The Relationship between the Growth of Globalization and Radical Islamist Terrorism

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Research Question: How has the growth of globalism changed the way that Islamist terrorist groups have operated?


Society, since its beginnings, has been undergoing globalization, which relates to the creation of new technologies, new and more effective methods of transportation, as well as many other developments that have moved society forward to a more connected and rapid future in terms of forms of communication such as social media and the development of technology. For these purposes, the spread and growth will be described and viewed through the following two definitions, although more definitions will be provided. The first one is from the US Department of State and it reads “‘Globalization’ refers to the web of connections – including commercial, communications, or cultural — that bind our world together(1). Or as Jim Dator explains in chapter 2 of Fairness, Globalization, and Public Institutions, globalization is more than just the worldwide capitalist system, it also includes the “full range of forces and factors that are sweeping across the globe. He continues to say that globalization has a multitude of causes and components such as migratory labor, criminal and terrorist activities and their countervailing state-terrorist, mass media, and many other factors. These definitions of globalization can lead people to believe that there is a benefit to globalism and the expansion of world connections but this can allow for negative use as well. In this essay, the development of globalism and its relation to the growth of terrorism, while also exploring the research question: How has the growth of globalism changed the way that Islamist terrorist groups have operated?

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Globalism at its core is the development of the world, technologically, this includes the development of the media and other forms of modern communication. Globalism entails the growth and development of advanced weapon systems as well as effective methods of accessing weaponry. Another key aspect to include is the ability to transfer and transport money over open borders and easier access to resources that allow this. In consideration of these components of globalism, the effect of globalization on the growth of terrorism will be further discussed in addition to specific examples that display the direct change on the correlation of the two elements.

The Relation Between Terrorism and Globalism

In the development of globalism, methods of effective communication have improved significantly, this can entail faster and more frequent communication between terrorists. These open networks of communication are fertile grounds for terrorism to expand internationally as well as reach new recruits in a variety of locations. Terrorists can organize, plan, and develop their actions of terror while staying in separate locations and pinpointing the exact cause for a specific act of terror has become much more complicated. This method of spreading out and using modern communication techniques makes it more difficult to eradicate the terrorist organizations or even counteract their acts of terror. Several groups have utilized this aspect of globalization through the development of their own methods to adapt to this change or this new benefit that would ultimately improve the efficiency of their operation.

Many organizations have arisen and dominated the world since the spread of globalization such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS, they have continued to dominate the areas in which they were founded and even expanded into locations far beyond their base of operation. Al-Qaeda is a terrorist group that was formed in 1988 and is responsible for the September 11th attack on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center; ISIS is also a terrorist group but it was formed more recently in 1999, but gained recognition in 2014 for their actions in Iraq.

Could you explain 9/11 briefly, although well known event not everyone (IB is a world community) remembers or knows it by “9/11.

Though in order to classify these groups as terrorist organizations, a definition for terrorism must be established. Terrorism can be described as “any act intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to a civilian, or to any other person not taking an active part in the hostilities in a situation of armed conflict, when the purpose of such act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to compel a government or international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act(8). Though terrorism by its nature has no distinct definition, the description provided above was created by the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism(8) simply for the purpose of classifying acts of terror and distinguishing such acts from others. For these purposes, any act executed with the intention of instilling fear for political gains will be used for the definition of terrorism. This definition can also be used to describe islamist terrorist organizations that use fear to gain land or governmental control such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Seems like a new topic here. New Paragraph? Also this paragraph is helpful but is it best here? Or, maybe introduce its relevance more clearly.

In the cases of these specific groups and many others like them, a common theme of religious justification is present. More recently, as the media further develops and makes reaching others much simpler, many groups and their members collectively use this theme to justify their actions. For example, many Islamist groups attempt to try and justify their actions and most often by turning to a religious explanation. More specifically, when carrying out heinous acts of terror, they tend to use the word, “jihad to justify the purpose of their actions.  And there are many way to describe jihad and according to Britannica, it is categorized in four ways: “by the heart, the tongue, the hand, and the sword. ‘The heart’ referring to the purification of the soul, ‘the tongue and hand’; supporting the right and correcting the wrong, and ‘the sword’ referring to the physical act of war for Islam(10). Most Islamist terrorist groups opt to perform ‘the sword’ method and carry out acts of war (i.e. terrorism) against those who are not of the Muslim faith or “disbelievers(10). This in turn leading those afflicted by their reign of terror to make blind and meaningless assumptions about the origin of all terrorism. You began to answer your question here, very clear!

The relation between globalization and terrorism

Moreover, in the twentieth century, this form of religious terrorism had increased significantly(8), it appears to be focusing more on the violent Islamic aspect of jihad through the targeting of those who are dubbed “disbelievers. This belief has morphed with the development of terrorism and it has changed to a much faster and more “effective method of terrorism. Furthermore, terrorism in its recent years has focused more on ruthless, faster tactics such as suicide bombings and other public attacks on civilians instead of focused attacks “for Islam or “for jihad. It is becoming increasingly easier to carry out acts of terror as they require little to no prior planning or communication with others, modern day communications allow for terrorist groups to plan and carry out individual and synchronized attacks.

In addition, terrorist organizations are able to learn from one another and communicate across their countries of residency(5) In the specific examples of ISIS and Al-Qaeda, the presence of social media and the internet have allowed for the practice of a form of leaderless resistance attacks and the expansion of the organizations themselves with foreign recruitment and the encouragement of individual attacks in the country of origin (5). This form organization can make it more difficult to pinpoint exactly who is responsible for what action of terrorism, it can create a stronger and more powerful terrorist organization, especially with the growth of globalization. It can be concluded that with the growth of globalization, terrorism has expanded internationally and with the availability of leaderless operations.  Could you give examples of leaderless attacks. I know of the Florida nightclub attack and the California couple that attacked during a holiday party. I believe both were “leaderless.

For example, in the case of ISIS, there have been over 140 attacks in 29 countries in which 2,043 people have died(cnn). Most of the attacks were carried out or “inspired by ISIS. More specifically, in response to a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi attempted to kill a guard before police shot them; ISIS later claimed responsibility for the attack(CNN). Another ISIS connected attack was in 2015, when Tashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farook shot 14 people to death and injured several others at a local government health workers gathering in San Bernardino, California. The couple had previously pledged allegiance to the caliphate and had attempted to contact the groups.(CNN) In these examples and unfortunately many others, the influence of a terrorist organization with a wide outreach is shown. It can be seen that without the growth and development of globalism that ISIS would not have been able to have such an effect on these extremists.

In addition, the increased access to technology, in this case defining technology as any long distance communication systems as well as complex

and the vast network of communication brought by globalization has allowed for terrorist organizations to intensify the efficiency of their activities such as the coordination of affairs, recruitment of new believers, communication among members and the attraction of sympathizers (12). This new increase in efficiency shows the impact of globalization on terrorism, the spread of international communication has allowed for organization to plan attacks without the need for a base of operations.

In the following paragraphs is it possible to connect growth directly to Al Qaeda and Isis or Islamist terrorism? Would make paper more cohesive.

This can be seen in the terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS, in their many attacks in the United States as well as abroad: The Brussels attack of 2016, the attack on the United States World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the multiple attacks on Paris. All of these included little to no planning and organization, though the impact was enormous and the message of terror was received by most of the world. Most often, it is because of acts such as these that genuinely influence the global mindset on terrorism and its correlation to globalism/globalization.

Though could the link between these two aspects be seen as merely coincidental? According to Brenda and James Lutz, authors of Globalisation and Terrorism in the Middle East, terrorism has undoubtedly grown in the twentieth century along with globalization but there is no consistent pattern and the two cannot be correlated. In this sense, the argument for the correlation of terrorism and globalism would become obsolete. Though, author of Behind the Curve, Audrey Cronin argues that the spread of international communications has allowed for terrorist organizations to carry out more efficient operations and expand more as a group. She argues for the correlation and relation of terrorism and globalism because of the increased use of the resources provided by globalism that are used by many terrorist groups.

Either side of the argument can be seen as coherent, though the correlation between the growth of terrorism and the growth of globalization makes a much more compelling argument. Cronin argues that increased internet access has allowed for terrorist organizations to “employ list services, collect money from witting and unwitting donors, and distribute savvy political messages to a broad online audience(12). These methods allow for terrorism to spread rapidly all over the world and increase the cyber acts of terror such as sending death threats and hiring hackers to gather data that can be used to plan attacks on prominent figures.

The rise in internet access has allowed for terrorist organizations to spread their cause and therefore gain more members while increasing efficiency in planned attacks. For example, the synchronized attacks on U.S embassies in 1998 and New York and Washington in 2001(12) and several additional attacks, more recently the Brussels bombings of 2016 could not have been possible without the innovation in information technology. This efficient communication system created with the innovation of the internet leaves a greater impact on those inflicted by the attacks and makes recovery efforts slower as their aggression affects multiple sites. This effect links back to the connection between globalism and terrorism, in that this strategy of planning and carrying out synchronized attacks can decrease the likelihood that the perpetrators will be convicted for their crimes and if the terrorists are caught and charged, they are only a small fraction of the much larger global scale operation. This would have never been possible without the growth and development of globalisation.

Globalization has also allowed for an increase in chemical, bacteriological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapon availability to terrorist groups; with the internet, the knowledge required to build such weapons has become omnipresent(12). This access to such knowledge can make it progressively more difficult to stall the acts of terror carried out by these groups as the source of the weapons used in attacks is based on intelligence gathered from the internet.

Not only has globalization allowed for an increase in internet access and more efficient communication between members, it has allowed for terrorists to reach across international borders and establish smaller groups within their organizations in multiple countries(12). These smaller groups can allow for members in different countries to commit terrorist actions and potentially dodge any punishment that may come from any country that they commit these acts in. This strategy of spreading members throughout the world can add to the difficulties of locating the terrorists behind the operation and as mentioned before, it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact source of the operations.

Though terrorist groups are not limiting their access to international borders to expand their organization, they are also broadening their grasp in collecting financial resources to continue their operations(12); their sources include but are not limited to legal enterprises such as nonprofit organizations as well as charities whose clandestine acts may or may not be known to donors; lawful corporations that redirect earnings to illegal activities; and illegal enterprises such as drug smuggling and production; another form of collecting financial resources is through websites(12). These methods of gaining more financial support from reprehensible groups ensure the continuity of the terrorist organizations and the support of operations. These resources would otherwise be unavailable without globalization opening international borders and increasing communications. This in turn creates a monetary system of which is incorporated into every economic system in the world and the cycle of terrorism throughout time.

Globalization has also created a network of informal connections that allows for the fluid movement of terrorists’ financial resources(12). An example of this is the transport of financial resources, in the form of gold bars and bundles of dollars, across the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan when U.S. and allies were closing in on the Taliban’s major bastions(12). After crossing the border, the money went through a series of conversions and transfers through the informal hawala or hundi banking system until it was gold bullion and scattered around the world to prevent government involvement, it was in this way that Al-Qaeda was able to preserve and disperse a fraction of its financial resources(12). This example shows that terrorism does not always utilize the technological aspect of globalization but often employs the use of the complex network of communications that accompanies the development of globalization. This also shows that without the complicated, interweb of connections that globalization brings, the U.S and allies would have been one step closer to stopping Al-Qaeda. Upon discovering this, one can be driven to think that terrorism will simply continue to grow and feed off the resources it gains from globalization; though, there are several other factors that feed into the growth of such heinous acts. Overall, terrorist organizations exploit the efficient network of communications, coordination, and cooperation provided by globalization to help expand the reach of and efficiency of their operation.

In addition, the goals of terrorists have changed; attacks on major targets such as the United States with violent weapons have increased significantly (12). With increased access to resources and communications, terrorists have better chance of successfully attacking major targets and instilling fear in those affected and as a result gain more political power; this sets the basis for more attacks and more control over areas where their bases located. Moreover the article further states, “globalization has allowed for an increase in expressive violence (ritualistic, symbolic, and communicative and a decrease in instrumental violence (between states and communities (12). This can lead groups to attack countries to assert identity or establish opposition to homogeneity especially cultures that are increasingly threatened by a secular future brought by western-led globalization (12).  Terrorist organizations still attack for the purpose of political gain but are more influenced to attack states or nations that threaten their culture or their people in an effort to violently preserve diversity. In a way, terrorists have used the change brought by globalization as a form of justification to carry out acts of terror, it might be seen as a crutch of sorts. Conclusively speaking, terrorist groups have taken advantage of all of the benefits that globalization brings such as increased, more efficient communication, access to open borders, increased availability of CBNR weapons, and the intricate network of financial and intelligence resources (12).

Throughout time and more recently, the development of terrorism is clearly seen with a strong correlation to globalism. As the growth of globalism has helped in the efficiency of operations, ease of communication, and the force with which attacks are taken. Ultimately, terrorism has thrived with the help of globalism but the correlation is not direct, but is related in a way that has changed the way that terrorist organizations operate. Though it cannot be confirmed entirely, the relationship between the growth of terrorism and globalism is clear and distinct with the development of attacks and organization structure.

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The Relationship Between the Growth of Globalization and Radical Islamist Terrorism. (2019, Jan 15). Retrieved from