An Explanation Of Terrorism


An Explanation Of Terrorism Essay, Research Paper

An Explanation of Terrorism

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. (

rykramer/cookbook.html) 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


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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