The Al-Qaeda group is probably the most popular terrorist group known this century for their very high-profile attacks; their most bold move was the destruction of the World Trade Center, now known today as 911, or September 11th. These motives are said to be of the religious sort, however there are arguments when it comes to the validity of these claims, as it may come off as to discriminate to other Islam who may not share the same views on terrorism (Emerson, 2002).
There are common beliefs in society nowadays which are fueled by a media, which generalize terrorists to be falling under one category (Nacos, 2009). This is of a religious category, Muslims in particular. There are two reasons for this, the main reason is basically ignorance of the Islamic religion, and the other is media sensationalism. There is an impression on a lot of people that terrorism is something to do with religion, or that terrorists are driven and approved by these Islamic laws to part take in the things they do. It is unfair to say that Islamic beliefs promote terrorism because Islam has been around for many centuries, and terrorism is only a recent phenomenon (Asthana, & Nirmal, 2009).
Many believe that the Islamic belief of tawhid, the central belief od Muslims in one god, as well as concentration of violence is part of the Islamic religion (Emerson, 2002). This is highly incorrect because the vast majority of the Islamic world does not take this into practice. There are just some extremists who take these beliefs in to literal as well as political perspectives in order to justify their actions as righteous, and a calling from their god. These extremists strongly believe that tawhid means that only god has the right to sovereignty, thus making democracy, liberation, personal freedom or any of those things which fall under sovereignty, wrong (George & Wilcox, 1996). They also feel that they need to correct it. Thus, these extremists, or jihadists, believe that they must rid the world of all this freedom in order to save their Islamic traditions (Perry, & Negrin, 2009).
"The Islamist terror networks of the twenty-first century are becoming more fluid, independent, and unpredictable entities than their more structured forebears, who carried out the atrocities of 9/11. The present threat has evolved from a structured group of al Qaeda masterminds, controlling vast resources and issuing commands, to a multitude of informal local groups trying to emulate their predecessors by conceiving and executing operations from the bottom up. These 'homegrown' wannabes form a scattered global network, a leaderless jihad" (qtd. Nacos, 2009).
However, this is the other way around with the terrorist group, Al-Qaeda, they are fueled by media sensationalism, and want to offer terror by utilizing new forms of communication and technology (Barkun, 1997). This is seen in their attempts to stir terror by taking video recordings of their attacks.
It comes as a concern to the public when some individuals decide that they should create havoc and terrorize societies (Hudson, 1999). A lot of questions are raised relating to this issue; these questions go into the deeper and psychological genesis of terrorism. Why do these people decide to go with life in this direction? Can terrorists be profiled? Is there a psychotic personality which causes terrorism? These questions cannot merely be generalized to form one answer, as there are many types of terrorism, and each type of terrorism generates from different situations and circumstances (Hudson, 1999). One can only hypothesize on how terrorism is born, and when investigated, a means of stopping the crime may be delivered. There is an assumption that many terrorists share the same profile and have the same characteristics. This can be traced down to the contagion theory of terrorism, where it is believed that there is a relationship with mass media and terrorist acts (Nacos, 2009). This theory has come and gone, being accepted and rejected throughout history with no stable grounds. This is a cause and effect relationship which states that mass-media is definitely where contagion starts and it is responsible for a number of terrorist violence which has grown recently.
Contagion is a crime which has the characteristics of copying other crimes; this is when individuals who are violence-prone are attracted to violence of the political form and are led to imitate them (Nacos, 2009). This is pushed by the mass-media and their sensationalism of terrorist activities. This theory in terrorism has been around for decades, yet no solid conclusion through significant evidences point whether it should be accepted. This is because of the significant changes in the communication and technology which has reshaped the global media landscape. The theory may not be applicable to terrorist acts from the past, as some scholars believe (Nacos, 2009).
Tawhid, as discussed above is an example of a distorted belief which resulted in religious terrorism. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), or otherwise known as the Tamil Tigers, were a terrorist group based in Northern Sri Lanka and was founded in May 1976 (Hudson, 1999). It sought to create Tamil Eelam to be an independent state in the north and east of Sri Lanka. The LTTE was one of the longest running armed conflicts in Asia, and only fell to defeat last 2009 by the Sri Lankan Military. They ran on nationalism based on Socialism and Marxism ideologies (Hudson, 1999). They carried out high profile attacks which included the assassination of a number of high-ranking Sri Lankan and Indian officials. The Tamil Tigers were the pioneers of the suicide belts, where an aircraft was used in some of their attacks. This type of terrorism is nationalistic.
A wave of terrorism had hit Western Europe -- ideological terrorism - and made its big impact in 1985 where Western Europe had climbed its way up to second place in the global terrorism ranks (Nacos, 2009). The Middle East had still remained in its place at the top. Government efforts had tried continuously throughout the years in efforts to counter this type of terrorism, however this only resulted in the intensification and the internalization of political terrorism in Western Europe, with groups such as the Italian Red Brigades and the Irish Republican Army starting to act also with terrorist motives. It was ideology of the radical leftism which had created these new terrorist movements, and they operated in countries close to West Germany. This was stirred by thoughts of nationalism as well as ideologies of anarchism, communism and Marxism which started these groups into taking on actions such as they did.
It can be said that there are three examples which show valid reason to conclude that terrorism is a result of media contagion (Nacos, 2009). Whether it may be the formation of the group, or how media fuels the motivation of causing terrorist attacks, it is still plausible to conclude that mass media plays a big role in the affects of terrorism. By knowing this information, it can be recommended that further studies in this area are to be explored. With this knowledge, the formation of future terrorist groups can be prevented, or caught before a major attack occurs. However, it is difficult to be able to stop terrorism with this information because of the growing capacity of media today and public attention, media sensationalism cannot be averted.
In the past Twenty years the threat of terrorism has been a known threat, but it was not until September 11, 2001 has passed that the American people were forced to accept and deal with the threat of terrorism. Stricter border security, as well as airport, and port security have led Americans into an uneasy sense of homeland Security, but more must be done. American borders must be secured so that Americans can feel a real peace.
When people think of our land borders with Canada and Mexico they think illegal immigrants. This is not always so. If immigrants can get in so easily so can terrorist. On our southern border there is currently no fence, and nothing else to stop terrorist getting in other than couple of thousand border patrol agents spread to thinly to do anything, and a never really functioning sensor system put in during the 19070's (Sensing a Problem). In order to secure the border with Mexico which is the most likely place to cross a minimum of a 700-mile fence and another 6000 more border agents will need to be added (Thompson). Another solution to the problem would be to have motion sensors, satellite surveillance, and cameras mounted on towers, and unmanned aerial vehicles (Sensing a Problem). Federal investigators were able to bring radioactive substances into the United States at two different crossing points were there was supposedly technology able to detect radioactive substances (Kutz). If the immigrants can walk right through the border so can terrorist and this is not acceptable starting now steps need to be taken to correct this.