Domestic & Foreign Extremist Groups Term Paper

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However, a recent study did not find 'members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to be emotionally disturbed' (Reich, p. 26).

As with the KKK, the IRA trains its members in several types of terrorist actions. Ambush tactics are taught to IRA recruits; they learn how to stalk and attack targets and how to rapidly flee unnoticed. IRA members are trained in the use of a wide range of weaponry and explosives. Similar to the KKK, they are trained in para-military operations. On the training agenda of IRA members is the construction of napalm bombs. Trainees are instructed on the art of torture and are able to practice such skills on prisoners.

Since its inception, the IRA called on the community at large for its support. This synchronization was integral to the organization's cause: the reunification of Ireland and freedom of Roman Catholics. Thus, religion was the common denominator in eliciting widespread support. Hunger strikes have also been a way in which the IRA seeks community backing and action, something absent on the KKK schedule of activities. Battles near the boarder have caught the attention of and influenced society. Car bombs are another method of obtaining social compliance. In particular, the IRA views such destruction and the subsequent expense to repair it sufficient motivation for British government to withdraw.

The IRA targets police, British officials and military establishments, economic centers, and civilians; targets have been in both Northern Ireland and Great Britain. The IRA focus on mainly government institutions and representatives is different from that of the Ku Klux Klan. However, like the KKK, IRA terrorist activities include bombings and executions. Many homes and important buildings were burned during early IRA history, targeting those who disagreed with their movement or those who supported the British. The practice of maltreating and even killing British security sympathizers continues. What's more, the IRA engages in 'kidnappings, punishment beatings, extortion, smuggling, and robberies' (Federation of American Scientists). The IRA claims its actions are not indiscriminate and thoughtless; on the contrary, they state 'the violence has been used for a purpose....[it] is used as a communicative device' (Arthur, 1998).

Social conditions aid the IRA in numerous ways. Naturally, the separation of Ireland prompted the movement. Besides British's refusal of Irish unification, British policies in Ireland have also spurred IRA reactionary activities. During a period of violence, British officials jailed many IRA members; this was viewed by the terrorist organization as yet another instance of discrimination. As a result, scores of new recruits swelled the IRA membership. In fact, any British activity that can be readily identified as unjust to the IRA cause is likely to gather support and provide it additional members.

Just as with the KKK, and in fact with all leaders of terrorist organizations, an examination of an IRA leader sheds light on the inner-workings of this group. Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Fein -- the political arm of the IRA, hails from a Roman Catholic patriotic family whose members were activists. With such a background, it seems unsurprising that Adams would perpetuate his ancestors' desire for social and political change. Just like Simmons of the KKK, he possesses great charisma and has been able to mobilize large groups to unite for a common cause. What's more he has added substantial political clout to Sinn Fein. Adams has been described as an acutely intelligent individual who views violence as a medium of communication. At the same time, however, he has advocated for a less violent resolution to the ongoing conflict. This professed desire for peaceful closure to the Northern Irish conflict is radically different from Simmons's call to violence.

There are many ways in which religious terrorism can be conquered. Logically, the first step toward this objective is to identify both cell groups and members of the extremist organization. It follows that a complete understanding of the grievances and goals of the terrorist group is necessary before any effective and efficient count-terrorism plans can be developed and implemented. Armed with such knowledge, officials are better equipped to devise strategies that can bypass the conditions that typically lead one to join a religious extremist group. In other words, 'a bridge needs to be found between mainstream society and the extremists so that they do not feel threatened and forced to withdraw into heavily armed, seething compounds or to engage in preemptive acts of violence directed against what they regard as a menacing, predatory society' (Hoffman, 1998, p. 16). Social improvement programs certainly serve this end. When citizens have economic, social, and political power over their lives, they are less likely to resort to extreme measures to satisfy such essential needs. In combating terrorism, it is important that officials align their actions with their rhetoric; consistency allows for a systematic approach towards conflict resolution. It is essential that national and international leaders do not merely resort to military reaction; a holistic perspective of the situation is deemed crucial for peaceful outcomes (Hoffman, p. 15). While many strides have been made in combating terrorism, there exist equal numbers of challenges. In order to overcome such obstacles, officials must capitalize on modern technology (i.e., the Internet) so as to continually expand upon their knowledge base, thereby allowing for more efficient and effective counter-terrorism tactics to arise.


Anti-Defamation League (2005). Ku Klux Klan. Law Enforcement Agency Resource Network.

Retrieved September 21, 2005. Web site:

Arthur, Paul (1998). The IRA & Sinn Fein. Public Broadcasting System (PBS) Online.

Retrieved September 21, 2005. Web site:

Federation of American Scientists (2005). Irish Republican Army. Intelligence Resource

Program. Retrieved September 21, 2005. Web site:

Hoffman, Bruce (1998). Old Madness, New Methods: Revival of Religious Terrorism Begs for Broader U.S. Policy. RAND Review, 22(2). Retrieved September 21, 2005. Web site:

Reich, Walter (1998). Origins of Terrorism: Psychologies, Ideologies, Theologies, States of Mind. Washington, D.C: The Woodrow Wilson Center Press.[continue]

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