Terrorism and Crime
In the twenty-fi rst century. the United States and other nations are confronted with a difficult prospect: how to deal with terrorism. Terrorism is the calculated. unlawful use of physical force or threats of violence against persons or property in order to intimidate or coerce a government. organization. or individual for the purpose of gaining some political. religious. economic. or social objective. A frequently asked question today is this: What is the difference between terrorism and organized crime? According to authorities. the principal distinction between organized crime group~ and terrorist groups is motivation: "Money motivctes organized crime, and ideology motivates terrorism" (Finklea. 2009: 23). However. money is still the linking element between organized crime and terrorism because terrorist organizations typically obtain money for their activities from criminal acts such as money laundering and drug trafficking. How are sociologists and criminologists to explain world terrorism, which may have its origins in more than one nation and include diverse "cells" of terrorists who operate in a somewhat ganglike manner but are believed to be following directives from leaders elsewhere? In order to deal with the aftermath of terrorist attacks. government officials typically focus on "known enemies" such as Osama bin Laden. TIle nebulous nature of the "enemy" and the problems faced by anyone government trying to identify and apprehend the perpetrators of acts of terrorism have resulted
in a global "war on terror." Social scientists who use a rational choice approach suggest that terrorists are rational actors who constantly calculate the gains and losses of participation in violent-and sometimes suicidal acts against ("Politics and Government in Global Perspective") further discusses the issue of terrorism.