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An explosive answer

After browsing through Stephen E. Atkins book Terrorism, I soon learned many

interesting things regarding the history of terrorism. It seems this form of protest has been

around since Biblical times. Also, the main goal of a terrorist is not to do damage to

one peticular person or place, but to gain publicity for an idea they support. (page 1)

Evidence of this can be found by looking at the recent past of the United States. The

Oklahoma bombing was one man's way of expressing his dislike of the government.

The exact definition of terrorism is not a solid line, it is a very wide line that isn't

defined. The general definition of terrorism is an attack of some sort against a person or

place that involves violence and/or destruction of property and is usually politically

motivated. (Terrorism 3)

Our fight against terrorism became something the terrorists might fear in 1970, at

the Hague Convention. This United Nations convention basically defined ...hijacking as a

crime and required contracting states either to allow the extradition of hijackers to their

country of origin, or to prosecute them in the state where they were arrested. (The Terrorists

146) Atkins states that one of the reasons it took so long to do anything about terrorism is

that it is so hard to define, and therefore just as hard to enforce. He also says

Declarations and conventions from the UN have lacked effective enforcement

mechanisms, so they have been ignored by member states and have been characterized as

'largely cosmetic. Basically, the UN is doing this to satisfy the public and little else.

This lack of understanding of the meaning of terrorism has also been a hindrance when law

8:56 PM 12/14/96enforcement was actually implemented. Police aren't trained to handle terrorist type

attacks, instead they handle them like ordinary criminal attacks. (Terrorism 26-27) This gives

the terrorists exactly what they wanted, publicity for their cause.

The media is a terrorists best friend. Without the modern wide-spread media,

terrorism would be worthless. The human nature that makes us stop and look at the

horrible traffic accident is another reason why terrorism is effective. Ask someone 20

years from now what they remember about the 1996 Summer Olympics, and they will say

the terrorist bombing. This event was literally blown out of proportion by the media. It

wasn't a terrorist attack, there was no one taking credit, and no reason for doing it. Any

juvenile delinquent could have easily found this information off the Internet. According to

the infamous Jolly Rogers, homemade weapons are easy to make. He doesn't gloss over

the fact that attempting to make these weapons is usually illegal, and dangerous. There

are approximately 50 different types of illegal activities detailed in the text file, which is

over 100 pages long. This document isn't hard to find to anyone looking.


There are usually a few kids every year who remove fingers trying to build home

made bombs, and those kids are the lucky ones, many have died making the explosive

kitchen creations. One example is the tennis ball bomb. Supposedly, a tennis ball is cut

open and filled with broken off match heads. The only thing the article doesn't mention is

the chances of filling the tennis ball up with match heads before friction ignites the thing in

the builders hands. Another dangerous thing is the light bulb bomb. This is built by

placing black power inside a light bulb. The theory behind it is that the filament will ignite

the power, thereby sending glass fragments throughout the room. The only problem is

when the builder forgets to turn off the light switch before screwing in the explosive light

bulb. ( It is also true that two high school students

built a small nuclear weapon in a chemistry lab from instructions found on the Internet.

Resources like Jolly Roger's Cookbook and the Phreak filez are easily available on the

Internet, but contrary to what most mass-media mediums would like people to believe, the

bomb making instructions do not suddenly jump up on the user's screen. The Internet

user must go out and look for the information, and if they are really that dedicated to their

terrorist cause, the will be able to find the information anywhere, not just the Internet. As

far as the modern terrorist is concerned, the Internet doesn't have any new information

that isn't already easily accessible.

Terrorist form groups to make it easier to get their message across. Atkins has a

very good list of modern terrorist groups. One group is the Arab National Youth

Organization for the Liberation of Palestine. (ANYOLP) This group was found by the

president of Libya, Qaddafi. This group isn't as active as when it started in 1972, but it

was never officially disbanded by Qaddafi. (Terrorism 102) One of the most famous groups is

the Black Panther Party. (BPP) This was founded in the United States in the 1960's, in

Alabama. This groups wasn't really a terrorist group, but more a self-defense group that

pushed the lines of self defense. Most people associate Martin Luther King Jr.'s name

when they hear this group because this was a very racially oriented group. (106) One of

the oldest terrorist groups is the Irish Republican Army. (IRA) It started during the 19th

century when Ireland was fighting for its independence. Unlike other groups, this group is

respected by many people because they are trying to unify the island of Ireland. This

group also has a more radical splinter group called the Irish Republican Army Provisional

Wing. (Terrorism 116-117)

Terrorist groups have also become very good plots for movie makers. The movie

Delta Force is based solely on a terrorist taking over an airplane. There has also been a

movie made recently which shows the Islamic Jihad group of Iran and their attack in 1983

against Marines in Beirut. (Terrorism 118) Another movie that mentions the Islamic Jihad is

"Executive Decision" This is just another example of how the media loves dramatic

stories, and why not, it sells!

I believe terrorism is a very real and very dangerous threat to the United States.

We spend millions to support a large "peace keeping" military, but yet a single terrorist

attack could easily bring our nation to it's knees. The media loves the blood and gore, so

it reports all the details. What paper would print a cover story about the recent Nobel

Peace Prize recipients instead of the recent plane that may have been bombed or the

"terrorist" attack at the Olympic games?


Works Cited

Atkins, Stephen E. Terrorism: A Reference Handbook Santa Barbara, California:

ABC-CLIO, Inc., 1992.

Payne, Ronald and Dobson, Christopher. The Terrorists: Their Weapons, Leaders and

Tactics. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 1982.

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