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Is Terrorism Ever Justified? Angela Davidson Tara Gracey Allison Hoberg Kathryn O’Brien Terrorism

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Is Terrorism Ever Justified?

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is terrorism ever justified
Is Terrorism Ever Justified?

Angela Davidson

Tara Gracey

Allison Hoberg

Kathryn O’Brien

  • “The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.”
  • Main cause of terrorism
    • “Dissatisfaction with a political or social system or policy, and an inability to change it through ‘mainstream’ or non-violent means”
breaking it down
Breaking it down
  • Paul Wilkinson from the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, University of St. Andrew, defines qualifications of terrorism.
  • “[Terrorism] denotes a particular type of violence. It is not employed as a synonym for politically motivated violence in general
    • It is premeditated and designed to create a climate of extreme fear;
    • It is directed at a wider target than the immediate victims;
    • It inherently involves attacks on random or symbolic targets, including civilians;
    • It is considered by the society in which it occurs as ‘extra-normal’, that is in the literal sense that it violates the norms regulating disputes, protest and dissent; and
    • It is used primarily, though not exclusively, to influence the political behavior of governments, communities or specific social groups.”
examples of terrorist attacks

Car bombs


Shootings and other assaults

Hijacking of aircrafts


Mail/package bombs

Suicide bombers

Examples of Terrorist Attacks
timeline of global terrorism 60s and 70s
Timeline of Global Terrorism 60s and 70s
  • July 21, 1972- “Bloody Friday”
    • IRA attacks killed 11, injured 130 in Belfast
  • September 5, 1972- Munich Olympic Massacre
    • 9 Israeli athletes and 5 terrorists killed
  • December 17, 1973-Attacking and Hijacking at the Rome Airport
    • 33 Americans, Italians, and Moroccans killed
timeline of global terrorism 80s
Timeline of Global Terrorism80s
  • 1985- TWA hijacking and Achille Laura hijacking
    • 145 passengers, 8 crew members held for 17 days
    • Italian cruise liner- 700 hostages
  • 1988- Pan Am Bombing
    • 259 killed when bomb went off while flying over Scotland
    • Believed to have been Libyan terrorists
timeline of global terrorism 90s
Timeline of Global Terrorism90s
  • February 24, 1994- Hebron Massacre
    • Right-wing Jews and US citizen gunned Muslims at a mosque, killing 29 and wounding 150
  • 1995-1998- Various kidnappings, bombings, and attacks by rebel, guerrilla, and military groups around the world
  • 1999- Armed attacks by ELN (National Liberation Army) and Burmese Embassy Seizure
    • 89 people taken hostage, including a US citizen in Bangkok, Thailand
timeline of global terrorism 2000 present
Timeline of Global Terrorism2000-present
  • May 1, 2001-Attacks on UN Personnel
    • 320 kidnapped, 5 killed
  • January-June 2002-Various suicide bombings in Jerusalem
  • May 12, 2003- Truck bombs in Saudi Arabia
    • 34 killed (9 US citizens)
    • Al-Qaida suspects arrested
  • December 31, 2003- Restaurant bombing in Baghdad
    • Car bomb killed 8, injured 35 (including 3 LA Times reporters)
prominent acts of terrorism on americans
Prominent Acts of Terrorism on Americans
  • Oklahoma City Bombing
    • Was the worst terrorist attack on United States soil before 9/11.
  • September 11, 2001- Attack on US Homeland
    • Pentagon, WTC, and hijacked plane killed 3,025 US citizens and other nationals
    • Declared Usama Bin laden prime suspect, Global Coalition Against Terrorism formed
prominent acts of terrorism on americans10
Prominent Acts of Terrorism on Americans
  • May 1, 1961- First US Aircraft Hijacked
  • 1968 and 1969- Two US Ambassadors attacked, one killed in Guatemala
  • 1979- US Ambassador to Afghanistan killed and Iran Hostage Crisis
  • 1983-US Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon bombed followed by Marine barrack attack in Beirut
    • 63 people, CIA’s Middle East Director killed
    • 242 Americans (Marines and bystanders) killed, 58 French troops killed
  • 1986-1989- Many U.S servicemen killed in bombings and assassinations
  • February 26, 1993- World Trade Center Bombing
    • Islamic terrorists-car bomb in underground garage
    • 1000 injured, 6 dead
terrorism incidents worldwide
Terrorism Incidents Worldwide

From 1995-2001, North America, by far, had the fewest number of international terrorist attacks and terrorist related casualties in comparison to other continents.

motivation for terrorism
Motivation for Terrorism
  • Rational
    • Rational Choice Theory
      • When an individual makes a choice after weighing the consequences and rewards of an action or behavior.
      • For example, a terrorist thinks like a business person. The terrorist looks at all options and takes action on the choice that is most cost effective and beneficial to his/her cause.
  • Psychological
    • Arises from the individual terrorist's personal dissatisfaction with a government or political system
    • Antisocial behaviors create “US” vs. “THEM”
    • Believe that everyone outside their own group is EVIL
  • Cultural
    • Cultures shape values and motivate people to take action
can terrorism be justified
Can Terrorism Be Justified?
  • What is considered justifiable by one person or group may not be to another.
  • “In the U.S., the general consensus sees the terroristic actions of abolitionists and American revolutionists as justifiable.”
    • Could also be considered terroristic.
      • Example: John Brown’s raid
reasons for terrorism
Reasons for Terrorism
  • Political
    • Red Army Faction
  • Religious
    • Islamic extremism
  • Ethnic
    • Hate crimes (KKK)
  • Social
    • Individual issues such as anti-abortion
      • Example: “Atomic Dog” – James Kopp
political oppression as reason for terrorism
Political Oppression as Reason for Terrorism
  • Terrorists reason an opposing government will not respond to their demands for political change and they have no other choice than to attack.
  • Terrorists claim the government is no longer responding to the needs of the population.
  • Seek to motivate the population to rise up against the government.
    • Claim that sometimes citizens can only achieve self-rule/independence through the use of revolutionary forces
    • FMLN Attack
religion as justification for terrorism
Religious Extremists

Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Crusaders

Al-Qaeda & Hezbollah’s interpretation of the Qu’ran has convinced many in their groups that it is a necessity to kill Jews and Americans due to a “religious war” against the West.

Emphasize religious duty or the approach of the end of the world

Aum Shinrikyo

Religion as Justification for Terrorism
ethnic differences as a justification for terrorism
Ethnic Differences as a Justification for Terrorism
  • Races often blame the minority group for taking jobs or other economic opportunities.
  • Feel discriminated against because of their race
  • Examples:
    • KKK
    • Nazis
    • “Ethnic cleansing” in Bosnia
    • Genocide in Rwanda
social societal reason as justification for terrorism
Social/Societal Reason as Justification for Terrorism
  • Individual issues lead to “terrorist attacks”.
  • Examples:
    • Anti-abortionist attacks
    • Timothy McVeigh bombing of Murrah building in Oklahoma City (1995)
      • He believed the government no longer represented a majority of its citizens & wanted to initiate a mass public uprising.
      • Wanted to restore America to an all white government.
self defense
Self Defense
  • Terrorism is justified in terms of self defense.
  • If a group is oppressed, then they believe it is their right to retaliate.
    • Means of retaliation may be seen as terrorism by outside groups.
international acts of terrorism
International Acts of Terrorism
  • Israeli/Palestinian conflict
    • Jewish immigration into Palestine began at about the turn of the 20th century.
    • Arabs opposed the division of land by European powers, and they thought that they were being marginalized.
    • Since then, there have been innumerable conflicts and acts of terrorism between the two sides.
    • Terrorism justifiable for the Palestinians because they have been given no other choice.
    • Palestinian children armed only with stones shot at by Israelis.
international acts of terrorism con t
International Acts of Terrorism Con’t
  • Chechnya rebels
    • Chechnya not allowed to separate from Russia despite differences in religion and culture.
      • Chechens predominantly Sunni Muslims
    • Have been subdued by Russia for over a century.
      • Economic reasons -- oil
    • Rebels commit acts of terrorism to gain their independence.
terrorist vs freedom fighter
Terrorist vs. Freedom Fighter
  • Group being attacked calls the acts terrorism.
  • Group attacking calls the acts rebellion.
    • Freedom Fighter- “One engaged in armed rebellion or resistance against an oppressive government.”
terrorism according to powell
Terrorism according to Powell
  • “Terrorists reject democracy, reject openness and have "abandoned civilized means" of making their opinions known through the killing of innocent people,” according to Secretary of State Colin Powell.
    • There can be no political justification and no religious justification for the terrorist attack on a school in Beslan in the North Ossetia region of the Russian Federation.
terrorism unjustified according to most major religions
Terrorism Unjustified…According to most major religions
  • The Christian faith condemns terrorism
    • Psalm 37:8,10-11 Let anger alone and leave rage. Do not show yourself heated up only to do evil…But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.
    • Neutralizing Terrorism- Rev. Bill McGinnis (Christian Universalism)
      • “The moral and religious theories which support terrorism are quite faulty and erroneous. They need to be identified and attacked.”
major religions cont d
Major Religions cont’d
  • Catholicism does not support terrorism
    • Cardinal John J. Conner  “…causing innocent civilians to live in daily fear-these are tactics we find morally loathsome; we condemn them with all our being.”
    • Catholics believe that terrorists are immoral and should be responded to by force only if it is just.
      • Just-War Theory- sets certain conditions that permit the use of war to confront "a real and certain danger"
        • For example, “to protect innocent life, to preserve conditions necessary for decent human existence and to secure basic human rights. “
major religions cont d28
Major Religions cont’d
  • Islam does NOT promote, nor justify terrorism
    • Islam which means submission promotes peace.
    • The Quran states that the religion of Islam forbids the killing of innocent people.
    • “Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loves not the transgressors" (2:190).
      • Verses such as these are construed to fit the ideals of terrorists and are often taken out of their context.
      • When the Qur’an was presented to Muslims, it was in a time of inter-tribal violence. It warned its followers to be prepared to fight only if attacked, and to act with “forgiveness and restraint.”
terrorism unjustified according to bahram soroush
Terrorism Unjustified…According to Bahram Soroush
  • Bahram Soroush is an Iranian leftist and civil rights activist. He is often called upon to interpret the Qu’ran in interviews for international magazines.
    • “Terrorism is an act of violence which is indiscriminate”
    • NO justification for killing innocent civilians
    • Terrorism is no excuse for rising against government oppression
    • The ideology of terrorism is to promote hatred
terrorism and us law
Terrorism and US Law
  • Terrorism is unacceptable according to recent amendments to US law
  • New laws and amendments are being passed to counter and prevent terrorism for the safety of US citizens
  • Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
    • Title II – Foreign Governments supporting terrorism can be sued and victims of terrorism get increased aid and assistance
    • Title III – Ensures that terrorist organizations that are fundraising or receiving financial support are severed from their resources
    • Title IV – “addresses immigration-related terrorism issues”
    • Title V – changes regulations concerning materials owned and used by terrorists that cause “catastrophic damage”
    • Title VI – plastic explosives must have pre-explosion detection devices
terrorism and us law cont d
Terrorism and US Law cont’d
  • Air Commerce and Safety – Security -Title 49, Subtitle VII, Part A, Subpart III, Chapter 449
  • Foreign Intelligence Surveillance - Title 50, Chapter 36
  • Rewards for Information Concerning Terrorist Acts and Espionage – Title 18, Part II, Chapter 204
  • Terrorism- Title 18, Part I, Chapter 113B
  • These laws show that the US will not tolerate any form of terrorism and will punish those who engage in it
group conclusion
Group Conclusion
  • Terrorism is justified because, according to our definitions, every terrorist is also a freedom fighter. Freedom fighting can be justified as a means of evoking social or political change.

Allen, J.C. & Leppman, E.J. (2004) Student Atlas of World Politics (6th. Ed.) Guilford: McGraw Hill/Dushkin.