Terrorist Attack: Overview
One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.
Terrorism is an abstract concept. Even within the United States, different definitions are used by the Department of Defense, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and Department of State. Outside of the United States, the United Nations and different countries have also defined terrorism in their own ways. The notion becomes even more elusive when one considers the viewpoints of the "terrorists," who often do not see themselves as evil, but freedom fighters or rebels in an ideological or ethnic struggle. In essence, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. For the purpose of our Project, terrorism is a violent criminal act meant to inspire fear and intimidation to influence an audience beyond the victims.
There are a multitude of motivations for committing acts of terror. These include nationalist, religious, racist, political, or ecological impetus. For the purpose of this Project, we will not be focusing on ecological terrorism. Nationalist ideologies often result in terrorism over territorial claims, such as the many separatist movements in the 20th century. Sociological factors such as poverty, discontent with societies and communities often act as catalysts for terrorist acts. The most democratic nations experience the least terror attacks while those with the intermediate political freedom experience the most.
Terrorists can act in an organized group or by themselves. Such groups span the religious, ethnic, and political spectrums. Again, because of the vagueness in definition, several countries have created their own lists of terrorist organizations. In general, these lists include groups such as Hezbollah, Irish Republican Army, Lord’s Resistance Army, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and Al-Qaeda.
Terrorist groups and individuals use a number of tactics to incite fear in a population and to pressure governments to yield to terrorist agendas.
Several terrorists have acted as "lone wolves" but may operate in approval by a group. These "lone wolve terrorists" include the Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, and gunman Buford O. Furrow, Jr.
Terrorist groups and individuals use a number of tactics to incite fear in a population and to pressure governments to yield to terrorist agendas. These tactics include hijacking, assassination, improvised explosive devices (such as roadside bombs), biological and chemical weapons, suicide bombing and kidnapping.