Types of Terrorism
Terrorism is the use of calculated, unlawful physical force or threats of violence against a government, organization, or individual to gain some political, religious, economic, or social objective. Terrorist tactics include bombing, kidnapping, hostage taking, hijacking, assassination, and extortion (Vetter and Perlstein, 1991). Although terrorists sometimes attack government officials and members of the military, they more often target civilians as a way of pressuring the government. Until 2001, most international acts of terrorism that targeted u.s. interests took place outside of this country. The events of September 2001 were a frightening and shocking experience for people in the United States, who realized that the terrorists whose objectives were not clearly known and whose linkage to anyone government or political regime wasvague-had wreaked immense destruction within our nation's borders, leaving thousands dead and the entire nation fearful for its long-term safety. Around the world, acts of terrorism extract a massive toll by producing rampant fear, widespread loss of human life, and extensive destruction of property.
In 2008, for example, 173 people were killed and more than 300 were wounded in Mumbai, India, when members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based terrorist organization. instigated a series of eight attacks at locations in Mumbai, including the Taj Mahal Palace, a hospital, and a local college. One form of terrorism-political terrorism-is actually considered a form of unconventional warfare. Political terrorism uses intimidation. coercion, threats of harm. and other violence that attempts to bring about a Significant change in or overthrow an existing government. There are at least three types of political terrorism: revolutionary terrorism, state-sponsored terrorism, and repressive terrorism. Revolutionary terrorism refers to acts of violence against civilians that are carried out by enemies of the government who want to bring about political change. Some groups believe that if they perpetrate enough random acts of terrorism. they will achieve a political goal. Members of radical religious or revolutionary movements may engage in terrorist activities sum as bombings, kidnappings. and assassinations of leading officials.The goal of the terrorists is to traumatize a civilian population so that people will put their government under such pressure that political officers and departments of the government can no longer work effectively and can be brought down' (jacquard, 2001). Although exact linkages may be difficult to pinpoint, some revolutionary terrorists may receive assist••l~ from governments that support their objectives (Vetter and Perlstein, 1991). Unlike revolutionary terrorism, state-sponsored terrorism occurs when a government provides financial resources, weapons, and training for terrorists who conduct their activities in other nations. In Libya, for example, Colonel Amaru Qaddafi has provided money and training for terrorist groups such as the.
Arab National Youth Organization, which was responsible for skyjacking a Lufthansa airplane over Turkey and forcing the German government to free the surviving members of Black September. Black September was the terrorist group responsible for killing Israeli Olympic athletes in the 19705(Parry, 1976). The third type of political terrorism, repressive terrorism, is conducted by a government against its own citizens for the purpose of protecting an existing political order. Repressive terrorism has taken place in milny countries around the world, including Haiti, the People's Republic of China, and Cambodia, where the Pol Pot regime killed more than a million people in the live years between 1975and 1979 (Mydans. 1997a).