Terrorism is an element of modern society that cannot be escaped. Acts of terrorism occur during times of war and times of peace. Some are to prove a point, others to show defiance. Terrorism can never be completely eliminated because the human race will always find a reason for there to be violence. No culture is perfect. However, we can take steps to prevent such seemingly senseless attacks. Governments and their citizens must be better equipped to fight terrorism. Terrorism to most is thought of as a matter for the police to handle. This is the mentality that terrorists thrive on. Governments must be on top of terrorists and know the plans before they are put into action. Successful terrorists always find a way to stay one step ahead of the authorities. This has to stop. If a certain group claims responsibility for an act of terrorism, no matter what the motive may be, that group must be attacked with all possible resources. People must be willing to work together and unite. Most of the time, terrorism is the end result of people not getting along. Terrorism is an act of violence used to bring about change. Change can be made in other ways. Lives do not have to be lost.
Terrorism depends heavily on three things: publicity (to get their ideas out to a mass audience, attract attention, and scare the public), discreteness (secrecy), and loyalty (the leader in command has full authority over those who work below he/she). Out of the three, publicity is most likely a terrorists best friend. Without an audience, there is no one to hear a terrorist. There is no reaction. The media just plays into this with 24 hour coverage of hostage situations like the one in late 1997 when a group of terrorists held members of the Peruvian government hostage form an extended period of time. Everyone from Australia to Hawaii knew about that incident. After the media stopped covering the story as it began to get old, it was almost like the incident never happened. Eventually the hostages were released. As far as discreteness goes, terrorists make all of their plans in complete secrecy. Usually in a terrorist group, members who are lower on the group totem pole can only identify one or two members on the inner circle. If governments were to go after these “little fish”, though it would be a slow and tedious process, it could lead to bigger things. Going right to the heart of the problem isn?t always the best way to get something done. Lastly, groups rely heavily on loyalty. That is why authorities must make a firm stand in saying that they will not negotiate with terrorists as the United States has. When a group is hold-up for a long time and their demands are not being met, peoples loyalty is tested. They begin to blame each other and eventually they breakdown.
One of the leading causes of terrorism is a government repressing and persecuting its people and their beliefs. No where is this more true than in Turkey. The epicenter of violence in Turkey is the PKK. The Kurdistan Workers Party, known ass the PKK, is one of the best organized most violent group of terrorists in the world. They are an extremely tight-knit collection of thieves, murderers, fugitives and other hardened criminals. They began their attacks between the late 70?s and early 80?s. In order to understand the PKK?s motives, you must first understand the history of the Kurdish people.
It all started in 1928. For centuries, the Kurds had found a home in a section of the Middle East that is located for the most part in south-eastern Turkey. Because the Kurds could not establish an autonomous nation, they were persecuted by their host states who did not like having the Kurds in their territories (though their dwelling place was located primarily in Turkey, it also stretched into parts of Iran, Iraq, and Syria). Being that the majority of the Kurds were in Turkey, there was a social revolution and many languages and alphabets used by various ethnic groups were banned. The Kurds were one of these minorities and they became subject to a “campaign of repression” . This resulted in an uprise of radical groups. This is where the PKK organization came from.
Between December of 1995 and the fall of 1996, there was a group cease-fire, however there were a few notable PKK attacks including a suicide bombing on a Turkish military parade. 9 were killed and 35 seriously injured. Once the cease-fire ended the PKK was back with a vengeance. The PKK attacks mainly military target, however they have recently been attacking more and more civilian targets in efforts to drive away tourists. They have also been using suicide bombers as their weapon of choice as of late. The PKK has been known to go after targets that the government has deemed secure when in fact they are not.
The tourism industry has become the main focus of the PKK in the last couple of years. Turkish tourism is said to bring in an estimated 8 billion dollars each year so it isn?t hard to see why it would be a target. The PKK figures that if one of the countries leading money makers is shut down and people are driven away from Turkey, then they will be heard. The most casualties that the PKK has accounted for come from bombings of tourist sites and kidnapping of tourists.
The PKK is ruthless. In the last ten years, they can account for over 10,000 deaths of citizens, military personnel and government officials. The reason they are so deadly is because of their following. The PKK isn?t just the PKK. Its the entire body of soldiers.
This body of soldiers includes political, militant, and metropolitan wings. Under each wing is a subdivision. In all the Kurdistan Workers Party has a 4,000 man count which rises every day. For the most part, these are Armenians who came from an underground network of militant trainee?s that is run by Armenian priests. They are trained by the ARGK, a division of the PKK. In order to go after the base organization of the PKK, these smaller divisions, for example the ARGK, must be taken down first. Even a small dent in the system can cause internal problems and, as it has in many cases, cause the downfall of a group. Once they realize they have been penetrated, they begin to accuse each other, and so called “brothers” begin to turn on each other. Because the PKK is such a well organized operation, they will be hard to take down, but the longer we wait, the stronger the PKK will get.
Though the PKK are the most active terrorists in Turkey, they are not the only terrorists in Turkey. There are many groups and rebels who wish to bring down the Turkish government and will go to any extreme to do so. The source of 99% of Turkey?s problems come from the governments repression of minorities. The Turkish government and their people must come to an agreement. Though the Turkish are hosts to these foreigners, they do not have the right to persecute them. This persecution will only lead to more violence. Terrorist Acts in Turkey are in a way, civil rights movements like that of African Americans in our country. Only after riots and killings did America realize it was time for a change. It is time for Turkey to realize this too.
HAMAS is by far the most deadly group in Israel and its surrounding area. The group was founded in 1987 in the Gaza Strip and by 1988 was already being compared to its now rival, the PLO . The groups beliefs lye heavily on Islamic Nationalism. They are a very physical group which is what makes them so dangerous. They prefer an all out assault rather than a negotiation. They recruit young men from the slums and the poorest neighborhoods who because of their living circumstances have grown hateful towards the government. HAMAS provides a harborage for them.
When HAMAS stages a terrorist attack, it is usually a very deadly one. On March 4th , a suicide bomber blew himself up outside of the largest shopping mall in Tel Aviv. Twenty were killed and 75 were wounded. HAMAS claimed responsibility for the deadly blast. On February 25th, another HAMAS suicide bombing killed 25 and injured 80. All of HAMAS?s attacks are rejections of the Israeli peace process (as most acts of terror in the region are). Other Palestinian groups like the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) and Abu Musa?s Fatah-Intifada are beginning to make names for themselves. All of their attacks have been directly linked back to the Israeli-PLO peace process. The common link between all of the terrorist acts in Israel and its surrounding regions is that the persons or groups involved show no effort to negotiate. In this situation, force may be the only answer. Many people have dismissed force in response to terrorism saying that it will only cause more violence. However, people, innocent civilians are dying NOW. There
may not be any other choice. Force should not be the immediate response to a terrorist attack, but it should always be considered. The U.S. has used force successfully in response to terrorism on more than one occasion. In 1986, the La Belle discotheque in West Berlin was bombed and two American service men were killed. President Ronald Regan took swift action and ordered an air-strike on a number of terrorist targets including the training facilities where the bombers of the La Belle discotheque were trained. After the air-strikes (which took place in Libya), Libya noticeably reduced its participation in international terrorist attacks. In June of 1993, it was verified that an assassination plot against President Bush was in the works. Upon hearing this information, President Clinton ordered a Tomahawk missile strike on the headquarters of the Iraqi Intelligence Service which was believed to be where the plans originated. After the missile strike, the I.I.S backed down. These are just two examples of a country “fighting fire with fire”. Perhaps if the Israeli government did the same, the terrorists would be driven out.
Another country in the Middle East which has had continuing problems with terrorist activity is Algeria. The problem in Algeria is security. Though security in Algeria is improving, it still is not enough. Between 1992 and 1996, at least 60,000 individuals were killed by terrorists. These deaths can mostly be accounted for by a number of insurgent groups in the region, like the Armed Islamic Group (GIA). Their focus is civilian targets, namely women, children and journalists. This is what makes them so ruthless. They have no regard for human life. It takes a monster to kill a defenseless child. The GIA is an entire organization full of monsters. In early 1996, they kidnapped and beheaded 7 French monks. This is what happens when people don?t listen to the GIA.
Security must be stepped up in Algeria. The main terrorist target in Algeria is foreigners. Therefore, steps must be taken to better protect tourists and visiting diplomats and officials. This may mean having routine police patrols of tourist sites or 24 hour security at tourist sites if necessary. Force may also be a weapon against them because the GIA does not like lengthy negotiations. However, the GIA has no remorse so this may lead to more violence. The situation in Algeria is a very fragile one. Algeria needs to set down some standards in fighting terrorism. Their current policy towards terrorism is very shaky and is not written in stone. They need to make a definite plan and they need to do it quickly.
Terrorism in the future is leaning more towards “high-tech” than military assault. Because the world becomes more and more diverse with every passing minute, there will be more ethnic and religious conflict which means more violence. The ability of explosives and the availability of weapons increases every day. Then there?s always the ever present threat of nuclear terrorism. In the days in which we live, the smuggling of components for use in chemical and biological warfare is a high priced market that is open to anyone with half a brain. Also, moving to the fore-front slowly, is the threat of information warfare. Some terrorist groups have recruited top-quality “hackers” to break into government systems and steal vital information. Once inside a governments system, one has the ability to access secret files on weapon storage and blueprints and is also able to shut down a system, disabling it and providing a window of opportunity for the terrorists to put a plan into action. The future holds a dangerous and somewhat predictable fate. Terrorism can only increase with the coming of the 21st century unless something is done now.
In conclusion, terrorism can decrease if the proper measures are taken. Ignorance may very well be the key. If we don?t give them the attention they crave and we don?t meet their demands, terrorists will move on. If all else fails, there is force. Governments and citizens as a whole must launch a concentrated effort against terrorism, on a domestic and international scale. If all of this is done, then by the middle of the 21st century, we may not have to worry about getting on a bus in a foreign land or boarding a plane. That will be a thing of the past.