There are numerous definitions of Terrorism. In 1989, the United States instituted a definition which states that terrorism is premeditated, politically or religious motivated violence that is perpetrated against non combatant targets by sub national groups or Clandestine groups. After 9/11, it was added that a major characteristic of terrorism is the aim or ability to intimidate a population.
Early Terrorism included the Gun Powder Plot, which was an attempt to destroy English Parliament in 1605 and the Boston Tea Party, which was an attack on British property by the Sons of Liberty in 1773. Terrorism escalated with the invention of more affordable explosives including dynamite.
A very early form of Terrorism in the United States was the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) who used such ideas as white supremacy, anti-semitism, racism, anti-Catholicism, and nativism. In Europe the IRA (Irish Republican Army) used bombings and assassinations to try to free Egypt from British control. The first major terrorism act was the 1946 bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem killing 96 people and wounding 46.
During the 1980’s and 1990’s, Islamic militancy in pursuit of religious and political goals increased. In 1985, Air India Flight 182 was blown up killing 329 people, mostly of Indian descent. This was the beginning of terrorism through the air. On April 19th, 1995 the Oklahoma City Bombing was directed at the US government by Timothy McVeigh that killed 168 and wounded 800 people. During his trial, McVeigh cited revenge against the US government for his motivation.
Hezbollah, a Middle East group bombed the Beruit Barracks which killed more than 200 US Marines. The Muslim Brotherhood was formed and led by Abdel-Rahman who was responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. In 1988, Al Qaeda (Islamic Jihadist movement) was created by Osama Bin Laden.
Al Qaeda has been responsible for many terror attacks including the dual simultaneous bombing of two US embassies in Africa, which killed 224 people. In 2000, the USS Cole was bombed killing 17 US sailors. And in the most heinous act of terrorism ever committed, on the morning of September 11, 2001, 19 Hijackers affiliated with Al Qaeda hijacked four US commercial passenger jet airliners crashing two into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, and one that was taken down by the passengers that may have been heading to another US city. In all, 2,973 people perished in those attacks, the worst terrorist attack to date.
Of course, on this past Monday two Russian immigrants set off two bombs at the Boston Marathon, which killed 3 people and wounded 176. The perpetrators went on a rampage after US security leaked pictures out to the public showing who was responsible. The older brother was killed in a Gun Battle after killing a police officer and the younger brother was taken alive and still remains in critical condition.
So this brings us to the major debate regarding terrorism. Since 9/11 the Patriot Act has made it easier to prosecute and charge groups with terrorism. However, what most people in the US do not understand us that not all terrorists are these Muslim Groups. In fact, today there are so many groups and subgroups of terrorists. Also, there are many homegrown terrorists that work alone. Remember the Beltway Sniper…now him and a not killed over ten people in a one month period of terror before they were caught.
Terrorism is a very real aspect of society today. But what really separates terrorism from just normal violence. Terrorism is violence. Violence is terrorism. When the Boston bombings occurred, everyone in America assumed that this had to be an Al Qaeda attack. Of course, the 24/7 media coverage does not help. I mean, the stories kept changing. Well, the perpetrators happen to be Chechnyan Immigrants that had been living in the US. Only time will tell if they were funded or affiliated by radical groups. It really does not matter…the people that are dead are not coming back. No matter what information is found, these families, town and community was devastated.
In my opinion, the media actually propels American thinking and makes people assume the worst. As evidenced by this weeks events, the 24/7 coverage of the bombings and fallout was in excess. Some of the video and audio was disturbing. And what’s worse is that now the Right Wing Gun Movement is stating that the lockdown in Boston is just another example of why guns should not be banned. Even worse, anti-police blogs were arguing that the Government should not have searched all the homes that they did. C’MON…are you kidding me. People need to have respect for all of the people including first responders that were affected by this terror attack. Wether these bombings are labeled “Terrorism” or not is not important. What is important is that we learn from each type of violent incident that occurs in our nation. The Media needs to use more caution while covering these issues as well. More to Come.