Definitions of Terrorism and Counterterrorism

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Terrorism can never be justified is an act of violence that relies on psychological effects of fear, shock, horror, and outrage although it produces a great deal of physical harm as well, used to promote an individuals or groups agenda that is usually political, religious, or nationalism. Terrorists direct their violence towards civilians killing many men, women, and children in hopes of disrupting people’s lives and a countries government while pushing and legitimizing their agenda. While terrorists may believe they are accomplishing some great feat all they are really doing is committing criminal acts. Terrorists are nothing more than criminals once you strip away all the fancy titles, definitions, and stereotypes associated with terrorists as being foreign. Terrorism is an impractical solution to a religious or political problem, and regardless if it is the vile actions of domestic terrorists perpetrated against their fellow citizens or the atrocities that are caused by foreign terrorists around the globe terrorism can and never should be justified.

“The classic cases of terrorism from the 1970’s to the 2001 attacks are those in which a nonstate actor uses attacks against civilians by secret nonuniformed forces, operating across international borders, as leverage against state actors (Pevehouse, 2017, p. 157). As the classic case of terrorism may be perpetrated by those across international borders in recent years there has been a substantial increase of homegrown terrorism in the past twenty years in the form of school shootings, church shootings, individuals targeted in random from shooters from hotel rooms and even vehicles. This past week’s assault of a Synagogue in Pennsylvania where eleven people were killed by an armed assailant is an example of the increase in domestic terrorism. While there are those that argue some of these incidents are perpetrated by individuals with mental disabilities, it is my belief that they are trying to down play the incidents as terrorist attacks because they want to keep the illusion that all terrorists are foreign. Incidents such as these show that domestic terrorism is just as devastating as foreign terrorism, and it is more likely to happen then foreign terrorism. Again, terrorism can never be justified simply because acts of terrorism will only generate more violence leading to even more death, destruction, and fear. An example of terrorism causing more devastation is the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. Osama Bin-Laden and the Al-Qaeda terrorist cells believed by high-jacking commercial airliners and flying them into the World Trade Center and Pentagon they would cripple the United States, but instead it had the reverse actions. All they accomplished was a war that has been going on for seventeen years now, the death of Osama Bin-Laden, the deaths of thousands, and the destruction of Iraq and Afghanistan.

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I do not believe that a government is ever justified in suppressing their citizens freedoms to fight terrorism. For example, it is not difficult to see how the Patriot Act contradicts the basic freedoms given us by the Constitution if one just sits down and reads the act. The major problem with the Patriot Act is it was not written, discussed, or debated in any length. It was written, rushed through the House and Congress on emotion not logic, and signed into law in just forty-five short days. Another reason this was pushed through so fast other than emotions running to high was the fact that it was believed that another attack was going to happen, although this act would have done nothing to prevent one from happening. This is unprecedented given the importance and scope of what this law is supposed to encompass.

The Patriot Act is said to provide law enforcement with more adequate ways to do their jobs and detain anyone that is suspected of being a terrorist or committing a terrorist act. The problem with this is it leads to profiling, because you cannot know if someone is a terrorist or planning a terrorist act until after the act has been committed. This was a major concern after 9/11 because people of middle eastern decent, or people that look like they may be middle eastern, were being targeted and profiled. Saddest part about that it was civilians doing this as well, because like I stated earlier this was all based-on emotion and not logic. Not only did the Patriot Act give law enforcement agencies the authority to basically “profile individuals they though may be terrorist or going to commit a terrorist act they could detain non-citizens for up to seven days without charges.

Fourteen of the original measures written into the Patriot Act were supposed to be temporary, or what the government called “Sunset clauses. This meant that once the clear and present danger or threat was no more the provisions would cease to exist, but then President Bush signed into law The USA Patriot Act Improvement and Reauthorization Act on 09 March 2006 making these provisions permanent. This new Act not only made imprisonment indefinitely without trial or indictment of any foreigner suspected of terrorism, but also allowed the government to surveil the entire population unwarranted. In its current form, the Patriot Act does nothing but contradict the freedoms guaranteed us buy the Constitution, infringes on our civil liberties, and infringes on the rights of individuals visiting this country. It is no different than the Department of Homeland Security in the regards that it has too broad a range of things and needs to be revisited and written to ensure it is doing the things that it was intended to do, because as of right now it is not.

As for giving up my some of my personal privacy for the sake of more protection of the Nation, no I would not be willing to do so. I think anyone that is willing to sacrifice their own civil liberties and freedoms guaranteed them by the Constitution does nothing but weaken things. That is how dictatorships are started and that is not what this country was founded on, nor was it what the founding fathers had in mind when they wrote the Constitution. Now I am not saying we do not things in place because we do, but the problem is you do not make a place safer by infringing on its population’s privacy. That just makes for distrust and people start feeling they need to do things out of complete sight. That old saying of, “If you do not have anything to hide it should not matter or “Obey the law and you do not have to worry are great clich?©s but that is all they are clich?©s. In the current form if a law enforcement agency suspects you of being a terrorist, committing a terror act, or harboring a terrorist whether you are guilty or not they can arrest you and hold you indefinitely. That is not what this country is about, and honestly has the Patriot Act stopped terrorist attacks from happening since its inception, No. Like I said it needs to be revisited and written to where it will do some good for this country and its citizen. Even then I will not give up my personal privacy for the sake of more protection. I believe in the Constitution and what this country was founded on and once stood for, that’s why I served. Benjamin Franklin said it best, “If we surrender or liberty in the name of security, we shall have neither.

Religious extremism and its relation to violent conflict is not a new phenomenon and is one of the most significant forms of political violence being practiced today. With groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS who believe that non-Muslims are evil, emphasizing those beliefs toward the United States, and that Armageddon is coming between Muslims and non-Muslims. Their Islamic beliefs which tells them “the imminent final day of Judgement by God and, during this time, the prophesized defeat of non-Muslims in a final battle during Armageddon between good (Muslims) and evil (non-Muslims) that will usher in the supposed triumph of Islam globally (Indiana Wesleyan University). Using their religious beliefs these groups can justify their violence against innocent civilians that are not part of their Islamic faith, and at times those that are of Islamic faith but do not agree with their extreme views and beliefs of Sharia law.

Justifying terrorism by religion is not exclusive to groups from the middle east but from other places such as the United States. For example, the Ku Klux Klan was formed in the United States in 1866 and is considered a domestic terrorist group. It was created as a secret society, and is rooted in religious nationalism, which was dedicated to the supremacy of white people in the United States. Their primary mission was to deny equal rights to black people, whom they believe to be inferior, as they do other religions and darker skinned people. “Dating back decades, many white supremacists have embraced religious concepts and scripture borrowed from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. They believe that white Christians are morally and spiritually superior to other races and that the Old Testament’s Twelve Tribes of Israel represent the origins of the white race (e.g. Anglo-Saxons, Teutonic, Scandinavian, Celtic, Basque, Lombard, Slavic, etc.). Their beliefs advocate that God created other races as “mud people who have beast-like roles and lower standing to white men. They condemn race-mixing and Jews, who they perceive as enemies to God. They further believe whites are the only race that continually followed Jesus Christ. Such religious interpretation de-humanizes non-whites and provides spiritual justification and perhaps motivation to attack their enemies (Johnson, Hate in God’s Name, 2017).

The targeting of suspected terrorists for assassination is not a viable option to combating terrorism in my opinion. Suspecting an individual of criminal acts or terrorism does not give any government reason to jail or order an assassination of that individual. While they may be guilty they are still allowed due process through the courts. While acts of terrorism and suspected acts are atrocities against humanity it still does not give governments the right to become judge, jury, and executioner by ordering an assassination. Governments cannot expect for their citizens to believe in their laws and due process if they witness their governments breaking these laws in ordering assassinations of suspected terrorists. While I can understand the thought behind it and people’s agreement, especially at times right after an attack has occurred, those feelings are usually driven by emotions and tend to fade after time giving way to law and order, and due process. A great example is after the attack on the twin towers when everyone was emotional and in agreement with the war on terror, but after time it has become more and more apparent that people have fallen out of favor with it and are looking for more viable options that create positive results, and not just more death and destruction. In my opinion, if we allow governments to commit assassinations of suspected terrorists it will just continue the cycle of violence leading to more death and destruction of not only soldiers but innocent civilians.

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Definitions Of Terrorism and Counterterrorism. (2019, Mar 26). Retrieved from