As the name implies, terrorism is an attempt to provoke fear and intimidation. Therefore, terrorist acts are intended to attract wide publicity and provoke public shock, outrage, and/or fear. The intent may be to provoke disproportionate reactions from governments, and they are intended to achieve political or religious goals, not personal gain.
Many definitions of terrorism exist, produced by the politicians, media, academics, think tanks, and of course by government. Law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies have formulated most of these official definitions. Official definitions have the most impact, because they determine anti-terrorism policy. Most of them outline primary criteria: the target, objective, motive, perpetrator, and legitimacy or legality of the act.
It is commonly held that the distinctive nature of terrorism lies in its deliberate and specific selection of civilians as targets. Furthermore, an act is more likely to be considered terrorism if it targets a general populace rather than if it purposefully targets a specific individual or group. This criterion excludes conventional warfare in accordance with the laws of war, any attacks on military targets (such as the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole), guerrilla warfare and revolution when limited to military targets, and assassination of a head of state or other leader of comparable stature (such as Martin Luther King, Jr.). This criterion may also be held to exclude actions where the attackers make at least some attempt to reduce civilian casualties. For example, the Zionist organization Irgun preceded many, though not all, of its attacks (notably the 1946 King David Hotel bombing) with warnings to the press, the target, or the authorities of the British Mandate of Palestine.
Nevertheless, they were considered to be terrorists by the British. By contrast, groups who use suicide-bombing attacks against civilians (such as Hamas, al-Qaida and the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades) rely on the element of surprise in order to maximize casualties, and therefore never issue warnings. Coercion is not relevant to the definition, as the terrorists do not want the government to do anything specific, they want it to disappear. "The European Union includes the aim of "destabilizing or destroying the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a country" in its 2004 definition of terrorism.
No definition of terrorism has been accepted as authoritative by the United Nations, however, the "academic consensus definition," written by terrorism expert A.P. Schmid and widely used by social scientists, defines terrorism as follows:
Terrorism is an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi-) clandestine individual, group or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reasons, whereby - in contrast to assassination - the direct targets of violence are not the main targets. The immediate human victims of violence are generally chosen randomly (targets of opportunity) or selectively (representative or symbolic targets) from a target population, and serve as message generators. Threat- and violence-based communication processes between terrorist (organization), (imperiled) victims, and main targets are used to manipulate the main target (audience(s)), turning it into a target of terror, a target of demands, or a target of attention, depending on whether intimidation, coercion, or propaganda is primarily sought.
Schmid has also proposed a short legal definition of terrorism to the UN, namely that an act of terrorism should be defined as "the peacetime equivalent of a war crime."
9/11 was a series of coordinated attacks carried out in the United States (U.S.) on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. According to the official 9/11 Commission Report, nineteen men affiliated with al-Qaeda hijacked four commercial airliners, crashing one into each of the two tallest towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan, New York City, causing both towers to collapse. The third aircraft crashed into the U.S. Department of Defense headquarters, the Pentagon, in Arlington County, Virginia, and the fourth plane crashed into a rural field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania near Shanksville, apparently following passenger resistance. The attacks were the most lethal terrorist acts ever carried out in the United States. The September 11th attacks are arguably the most significant events to have occurred so far in the 21st century in terms of the profound economic, social, cultural, and military effects that followed in the United States and many parts of the world.
With jet fuel capacities of nearly 24,000 gallons, the aircraft were turned into flying incendiary bombs. American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the north side of the north tower of the World Trade Center (WTC) at 8:46:40 AM local time. At 9:03:11 AM local time, United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the south tower, covered live on TV. American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37:46 AM local time. The fourth hijacked plane, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed in a field near Shanksville and Stonycreek Township in Somerset County, Pennsylvania at 10:03:11 AM local time, with parts and debris found up to eight miles away. The crash in Pennsylvania is believed to have resulted from the hijackers either deliberately crashing the aircraft or losing control of it as they fought with the passengers. No one in any of the hijacked aircraft survived.
The fatalities were in the thousands: 265 on the planes; 2,595, including 343 firemen and 60 New York City and Port Authority police officers, in the WTC; and 125 at the Pentagon. At least 2,985 people were killed in total. In addition to the 110-floor Twin Towers of the World Trade Center itself, 25 buildings were destroyed or badly damaged, including five other buildings at the WTC site and four subway stations. Communications equipment such as broadcast radio, television and two-way radio antenna towers were damaged beyond repair. In Arlington, a portion of the Pentagon was severely damaged by fire and one section of the building collapsed.
A total of 19 hijackers were later identified, four on United 93 and five each on the other three flights, though confusion remains over their exact names and photographs, with some of those first identified still alive in Saudi Arabia.
The hijackers reportedly took control of the aircraft by using box cutter knives to kill flight attendants and at least one pilot or passenger. On American 77, one of the passengers reported that the hijackers used Leatherman utility knives.
The first public response from Osama bin Laden was read on September 16, 2001. He stated, "I stress that I have not carried out this act, which appears to have been carried out by individuals with their own motivation," which was broadcast by Qatar's Al-Jazeera satellite channel.
This denial was broadcast on U.S. news networks and worldwide. According to American military sources, in November 2001 U.S. forces recovered a videotape from a destroyed house in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, which showed Osama bin Laden talking to Khaled al-Harbi. In the tape, Osama seems to admit planning the attacks, though some dispute the translation provided. The tape was broadcast on various news networks in December 2001. In a 2004 video bin Laden appears to take full responsibility for the September 11th attacks.
The attacks had significant economic repercussions for the United States and world markets, and in the immediate aftermath of the September 11th attacks, the United States and other countries around the world were placed on a high state of alert against potential follow-up attacks. North American air space was closed for several days after the attacks and air travel decreased significantly upon it's reopening. Civilian air travel across the U.S. And Canada was - for the first time ever, almost completely suspended for three days, with numerous locations and events affected by closures, postponements, cancellations, and evacuations. As of 2005, the U.S. airline industry has not fully recovered, and only a handful of American airline corporations are performing well.
Contributing to the problems of the airline industry were a series of price wars and the rising cost of fuel. The price of light, sweet crude oil on NYMEX has been above $50 a barrel since March 5, 2005. After prices retreated for several months during the winter of 2004/2005 they rose to new highs in March and closed at a then new peak of $57.27 a barrel at the beginning of April 2005. On March 16, 2005, the price surpassed the October 2004 high of $55.17, closing at $56.46. On March 18th, the price rose to $57.60. Oil prices jumped to almost $52 a barrel May 27th on expectations of high U.S. gasoline demand over the Memorial Day holiday and amid reports Saudi Arabia's King Fahd had fallen ill. "Any uncertainty in the Kingdom might cause prices to move higher,' said Mike Fitzpatrick, vice president for energy risk management at Fimat USA. 'We'll have to see how much movement there is if and when the King actually dies'"
The attacks on September 11, 2001,defined the first term of President George W. Bush, and led to what has been called the War on Terror, or war against terrorism. The U.S. government increased military operations, economic measures and political pressure on groups it accused of being terrorists, as well as on governments and…