Many Different Factors to Terrorism

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Webster defines terrorism as, “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion. Terrorism usually affects the everyday citizen and those who work for the government. Terrorism often is used to make extreme political views known. Terrorism is a problem worldwide, including places such as Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Although terrorism is most prominent in the Middle East, countries around the world are affected, including the United States of America. To stop terrorism in America we need to update firearm laws, change the vetting system, change the way we treat other countries, and so on.         A large problem in American is the ease in which terrorists can obtain weapons, specifically guns. Although guns are useful for hunting and self-defense, they are also prominent in violent settings, especially terrorist attacks. In America, nearly anyone is able to get a gun after a simple, and not very thorough, background check. This is fine in instances where people with no bad intentions would like to buy a gun for a simple reason such as hunting or protection. However, it becomes an issue when people who are looking to cause harm to others are easily able to get ahold of multiple semi-automatic machine guns (Poland, J. M.).

Guns are more likely to be involved in a terrorist attack in America than in terrorist attacks in any other high-income country due to how easy it is to obtain a gun in America. A study showed around twenty percent of terrorist attacks in America involve a firearm. The second closest country is the Netherlands where only fourteen percent of terrorist attacks include firearms. “The overall burden of firearm violence is much greater in the United States compared to other high-income countries” said lead study author Dr. Robert Tessler of the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center and the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. “Our findings indicate that terrorist attacks involving firearms are deadlier compared to attacks with other weapons, regardless of the country” During the period Tessler did this study on firearms, 2002 to 2016, there was a whopping 1,031 deaths caused by terrorist attacks. An even more frightening statistic is over fifty percent of these deaths were caused by a firearm. Statistics such as this could easily be cut down to smaller numbers if it was not as easy for terrorists to obtain firearms (Poland, J. M.).

A good example of people being able to get too many big guns too easily is the Las Vegas shooting that took place in October. On the night of October 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concert goers at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada, leaving 58 people dead and 851 injured. Between 10:05 and 10:15 p.m. 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada, fired more than 1,100 rounds from his suite on the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel. About an hour after he fired his last shot into the crowd of 22,000, he was found dead in his room from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. This shooting reignited the debate about gun laws in the U.S., with attention focused on bump fire stocks, which Paddock used to allow his semi-automatic rifles to fire at a rate similar to that of a fully automatic weapon. He placed a “Do not disturb” sign on the door, organized the rooms, and stockpiled an arsenal of weapons there between September 25 and October 1, the day of the shooting. Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said Paddock carried more than ten suitcases into his hotel suite during his preparation for the shooting. He interacted with Mandalay Bay employees more than ten times during his stay, including two on the day of the shooting, though an MGM Resorts International spokesperson said they were all “normal in nature”. Twenty-four firearms, a large quantity of ammunition, and numerous high-capacity magazines capable of holding up to 100 rounds apiece were found in the suite (Poland, J. M.).

A large argument people have for not wanting to make guns harder to get is it violates their second amendment right. The second amendment gives American citizens the right to bear arms. However, this amendment was passed in 1791 so people were ready and armed if they were needed in the militia. Now the American National Guard provides weapons for those in the services. The amendment is outdated and is often taken out of context from its original use.Along with this, many laws, which were written long ago, are outdated in today’s world. For example, in 1791 women were still unable to vote, African Americans were still unable to vote, and slavery was still legal. This proves not everything passed then, should be taken so seriously now(Poland, J. M.).The way to fix the firearm problem is simple. The background checks people receive before being able to buy a gun need to be much more thorough than they are now. The only people who would see this as a bad thing are the people who would have something to hide or feel as if they would not be able to get a gun if officials were to look deeper into their past. Another thing we can do is limit the type of firearms people are able to get. As stated before, hunting rifles and rifles being used for self-defense make plenty of sense; however, there is no reason the average citizen needs to have access to semi-automatic firearms for any reason other than to cause harm to another (Ruiz-Grossman).

Another thing to keep in mind would be how many firearms a person needs. A person may need one gun for self-defense and two, possibly three guns for different types of hunting. There is almost no reason a single person needs to own more than four guns to themselves. However, those who live in nice neighborhoods and do not find themselves interested in hunting do not need access to guns, let alone multiple (Ruiz-Grossman).Another way to avoid terrorism in America is to change the vetting system when allowing people into the country. Although many people would say America should have a harder vetting system, this is not true. A large reason terrorists target America is because they feel the American government treats them unfairly. This refers to people from the Middle East who execute terrorist attacks on America. There are several statistics to prove this as true. On average, it takes two years for a person to become a refugee in the United States; however, in some instances, it can take many years longer (Ruiz-Grossman).

Another instance of the American government treating people from the Middle East poorly is President Trump’s recent travel ban. Donald Trump made an executive order banning people from many Middle Eastern countries such as Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and other countries from traveling to America. Trump stated this is to avoid terrorist attack. However, the countries Trump banned travel from have never executed a terrorist attack on America. It is believed Trump banned these countries solely because of the large Muslim population in these countries. When someone from the Middle East terrorizes America, it is usually because they feel personally victimized by the way America, and its government, treats them and their people. There is an obvious solution to this problem. Americans, and the American government, needs to change the way they treat people who are different than them. Although America is a country of immigrants, the American population is mostly Caucasians descending from Britain, Germany, and other predominantly white countries. Therefore, there is unfortunately a large number of American citizens who discriminate against those of color, or those who study different religions, or have different beliefs in general. The American people as a whole need to work on being people that are more open-minded and accepting those who might be slightly different, because at the end of the day, everyone is still a human being (Ruiz-Grossman).

In addition to this, America needs to focus on, and worry more about domestic terrorism. In the time span of 2001 to 2009 there were 91 homegrown domestic terrorist incidents. The peak year was 2001 with 33 domestic terrorist attacks against the United States. The number of domestic incidents then steadily decreased to zero recorded incidents in 2007. In 2008 and 2009, there were three and four recorded incidents. There are many different reasons citizens commit terrorism towards their own country. The two most common reasons is because far left extremists are upset because of the way the American government treats those who are different, or because far right extremists are upset due to the fact that there are some people who are different in the country and make claims that “the immigrants are stealing their jobs or other similar things.

Again, the solution is obvious. The American people and the American government needs to change the way we treat those who are different than them drastically (Ruiz-Grossman).Another problem in America that leads to issues to terrorism is the people we put in office. A great example of this is the current president of the United States. Donald John Trump is the 45th and current President of the United States, in office since January 20, 2017. Before entering politics, he was a businessman and television personality, making his very underqualified to run the country. On top of this, Trump has a reputation of not being the best person ever. Shortly after Trump announced that he was running for presidency, he was quoted saying, “When Mexico sends its people, they are not sending their best. They are not sending you. They are not sending you. They are sending people that have lots of problems.They are bringing drugs. They are bringing crime. They are rapists This quote showed some negative qualities of Trump right away. Later, at a South Carolina rally five days after the San Bernardino terrorist attack, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on. And most recently, Trump has been quoted saying, Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS and Nigerian immigrants will never “go back to their huts in Africa and, during a White House discussion on immigration policy, President Trump asked congressional lawmakers why the U.S. should accept immigrants from “sh**hole countries,” according to two people briefed on the meeting. This shows Donald Trump has a very poor character and is in no position to run this country (Clancy, T).

An example of recent terrorism in America is the Orlando, Florida nightclub shooting. In the Orlando, Florida nightclub shooting forty-nine people were killed and fifty-eight were injured. The main suspect behind the shooting was released as Omar Mateen, a man who was born and raised in America. The FBI resolved that he had no connections to ISIS; however, it was classified as a hate crime due to the fact that it was a gay nightclub. This tragedy was horrible for everyone who was involved in the situation, and the families of those who passed. This is a tragedy that could have easily been avoided. If there were stricter gun control laws in place, it would have been much harder for Mateen to have carried out his crime, let alone there is no way he would have had such a destructive gun (Clancy, T). A good way to show this point is by comparing the Orlando terrorist attack to another one. The most recent terrorist attack in America took place on February 16, 2018 in East Orange,New Jersey. Marckles Alcius stole a truck he found and crashed it into a planned parenthood in order to try to get across his beliefs of pro life. In this attack, three people were injured, but there were no deaths. Although the attack was frightening, the amount of injuries and deaths were very low due to the fact that Alcius did not have access to firearms, more specifically, semi automatic firearms. If America makes a law making firearm laws stricter, the amount of deaths and injuries in terrorist attacks will decrease dramatically (Clancy, T).

Many people have the argument that having stricter firearm laws would be pointless because terrorism will still take place regardless. Although they are right that terrorism is going to take place regardless of firearm laws, weapons used during terrorist attacks will become items such as knives, vehicles, and other alike weapons. As terrible as this is, at least with stricter firearm laws, terrorists will have a much harder time killing citizens and the amount of citizens who are killed or injured will reduce a great amount. This is proven while looking at statistics of other countries. Japan has some of the strictest firearm laws world wide. The law states that “No one shall possess a firearm or firearms or a sword or swords” and there are very few exceptions to this law. Of course, law enforcement is allowed to have firearms; however, the officers must go through training and receive a license allowing them to own and operate a firearm. Average citizens are also allowed to own firearm for hunting and sport shooting. However, before they are able to get firearms for these purposes, they must go through a very long winded application process. Japanese citizens are also allowed to own rifles, but only after they have owned a shotgun for ten or more years; to do that, there is another very long application process(Clancy, T) .

Japanese firearm laws are great to look at when covering a topic such a terrorism because Japan has proven that stricter firearm laws create lower crime rates, especially in the case of terrorism. Japan’s murder rates are dramatically lower than those in America and overall crime in Japan is four times lower than that in America. Looking at terrorism, Japan has only had three major attacks on their country in almost all of its history. Where as is America, there were eight major terrorist attacks between the years of 2001 and 2017 (Clancy, T). Looking at America, it has some of the least strict gun laws throughout the world. America also has some of the highest crime rates, and many of those crimes involve firearms. “Gun homicides are considerably more common in the US than in peer countries. There were 35.5 gun homicides per million people in the US in 2013, compared to only 4.9 per million in Canada, and 0.93 per million in the UK” according to Global Burden of Disease study. This is because of how easy it is to obtain a firearm in America. Firearm laws in America are slightly different from state to state; however, to get a firearm in America is a rather simple process. Once a citizen is twenty-one, they are able to go and pick out any gun they would like, whether it be a shotgun or a semi automatic rifle, and they receive the weapon in a short few days after an extremely simple background check. There are even some states in America where your firearm does not need to be registered and the owner does not need a license to own a firearm, an example of this is North Dakota (Clancy, T).

Although terrorist attacks are very frightening, they are nothing new, and the amount of attacks have actually been increasingly dropping as time goes on. “There have been 2,608 total attacks and 226 fatal attacks in the United States between 1970 and 2011…just looking at the decade between 2001 and 2011, it is visible that the number of terrorist attacks has declined since September 11, although the number of fatal attacks has ticked up of late. (That includes a fatal shooting at a Knoxville church in 2008, the assassination of abortion provider George Tiller in 2009, the shooting at Fort Hood that killed 13 people and injured 30 in 2009, and so on.)(What the data). Another positive factor is that the police force seems to be getting better and more skilled at preventing terrorist attacks. However, just plain luck is a large factor in this too. “The highest proportion of unsuccessful attacks occurred in 2011, when four out of nine recorded attacks were unsuccessful,” the report says. “In three of these attacks bombs failed to detonate before they were discovered, and in the fourth unsuccessful attack, shots were fired at the White House by an individual who has since been charged with attempting to assassinate President Obama. (What the data)”

Another thing to look at is which part of America is affected by terrorism. Every state in America has fallen victim to a terrorist attack; however, the number of terrorist attacks and fatalities of those attacks vary greatly. Out of all states, California has had the most attacks, a whopping five hundred seventy four. Out of all of the states, New York has had the most fatalities, at a heartbreaking 2818 innocent people killed. “New York and Virginia dominate the list of fatalities; again, that is because of the September 11 attacks. Pennsylvania is also up there, because of Flight 93. After that is Oklahoma, mainly because 168 people died in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Puerto Rico is number three in number of of attacks on America. This is mostly because of the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberaci??n Nacional, a paramilitary separatist group that was responsible for more than 120 bombings in the 1970s and 1980s. Florida also ranks rather high on the list because of the Earth Liberation Front. Luckily, these attacks have not led to any deaths due to the fact that they focus more on arson, such as burning down car dealerships. “It is worth noting that the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front have been two of the most active groups since 1970, with 161 attacks total (and 84 since 2001). (What the data)Usually when someone says the word terrorist, many people have a very similar image in their head. Someone from the middle east with dark skin who does not speak a lot of english, and so on. However, terrorism groups are becoming more and more diverse as time goes on. “Al-Qaeda dominates this list, and the two eco-terrorism groups have been particularly active (though they both seem to be declining).

But aside from that, terrorist groups seem to come in all types. Thinking that a terrorist must look or act a certain way is why America is so vulnerable to attacks. Everyone is always looking for an outsider who fits a specific profile, but in reality, a terrorist does not have a specific look or life. There have been cases of terrorist attacks where, before the attack, the person lived a normal life with a family, friends, and job (Costa-Roberts). When it comes down to at home terrorism in America, the numbers can’t lie: People on the side of Far-right extremists conduct many more terror attacks than Islamist extremists. There were almost twice as many terrorist incidents by right-wing extremists as by Islamist extremists in the U.S. from 2008 to 2016, according to a new report from The Nation Institute Investigative Fund and The Center for Investigative Reporting’s reveal. Looking at plans and attacks carried out, the researchers counted 201 terrorist attacks and/or plans on U.S. soil from January 2008 to the end of 2016. The research shows 115 cases by right-wing extremists, from white supremacists to militias to “sovereign citizens” which is compared to the 63 cases by Islamist extremists. Incidents from left-wing extremists, which include ecoterrorists and animal rights militants, were extraordinarily rare in comparison, with only nineteen incidents being reported. While the research does make a point of differentiating between different groups within the right-wing extremism, lead reporter David Neiwert stated that “those are all gradations of white supremacy, variations on the same thing. When it comes to right-wing extremism, attackers are also “mostly men and “almost purely white. Attacks conducted by right-wing extremists were also notably almost always deadly, with nearly one third of right-wing extremist incidents resulting in deaths compared to the 13 percent of Islamist extremist cases resulting in deaths.

However, the outright number of people murdered by Islamist extremists, a total of ninety citizens murdered, was higher than the amount of deaths caused by right-wing extremists, with seventy nine citizens murdered (Costa-Roberts). Concurrently, President Donald J Trump has focused his addresses and policies almost exclusively on counteracting Islamist extremism, and not dealing with the problem at home. “As with a lot of things related to Trump and the Islamophobic right, the reality is viewed through an upside-down looking glass” Neiwert said. “The reality is the most significant domestic terror threat we have is right-wing extremism. The Investigative Fund’s research show those of past studies of at home terrorism. The New America Foundation, for example, which has been keeping track of fatal terror plots and attacks happening on U.S. soil since the Sept. 11 attacks, it also finds an almost two-to-one ratio of attacks by far-right extremists to Islamist extremists, with 21 fatal attacks by far-right extremists, compared to 11 by Islamist extremists. In contempt of the facts, multiple Americans still yet correlate terrorist attacks and plots with Islamist extremists in place of far-right extremists, Neiwart noted. “I think the larger perception in the public, and this includes many progressives and liberals, is the inversion of the reality: that the greatest threat we face is Islamist radicals” Neiwert said. “And it’s reflected in the way the press report upon various kinds of domestic terror attacks: When it’s a white domestic terrorist, they underplay it, write it off to mental illness.

The media has always shown a double standard when it comes to reporting terrorism. It is very common for the government and news outlets to label a crime committed by a white person as not their fault because they are alone and unstable, and fast to call the crime an awful act of terrorism if the criminal is of color, and more specifically, Muslim. A large chunk of problem is the difficult nature of how those in charge decide to categorize and label attacks as terrorism. The FBI has definitive criteria it uses to decide if an attack is an act of terrorism or not, and the public is starting to catch on to this. For example, a large amount of citizens condemned officials for not labeling Dylann Roof’s attack an act of terrorism after he murdered nine African American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, even though he clearly stated that he was there “to shoot black people.. “There’s actually a debate over whether what Dylann Roof did was domestic terrorism, when it so plainly is domestic terrorism” Neiwert stated. “A lot of this has to do with embedded judgements about where these threats come from, and that it has to do with fear-mongering around Islamophobia (Costa-Roberts).Another type of terrorism is violent extremism. “Violent extremism is generally defined as supporting or committing violent acts to achieve political, ideological, religious or social goals” said an April 2017 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Some examples of this are anti-government groups, groups with extreme views on abortion, animal rights, the environment or federal ownership of public lands; and radical Islamist entities, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). “The 9/11 terrorist attacks resulted in the largest number of deaths in the United States caused by violent extremism” the GAO report said. “About three thousand people were killed in the attacks.

Since then, from Sept. 12, 2001, to Dec. 31, 2016, there have been eighty five attacks in the country by violent extremists resulting in two hundred twenty five deaths. GAO reported citing data from the U.S. Extremist Crime Database. Out of those two hundred twenty five murders: one hundred six individuals were murdered by far-right violent extremists in sixty two separate episodes; one hundred nineteen individuals were killed by radical Islamist violent extremists in twenty three different episodes; The amount of citizens murdered in a given year varied from one to forty nine. GAO noted that forty one percent of the deaths caused by a radical Islamist during the reviewed period happened in one incident: the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting. In June 2016, Omar Mateen, born in the United States to Afghan parents, killed forty nine people at Pulse club in Orlando. The think tank New America has gathered information on terrorist attacks and plots in the United States after 9/11. It details information on fatal attacks by planning up to the Aug. 12, 2017 Charlottesville attack. Here is how they explained the numbers on the number of fatalities due to singles of different ideologies: “ninety five by jihadist, sixty eight by far-right, and eight by black separatist/national/supremacist.

Even individuals who carry out jihadist attacks, however, are sometimes American citizens or longtime residents.” The terrorist threat in the United States is almost entirely homegrown, as no foreign terrorist organization has successfully directed and orchestrated an attack in the United States since 9/11,” said Albert Ford, a program associate Currently in the United states, the terrorist attacks which occur are mainly cases of domestic terrorism. “Of four hundred eighteen individuals found by New America who are accused of jihadist terrorism related crimes in the United States since 9/11, eighty five percent of them were either U.S. citizens or U.S. legal residents, and about half were born American citizens” Ford said. Until the Pulse club shooting, “the number of deaths caused by far-right-wing attacks outnumbered those caused by jihadism-related attacks,” Ford said. The federal government has made attempt to take the time to look closer on national threats from all associations of terror by making an interagency Countering Violent Extremism task force, GAO reported. The task forces’ plans was to have data collection and study, getting ahold of and speaking with communities and citizens of those communities, and interrogation for individuals who ‘appear to be moving toward violent action (Plumer, B).

Where there is terrorism, it is horrible and terrifying for those who have to go through it, but terrorism is not very common when looking at the whole world. During the year of 2014 most countries world wide did not have a single fatality due to terrorism. That does not conclude that the countries were all totally terrorism-free, however; a large amount of these countries did witness a type of terror in one way or another, though almost all were not fatal (Plumer, B). Overall, a large amount of terror attacks are largely based on where the country is located. “Just five countries accounted for most terror-related deaths in 2014. Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria saw seventy eight percent of the deaths and fifty seven percent of all attacks. Even among these grim outliers, Iraq stood out with nearly 10,000 fatalities, the highest ever recorded in a single country. In 2014, acts of terror in Iraq alone claimed three times as many lives as they did in the entire world in 2000 (Plumer, B).

Terrorist attacks also have a very large toll on the economy. Research showed that terror attacks cost the world wide economy $52.9 billion, that is not counting in the $114 billion that national security agencies had to spend on trying to counter terrorism. What has been made obvious is during the year 2004 there was a large increase of spending going towards battling terrorism. While the economic harm that terrorism caused last year is considerable, it still pales in comparison to the estimated cost of violent crime and homicide, which topped $1 trillion. This crash in the economy is very bad for the overall community and the quality of life of the citizens living in the nations affected (Prados, J).

The Americas have good luck in that the West is an area that does not see too much terrorism. Out of the world, America has seen fewest terror attacks “Just 2.6 percent of deaths in 21st-century terror attacks took place in Western countries, which include the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe nations. major terrorist attacks planned by international terrorist groups amass an unequal amount of attention from the media. But people who are sometimes labeled as lone wolves or people who are antisocial, are liable for seventy percent of terror attack fatalities in the West, and that number is continuing to grow as time passes. The Boston Marathon bombings are examples of the so called “lone-wolf theory (Prados, J).

Overall, there are many different factors to terrorism; such as motivation, location of the attacks, and where the attackers originate. Terrorism is a horrible act of violence against a country and the citizens of it. These terror attacks have horrible effects on many things such a the economy and quality of life. Although there is no way to completely stop terrorism, if the right steps are taken, it will be a less common occurrence, and less lives will be lost to these terrible acts of terrorism.

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