History of Terrorism Historical Depictions Term Paper

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There is a little known revolution being conducted along the French and Spanish borders, where, until just before World War II, in 1937, Basque people lived in what was referred to as "Basque Country," perceived by them to be their country (Nunez Astrain, Louis and Stephens, Meic, 1997, p. 1). While the Basque movement probably is one of the least known and reported on movements, it does occasionally make it to the papers when the level of violence is such that it draws widespread attention.

Basque attaches such importance to his language that he defines himself by his ability to speak it, that is to say, in linguistic terms. He does not refer to himself in terms of race or tribe, or religion, or geographical locality, but exclusively in relationship to his language. In the Basque language, in order to convey that someone is a Basque, one says that he or she is euskaldun, which means more precisely 'Basque-speaking' or 'in possession of the Basque language'. Basque has no other way of saying 'a Basque'. We therefore have a problem in knowing how to refer to those who are native to the Basque Country but do not speak its language; this, however, is only a secondary problem. For the moment, the most important thing is to underline the supreme significance which the Basque has traditionally given to his or her language (Nunez Astrain and Stephens, p. 1)."

The Basque story goes back to the 8th century, and begins with a rising against Charlemagne (p. 70). It began as the Kingdom of Pamploan, becoming the Kingdom of Navarra, and remained independent until the 16th century, when it became folded into the greater campaigns being waged in the are by the greater forces of Spain, France, and:

in 1512 by the troops of the Duke of Alba, who with the connivance of Cardinal Cisneros expelled the Navarrese monarchs Catalina de Foix and Juan de Albret, the invasion winning moral support from the Papal bull, Pastor Illae Caelestis. We do not know whether this bull had been approved by the Spanish Kings or whether they had falsified it, but it excommunicated the Kings of Navarra and declared their Kingdom to be 'without legitimate monarchs', which meant that they would fall to the first invader (p. 71)."

While the intricacies of the Basque resistance are complex, the move for autonomy and independence began anew in the 1980s, with terrorism as its main tool (p. 48). Largely, the Basque move for independence is one that has been quashed by the Spanish government, and efforts have been made to keep the victories on either side out of the press (p. 95). The Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, otherwise known as ETA, is the organization that is behind the move to keep the Basque goal of independence alive.

It should be noted that ETA has never been in favour of indiscriminate terrorism, by which is meant random attacks, but has always chosen its targets carefully. In an interview broadcast by the German television station West-3 on 12 April 1994, ETA made the following statement: 'Our struggle has always been and continues to be selective. If we use a booby-trapped car, it is to strike against our enemies, those who oppress our people, and no one else. On the other hand, while we are aware that there have been mistakes in recent years, the victims were not deliberately chosen. The way we operate does not and will not allow that. There have been blunders and errors and we have given much thought to preventing them from happening again. We try to use methods that will not result in the death of innocent people, for our sole targets are those who oppress the Basque people (p. 36).'

Targeting the United States and other non-Muslim countries, is the terrorist organization Al Qaeda, responsible for the 2001 terror that brought down the World Trade Center in New York City, damaged the Pentagon, outside of Washington, DC, and resulted in the crash of a third commercial jet in a Pennsylvania field. The jet crashed before reaching its target, and its exact destination remains unknown, but it is believed the terrorists on board were attempting to reach a target in Washington, DC.

Since the United States responded by going into Afghanistan, then Iraq, the response of the terrorists has been to escalate the violence, especially in Iraq where the urban setting of Baghdad facilitates their terrorist goals and tactics. Suicide bombers, including women and young children are common event that inflicts damage and death in huge proportions.

Al Qaeda consists of Islamic fundamentalist leadership, but its forces, and especially those young men who fight, who commit suicide on behalf of Al Qaeda, are the product of decades of war in Afghanistan, going back to the Soviet presence in Afghanistan. Many of these young men grew up in refugee camps in Pakistan during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The conditions were horrific, and we can see those conditions in film footage of Darfur today. Young children tied to their mothers' ankles so that they do not go astray; women without the resources to provide for their children, or to create a home. The conditions were psychologically devastating.

When Andrew Silke describes the psychological profile of the average member of Al Qaeda as paranoid, character disorders, pathologic narcissism, and sociopathy; considering the conditions in which these young men grew up, it is predictable (Silkey, p. 33). What was perhaps not predictable was that someone like Osama Bin Lade, responsible for putting into action the terrorist attack against the United States in 2001; would take these young men, and, in returning for a roof over their heads, food in their stomachs and weapons with which to vent their hostility and anger on others; would find in them a seemingly endless source of loyalty to him, Islam, and Bin Laden's perverted jihad against all things and people not Islam.

The young men of Al Qaeda, for the promise of paradise and young virgins (presumably it is okay to sexually exploit young girls and women in heaven); are willing to wrap enough explosives around their waist and walk into a market of their fellow Muslims blow themselves up.

The war being conducted by Islamic fundamentalist is a religious war, not one for geographical gain, or that being waged by a group in response to occupation. It is a war whose roots are religious, driven by fundamental fanaticism for which there is no solution except to confront it.

If the goals of terrorism are to bring down the larger entity by disabling it economically, socially, and morally, then the attack against the United States was successful. 2001 changed the United States, and served to teach other nations that no one country is impenetrable to the forces of terrorism. It is a different kind of warfare, and perhaps the best response is to respond to it likewise, covertly, and in a way that infiltrates and does the most harm at the roots of organizations like Al Qaeda.

Works Cited


Astrain, Luis Nunez. The Basques: Their Struggle for Independence. Trans. Meic Stephens. Cardiff, Wales: Welsh Academic Press, 1997. Questia. 18 Apr. 2008 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=97675920.

A www.questiaschool.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=76801128

Evans, Martin. The Memory of Resistance: French Opposition to the Algerian War (1954-1962). Oxford: Berg Publishers, 1997. Questia. 18 Apr. 2008 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=76801128.

A www.questiaschool.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=107021589

Perdue, William D. Terrorism and the State: A Critique of Domination through Fear. New York: Praeger, 1989. Questia. 18 Apr. 2008 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=107021591.

A www.questiaschool.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=111421241

Silke, Andrew. Terrorists, Victims, and Society: Psychological Perspectives on Terrorism and Its Consequences. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2003. Questia. 18 Apr. 2008 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=111421241.

A www.questiaschool.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=103490735

Smith, M.L.R. Fighting for Ireland? The Military Strategy of the Irish Republican Movement. London: Routledge, 1997. Questia. 18 Apr. 2008 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=103490735.

MSNBC, 2008, found online at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22945797/,18April 2008.

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