State-sponsored terrorism is a term loosely used to describe terrorism sponsored by nation-states. As with terrorism, the precise definitions, and the identification of particular examples, are subjects of heated political dispute. In general state-sponsored terrorism is associated with Para-militaries. It is also frequently used in conjunction with state terrorism, which is terrorism committed by nation-states. Terrorism, as defined by Title 22 of the United States code, section 2656f (d), is the "pre-meditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence and audience." Islamic terrorism is a serious problem for the United States because of the threat to national security, innocent civilians, and the foundations of democratic societies throughout the world. State sponsored terrorism has changed in structure and design over the centuries. Jewish zealots conducted campaigns against the Romans in the first century AD, and the Hashshashin, a Shi'ah Muslim group who gave us the word assassin, systematically murdered those in positions and leadership during the 19th century. (White, p131) The modern age of terrorism began in the 1960's. State sponsored terrorism in its current form began in 1968. As the 1970's passed by, the explosion of extremist groups and related incidents sparked a new awareness of the dangers of terrorism. In the 1980's, Canada was the victim of several terrorist attacks carried out by Armenian and Sikh extremists, including a bombing of an Air India flight originating in Toronto, which exploded off the coast of Ireland, killing 329 people (White, p123) The 1995 Sarin gas attack by the Aum Shinrikyo Cult in a Tokyo subway marked a new threshold in international terrorism. For the first time, people began to realize that similar groups could use weapons of mass destruction or plan attacks to inflict maximum casualties. The long-term effects of exposure are yet to be determined, but preliminary tests of eighteen victims conducted in January 1998 showed that their sense of balance was affected by the nerve gas (White, p37) State sponsored terrorism in comparison to domestic terrorism which most of the Islamic world view the West, especially the United States, as the foremost corrupting influence on the Islamic world today. The Hezbollah, an Iranian terrorist group, have labeled the United States as "the Great Satan" (White, p136). This growing animosity that Islamic nations feel toward the Western world has been continually demonstrated by the increase in state sponsored terrorism. However, Muslims view their actions as acts of self-defense and religious duty and not as terrorism. The Islamic radical movement’s main success has been their ability to gain legitimacy from the general public. During the past two decades, they have had enormous success with their ability to present themselves to the Arab and Muslim world as the true bearers of Islam. They appeal to the lower class due to the shared resentment of wealthy westerners while the middle class and intellectuals are drawn toward these radical groups in order to expel imported ideologies and forms of government. Radical Islamic organizations have declared a holy war, Jihad, in order to bring the Arab world together and take their place as a world power. In order to accomplish these goals, Islamic radicals have mainly used terrorism as their main instrument of persuasion. The statutory definition of domestic terrorism in the United States has changed many times over the years; also, it can be argued that acts of domestic terrorism have been occurring since long before any legal definition was set forth. According to a memo produced by the FBI's Terrorist Research and Analytical Center in 1994, domestic terrorism was defined as "the unlawful use of force or violence, committed by a group(s) of two or more individuals, against persons or property to...
White. Terrorism and Homeland Security: Thompson Wadsworth Higher Education; Belmont, CA, 94002; © 2006.
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