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TA-ANALYSIS: Terrorism: Can You Decide? (Part 1 of 4)

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posted on Mar, 16 2004 @ 03:07 PM
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An exclusive, ongoing, multipart series, whose sole quest is to find a universally acceptable definition of Terrorism.
 

The ultimate question facing us to day is: How to define terrorism? Is it indefinable? Does it fluctuate according to geographical or historical contexts? Is there one concrete, universally accepted definition? Is it easily recognized when seen? Interestingly enough, the United Nation’s Terrorism Prevention Branch confesses:

The lack of agreement on a definition of terrorism has been a major obstacle to meaningful international countermeasures.

UN ODCCP

Terrorism can take the form of direct or indirect means. Most predominantly, we see terrorism taken and utilized in the form of bombings, hijackings, suicide bombings, shootings, and assassinations. Many experts agree that though a true universally accepted definition for terrorism may still be elusive, it is a deliberate use of violence against civilians for political or religious ends. Besides this slight agreement, there still remains no universally accepted definition of terrorism; one that the world could unanimously agree upon and then subsequently enforce. With world opinion and states still divided on this, are we, as citizens of it, also divided? Seems that we are indeed.

What qualifies as terrorism, and what does not? Is terrorism easily discernable; easily identified? The nature of terrorism is ever evolving and in constant fluctuation. What one may see and define as terrorism, another may not. What one state may view and define as terrorism, another may not. Terrorism evokes emotion and sympathy. Being that terrorism is frequently used politically and socially, is it a matter of overall perception? Has it not been said that what is "one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter"?
Foreign Policy Research Institute

Let’s look at some examples and you decide if they qualify as terrorism or if they do not:

Example #1:
An unclassified group, angered over increased taxes, targets their political leader for overthrow. In planning to overthrow him, they plan to bomb his residence. Before doing so, they first call ahead to warning the him of the impending attack. They then proceed to bomb the residence where the political leader is currently residing. In the end, the leader survives, but innocent civilians are injured and killed.

Example #2:
A revolutionary group illegally gains access into a foreign embassy. They demand the release of a number of political, government detained, prisoners. The government subsequently refuses to negotiate. The government then opts to send in a highly trained and secretive team of commandos. In the commando assault on the embassy, some of the hostages are killed and injured. The government’s media response to this is to blame the revolutionary group for using the hostages as human shields. The revolutionary group has responded by claiming that the government is lying and seeking to deceive the population through the use of the media.

Example #3:
A group of disheartened soldiers decide to go AWOL. This is the result of a prior hard fought battle where they lost some of their friends and comrades-in-arms. They are also unable to determine just ‘who’ is the enemy and ‘who’ isn’t. This group of AWOL soldiers proceeds on a rampage and in such, attack and destroys literally everything in their path that they have determined as giving refuge to the enemy. Maintaining some sense of humanity, they take some care in sparing civilians and their homes.

These examples are but a few taken from a Christian Science Monitor’s special report on what we think qualifies as terrorism and what we think does not. The links to the source and three more in depth quizzes can be found below:

Anything that harms noncombatants to achieve political ends

Reckless toward noncombatants to achieve political ends

The deliberate targeting of noncombatants to achieve political ends

Can You Decide?

Related Sources Of Interest
What Exactly Is Terrorism?
Terrorism: An Introduction
World Terrorism: An Introduction
Understanding Terrorism: Introduction to Terrorism

[Edited on 22-3-2004 by Seekerof]




posted on Mar, 17 2004 @ 02:27 AM
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I'm surprised there hasn't been more feedback.

This is an issue that I debated fiercely with friends in the year or so after September 11th, and we eventually came to the concensus that there would never be an agreed upon standard legal definition for terrorism.

What it comes down to, in my belief, is that there is to high an emotional reaction when an attack takes place to really consider what has happened objectively. Also, since terrorism isn't confined to any particular place, and doesn't correspond to a particular conflict, it is subject to different interpretations from the point of view of conflicting ideals.

The terrorism that takes place in Israel is very different in reasoning from terrorism that takes place in China, Bali, or the United States. In the future, the reasons that groups carry out terrorism will change, though they will still be rooted in political and social protest.

Eventually, I think terrorism will be defined (deliberately) as any act in contravention of the policies and authority of a (the) government.

DeltaChaos

[Edited on 17-3-2004 by DeltaChaos]



posted on Mar, 17 2004 @ 03:18 AM
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It really can't be defined. It's a matter of point of view. We may be able to decide for ourselves, but we can't decide for everyone else. Good and evil are a point of view.

But I define it by a single person, or a group of people that injure or kill unrelated targets a terrorist. But this can be broken down quite a bit.

Say if a person detonates a bomb in a public area to strike at who ever may be there at the moment. Terrorism.

Someone detonating a bomb in a public place for the sake of one or multiple targets and knowingly or unknowingly killing bystanders in the process. Terrorist.

Detonating a bomb at said targets house, even after one or more warnings, whether or not bystanders are hurt. Terrorism.

The list could go on and on about the exceptions...

[Edited on 17-3-2004 by Thorfinn Skullsplitter]



posted on Mar, 17 2004 @ 03:46 AM
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Originally posted by DeltaChaos

Eventually, I think terrorism will be defined (deliberately) as any act in contravention of the policies and authority of a government.



~*~ Almost like defining Truth...

it 'appears' that Truth is; "Whatever is expedient" at the moment.

Plus, the very act of quantifing & defining 'modern-terrorism'
and making it another entity in the eyes of the law,
will motivate the passions of persons with different
World Views...& providing 'proof' that the Pax America
Empire is: satanic incarnation, 4th reich, beast, etc etc



posted on Mar, 17 2004 @ 04:16 AM
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I have not a clue what you just said. Mind clarifying so we may discuss?

DC



posted on Mar, 18 2004 @ 12:17 AM
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I wanted to take a moment and thank you all for responding as you have.


I do have a couple questions though:

* What did you folks conclude with the three above examples? Were they or were they not?

* Did any of you take any of the three quizzes? What were the results/determinations?

Thank you again. Look forward to reading your further comments.




regards
seekerof



posted on Mar, 18 2004 @ 01:02 AM
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Example 1:

Murder 2, for the deaths unintentionally caused but with willful intent to cause property damage. Felony illegal use of a listed or banned substance. Felony endangerment. Felony Arson. Many other charges are possible, but not terrorism. If there were a charge for stupidity, it would apply here.

Example 2:

Here, the revolutionary group is clearly in the wrong, and has no recourse or credibility for any claims it may make with regard to the governments methods. Extradite to the country of the embassy that they stormed and prosecute them according to law pre-terrorism era. This has happened before with similar results, and precedence is set for legal proceeding.

Example 3:

Prosecute under UCMJ for desertion and treason. Inflict death penalty by firing squad. These are the circumstances under which morale and mission of the corps is undermined. It brings great disgrace upon the Armed Services and the United States as a whole. Set an example with these soldiers and make it known that mutiny in any form will not be tolerated.

Other thoughts...

With regard to the quizzes, apparently I can recognize terrorism when I see it. Of course, my view on terrorism is changing as of late. The recent development in the case of Spain in which al Queda has apparently called truce if the new leadership does in fact remove it’s troops from Iraq.

Historically, terrorism has not been an effective means of forcing an agenda, however, this new development could set precedence and set a standard of capitulation for other countries. Al Queda is also obviously trying to break down the will of those who have sided with the United States in the war on terror, and followed through with the invasion of Iraq. I believe that al Queda would much rather contend with the U.S. alone rather than a coalition of several countries, some of which are close to the middle east.

The Iraq issue is questionable at best, and there is a growing sentiment in the United States and abroad that the invasion was predicated upon falsehoods. Al Queda recognizes this, and is capitalizing on it. The people are speaking, and they are beginning to be heard. I am already seeing mainstream media outlets jumping on the anti-Bush/Iraq sentiment as they realize it’s sensation and salability.

Today’s terrorist is a new breed. They have learned where motivations lie, and have become adept at exploiting the media – possibly with greater effectiveness than its owners. Their plan has been developed over a great period of time, is highly adaptable, and sees itself well into the future. Possibly for generations. This era will truly change the face of warfare forever.

DeltaChaos



posted on Mar, 18 2004 @ 01:11 PM
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Originally posted by DeltaChaos
Example 1:

Murder 2, for the deaths unintentionally caused but with willful intent to cause property damage. Felony illegal use of a listed or banned substance. Felony endangerment. Felony Arson. Many other charges are possible, but not terrorism. If there were a charge for stupidity, it would apply here.


DeltaChaos, you may well be onto something when you called the first example a crime (ie: murder). You also recognized that intent was certainly willful. In such, it would seemingly appear that terrorist are recognized by their actions; by the acts they commit? Was not the above example also an example of political motivation? According to the authors of Countering the New Terrorism, they say that an act of terrorism was first of all a crime in the classic sense.
Countering the New Terrorism

In such, the above first example might be classified as an "inadvertent" killing of innocent civilian life; terrorism, in its, slightest form?
Essays in Philosophy



Example 2:

Here, the revolutionary group is clearly in the wrong, and has no recourse or credibility for any claims it may make with regard to the governments methods. Extradite to the country of the embassy that they stormed and prosecute them according to law pre-terrorism era. This has happened before with similar results, and precedence is set for legal proceeding.



Accordingly, example two would fall under, quite possibly, based on definition, the clearest form of terrorism. Intent is the question, but in the case of the revolutionary group having control of the hostages, they did not take the actions necessary to place the hostages out of harms way...thus, the terrorism defintion of intent implies that they were indeed knowingly placed in harms way. The counter-terrorism unit only compounded the situation at hand. This is a real life example of hostage terrorism. Further sources of reading on this...(books, articles):
Hostage-Taking, Prevention
Advanced Topics in the Law of Homicide: Intention

In the above situation or event(s), imagine if the attempt to retrieve the embassy hostage in Iran had not resulted in "desert sand" failure (the helicoptors) and imagine that this 'failure' had not happened. That the helicoptors had the sand screens on and had successfully arrived at their destination: the US Embassy in Tehran. The above second example, quite possibly, could have been one of the results. You have a prime case of a revolutionary, religious group, taking hostages, for political gains, though those political gains were based on the revolutionary groups own political gain.



Example 3:

Prosecute under UCMJ for desertion and treason. Inflict death penalty by firing squad. These are the circumstances under which morale and mission of the corps is undermined. It brings great disgrace upon the Armed Services and the United States as a whole. Set an example with these soldiers and make it known that mutiny in any form will not be tolerated.


The third case was a prime example of insubordinate, followed by reckless, form of terrorism, in the minor sense of the word defintion. Sherman's March comes to mind?
Sherman's March: Final Revenge

This is not a clear-cut case of terrorism, in the true sense. As you have inherently mentioned, the cliche' of War is Hell is quite evident. We do have to keep in mind that property sabotage or destruction, is a form of terrorism and is one of the most commonly used forms of terrorism. In the implied case above, you have a military unit that is having a very dificult time dealing with just 'who' is the "insurgents" and who isn't. This is often a problem in insurgency operations against insurgents. The example was just a hypothetical extreme case.



regards
seekerof

[Edited on 18-3-2004 by Seekerof]



posted on Mar, 18 2004 @ 05:04 PM
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The debate over what is terrorism and what is not has been active for nearly a hundred years. And it will continue to be for another thousand. There will never be concensus on the matter.

We need not worry about the intent of criminals, only thier crimes. Murder is murder, theft is theft. These crimes and their penalties have already been defined and are generally accepted the world over. We don't need to say, "He killed 48 people with the intent to cause political or social reform, or to inspire a change of policy on the part of those to whom he is opposed." It just isn't necessary. The bottom line is that he killed 48 people.

I say try him, find him guilty if possible, and proceed to dispatch him with great prejudice. That's all. And I don't think martyrdom is as powerful a motivator as it once was, since there are tens of new 'martyrs' every month all around the world, and they don't seem to be causing any great social upheaval on that merit. Find them, try them, and execute them without haste.

In legal proceeding, we need only concern ourselves with the results of a crime after it has been commited, not the reasons for which it was carried out. If we would like to discuss foreign policy and other social policies with regard to acts of terrorism, let us do it of our own accord, and not as a reaction to the acts themselves.

I think I have more to say about this, but I'm hungry so I'm distracted. I'll be back.

DeltaChaos



posted on Mar, 18 2004 @ 08:09 PM
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Again, thanks for responding DeltaC.


At some point in my multipart series, I will be covering what characteristics will oe would make up a defintion for terrorism and as to how it is recognized. Intent is among one of those characteristics.




regards
seekerof




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