Federal Bureau of Investigation description

International Terrorism

State Department defines modern terrorism as “premeditated and politically motivated violence by sub-national groups or clandestine agents against non-combatant targets” often to influence a particular audience.

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation describes it as:

…”the use of serious violence against persons or property, or the threat to use such violence, to intimidate or coerce a government, the public, or any section of the public in order to promote political, social or ideological objectives.”

The British government’s formulation for many years now defines modern terrorism as “the use of violence for the purpose of putting the public or any section of the public in fear.” United States domestic law, U.S. Code Title 18 Section 2331, provides a legal definition of international terrorism as used in U.S. courts.

It denotes:

“…violent acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or any State, or… if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State.”

appears to pursue as goals:

“…to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion or affect the conduct of a government by assassination or kidnapping…”

and occurs mainly outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States or transcends national boundaries. Section 2332 proscribes a strict definition and description of modern terrorism as acts “… transcending national boundaries, such as killing, kidnapping and maiming.” On the other hand, international law does not define but proscribes to specific thought central or related to terrorist activities. It uses varying words in referring to intent or motivation to influence certain political persons.

Sources of Modern Terrorism

These are Islamic extremism and Al-Qaeda, which date back from the 13th century. In the time and reign of Charlemagne in Europe, the court of Harun al-Rashid in Baghdad was unrivalled as the patron of the arts, philosophy and literature. The West and the seat of the Islamic world co-existed in harmony until the Mongols crushed Baghdad and its civilization in 1258.

It gave rise to the concept of jihad, a physical struggle to defend Islam against its enemies. The concept has passed on to modern terrorists. Believers in Islam consider their religion perfect. Islamic theologians thus perceive the destruction of their caliphate as an imperfection. The Al-Qaeda ideology, the puritanical form of Islam, evolved from this perception. The Wahhabism movement contributed to the evolution of the Al-Qaeda ideology. In the 18th century, a Saudi cleric Muhammad Abd al-Wahhab decried all deviation from the original precepts and practices in the Koran as blasphemous. He was allied with the Saudi shayks who later acquired power over the Arabian Peninsula in 1932. The Salafism movement of the 19th century also contributed to the Al-Qaeda ideology. It draws from the principles of first-generation Muslims, called the salaf-al-saliheen, meaning “pious ancestors.” Wahhabism and Salafism, though not terrorist in origin, later assumed radical tendencies, which had violent consequences.

Contemporary Terrorism

Political Islam started to take shape since the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

For more than half a century, it evolved from a secular Arab nationalist under Nasser to a Marxist- leftist force to what it is today. Many observers believe that its current form is likely last longer, as it is the product of 13 years of evolution with the Salafi concept at the core. Other factors appear to insure the longevity of Islamic extremism. One is that the anti-Soviet struggle in Afghanistan trained and prepared terrorists and served as a model of successful expulsion of a foreign occupant. The presence of U.S. military forces in Saudi Arabia from 1990 to 1991 became the occasion to expel “the infidel” from their holy lands. The Muslims are now deeply incensed by the Western occupation of the seat of Abbasid in Baghdad. The other factors are Western authoritarian behavior in many Muslim countries, these Western powers’ cynical use of Islam to establish their legitimacy, their failure to institute economic and political reforms, and the impact of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This conflict became the symbol of Muslim humiliation not only in the Arab world but far beyond it. To Islamic extremists, this is a manifestation of a Zionist-Crusader alliance against Islam itself.


The rationale of modern terrorism can be traced back to the policy of propaganda by deed by anarchists of the late 19th century.

Their violence was meant to gain publicity, foment repression and consequently to undermine the government. Their main objective was to create consequences way beyond the immediate victims. This was demonstrated by the September 11 campaign and concluded that Al-Qaeda terrorism had been stalled. In order to succeed, the goal of modern terrorism is to appear irresistible enough for groups to want to trade their weakness for time. That time is the dimension during which to undermine the moral of the target State and in which to increase support for the groups’ support. If their campaign manages to frustrate and humiliate the target State, they can increase the people’s feeling of vulnerability and eventually question the purpose of their government’s anti-terrorist campaign. At the same time, the strategy should never become so extensive as to lead the State to make the groups’ destruction a central goals of its national security policy. Unlike anarchists, modern terrorist groups use names in associating with armies and military organizations, freedom and liberation symbols and righteous vengeance and neutral positions. They claim to have been forced to take up arms and to commit violence. Most of them operate clandestinely because of their weakness. They perform dramatic acts of violence to call attention. These acts of violence are said to be the defining characteristics of terrorism, rather then the motivation or justification.

Money Supply for Terrorism

The search for Usama Bin Laden, freezing his assets or unseating the Taliban could not cripple terrorism.

Many anti-U.S. terrorist groups will simply replace Bin Laden’s group and obtain support from countries, which hate the U.S. Effectively curbing terrorism requires the cutting off of money support to these terrorist groups and their supporters. The September 11 attacks established that all terrorists are criminals and that illegal drugs and money laundering are illegitimate. The United States and the West also incurred huge economic losses to these terrorist attacks. The U.S. lost close to a trillion dollars in lost revenues. The sources of money supplied to terrorists and other international criminals have not been severed. Unless and until the U.S., as the leader, is able to do so, the global war on terror will be lost. The organizations or States financially supporting terrorist groups are a threat to democracy, the free market and freedom. In addition to cutting off money supply, support systems to terrorism must also be dismantled. These are criminal organizations, money launderers, and illegal drug manufacturers and traffickers.

Problems in Combating Global Terrorism

The UN Security Council ordered all member-states to set up legislative and executive measurers to fight terrorism in the state and international levels.

While it is the only approach for effectively dealing with a global threat, five important problems remain. The first is the divergence of views on the exact nature of terrorist threats among member-States. The U.S. designated Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Syria and Sudan as “state sponsors of terrorism,” but not all UN member-states agreed to the assessment. The U.S. should lead in setting a consensus on the nature of the threats while providing sustained attention to the concerns of other States and coming to a common understanding of the threat of terrorism. The second is the selection of the authority to determine who is violating, who is being violated, and who will decide on responses to non-compliance. The Security Council should set minimum standards of compliance to Resolution 1373 and guidelines for dealing with member-States, which will not comply. Below-minimum-standard compliance should incur punitive measures, such as political, economic and even military sanctions. Above-minimum-standard compliance will be rewarded. Decisions will be made by the Security Council members collectively. The third problem concerns the long-term implications of the use of force. The U.S. should take the lead in setting the criteria for the use of force in self-defense against terrorists and State sponsors of terrorism. And the fourth is the implementation of the UN’s counterterrorism measures. Most member-States do not possess the required monitoring and enforcement capabilities. The U.S. And other Security Council members should provide these resources to implement the counter-measures. They should also extend technical assistance and a mechanism to finance counter-terrorism programs in member-States with monitoring and enforcing problems.

The UN can significantly contribute to the campaign against terrorist in four ways.

It can enhance the legitimacy of State actions against State sponsors of terrorism. It can help create international norms and international standards of accountability. It can help share the economic burden of the fight against terrorism, especially with the United States. And the UN can share the political burden as a potent and useful political bulwark in the struggle.

The Global Strategy Against Modern Terrorism

The main elements of “a principled, comprehensive strategy” are to dissuade disaffected groups from choosing terrorism as a tactic in achieving their goals; to deny terrorists the means to undertake their attacks; to deter States from supporting terrorists; to develop State capacity to prevent terrorism; and to defend human rights in the struggle against terrorism.

Terrorist tactics are resorted to because groups think they are effective. Beliefs, such as this, are the root cause of terrorism.

The UN must show that these beliefs are wrong. The UN High-Level Panel is also proposing a clear definition of terrorism for the purpose The second main element should make it difficult for terrorist groups to travel, receive financial support or obtain nuclear or radiological materials. In the pursuit of the third main element, the UN has consistently confronted States, which harbor and help terrorists and applied sanctions. The measure has been effective in restraining these States. This hard line should be maintained and made stronger. Under the fourth main element, UN Resolution 1373 requires every member-State to take measures in preventing terrorism in their respective jurisdictions. The Counter-Terrorism Committee oversees the implementation of the Resolution. The new Counter-Terrorism Directorate will provide technical assistance to poor countries without the capacity for implementing the Resolution. And under the fifth and last main element, human rights must be defended. International human rights experts found that many measures to fight terrorism infringe on human rights and basic freedoms. Compromising human rights counteracts the struggle against terrorism. It enables terrorists to achieve their purpose. It provides them with high moral ground for their motives and creates an environment of hate and mistrust in government among those who are the likeliest recruits.


Annan, Kofi. A Global Strategy for Fighting Terrorism. Madrid: International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security, 2005. Available from http://english.safe-democracy.org/keynotes/a-global-strategy-for-fighting-terrorism.html

Bond, Mark et al. Terrorism and the Law. Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism: MIPT.org, 2008. Available at http://www.terrorisminfo.mipt.org/pdf/Terrorism-and-the-Law-MIPT-Jr.-Fellows-2008.pdf; Internet; accessed 5 Dec 2009

Ehrenfeld, Rachel. Funding Terrorism, Sources and Methods. Los Alamos: Los Alamos

National Laboratory, 2002. Available from http://www.au.af.mil/au/awgate/lanl/funding_terror.pdf; Internet; accessed 5 Dec


Gearson, John. The Nature of Modern Terrorism. Terrorism Research: The Political

Quarterly Publishing Co. Ltd., 2002. Available from http://www.terrorismresearch.net/docs/Gearson.pdf. Internet; accessed 5 Dec 2009

Hutchings, Robert L. The Sources of Terrorist Conduct. Jefferson Literary and Debating

Society: National Intelligence Council, 2004. Available from http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/nic/speeches_terrorist_conduct.htm.

; Internet; accessed 5 Dec 2009

Oudraat, Chantal de Jonge. Combating Terrorism. The Washington Quarterly: The

Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2003. Available from http://www.twq.com/03autumn/docs/03autumn_chantal.pdf.; Internet; accessed 5 Dec


John Gearson. “The Nature of Modern Terrorism, The Political Quarterly; Available from http://www.terrorismresearch.net/docs/Gearson.pdf; Internet; accessed 3 December 2009

Mark Bond, et al. “Terrorism and the Law.” Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, 2008. Available from http://www.terrorism.mipt.org/pdf/Terrorism-and-the-Law-MIPT-Jr.-Fellows-2008.pdf; Internet; accessed 5 December 2009


Robert L. Hutchings. “The Sources of Terrorist Conduct;” Jefferson Literary and Debating Society: National Intelligence Council, 2004. Available from http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/nic/speeches.terrorist_conduct.htm; Internet; accessed 5 December 2009

ibid ibid

John Gearson. “The Nature of Modern Terrorism;” The Political Quarterly: The Political Quarterly Publishing Co., Ltd., 2002. Available from http://www.terrorismresearch.net/docs/Gearson.pdf; Internet; accessed 5 December 2009


Rachel Ehrenfeld. “Funding Terrorism: Sources and Methods;” Los Alamos National Laboratory, 2002. Available rom http://www.au.af.mil/au/awgate.lanl/funding_terror.pdf; Internet; accessed 5 December 2009


Chantal de Jonge Oudraat. “Combating Terrorism;” The Washington Quarterly: The Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2003. Available from http://www.twq.com/03autumn/docs/03autumn_chantal.pdf; Internet; accessed 5 December 2009

ibid ibid

Kofi Annan. “A Global Strategy for Fighting Terrorism;” Madrid: International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security, 2005. Available from http://english.safe-democracy.org/keynotes/a-global-strategy-for-fighting-terrorism.html

ibid ibid

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