to enact mass casualties. The tenacity and abilities of the group showed that these groups were learning how to operate as a whole and become far more organized in their acts of terror. Finally, one of the more recent acts of terror involves a suicide bombing of a Shi’ite Mosque in Pakistan. This act occurred March 4th, 2022. In this act of terrorism, a suicide bomber attacked the mosque with the intent on killing as many practitioners as possible, likely in retaliation for their differing religious beliefs.