Posts Tagged ‘Terrorism’

5 Myths About Terrorism

Reprinted from the WashingtonPost.com
By Alan B. Krueger

Six years after 9/11, all too many Americans still have only a vague idea of what does — and doesn’t — motivate terrorists. It doesn’t help that many politicians exploit the anxiety that terrorism evokes to promote their own agendas. Here are five key urban legends:

1. Terrorism is a random act carried out by irrational people who hate our way of life.

If only it were that simple. In fact, terrorists are typically motivated by geopolitical grievances, not blind hatred. The agendas of individual terrorist groups vary, but their tactical goal is always more or less the same: to sow fear and confusion by deliberately targeting civilians in order to intimidate a country into changing its policies and ways.

So political calculations are key here. Citizens of countries that occupy other countries, for example, are more likely to be targeted by terrorists. In addition, wealthy democracies are more likely to be the targets of terrorist strikes than are totalitarian regimes, which suggests that terrorists deliberately strike countries that are susceptible to public pressure.

Another reason not to see terrorist attacks as random: They’re often timed to occur when they can have maximum impact, such as the eve of pivotal elections. In Israel, for example, attacks by Palestinian terrorist groups bent on sabotaging peace talks are more frequent before elections when left-wing governments hold power, in hopes of pushing Israeli voters in a more hawkish direction, according to research by Claude Berrebi of the Rand Corporation and Esteban F. Klor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

There’s even a cold logic to the time of day that terrorists pick for their attacks, which also suggests a rhythm that’s far from random. My analysis of U.S. government data from the National Counterterrorism Center reveals that terrorists are most likely to strike in the morning — in time to enter the day’s news cycle.

2. Terrorists are no different than ordinary criminals.

Wrong. Criminals tend to be poor and uneducated. But terrorists tend to come from families with above-average means and are often well-educated. For example, Jitka Maleckova of the Russell Sage Foundation and I found that members of the military wing of the radical Shiite group Hezbollah who were killed in action in the 1980s and early 1990s were better educated and less likely to be poor than their Lebanese countrymen. Other researchers have found similar results for other terrorist groups. People who join terrorist organizations often have legitimate, well-paying jobs, unlike common criminals.

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A Glimmer of Hope

As the war on terrorism drags on and the bodies of the valient defenders of freedom return home in flag drapped coffins it’s easy to loose sight of the far reaching significance of this conflict. Whatever your beliefs are in regards to the reasons we entered this war, we are in it and we are now faced with the reality of it. With all of our comforts and our hecktic busy days it’s easy to forget those sacrificing and those struggling to gain and maintain those coforts we take for granted.

Once in a while it is beneficial to remind ourselves of out successes and the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the subsequent intelligence recieved, the succesfull elections and formation of a fully elected Iraqi government, the strenghtening Iraqi National Guard, and the progressing unification of the Iraqi people are all signs of the beggining of the end of the conflict in Iraq.

The war against terror and the broader struggle against vilionce worldwide is far from over. The recent wave of bombings in Tailand is a stark reminder of how bruttal man can be, however without celebrating the small victories we will never have the courage to win.

In any conflict, weather it be chess or war it is always an incredible advantage to know the motivations of your challanger. In the case of Al-Qaida we have recently obtained a detailed and revelatory document that lays out it’s plan in Iraq and in the greater conflict in the Middle East. It was published by the Associated Press and I have reprinted it below.

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A World United

This morning our friends in England were abruptly reminded of the dark reality of our world. As they rushed on there way to work we read reports that at least six bombs were detonated in the subway and busses of London. Al Qaida has already claimed responsibility and this latest attack reminds us that the war is not won. (more…)