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US Policy on Terrorism

The term terrorism has been defined by Schmid (1988) as “an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action employed by (semi-) clandestine individual, group or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reasons, whereby – in contrast to assassination – the direct targets of violence are not the main targets. The immediate human victims of violence are generally chosen randomly (targets of opportunity) or selectively (representative or symbolic targets) from a target population, and serve as message generators.

Threat- and violence-based communication processes between terrorist (organization), (imperilled) victims, and main targets are used to manipulate the main target (audience(s)), turning it into a target of terror, a target of demands, or a target of attention, depending on whether intimidation, coercion, or propaganda is primarily sought”.

The United Nations (2006) described it as “the peacetime equivalent of a war crime”, and as stated in General Assembly resolution 49/60, titled “Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism, “Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them.

” The United States Code of Federal Regulations (2007) has defined terrorism as “… the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives. ” According to Laqueur (1999), though the term “terrorism” has been defined differently, it was concluded to have one general characteristic: violence and the threat of violence. A Day of Infamy

On September 11, 2001 nineteen terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda hijacked four commercial passenger airliners and intentionally crashed two into the World Trade Center in New York City, one into the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia and the last one on a field in Shanksville, Somerset County, Pennsylvania. As a result, 2,947 people died and another 24 were presumed dead or missing. The attacks created widespread chaos and confusion across the United States.

All international civilian air traffic was banned from landing on US soil for three days; The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the American Stock Exchange and NASDAQ did not open on September 11 and remained closed until September 17; When the stock markets reopened, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) stock index fell 684 points, or 7. 1%, to 8920 points, the biggest-ever one-day point decline. By the end of the week, the DJIA had fallen 1369. 7 points (14. 3%), the largest one week drop in history. U. S. stocks lost $1. 2 trillion in value for the week.

Numerous harassment and hate crimes were reported against Middle Easterners and “Middle Eastern-looking” people (CNN, 2001). Thousand of tons of toxic debris from the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers led to debilitating illnesses and deaths among rescue workers (Schapiro, 2007) and other people, including children (Lite, 2007) at the vicinity of Ground Zero whom were exposed during and after the attacks. The economic, political, social and health-related effects of that fateful day will forever be etched and remembered in the pages of American history. America Strikes Back In response to the attacks, President George W.

Bush declared a War on Terror – a campaign initiated by the United States and followed by many countries around the world. This was authorized by the United States Congress under the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (Public Law 107-40) passed on September 18, 2001. Presidential Decision Directive 39 stated that it is the United States’ policy to deter, defeat and respond vigorously to all terrorist attacks on directed on US citizens and facilities here and abroad. Terrorism is regarded in all its forms as a potential threat to national security and as a criminal act.

The official U. S. policy on terrorism embraces three stated goals: to make no concessions to and strike no deals with terrorists, to bring terrorists to justice for their crimes, and to isolate and apply pressure to states that sponsor terrorism to force them to change their behavior. One of the foundations of this policy has been the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which provided law enforcement officials with a variety of powers designed not only to help bring terrorist to justice, but to prevent terrorist attacks from happening in the first place.

This act prohibits American citizens and organizations from providing financial and/or material support to terrorist groups. It also requires U. S. financial institutions to block the funding of such individuals and groups. This act also allows the deportation and the denial of U. S. visas to known terrorists. Forty-five days after 9/11, the USA PATRIOT Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) of 2001 also known as Public Law 107-56, was passed by Congress and signed by President George W.

Bush. The Patriot Act substantially expanded the authority of U. S. law enforcement agencies for the stated purpose of fighting terrorism in the Unites States and abroad. Economic, Political and Security Issues The “Terror Economy” According to Napoleoni (2003), the “economy of terror” is a 1. 5 trillion dollar fast-growing economic system, bigger than the GDP of the United Kingdom. Globalization, by lowering international economic and financial barriers, enabled terrorist groups to expand their business during the 1990s.

Terrorist groups have resorted to illegal activities such as arms and narcotics trading, oil and diamonds smuggling to charitable donations and profits from legal businesses – all regulated by an intricate system of finance. The bulk of the $1. 5 trillion “terror money” flows into western economies and gets money laundered in the U. S. and Europe. It is such a vital infusion of cash into these economies that if it were to be cut overnight, the West will plunge into recession. International efforts to curb terrorism financing have so far accomplished little.

As much as $140 million of “terror money” and assets have been frozen since 9/11, 70% of which came from accounts being held in the West. Profits generated by al-Qaeda fronted businesses and donations from the Muslim world still remain untouched. In the mid 1990s, while residing in Sudan, Osama bin Laden acquired 70% of the Gum Arabic Company Ltd, the leading producer of the world’s supply of gum Arabic. Extracted from the sap of acacia trees grown in Sudan, gum arabic is used in a variety of applications which include newspaper printing, soft drinks and pharmaceuticals.

The United States is world’s largest importer of gum arabic. In November 1997, the Clinton administration attempted to impose economic sanctions on Sudan. However, a number of American importers including the Newspaper Association of America and the National Soft Drinks Association of America objected to the move. The Gum Arabic Company Ltd was eventually exempted. Another example would be Haramain Charitable Foundation, a $30 million per year charity which is still active in several countries.

Saudi Arabia has twice agreed to shut down this charity but never accomplished it. So far, the Saudis have frozen $4. 7 million of “terror money” and assets, closed 6 out of 241 Saudi charities and prohibited the collection of donation at shopping mall entrances, not much when compared with UN reports stating that as much as 20% of Saudi Arabia’s GNP went to al-Qaeda’s war chest. As the “War on Terror” continues, and the U. S. is running the biggest budget deficit in history – $500 billion, terrorism is slowly gaining ground.

While the U. S. struggles to cover war costs, terrorists are being fed with an endless supply of cash. Afghanistan Today Afghan politics has historically consisted with power struggles, bloody coups and unstable transfers of power. It has been governed as a monarchy, republic, theocracy, dictatorship and as a pro-Communist state. Today, the government has been restructured as an Islamic republic consisting of three branches (executive, legislative and judiciary) which is overseen by checks and balances.

Afghanistan is currently led by President Hamid Karzai, who was elected in 2004. The current parliament was elected in 2005 which consisted of former mujahadeen, Taliban members, communists, reformists and Islamic fundamentalists. While supporters praise him for his efforts to promote national reconciliation and a growing economy, critics charge him with failure to stem corruption and a growing drug trade, together with a long pace of reconstruction. After leaving the country, the Taliban is now again on the rise.

Now hiding in the wilderness of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, the Taliban has started a guerilla warfare operation. Suicide bombing have picked up ever since and new recruits have emerged. The government’s poppy eradication policies have been linked to the resurgence, since bombing campaigns by international troops destroy the livelihoods by rural Afghans (The Senlis Council, 2007) As of 2006, Afghanistan produced 92% of the world’s illegal opium, involving at least 13% of the country’s population.

As of early 2007, Taliban influence and ideology in Pakistan has continued to spread and scores of people have been executed for being too aligned with the Pakistani government or the U. S. Iraq After Saddam and the Growing Insurgency Despite the defeat of the old Iraqi army, attacks have been conducted against Coalition forces and more recently, the new Iraqi government. Sniper attacks, suicide bombings and ambushes became rampant, resulting to at least 100 dead multinational forces personnel every month.

After the invasion, al-Qaeda took advantage of the insurgency to entrench itself in the country concurrently with an Arab-Sunni led insurgency and sectarian violence. Iraqi politicians have been under significant threat by various factions that have promoted violence as a political weapon. Religious extremists are pushing for the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate, members of the old regime struggle to regain power and Iraqi nationalists fight against the U. S. military presence Terrorism and U. S.

Politics The recent assassination of former Pakistan leader Benazir Bhutto has pushed terrorism to the forefront of U. S. politics. With the 2008 Presidential Elections looming, presidential hopefuls were quick to respond and adjusted their campaign plans. U. S. foreign policies, domestic terrorism, protection of civil liberties, constitutionality of existing counter-terrorism laws – these are just some of the issues that the present and upcoming administration needs to address. National Security At Risk

International terrorism has long been recognized as a serious foreign and domestic threat. (CRS, 2006). Both the timing and selection of targets by terrorist can affect U. S. interests ranging from economic stability, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons to the ongoing Middle East peace process. An increasing number of analysts are expressing their concern that radical Islamic groups are actively seeking to exploit economic and political tension in countries with large Moslem populations such as Pakistan and Indonesia. Such groups are considered as threats to U.

S. foreign policy objectives since they vow to overthrow the secular regimes in these aforementioned countries. On the other hand, some countries are openly providing critical support to terrorist groups. These countries provide a safe haven by supplying funds, weapons and materials. A growing dilemma is that some of these countries also have the capability to manufacture weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and other technologies. A WMD program in a state sponsor of terrorism could enable a terrorist organization to acquire a sophisticated WMD. Four sets of U. S.

Government sanctions are being imposed on state sponsors of terrorism: (1) ban on exports and sales on weapons; (2) control over exports of “dual-use” items that could significantly enhance the listed country’s military capability or ability to support terrorism; (3) prohibitions on economic assistance; and (4) imposition of other restrictions, which include: (a) requiring the United States to oppose loans by the World Bank and other international financial institutions; (b) lifting diplomatic immunity to allow families of terrorist victims to file civil lawsuits in U.

S. courts; (c) denying companies and individuals tax credits for income earned in terrorist-listed countries; (d) denial of duty-free treatment of goods exported to the Unites States; (e) authority to prohibit any U. S. citizen from engaging in any financial transaction with a terrorist-list government; and (f) prohibition of Defense department contracts above $100,000 with companies controlled by terrorist-list states. The U. S.

Department of State (2007) currently lists five countries as state sponsors of terrorism: (1) Cuba, (2) Iran, (3) North Korea, (4) Sudan and (5) Syria. Iran continued to remain the most active state sponsor of terrorism. Its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) continue to support and exhort a variety of groups to use terrorism in pursuit of their goals. The IRGC is increasingly involved in supplying assistance to Iraqi militant groups.

Iran has continued development its nuclear program and has capability of producing biological and chemical agents or weapons, which in turn could be used in the development and production of WMD. Cuba actively continues to oppose the U. S. -led coalition against terrorism and has publicly condemned various U. S. policies and actions. The Cuban Government continues to permit U. S. fugitives to live legally in Cuba and continues to be non-responsive to U. S. Government extradition requests for terrorists harbored in the country.

Cuba maintains close relationships with other state sponsors of terrorism such as Iran and North Korea. The Syrian Government continued to provide political and material support to both Hizballah and Palestinian terrorist groups The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts since the bombing of a Korean Airlines flight in 1987. United States security concerns focus more on the regimes’ WMD programs than on its support for terrorist movements.

On the other end, Sudan has stepped up counter-terrorism cooperation with the United States. It has demonstrated support in regional and global organizations calling for stronger condemnation of terrorism and has pledged to strengthen its laws to better combat acts of terror. Actors involved in the formulation of this policy The key players in the formulation of the USA PATRIOT Act are the following individuals and groups : 1. Congressman Frank James Sensenbrenner, Jr. , who introduced the legislation to the House of Representatives as H. R.

3162 on October 23, 2001. 2. The following committees who considered the legislation on various occasions : (a) the United States House Committee on the Judiciary; (b) the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; (c) the Committee on Financial Services; (d) the Committee on International Relations; (e) the Committee on Energy and Commerce (Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet); (f) the Committee on Education and the Workforce; (g) the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure; and (h) the Committee on Armed Services.

3. The House of Representative, who passed the legislation on October 24, 2001 during the 107th Congress 4. The United States Senate , who passed the legislation on October 25, 2001 5. United States President George W. Bush, who signed the United States PATRIOT Act on October 26, 2001.

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