Understanding Terrorism Essay

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The word terrorism is derived from the word terror which means to instill fear or cowardice in someone. It also means to carry out acts that are considered inhuman with an aim of punishing or making life difficult and unbearable for the recipient of the terrorist acts. Terrorism is broad in its scope and it is for this reason that there has not been a specific definition for it. Even though there is yet to be a universally agreed definition of terrorism, there seems to be a unanimous agreement on the key components of terrorism. Some of these components include coercion and violence.

Many studies have been conducted to unearth what causes terrorism, the tactics used by terrorists and targets for terrorist attacks. This discussion seeks to delve even further to find out what aspects drive terrorism (Lockyer. 2003). Objectives of Terrorist attacks There are a number of objectives with which terrorist attacks are committed. The main aim as already mentioned is to instill fear in the target party. Acts of terrorism are meant to make one afraid so that they do not continue with a particular state of affairs that may not be favorable to the attackers.

Terrorism therefore is used to ensure that there is widespread fear (Lockyer. 2003). Terrorist attacks are also meant to create attention especially in the media so that the group responsible for the terrorist attacks can be recognized. Acts of terrorism are also carried out as a way of weakening; embarrassing and harassing the government through its security agencies by making it appear powerless and repressive. As a result, the government ends up overreacting and is thus subjected to public ridicule (Gus. 2009).

Thornton, in his book, Terror as Weapon of Political Agitation, argues that one of the main objectives for terrorist attacks is to build morale within the terrorist group. Whenever they carry out the deadly attacks, the terrorists feel that their impact in the society is felt and this makes them feel significant within their organization. Terrorism groups also engage in their dubious activities as a way of provoking some form of response or feedback especially from the government. It is thus sometimes used as a way of making known the grievances of a particular group to the government (Bernard. 2007). Tactics

Terrorist groups have a number of tactics they use in carrying out their activities. Their tactics are such that they are not easily suspected by the law enforcement agencies. Terrorism mainly comes as a result of unresolved conflict especially between the terrorist group and the government in power. The terrorist group therefore attempts by all means to frustrate any efforts by the government. This they do in a number of ways. Some of these tactics include religion fanaticism where people are sort of brainwashed to join certain religious groups which tend to control the manner in which people think and make their decisions.

They therefore brainwash people into thinking that the government in power do not have their best interests at heart and this leads to rebellion against the government by the people (Lockyer. 2003). At times, terrorist groups can declare open opposition to the government of the day, as a tactic of carrying out their motives. For example, the very recent attack on the capital city of Uganda, Kampala, is said to be linked to Al Shabab who are opposed to the provision of peace keeping troops in Somalia. Other tactics include depriving the population of their basic economic needs so as to lead to a public outcry.

At times, the terrorist groups can impose that there should be only a certain form of government as opposed to the form of government that currently governs a certain country. For example, in Somalia, the Al Shabaab group has been very opposed to the government of Somali and they have made several attempts to take over the government (Gus. 2009). Targets There are various targets that a terrorist group may have depending on their motives. It also depends on the ideologies and beliefs held by the group.

For example, a terrorist group that is opposed to a certain religion will always target areas that are frequently visited by that group. If it is a multinational company that is at the center of controversy, then top officials may be targeted by the terrorist groups (Bernard. 2007). New Terrorism This term was coined after the September 11 2001 attacks which resulted to death of at least 3,000 people. Although there is not much that has changed in terms of tactics and objectives with the coming of new terrorism, it is believed that this new concept is more destructive than the former.

This is because, while old terrorism aimed at creating attention and making known to the society that the group exists with as little damage as possible, new terrorism aims at creating destruction that is devastating and they will go to any measure to achieve their motives. This means that they objectives of terrorism have changed with coming in of new terrorism (Gus. 2009). Something else to note is that new terrorism is quite organized unlike old terrorism. New terrorism has a hierarchy of command and there are various ranks which move horizontally rather than vertically.

New terrorism is also bended on religion more while old terrorism was bended on political ideologies. With several recent attacks being linked to the Al Qaeda group, these distinctions seem quite true. However, looking at the two concepts from a critical point of view, we note that indeed there is not much difference especially in terms of tactics and target. The new terrorism may seem to have changed the manner in which the dubious activities are carried out, but the underlying principles still remain the same (James. 2010). Role of the Media in Terrorism The media is a powerful tool of communication especially to the public.

This is so because it is able to reach multitudes of people which other forms of communication may not be able to. For this reason, the media has for along time been used by terrorists to advance their propaganda and other terrorism activities. A good example is that of Osama Bin Laden who has always used the media to communicate the threat and hate messages by the Al Qaeda group (Gus. 2009). Due to the number of people the media is able to reach at any given time, the role played by the media either in stopping or encouraging terrorism is quite tremendous.

The language used by the media for instance, when they are reporting on terrorism matters greatly. The words they choose will depend on how the audience of the news will react. A couple of studies have been carried out to establish the relationship that exists between the media and acts of terrorism. On more than one instance, the relationship between the media and terrorism has been described as a symbiotic one. This means that they depend on each other either wholly or partly and that none of the two is considered complete without the indulgence of the other.

The symbiotic relationship exists in this manner that terrorist groups usually use the media to pass their message across to the target groups. On the other hand, when the media receives information from the terrorist groups it is treated as exciting as it will catch the attention of the public hence the media becomes popular (Bernard. 2007). Janny de Graff, in his book Violence as Communication, asserts that more often than not journalists tend to adopt the language of their sources.

This means that whenever a journalist interviews a terrorist, there is a high possibility that the journalist will unknowingly pick the language of the terrorist. If then the journalist will use the same language to report to the public, there are high chances that such a report will result into a public uproar (James. 2010). Terrorism has major impacts on any given country. It is therefore important that governments of all countries guard jealously against terrorism to ensure that all their citizens are protected. Terrorism has seen great countries especially in the Middle East tumble down.

It is not possible to overemphasize the importance of guarding any country against terrorism. It is one of the main ways of ensuring that a country does not fall apart References Adam, Lockyer. (2003). The relationship between media and terrorism, New York: Routlegde. Martin, G. (2009). Understanding Terrorism: Challenges, Perspectives, and Issues, New York: SAGE. Phillips, B. (2007). Understanding terrorism: building on the sociological imagination, New York: Paradigm Publishers. Poland, J. (2010). Understanding Terrorism: Groups, Strategies, and Responses. Washington: Prentice Hall.

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