| Terrorism, the deliberate creation and exploitation of fear for bringing about political change.All terrorism acts involve violence or—equally important—the threat of violence. These violent acts are committed by nongovernmental groups or individuals—that is, by those who are neither part of nor officially serving in the military forces, law enforcement agencies, intelligence services, or other governmental agencies of an established nation-state.
Terrorists attempt not only to sow panic but also to undermine confidence in the government andpolitical leadership of their target country. Terrorism is therefore designed to have psychological effects that reach far beyond its impact on the immediate victims or object of an attack. Terrorists mean to frighten and thereby intimidate a wider audience, such as a rival ethnic or religious group, an entire country and its political leadership, or the international community as a whole. Terrorist groups generally have few members, limited firepower, and comparatively few organizational resources. For this reason they depend on dramatic, often spectacular, bloody and destructive acts of hit-and-run violence to attract attention to themselves and their cause. Through the publicity generated by their violence, terrorists seek to obtain the leverage, influence, and power they otherwise lack.
The word terrorism was first used in France to describe a new system of government adopted during the French Revolution (1789-1799). The system of government de la terreur (Reign of Terror) was intended to promote democracy and popular rule by ridding the revolution of its enemies and thereby purifying it. However, the injustice and violent excesses of the terreur transformed it into a feared instrument of the state. From that time on, terrorism has had a decidedly negative imply. The word, however, did not gain wider popularity until the late 19th century when it was adopted by a group of Russian revolutionaries to describe their violent struggle against tsarist rule. Terrorism then assumed the more familiar antigovernment associations it has today.
Chemical weapons, such as nerve gas and other chemical agents that kill or disable, were first used
in World War I (1914-1918) but have since been largely outlawed by international treaties. However, some
governments continue to possess chemical weapons. Aum Shinrikyo, a Japanese terrorist group, released
chemical sarin gas in a Tokyo subway in 1995 in an unsuccessful attempt to kill thousands. This attack
raised concerns that other terrorists might also use chemical weapons, which are relatively easy to make.
However, chemical weapons are difficult to release over large areas and are less likely than nuclear or
biological weapons to cause mass disasters.
Biological weapons, in the form of death causingl or infectious toxins and bacteria, represent a potential
terrorist weapon that could have catastrophic effects. Small amounts of such materials, which are difficult
to detect and highly portable, could kill many thousands. Like chemical weapons, biological substances
have been developed for military purposes, but they have almost never been used. Most governments
have signed the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention that outlaws such weapons. Some governments,
however, had or still have biological weapons programs, and the technologies for making biological
substances such as anthrax and ricin are widely available. The U.S. counterterrorism community is working
to detect, prevent, and minimize the medical consequences of terrorist attacks using chemical or biological
Terrorism has existed for at least 2,000 years and is likely to remain a fixture on political agendas,both domestic and international, for years to come. Terrorism provides a means by which the weak can face much stronger opponents. It therefore has a challenging appeal to the alienated and the disenfran-chised, the painfull and revengeful, the powerless and the would-be powerful. In addition, it is relatively ine-xpensive to conduct while offering a vast potential payoff: the ability to introduce fear and alarm and inflict pain and suffering in the hope of forcing agreement to demands made. Terrorism, moreover, is evolving constantly to overcome governmental countermeasures designed to defeat it. Terrorism thus involves an ongoing search for new targets and unidentified vulnerabilities in its opponents. This enquiry also raises the possibility that terrorists may possess unconventional means of attack, such as chemical, biological, or radiological (radioactivity-spreading) weapons, or nuclear weapons.Future terrorist skills could include cyberterrorism (wilful destruction using computers to destroy computer networks or systems) or electronic warfare that targets critical infrastructure, such as communications and power facilities, or societies in general. Throughout the world, terrorism reinvents itself in new and more dangerous forms. As older groups are defeated or exhausted, more radical and more violent successors often take their place. Although terrorism likely can never be completely removed, countering its threat requires continuing watchfulness. The highly individual nature of terrorism’s causes, the diversity of its perpetrators, and the complexity of its fundamental characteristics present enormous challenges to those who must effectively counter this threat.
In the same speech to Congress, Bush suggested that the top priority of his administration would be a campaign to end terrorism. He affirmed that all the evidence collected at that point indicated that al-Qaeda was the organization responsible for the September 11 attacks, and he promised that a U.S.-led war on terrorism would begin with a drive to eliminate that organization. But in a key expansion of U.S. antiterrorism efforts, Bush said the United States would not only target the terrorist organizations themselves, but also those governments that support them. “Every nation in every region now has a decision to make,” Bush said. “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.
From this day onwards, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile system of government.”That warning, new in U.S. foreign policy, came to be known as the Bush Doctrine.The administration of previous U.S. president Bill Clinton had launched cruise missiles against al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan after the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa, but did not hold the Taliban system of government itself responsible for al-Qaeda’s activities. Bush, on the other hand, said the Taliban leaders must“hand over the terrorists or they will share in their fate.” The Taliban authorities ignored the warning. On October 7, 2001, a U.S.-led international coalition launched military operations in Afghanistan intended to force out the Taliban system of government from power and eliminate al-Qaeda activities there. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld advised that the war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces would be unconventional and partly covert. However, it started as a typical modern militants.
There was widespread skepticism about the prospects for early success, given the difficulties the USSR encountered in Afghanistan in the 1980s and the supposed fanaticism of Taliban and al-Qaeda followers. Indeed, progress in the war was slow at first, but by mid-November the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces were in trouble.
After some hesitation, U.S. commanders decided to work closely with the Northern Alliance, an anti- Taliban rebel force in northern Afghanistan. CIA operatives and elite Special Operations troops secretly
entered the country and worked in close coordination with Northern Alliance troops. The U.S. military advisers helped the rebels with their military skills and arranged U.S. air strikes in support of rebel offensives on the ground. The advisers included trained “onwards air controllers” who carried with them technological devices that enabled them to pinpoint enemy troop positions or military equipment and then guide U.S. pilots to drop bombs precisely on those targets. United States bombs were subsequently dropped with greater accuracy than in any previous military operation.The combination of anti-Taliban rebel forces, acting under the advice and counsel of U.S. advisers, and precision U.S. bombing proved decisive.
Taliban and al-Qaeda forces were routed across the country, and by December 2001 the Taliban system of government had been driven from power. Hundreds of al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters were taken prisoner. However, Osama bin Laden himself and other top al-Qaeda leaders evaded capture, as did the leader of the Taliban, Mullah Mohammed Omar. Hundreds of al-Qaeda fighters scattered into the mountains of eastern Afghanistan or crossed into Pakistan, where they continued to pose a security threat. The remaining pockets of al-Qaeda strength prompted renewed fighting in Afghanistan in March 2002, but by then the war on terrorism was already shifting elsewhere. United States Special Operationsforces had been deployed in support of antiterrorism operations in the Philippines. United States officials reported that al-Qaeda cells were active in more than 50 countries, and Bush reasoned the United States that the war on terrorism would be a long one. Some success in that war came in early 2003 when Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind behind the September 11 attacks, was arrested in Pakistan and taken into U.S. custody.Some of the war on terrorism would consist of military action, but as the hunt for al-Qaeda spread to other countries, it became more of a law enforcement operation.Success depended on tracking the finances and communication network of al-Qaeda, and these efforts required close cooperation with other governments.
At times, however, the war on terrorism was a lonely path for the United States. Bush’s admonition that countries must decide whether they are “with us” or “with the terrorists” sounded to some governments as if the United States were dividing the world into zones of good and evil, much as it had during the Cold War. And Bush administration officials made it clear that other countries should defer to U.S. leadership in the worldwide war on terrorism. “The United States and only the United States can see this effort through to victory,” said Vice President Dick Cheney in February 2002. This unilateral stance displeased some U.S. allies in Europe, who felt they should be treated as partners.