WHY HAS TERRORISM BECOME SUCH AN IMPORTANT ISSUE OVER THE LAST 40 YEARS?
There are many reasons why terrorism has become such an important issue over the last 40 years. In this paper I will be exploring the answers to this question through three related topics; 1) the threat from terrorism; 2) why people join terrorist groups and; 3) dealing with terrorism. I will be using the sources provided and historical facts related to three groups; the IRA, the PLO and Al-Qaeda. Section 1 – The threat from terrorism
Terrorism has been defined in many ways and not everyone agrees with any one definition. The UK government defines it as: “The threat of, for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause, of action which involves serious violence against any person or property.” Over the last 40 years powerful modern states have faced challenges from various terrorist groups using violence and have found it more and more difficult to deal with them. The main threat from terrorism has been serious violence against people and property resulting in deaths and huge damage to properties. Source 1, a sketch by Stanley Franklin in 1985, illustrates this threat in form of a giant vulture over the globe shown to destroy airplanes belonging to different countries. It refers to some of the airplane hijackings by the PLO that took place in the 80’s. It paints the image of terrorists as pure evil, preying on innocent victims with the ability to strike anywhere. Although this reflects some reality it appears to be slightly exaggerated and one-sided as it doesn’t offer any history or explanations for their actions. The PLO also used other methods of attacking and threatening the Israelis such as the event in 1972 in which the Black September Organization (part of the PLO) carried out the Munich massacre of Israeli Olympic athletes. Source 3 is a photograph of the damage done to Canary Wharf, London in 1996 after one of the largest IRA bomb attacks in the UK. It reflects the size of the threat from the IRA and the fact that it used a bombing campaign to hurt and scare people in the hope that the British government gives in to their demands. The source is reliable as visual evidence of the damage caused by IRA bombs and can easily be supported by other historical evidence. The IRA did not only threaten Britain by using a bombing campaign but also in the 1970s and 80s they attacked British troops and the Northern Ireland police. The IRA has been the largest terrorist threat to the UK for almost 70 years. Another group that has threatened and attacked countries is al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda were accused of the 9/11 attacks in 2001 in the US which killed around 3000 people. It was the largest terrorist attack that the US had suffered inside their country. It also probably had the most impact on world events since then. The UK also suffered an attack by al-Qaeda on July the 7th 2005 in London. Source 2 is a very graphic piece of evidence of this attack showing the remains of a London bus which was blown up by one of the suicide bombers on 7/7. It also illustrates the fact that al-Qaeda used a bombing campaign against a number of countries. The source is Reuters which is reliable, and the event is a known historical fact and was covered widely by the media at the time. Section 2 – Why people join terrorist groups
There are many reasons why people join terrorist groups; among them are nationalism, fighting against foreign occupation, misuse of religious beliefs and political ideology. Source 11 is a statement from an IRA volunteer, Shane O’Doherty from the 1970’s. It clearly mentions the reason why he joined the IRA. He joined because he read about the ‘tragedies of Irish history’ which according to him were a result of ‘pure political injustice of British rule in Ireland against the wishes of the Irish people.’ This is what angered him most. This feeling of injustice is also supported by source 7 from a private in the British Army...
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