Examining The Issues Of Daily Terrorism Criminology

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Whenever the word terrorism is heard, actual terror seizes the hearts of men and women, the old and the young. There is no denying the fact that people are more aware of terrorism today than they were a decade ago. Names such as Osama Bin Laden bring very sad and unpleasant memories both to those who have directly borne the brunt of terrorism and those who have had the chance to watch the news or read newspapers. For countries such as United States of America, United Kingdom, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Iraq and Iran to name but a few; do understand better, out of experience, the intense magnitude of terrorist activities. Every year memorial ceremonies are held in different parts of the world to mourn the lives that have been lost in the hands of terrorists. It is a sad state of affair that should stir everyone to rise above race, religion and politics and confront the terrorism menace. This paper wishes to explore the possible use of other means apart from the commonly known radical ones to win the battle against terrorism. The weaknesses in terrorist organizations can be exploited to defeat the problem entirely.


According to the 1992 United Nation's definition, terrorism is an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi) -clandestine individual, group or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reasons, whereby - in contrast to assassination - the direct targets of violence are not the main target. Terrorism, whether domestic or International has become a massive headache to the governments across the globe. Be it in Africa, America, Asia or Europe (other continents included), this phenomenon has altered the lives of many, disrupted economic activities and has also led to nations spending fortunes on security measures. It has affected everyone, either directly or indirectly. Those who travel internationally have to contend with rigorous screening processes at different ports of entry in a lot of the nation. In fact, the security procedures have become so intense such that body screening is a common thing most travelers have to endure despite inconvenience caused. Government security agencies are almost always on high alert, in anticipation of a terrorist attacks. The secret service and intelligence agencies are constantly 'sniffing' the air for potential terrorism activities. The inconveniences the travelers go through notwithstanding, the huge budgetary allocations to the agencies that fight terrorism has in the years continued to increase due to the complexity of the issue. Instead, if the ideal situation were to prevail, such funds could be allocated to more worthy projects such as fighting the global warming, food security, education and health care.

The elusive nature of the terrorists and their organizations is the basic reason fighting this menace has become an uphill task for the counterterrorism organizations the world over. Its sometimes faceless nature, the use of the common and ordinary citizens; improved technology has all added a twist to the whole affair. The perpetrators employ different methods to meet their objectives. Their simplistic and sometimes sophistication in planning and preparation has in most cases caught security agencies flat-footed. Sometimes their brazen theatrics involve the use of Person-borne Improvised Explosive Devices (PBIED) and Suicide Vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Devices (SVBIED). They have not stopped there yet as they continually update their methods to carry out spectacular attacks that influence and create media exposure to their course National Counterterrorism Center, (2009).

The statistical data published by United States' agency- National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) in the 2008 and reported in April 2009 reveals a worrying trend. Terrorist activities have risen tremendously. As NCTC (2009) reports, approximately 11,800 terrorist attacks against noncombatants occurred in various centers during 2008, resulting in over 54,000 deaths injuries and kidnappings. The high fatality attacks have doubled since 2007. According to the NCTC report; Kidnapping for ransom has also increased by startling percentages particularly in the Southern Asia region. During the 2008, the incidences surged by 45%. In Pakistan alone, such cases increased by appalling 340% and 100% in Afghanistan.

There is no doubt the fact the world is facing a serious problem in the name of terrorism and terrorist ideologies. While a lot of effort is being made, an urgent solution needs to be identified and implemented to put to an end or at least bring to a reasonable control of the activities of terrorists, which leads to the key question; why has the war on terrorism failed? Could the answer lie in the approach the agencies mandated to fight terrorism use? This research will investigate and explore the possibility of using a more subtle weapon to eliminate terrorism- disruption of the radical approach to exploit the weakness in terrorist organizations. Since other severe measures seem to have failed. The paper will further expose the uniqueness and the importance of de-radicalization of the war on terrorism. The threat of terrorism is real and effective measures should be crafted.


The principal aim of this research is to comparatively analyze whether disruption of the radical process can indeed exploit the weakness of terrorist organizations. To begin with the sources of data, there are many sources of data that will be useful for this study. Data can be classified into two categories, which are primary and secondary data. In order to carry out this research study, both primary and secondary data are essential.

Firstly, secondary data are explained as data that have been previously gathered by someone for some other purposes (Saunders et al, 2007; Steven et al, 2005). There is a variety of secondary data sources that can be used in this study, for example, internal sources collected by the organization, published reports and statistics from journals, articles, books and online resources. However, the limitations of secondary data need to be considered, for instance, unfit data problem, accuracy of data and copyright problem Steven et al, (2005). Despite that, secondary data were primarily used in this study and out of it sufficient information was gathered compared to the primary data; the following information appearing under sub topics have been retrieved largely from secondary sources.

Conventional Counterterrorism Strategies

The United States of America, being at the forefront in the fight against world terrorism; will provide a ground to study the anti-terrorism strategies. In the 2003 report titled National Strategy for combating terrorism; the U.S. outlines measures that were to be taken to defeat terrorism. The words of George W. Bush after the 9/11 terror attack in America carried with it the urgency and the resolve of America and her allies to defeat terrorism. He said, "No group or nation should mistake America's intention: we will not rest until terrorist groups of global reach have been found, have been stopped and have been defeated." Within the structures of legal frame work, all nations were urged to adopt a zero tolerance to terrorism. The U.S. and other European countries have put logistical as well as financial plans in place to facilitate identification of the command and control units of the perpetrators of terror and subsequent pulverization of the entire systems.

Another strategy is, by means of technology and human capabilities, locate the terrorist organizations. They would give substantial information about the modus operandi of these organizations. With such understanding, gathering and anticipating their intentions would be easier. This is to be achieved with the help of other collaborative states.

The eventual result would lead to another strategy; to destroy the terrorists and their organization. Debilitating their capacity to carry out acts of terror would bring a big relief to the world at large. A forceful and aggressive offence strategy would then be used to completely neutralize their capacities.

There are countries blacklisted by America, which do not only sponsor but have also offered a safe haven for terrorism and terrorist elements. Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Cuba, North Korea and Sudan, NSCT (2003) are perceived to have created environments conducive for terrorism to thrive. If these countries stood out against the evils of terrorism and stopped their sponsorship then the bloodline of terrorism would be chocked off but if this does not happen, the possibilities of such dissidents acquiring weapons of mass destruction are very high and the world cannot imagine biological or chemical or radiological weapons in the hands of terror groups such as Al-Qaida.

Change of Tact

Despite concerted effort by different agencies to curb terrorism, the menace still persists which means that the methodology being used is not effective hence the need for a change of tactics and approach. The hard radical/ line angle of fighting terrorism apparently is not good enough. Research has shown that poverty and discontent are powerful tools that may drive someone to the extreme. Instead of the abrasive styles resources should be invested in understanding the weaknesses of these groups to enable anti-terrorism agencies swing in and neutralize the organizations. One of the means is through globalization. Globalization is another theory that has been fronted as a means that could be used to defuse the socioeconomic barriers that exists between nations. However, Joseph Stiglitz sees it differently, he says; Closer integration of the countries and people of the world which has been brought about by the enormous reduction of costs of transportation and communication and the breaking down of artificial barriers to the flow of goods, services, capital, knowledge and (to a lesser extent) people across borders. (Stigltz, 2003)

Biden, (2001) also holds the belief that first tracked globalization causes stresses that largely affect the underdeveloped nations yet at the same time he says that underdevelopment and poverty could be a recipe for discontent. The relative deprivation can lead the dissatisfied to resort to terrorist activities in an attempt to share in the wealth. However, when the countries perceived to be pro-terrorism are integrated into the world affairs, they would feel obliged to work with the other nations against terrorism.

On the other hand from medical perspective, it is commonly believed in the criminology circle; that the understanding of human facto, psychopathology, modus Vivendi and conspirational association of the terrorists could yield a lot of information regarding the weak areas of terrorism that can be taken advantage of. Borum, (2004) states; Our observation about causes that generally seem to be the true and supported by t The best available research is that violence is caused by multiple factors , many of which are strongly related to- and even affect each other. Violence is caused by a complex interaction of biological, social/contextual, cognitive and emotional factors that occur over time.

This belief is shared by Post, (2001) who also agrees that there is what he calls "a broad spectrum" of terrorists who are motivated by different psychosocial factors. Again with investment into understanding the terrorists' psychology, it would not be difficult to identify, penetrate, neutralize and disrupt terrorism. Religious fanatics and misinterpreted religious teachings are often used to brainwash potential recruits because they form the basis of hatred towards particular nations or groups.

Perceived injustice has been recognized as a central factor that can lead to understanding this phenomenon. This theory dates back to the earliest writings Borum, (2004). In fact, in the mid 1970's, Hacker (1978) concluded that remediable injustice is the basic motivation to terrorism. The desire to avenge the wrongs on someone else has fueled terrorism. To shed more light on the same, Ross, (1993) by saying that grievances is the most important precipitant of terrorism. He states further that the grievances may be economic, ethnic, racial, legal, political, religious and or social.

No one is born a terrorist and no father or mother of sound mind would give birth to a child and bring them up, training them in the ways of terrorism. There is no known formal institution whose curriculum covers subjects on becoming the best terrorist. Somehow along the path of growth, the path of development something snaps. This thing that snaps is what has lead to emergence of social misfits who are bent on causing mayhem. This disillusionment is what has given birth to hard line terrorist movements such as the Taliban, al-Shabaab, Al-Qaida. After all is said and done, something urgent needs to be done about children who are born and raised in terrorists prone areas. This is a project that international organizations such as UN, UNICEF among other international bodies should seriously consider. That way, the world will be a safe place where everyone will live under the surety that secure.

Summary of Findings

The real root cause of terrorism is pouched in three main factors that the research has identified; grievances, identity and belonging which co-occur in most terrorist groups or organizations. Luckabaugh et-al (1997) concludes that the real cause of psychological motivation for joining is the great need for belonging, a need to consolidate ones identity . . . is a common factor which acts across all the groups. With this psychological knowledge and the awareness of the operations of the terrorist groups; the battle towards eradicating the vice can now be approached through multi-pronged assault and not just the guns, intelligence and technology. The effort to win the minds the potential terrorists and a critical look at the motivating factors can be the most potent weapon to employ in the war against terrorism. It is necessary to understand the psychological factors driving people to the terrorism activities and try to resolve them at that level. More often young people and vulnerable people (like poor or orphans) have been exploited by terror cells to participate in the atrocities. This is a sample indication of what terrorist's exploit, the society which is deprived of socio-economic factors. Addressing the socio-economic factors like supporting economic activities in terrorist recruitment zone can play a significant role in blocking the cells from recruiting members.

There is need for governments all over the world to seek a common assault on terrorism. The atrocities perpetrated by the terrorists affect not only the victims but also the economy of different states. The perception that is generally held by many that fighting terrorism is the role of America must be worked on. Each country should see the need to join hands with all the others to fight terrorism. The Asian states; particularly Middle East should be actively involved in the fight against the vice. These countries must be bold enough to condemn these dissidents without fear. They should be seen to be actively involved in the fight against terrorism; ideally they should be at the fore front in this battle.

Improved technology has also had a converse effect on terrorism; as the technology improve so do the methods and tactics of terrorism. Nations/ agencies should invest more in technology and information management. Intelligence wings of different nations need to form a solid network, sharing of information and be willing to make sacrifices. The upsurge in terrorism across the world in the last decade should act as an urgent eye opener to all mankind. Education for the masses about terrorism should be given prominence just as the fight against HIV/AIDS has been highlighted. If the war against terrorism is to succeed, the world must speak in one voice.

The disturbing realization is that terrorism is more prevalent in Islam dominated region than in other areas that other religions are prominent. Somalia is presently burning because of the endless fight between government's security forces (flanked by African Union Peace Keepers) and Al-Shabaab. In the same Somalia coasts; terrorism has taken a different face in the name of pirates who have grown so bold that they carry out their dirty businesses miles and miles away from the shores. This has pushed the cost of doing business particularly the imports to and exports from Eastern Africa. It is disappointing to note that international bodies stand to watch as huge, unimaginable sums of money is given as ransom. The effect this has is, while it offers a quick way out of the situation, it actually encourages terrorists activities, this is one way terrorism receives funding by the very governments who are in the fore front in the fight against the vice. Young men drop out of school to become pirates since the pay is quick and attractive; it is one of the most lucrative 'businesses' in the world presently.

The way out of this is for international bodies to get more serious about piracy. The foreign battle ships patrolling the international waters should intensify their operations so that their presence is felt. At no cost should ransom be given to kidnappers and pirates if the anti-piracy war is to be won. Otherwise it would be like pouring grains into a bag riddled with of holes.

A rather interesting area that research should concentrate on is the mind of suicide bomber. The psychological factors need to be considered also. How one should offer himself to die in such a manner could make a good topic for research. The causation factors driving the suicide bombers in some regions like Middle East can be attributed to brainwashing where religious fundamentalism is instilled to the minds of mostly the poor and young. A coordinated co-operation between state intelligence agency and religious leaders like Muslim scholars and Mosque leaders can be effective in pinpointing the behavior of possible suspects. Although this cannot be the only solution it will be necessary also to resolve perceived historical and political conflicts because this is one of the areas used by terror cells to justify their course.


Is terrorism beyond man's capability? Is complete eradication of terrorist activities an impossible task? The answer to these questions is a resounding, NO! While it is understandable that addressing this phenomenon is convoluted and to say the least, a tasking responsibility, it is upon the nations to decide whether terrorism should end or it should be left dormant until something ghastly happens for people to shout and go quiet again; waiting for the cycle to repeat itself. It is interesting to register the kind of unanimous and unequivocal condemnation terrorists receive from the international community's whenever some atrocities have been meted on innocent unsuspecting civilians. Sadly that is the far it goes; condemnation.

Efforts to bring the phenomenon under control have been overridden with differences of approach and conflicting concerns. The metamorphosis terrorism has gone through throws to its handling further confusion. What is believed to be a well elaborated concrete measures has not been effective because they do not address terrorism in its entirety- its effects and consequences. In certain parts of the world, the situation is desperate. A word of caution though; the fight against terrorism should not make an entire nation, race or religion be treated with undue suspicion, harassment and dehumanizing conditions because some members of their group are terrorists.

Which then is the way to go? The first thing that should be done is to disrupt the radical processes in the fight against terrorism and then sensitization of people about the rights of human beings should follow. It should not stop there, promotion and teaching of human rights laws should begin in all schools as part of the curriculum. By this approach, humanitarian laws will become the fundamental weapons that will bring down terrorism. Military operations and counter terrorism tactics on their own are not enough. There is nothing more powerful than a structured collective approach to terrorism.

Article name: Examining The Issues Of Daily Terrorism Criminology essay, research paper, dissertation