The word 'terrorism' is on its own a very ambiguous term. Terrorism for one person might be 'freedom fighting' for another. Since there are no real grounds or lines that can be used to separate the two, we shall, for the context of this paper, refer to terrorism as acts of violence that are tactics of the weak, usually (although not always) against the strong. Another way of describing terrorism would be “those acts of violence that the United States does not support.” In lieu of the view of the United States, we find that the American government and local bodies also consider any type of psychological warfare or terror induction as part of terrorism. The American government views terrorism as a kind of art and science in highly complicated levels. Terrorism, as being a part of the psychological war, is generally a result of putting in action the invasive opinions and activities that already exist or are artificially formed. The events of the sad day, September 11th 2001, are events that have given terrorism a new face in the United States. The extreme turmoil and psychological trauma, not to mention the vast physical destruction of land and people that occurred, have all been deemed as being acts of terrorism. A violent act that destructs and disrupts the normal way of life is an act of terrorism.
Some more definitions of terrorism:
- “All criminal acts directed against a State intended or calculated to create a state of terror in the minds of particular persons or persons in the general public.” (League of Nations, 1937)
- “Act of terrorism = Peacetime Equivalent of War Crime.” (Alex P. Schmid of United Nations Office for the Prevention of International Terrorism. He is the author of many books on terrorism, including Terrorism and the Media, 1992.)
- “Terrorism is the premeditated, deliberate, systematic murder, mayhem, and threatening of the innocent to create fear and intimidation in order to gain a political or tactical advantage, usually to influence an audience.” (James M. Poland, professor of criminal justice at California State University, Sacramento. He has written extensively on terrorism and hostage crisis intervention.)
So it does not necessarily means that terrorism comes from external places. There can be terrorist activities from within the nation and the people of America can also become terrorists. The government of America is aware of this fact and it is looking into both sides of the idea. Looking into this problem has become a major area of study for the American government and many projects and policies have been introduced within the ranks of both the Federal as well as the local government bodies to ensure that no terrorism take place inside America. Aside from this problem of minimizing and ultimately eliminating terrorism from America, the American government has also started a war on all kinds of international terrorism throughout the world. This has led to the innovations and many changes in the attitude as well as the structures of the US Government, both on the Federal as well as the local levels.
The government of the Unites States had already been improvising and innovating new ways of combating terrorism but this process has considerably been sped up after the September 11th attacks. Today, one of the most challenging priorities that the US Government faces is that of preventing, deterring, defeating and responding decisively to terrorist attacks against it citizens, whether these attacks occur domestically, in international waters or airspace, or on foreign soil. All such acts of terrorism are regarded as potential threats to the national security, as well as a violent criminal act, and will apply all appropriate means to combat this danger. To achieve this, the United States is dynamically pursuing hard work to dissuade and forestall such crimes. The governments are working on the clock to apprehend and prosecute directly, or assist other governments in prosecuting, individuals who perpetrate or plan such terrorist attacks.
These efforts have led to the collaboration of many agencies that are coming together and working as one unit to combat the situation. Some of the agencies involved are: Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Emergency (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Many policies and reforms have also been implemented by the Government to ensure the alleviation of terrorist activities throughout the world. One such famous publication is the United States Government Interagency Domestic Terrorism Concept of Operations Plan (CONPLAN). This plan represents a concerted effort by a number of Federal departments and agencies to work together to achieve a common goal. The CONPLAN was developed through the efforts of six primary departments and agencies with responsibilities as identified in Presidential Decision Directive/NSC-39 (PDD-39). This plan has been developed consistent with relevant PDDs, Federal law, the Attorney General's Critical Incident Response Plan, the PDD-39 Domestic Guidelines, and the Federal Response Plan and its Terrorism Incident Annex. (UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT INTERAGENCY DOMESTIC TERRORISM CONCEPT OF OPERATIONS PLAN)
So this is one of the ways that the structure and the aims of the US Government have changed because of the terrorist threat being so eminent. There are many more ways and changes that have been taking place in the world and they have worked to change more and more views and actions taken by the American government during the past two years. The effect of terrorism on the government on all levels has been phenomenal. As mentioned above, many changes have taken place in almost all respects of the government and in many of the different agencies, some of which are those that are not related directly with the terrorist attacks at all. For example, changes in the definition for security in many areas and States have been implemented and people are finding new laws being made and new definitions being defined.
It would be relevant and important to note that “beginning in 48 A.D., a Jewish sect called the Zealots carried out terrorist campaigns to force insurrection against the Romans in Judea. These campaigns included the use of assassins (sicarii, or dagger-men), who would infiltrate Roman-controlled cities and stab Jewish collaborators or Roman legionnaires with a sica (dagger), kidnap members of the Staff of the Temple Guard to hold for ransom, or use poison on a large scale. The Zealots' justification for their killing of other Jews was that these killings demonstrated the consequences of the immorality of collaborating with the Roman invaders, and that the Romans could not protect their Jewish collaborators.” (Hudson) We find that terrorism is not a 'new' concept, but that it has always existed and we have to have a good grasp of the history and how it has treated terrorism to get at explaining how terrorism works today and therefore devise new ways of combating it. Also, it would help to explain how the government and its policies are affected by acts of terrorism.
Hudson, Rex A. “The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism: Who Becomes a Terrorist and Why?” A Report Prepared under an Interagency Agreement by the Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. September 1999