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TERRORISM Political, economical and social implications

Arguments for choosing the theme We have obviously managed to achieve progress in almost all ways and we have built up a global society whose standards of living are higher that anyone living a century ago could have imagined. In the same tie we also managed to make this whole world not so safe a place any more, since some of the nations have suffered large losses because of acts of extreme violence like the acts of terrorism. Since first seeing the themes, I have decided myself for this one because it concentrates, to my mind, the most dangerous and harmful issue that justice is confronted with nowadays. Taking a close look to a flagellum with such a complex structure is interesting and attractive in the same time. Furthermore, I chose this theme because it also allows me to select the representative features of this issue and to make a more realistic impression of how things have evolved up to this point. Lastly, I do believe that we should all put more emphasize on this kind of project themes that inform us more and make us more conscious of the surrounding reality we sometimes neglect. I personally consider terrorism the best example it has various implications and irremediable effects. The concept of terrorism Terrorism does not have a precise definition or a widely accepted one, in spite of the growing significance of terrorist attacks. The difficulty in defining terrorism is a problem of cultural, political and social perception of violence and of the terrorists political goal, emphasized by the emotional meaning of the term. Some governments tend to label as acts of terrorism any violence committed by the members of the opposition, while political sociologists assert the idea that a proper definition cant be given because the elaboration process itself is part of a larger context that questions the political ideologies and objectives. Everybody agrees though that there are two general types of terrorism: national terrorism (exerted by specialized agencies) and the political terrorism (practiced by well trained and strongly motivated groups, at an international or intercontinental level). The definitions maintain the argument that the perspectives change considering the time and place of the attack. Terrorism is a moral problem also and, when giving a definition, one must have in mind the supposition that some types of political violence are amenable, while others are not. Consequently, terrorism has been defined in many ways, implying the idea of force, coercive power, authority and legitimacy. Violence is exerted in many ways, such as kidnapping, taking hostages, murdering, explosions, destruction of public buildings, the sabotage of railways or industrial installations, the producing of infectious disease. Here are some definitions that have been given to this harmful phenomenon: Terrorism is the ensemble of actions and/or threats which represent a public menace and damage the national security, having the next features: they are made by terrorist groups which are motivated by extremist attitudes and conceptions, hostile to other groups against which they act using the violence; they have as purpose the achievement of political objectives; they hint at human and/or material factors from the area of public authorities and institutions and at the civilian population; they have a strong psychological impact on the population, destined to draw attention over the goals the terrorists had in view. Terrorism means using or threatening with using extreme political violence in order to provoke fear, terror, panic among a group of people that is more numerous than the group of the immediate victims. (Heyman 1980) The British laws definition of terrorism is so wide that it includes not only the using of violence to achieve political, ideological or religious goals, but also the perturbation or the 1

serious interference in the function of an electronic device. This law is highly criticized and the ones who are against it have also given some examples to show its exaggeration. For example, if an ecologist would threaten to use a shotgun to destroy his own computer as a sign of protest, he would be considered a terrorist. The purpose of terrorism is affecting not only the social structure, but the individual also, through the distortion of the societys image, which is trusted by all the civilians. In order to be as harmful as it can, a terrorist act must provoke a psychological and emotional disconnection between the societys leadership and its members; it must generate an explosion of comments in the mass-media, having a paralyzing effect on the population. Politically motivated, terrorism always requires an acute sense of frustration, of a political or social injustice, which can only be solved through violence. That is why its self-definition is the tactic of the last solution. More eloquently, Xavier Raufer defines the terrorist phenomenon as the weapon of the weakest pointed at the most powerful or the attack of the wasp against the elephant. There are different types of terrorism, classified according to the purpose of the terrorists or to their ideologies. There is a wrecker terrorism, which tries to damage the relation between the state and the citizens, and a coercive terrorism, whose goal is the despondency of the population. If we talk about their ideologies, the terrorist groups can be religious or ethnic, radical, anarchistic, individual (do not have clear goals), neo-fascist (in some countries they are secretly supported by the government) or groups of ideological mercenaries. The ideological syncretism of terrorism should be considered also, because it is a mixture of anarchism, communism, syndicalism, guerilla warfare, Nazism and Islamic fundamentalism. The terrorists make no difference between different types of governing, for them the enemy is everywhere. The history of terrorism causes The terrorist phenomenon appeared at the beginnings of the mankind. The term was used for the first time though in 1798, in the Dictionary of the French Academy. One of the first forms of organized terrorism at a worldwide level recorded by history was the Zealots movement and the Messianic terror. They were a religious sect of the Siccars who acted in Palestine in the first century. They had the belief that their salvation was possible only if they proved their true faith, no matter the ways or the practices they used, and this is why their violence was justifiable for them. They managed to realize a rebellion of the Hebrews against the Romans, but after that their terror spread in the middle of their own people. Terrorism was firstly used for political purposes in the Medieval Age, when it was initiated by a secret Islamic group called the assassins. They used death threatening and violence in order to extort money from political and religious leaders and terror grounded a new social order. After the 1880s terrorism was associated with antinational movements of the Russians and anarchists who practiced non-selective terror. In the 19th century the peasants from Andalusia, Ireland, Poland and Germany rose against the great landowners and privileged farmers, using terror. In the 18th and 19th century the terrorist acts have been caused by social or political problems and represented a privilege for outcast individuals, lonely assassins who attacked kings, presidents or political leaders from various reasons. The cause of political assassinations is the lack of initiative of the leading classes in solving the serious problems of the society. As the American professor I. Simon says, Violence generates violence. The individual act of violence is the response to a political and social situation. Deteriorated societies, full of social injustices are therefore the favorite place for terrorism. Poverty, corruption and racial segregation are permanently making worse this phenomenon. The final goal of the terrorists is a political one, but some of them claim they protect and support the human rights or they fight in order to obtain their countrys territorial autonomy. In the 20th century terrorism has become a growing threat, its importance being emphasized by the mass-media. The assassination of the Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 led to the 2

First World War, and since then terrorism has been practiced in Europe, The United States of America, Central Asia and Latin America. Terrorists have changed nowadays their way of acting and the damages they produce are more serious. Religious terrorism has intensified and the whole humanity is threatened by the nuclear terrorism, whose effect is destroying the international security. Bioterrorism is the hidden weapon of the 21st century, as biological threats cannot be seen or identified, feature that enhances its power of destruction. Terrorism has started to survive through its own means, making it difficult for the authorities to protect the security of the country. The means of communication and the public institutions have become useful to terrorism, so that specialists came to the conclusion that the first step in fighting the terrorists is learning about them, understanding their motivations and methods and therefore being able to anticipate their attacks or at least limit the damages. Analyzing the terrorist groups, it has been discovered that they have a pyramidal structure, being led by a strongly motivated man, who has a good education and is very charismatic. The next layer is represented by men and women who are trained from an early age and participate in the attacks. The third stratum is made up of persons who are not members of the groups, but support them financially, while the last place in the hierarchy is occupied by passive supporters, persons who know the truth but choose not to say or do anything. After the 1990s, terrorism has been classified as having different forms of manifestation. One of them is the organized terrorism, represented by small groups which cannot win the support of the people and, as a consequence, they act violently (for example IRA, ETA, RAF (Germany) ). Insurgent terrorism is practiced by ethnic separatists or political rebels, while the governments of countries like Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan agree with the financed terrorism. In the last years terrorism has made a lot of victims and groups like ETA or IRA have been in the attention of the media, while the events of the September 11th represented for the United States of America a declaration of war. ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, the Basque homeland and freedom) Terrorism is a major problem for Spain nowadays, ever since ETA has been trying to win the Basque independence through violence, including the use of bombs and murders. ETA was founded in 1959 with the aim of establishing an independent homeland based on Marxist principles encompassing territories like Alava, Vizcaya, Guipuzcoa, Navarra (in Spain), Lapurdi, Baja Navarra and Zuberoa (in France). The first attacks of the group targeted at officials of the Spanish Government, but in 2003, the same year when ETAs political wing, Batasuna, was banned, the group was involved in a violent act in Spanish tourist areas. ETA finances its activities primarily through extortion and robbery, but it is also economically supported by citizens who transmit its ideology and recruit new members. Civilians have rejected this group from the beginning, but few of them have dared to express it aloud. It was during the last ten years when different associations and pacifist groups have begun the fight against the terrorists and condemned their actions publicly. More than 160 members have been imprisoned during 2004 and 2005, but the group continues to exist. Beside the branches in Spain, ETA also counts on its numerous militants from France but, nevertheless, the structure of the group has changed, becoming a diffuse organism whose main goal at the moment is reinforcement. On the 30th of December 2006 ETA claims the bomb attempt at the Barajas airport, making its reappearance in the political life of Spain. IRA (Irish Republican Army) Ever since Ireland was occupied by the British in 1167, the civilians showed a clear opposition towards the invaders. This resistance, peaceful in general, found an effective form of expression when a great number of the population decided they had the right to fight for their freedom after the British Government refused their legitimate wish for independence. The English reign over the Irish dates since the 12th century and Queen Elizabeth I encouraged the immigration of Scottish Protestants at a large scale in the 16th century. During many centuries the rebellions of the catholic 3

majority was put down by the English-Irish minority which became more important and powerful. Under the domination of careless landowners, the Irish population was obliged to adopt a diet made of potatoes, one million people died in 1840 during a national drought and over 2 million Irishmen emigrated in America. An Irish movement for self-government spread at the end of the 19th century, and in 1916 the Irish nationalists launched Easter Rising against the British governing from Dublin, but they were defeated. After that IRA was born, carrying on an efficient guerilla campaign against the British army. The Irish Republican Army is a paramilitary nationalist organization created in 1919 as a clandestine armed wing of the political party Sinn Fein which fights against the British occupation and whose main goal is the independence and the union with the Republic of Ireland. Traditional IRA activities have included bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, punishment beatings, extortion, smuggling, and robberies. In 1921 the group declared an armistice, and in January 1922 some Irish nationalists signed the London treaty with Great Britain. Afterwards Ireland was divided into the Free Irish State (EIRE) and the northern province (Ulster), which remained under English occupation. The civil war broke out right before the pronunciation of the Free Irish State, on the 6th of December 1922 and ended with the victory of EIRE over the Republic of Ireland, in 1923. The Free State was declared independent and democratic in 1937 and, through The Act of The Irish Republic, in 1949, EIRE ceased any relations with the British Commonwealth. The conflicts persisted though in Northern Ireland and IRA was declared illegal in the south. Since then IRA continued recruiting members and practicing terrorism. Using as ideological elements the Catholicism and the Celtic feature of the Irish, IRA carried on subversive methodical actions, which were always targeted at the forces of occupation. During this smothered war, the year 1960 was marked by a popular confrontation in Belfast, where the Protestants attacked the catholic quarters. When IRA killed an English soldier in 1971, London decided that a serious military occupation of the province was necessary. The conflicts continued and on 1972, during a quiet march, the British army attacked the participants, killing 15 people. The event remained known in history as Bloody Sunday and IRA was seen as the last hope for the suppressed Irishmen. With time, IRA divided into Provisional IRA, the Irish National Liberation Army, the Continuity Irish Republican Army and the Real Irish Republican Army, the last and the most radical group. It was only in 1997-1998 when the authorities from London and Dublin worked together in order to cauterize this plague and Ulster was declared an independent province. The groups extensive criminal activities reportedly provide the IRA and the political party Sinn Fein with millions of dollars each year; the IRA was implicated in two significant robberies in 2004, one involving almost $50 million. September 11th The world will never be the same again, someone stated after the terrorist attack on the 11 th of September 2001. And that person was definitely right because since then the world was to carry a permanent fight against the terrorism. The event was perceived by everybody as the beginning of a new era in which everything was doubtful, not safe anymore. The image of the Twin Towers in flames shocked the humankind and drew attention over a problem more profound than the terrorist act itself. The attack symbolized not only the conflict between two international systems, the Islamic and the Western, but the reality of the global war also and the permanent search of the terrorists for new targets and methods of acting. Almost 3000 people died during the attacks, some in the middle of New York, others on a field in Pennsylvania, after risking their lives and taking over a hijacked plane in order to ruin the terrorists plans. The terrorist group Al-Quaeda, led by Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri, had been planning the attack for a long time and they achieved their goals, which are mainly based on human losses rather than material damages. The economy of the USA was also damaged though, and some of the effects are still visible. The transport by plane was particularly damaged and many people 4

refuse this kind of transport because they still remember the horrible attacks. After the terrorist attacks the everyday life of the citizens has changed and the state invaded the public life; nevertheless the authorities also commit errors, killing innocent people just because they seem suspicious or do not follow their precise orders. What astonishes the most is the fact that the United States of America lost the unexpected war on their own territory and the leaders have not yet been caught. The fight against the terrorists responsible for the attacks on September 11 is a confuse war, because the enemy is more and more uncertain and after the second Gulf War the Americans have lost many of their supporters. The population wants answers and punishments, they want clear facts and serious measures. The Islamic terrorism has gained importance after the September 11 events and the main group, Al-Quaeda, benefited by a great attention from the media, fact that enhanced the impact of its ideology. The group has more than 24 branches, spreading even in Brazil, The Filipinas, Indonesia, Paraguay, Sudan, South Africa. Although they claim their purpose is defending the Islamic Law, the terrorists cannot even be named Muslims because they do not respect the basic Islamic principles. AlQuaeda has sympathizers who finance it and help its members escape from the law, as many countries chose not to see the groups actions because they were against America and the actions that Bush undertook in Afghanistan. The conflict in Ceccenia Ceccenia is a republic situated in Russia, at 1600km distance from Moscow. Its population is formed by Chechens (50%), Ingush people (10%) and Russians (35%). The Chechen people converted themselves to Islamism in the 18th century in order to form an alliance with the other Caucasian tribes against the Russians who wanted to conquer their territories. During the 19th and the 20th century the Chechen rebels fought with the Russian army, and in 1991 the members of the Chechen Parliament declared their independence. The first war between the Russians and the population of the republic starts in 1994 and ends in 1996. All the attempts of the Russians to end the conflict have failed because of the violent actions of the Chechen rebels who attacked the capital Grozny after it had been conquered by the Russians. The officials of the two states signed a peace treaty on the 22 nd of August 1996 and the conflict seemed to have ended. But the rebels rose again and the war, which at the beginning had been based on religious grounds, continued. Terrorist activities led by Shamil Basayev took place in order to gain total independence of the province. Towards the end of the year 2002 a group of fifty terrorists, supporters of Shamils ideology, entered a Moscow theatre and took 800 hostages, threatening to kill them if the Russian military forces do not retreat from Ceccenia. After three days of intense negotiations the terrorists were killed, but with them many hostages, innocent civilians died too. Consequently, the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, declared he would continue the war against the Chechen terrorists and terrorism in general. The Gulf War The crisis from the Persian Gulf started on 2 nd of August 1990 when Kuwait was invaded by military forces of the Iraq. In 1993 The United Nations imposed a series of sanctions to Iraq and the obligation that all the weapons of mass destruction be destroyed. Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi president at the time, did not cooperate, in spite of all British and American attacks. The reality that one of the most important oil producers had been occupied in no more than a few hours seemed to be unbelievable for the whole world, but the United States of America were the first to send the army in order to take back the Iraqi territory. The Americans invaded Afghanistan in 2003, event that was called the second Gulf War, claiming that they owned mass-destruction weapons. The inspectors sent by the United Nations found nothing, but the American president George W. Bush attacked Iraq again, on the grounds that they 5

were hiding the truth and supporting the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda. The officials of ONU stated that if the U.S. had not attacked at the time, they would have proved that there were no weapons of mass-destruction in Iraq. The Bush administration did not take this into consideration and formed an alliance with Great Britain, Spain and Portugal, deciding to invade Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein. The alliance encountered a worldwide opposition which condemned the war and considered it useless. Iraq was invaded on 20 th of March 2003, action which was against the International Law. The conflict, during which no weapon of mass-destruction was used, ended quickly and the invaders did not suffer much damage, but the Iraqi army and economy were left in bad condition. There were committed many crimes against humanity and civilians were the ones to suffer the most. Hospitals and important buildings of Baghdad were attacked and the rights or customs of the population were reduced to nothing. After the destruction of the Iraqi state, the United States of America pronounced their victory and the process of occupying Iraq began. The effects of terrorism Terrorism is an important issue of the 20th century, mainly because it has so many negative effects on the humankind and the environment. People have become less trustful after the terrorist phenomenon spread; they have become estranged from one another. The political leaders feel the need of a greater power of controlling the citizens lives. For example the public security must be consolidated and in consequence, some countries have changed the way in which they controlled travelers or tourists who arrived in their country. Supervision cameras have been installed on the streets, subways or buildings in America, France and Great Britain (which also suffered from a terrorist attack). The Patriot Act, adopted in America, is a document which contains measures that do not respect the human rights. The Secret Service can enter someones house without any warning, they have the right to gather information about him/her without announcing and they have rights over any persons private things. Terrorism led to mutations in the security-strategy of the countries and of the military organizations. On the one hand, the globalization process amplifies the mobility and the possibilities of manifestation of the terrorism, but on the other hand the phenomenon creates a new motivation for the democratic countries to make common cause in fighting the terrorism. In the context of a free, democratic society the citizens do not feel they have to protect themselves by taking serious measures like buying a gun. The state is responsible to defend the civilians lives and properties but most governments cannot deal with the menace of the terrorist attacks. In this case, the citizens must find a way to ensure their own safety and make known their economical, political, religious or social interests. Terrorism affects nonetheless the economy, which also suffers because of the weather changes, infectious diseases and conflicts connected to the price of the oil. The threaten of terrorism has emphasized lately, as developed countries seem to be the main target of the terrorists and the fight against terrorism requires large sums of money. Even an economical power like the United States of America lost its economical stability after the September 11 attacks and the tourism of attacked countries always declines after such crucial events. One of the less debated consequences of terrorism is its impact on the environment. Ecologists have stated that the wildlife is seriously affected by the attacks, as well as the natural milieu and the local population. The food and water resources, the energetic and sanitary systems could be destroyed by the weapons (nuclear, chemical, biological) the terrorists use and social instabilities might occur. Peace is certainly one of the most affected elements, as terrorism tends to become an international phenomenon lately. Through its actions, it increases the lack of confidence and even the hostility between countries, even though the states are not directly involved. By carrying on their activity on the territory of a certain country, terrorists groups damage the countrys relations with other 6

states. Many international political powers have tried to establish the limits of their influence during their fight with terrorism, and have therefore come into conflict with other countries. All in all, terrorism is a decisive phenomenon nowadays and, although it is a political problem in its essence, it influences not only the political structures, but the lives of common people also. The necessity of a holistic answer to the terrorist threat is imperative, as this anomaly will be hard to eliminate from the social life without the existence of an international agreement on the issue. The total disappearance of terrorism seems to have become an impossible wish, because the removal of something that is not clear cannot be realized. Many things have changed after the terrorist attacks took place, but many problems remained unsolved. In this worldwide disorder, the future seems to be the only one to have the solution, and maybe things will find the right path in the future.


The age of terrorism , Victor Ionescu. Terrorism the international crime , Balan Oleg. Terrorism , Jean Servier. Public international law , Dumitru Popescu. International terrorism , Tudor Cearapin. Intelligence matters , Bob Graham. Fighting terrorism, Frank J. Cilluffo, Daniel Rankin. Terrorism and globalization , Nicolae Uscoi.