The Threat of Islamic Terrorism

The Threat
of Islamic Terrorism

With the collapse of the Soviet Union
in the early 1990\'s and the cold war over, the international community
seemed to be on the threshold of an era of unprecedented peace and prosperity.

Instead, a new series of problems was created, like ethnic conflicts, weapons
proliferation, environmental problems, population growth, drug trafficking,
and terrorism. Terrorism, as defined by Title 22 of the United States
code, section 2656f(d), is the "pre-meditated, politically motivated violence
perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine
agents, usually intended to influence and audience." Islamic terrorism
is a serious problem for the United States because of the threat to national
security, the safety of innocent civilians, and the foundations of democratic
societies throughout the world.

Most of the Islamic world view the West,
especially the United States, as the foremost corrupting influence on the

Islamic world today. The Hizballah have taken this further by labeling
the Unites States as "the Great Satan."(22) This growing animosity
the Islamic nations feel toward the Western world has been continually
demonstrated by the increase in international terrorism. However,

Muslims do not view their actions as acts of terrorism, but self defense
and their religious duty. The Islamic radical movements main success
or failure has been their ability to gain legitimacy from the general public
or from the greater part of it in each Muslim country.(14)

During the past two decades, they have had enormous success with their
ability to present themselves to the Arab and Muslim world as the true
bearers of Islam. They appeal to the lower class due to the
shared resentment of wealthy westerners while the middle class and intellectuals
are drawn toward these radical groups in order to expel imported ideologies
and forms of government(*). Radical Islamic organizations have declared
a holly war , Jihad, in order to bring the Arab world together and take
their place as a world power. In order to accomplish these goals,
these Islamic radicals have mainly used terrorism as their main instrument
of persuasion.

The biggest and most active terrorist
organizations are those which are state funded. These organizations
act as both an overt and covert way of spreading the sponsor countries
ideologies. The U.S. Secretary of State has designated seven governments
as state sponsors of terrorism: Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan,
and Syria.(13) These governments support international terrorism either
by engaging in terrorist activity themselves or by providing arms, training,
safe haven, diplomatic facilities, financial backing, logistic and/or support
to terrorists.(13)

Iran is one of the most active
state sponsors of terrorism, involving themselves in the planning and execution
of terrorist acts by its own agents and by surrogates such as the Hizballah.

Tehran conducted 13 assassinations in 1997, the majority of which were
carried out in northern Iraq against the regime\'s main opposition groups.

An example occurred in January 1997, when Iranian agents tried to attack
the Baghdad headquarters of Mujahedin-e Khalq using a supermortar.

Despite sanctions and foreign political pressure, Iran continues to provide
support in the form of training, money, and weapons to a variety of terrorist
groups, such as Hizballah, HAMAS, and the PIJ.(13)

Sudan is another large supporter of terrorist
organizations. The Sudanese Government supports terrorists by providing
paramilitary training, indoctrinization, money, travel documents, safe
passage, and refuge. They also condone many of the objectionable
activities of Iran, such as funneling assistance to terrorist and radical

Islamic groups operating in and transiting through Sudan.(13) Since Sudan
was placed on the United States\' list of state sponsors of terrorism in

1993, the Sudanese Government still harbors members of the most violent
international terrorists and radical Islamic groups.(13)

The countries of the middle east have
found terrorism beneficial for many reasons. First, terrorism is
an inexpensive alternative to fighting a war, while still spreading their
ideology and advancing their political agenda. However, defending
against terrorism is very expensive; the United States spends approximately
five billion dollars annually to guard against terrorism.(11) Random terrorist
acts cause a great amount of psychological damage to the target area. Even
though terrorism kills relatively few people, the random nature by which
innocent civilian are killed evokes a deep fear and insecurity upon the
population. This form of terrorism was successfully used to target tourism
and the economy of Egypt in 1997. Publicity is another benefit
of terrorism. By involving acts which are designed to attract maximum
publicity, terrorism can bring the smallest group to the forefront of attention.(22)

All this is done while exposing the terrorist to minimal risk when compared
to war.

By secretly funding terrorist organization,
the patron state avoids the possibility of defeat and does not appear to
be the aggressor. Modern technology has now made terrorism