Terrorism remains one of America’s biggest threat since the 9/11 attacks. However, the history of terrorism in America goes back several decades, and over the years, the concept has considerably evolved. Undoubtedly, the US government has over the years committed resources towards dealing with the threat because of the potential threat that it poses on its citizens. All stakeholders, including government agencies, media and the general population strongly support the efforts to fight terrorism(Haner et al., 2020). As the subsequent discussions will show, terrorism features as one of the top priorities for national security bodies including FBI and CIA that deal with the threat at the domestic and international level. Terrorism is multidimensional with different agencies adopting different definitions. Albeit these differences in definition, overlapping themes of their respective meanings include premeditated actions of particular politically or socially motivated group formations that deliberately target civilian population to terrorize them (“Terrorism,” 2016; Rasmussen, 2015National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States,” 2020 ). Primarily, these formations source their motivations from conflicts of cultural frameworks, religious beliefs, political and economic interests. More so, the threat involves the use of combat tactics that aims at causing destruction and/or killing the target groups. According to Homeland Security, terrorism takes different forms including State-sponsored terrorism, dissent terrorism, Political terrorism ( Left-wing and Right-Wing), Religious terrorism and criminal terrorism. In this paper, the concept of terrorism will be explored based on these different forms in the context of the threat that they pose, the challenges they pose to the American population and the particular strategies that have been put in place to ensure that the threat is manageable.
The nature of the terrorist threat is extensive and with the universal threats mainly challenging threatening military, the social, political and economic balance that exists in modern civilizations. In retrospect, the nature of the threat aims to destroy the existing balance of the global world order primarily. According to Kurtulus, (2017), the US, as a leading superpower of this order is a target by these terrorist formations because of its role in maintaining this balance. Notably, by terrorizing US citizens, the terrorist groups intend to destabilize the country and weaken the existing frameworks that maintain the world social order (Kurtulus, 2017). The FBI and Homeland categorize terrorism threat based on the particular threat that they pose and area of operations. For a long time, international terrorism was the primary threat for the US since the 1980s that mainly consisted of foreign-based organizations such as the Taliban that targeted American-based operations overseas, especially in the Middle East. According to some scholars, oil has always been at the centre of international terrorism. However, in the view of this paper, the problem extends further than that because other factors such as religion, culture and criminal behaviour also form part of the whole spectrum that supports these terrorist activities. For domestic terrorism, political ideology has been at the centre of these forms of threats. Arguably, the dissenting groups that engage in domestic terrorism mainly seek to challenge the existing political ideologies that exist in modern American society(Borum & Neer, 2017). In summation, the nature of terrorism activities primarily involves acts of terror that target civilization intending to destabilize the existing order because of the conflicting ideologies in a myriad of issues including religion, political ideology and economic interests.
In their conceptual formations, terrorism is organized in certain groups that share common ideological beliefs regarding a specific issue. For example, jihadists terrorist organizations all share a common hatred of the Americans. In contrast, the black separatist terrorists are driven by supremacist ideologies disregard the existing socio-political fabrics of modern American society(Cooke, 2018, ). The figure below illustrates a summary of the death of American citizens caused by the terrorists as mentioned earlier groups representing both international and domestic terrorism groups.
The threat of terrorism in the US continues to grow as the divisions continue to become diverse. To this end, the challenges posed by terrorism continue to expand as the subsequent sections will show. Despite the increase of these terrorist acts in America, society continues to unite firmly against the threat(Haner et al., 2020, p. ). Figure 2 below shows the shared connections of international terrorists’ organizations. As such, the global threat remains higher compared to the domestic terrorists because, according to multiple theorists, the international terror organizations are very well linked and funded as the figure shows. In contrast, the domestic terrorists are highly decentralized, and the connections are weak as a result of effective security agencies to dismantle the organizations.
The threat of terrorism poses significant risks to the nation, including its security, economy, socio-political stability and foreign relations. Undeniably, as Silva et al., (2019) avows, depending on the particular type of terrorism, the US becomes exposed to a myriad of challenges that undermine key vanguard that define the American nation, its values, economic systems, political systems, social order and most importantly the security of her citizens. First, terrorism attacks are responsible for mass deaths of the American citizens and the destruction of property running into billions over the years. Terrorist attacks also create security threats that undermine the safety of the citizens. For example, the 9/11 attacks led to the mass death of American citizens in American soil(Silva et al., 2019). More so, as figure 1 illustrates, terrorist attacks are responsible for the deaths of innocent civilians in both locally and overseas. The security paradigm affects multiple aspects of American society, including the way that citizens feel safe and conduct their day to day activities(Kurtulus, 2017). Without the element of security, critical public aspects, including commerce, are greatly affected. Terrorism, as multiple reports indicate, has greatly affected the economy of the US. In the post- 9/11 attacks the economy of the nation took a significant toll because of the scare that it created.
Domestic terrorism has, over the years posed considerable threats to the political stability of the country. These attacks have divided the nation along with political affiliations that have strained the political hegemony and co-existence between individuals with different political beliefs. According to Magen, (2018), the domestic terrorist’s organizations such as WCOTC preach supremacist’s ideologies that huge wedge divisions between citizens of different races that affect the unity of the social order that holds together the American society. Extremists right-wing ideologies, by appealing to a significant section of the population continue to be part of a huge problem that advances racial tensions in the US, an issue that has remained very volatile in the nation(Magen, 2018). From this perspective, both domestic and international terrorism, albeit differently, both pose huge threats to the US that not only extend to the socio-political organization of the country but also the economic paradigm of the country. The country’s foreign relations are also greatly challenged as a result of the terrorism threat. In the Middle East, US government is pitted directly against multiple governments such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia who have in the past maintained ties with terrorist organizations such as Taliban because of mutual interests between these groups and the government mentioned above(Karska & Karski, 2016). Consequentially, the foreign relations paradigm of the US government and these governments becomes very complicated. On the one hand, the US government must maintain diplomatic ties with these countries, and on the other, they must ensure that their efforts to deal with the threat of international terrorism must remain a priority. Therefore, these Islamist Extremist groups, categorized as terrorist groups, have over the years been a massive challenge to the nation’s foreign relations policy that at some point almost brought to halt international relations with key partners such as Saudi Arabia. In summation, the challenges posed by Terrorists to the nation are very complex and affects different aspects of the nation’s social, political and international relations. However, the country has taken significant steps towards ensuring that they deal with the threat through enhanced security protocols and intelligence gathering strategies that help to dismantle the terrorist networks both at the domestic level and at the international level.
The Federal government, through the FBI, CIA, Counter-terrorism unit and the military has put in place interventions that have much helped to deal with the threat. First, the government has created frameworks to identify the terrorist organization and its networks, including funding sources(“National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States,” 2020). Through this intervention, the government is in a position to plan effective counter-attacks that target their main base of operations that dismantle these organizations. Second, the US has partnered with other international organizations such as NATO to launch an attack on terrorist group territories across the globe, such as ISIS and Taliban. More so, the country has introduced Economic embargos on states that sponsor terrorism such as Iran, Pakistan and North Korea. Finally, the US is a consultation with other global leaders in the fight against terrorism have created an international framework to curb terrorism activities such as the UNSCR 1373 resolution that outline the obligations of states towards dealing with the threat of terrorism.
To conclude, the threat of terrorism in the US has had a significant adverse impact since the 1980s up until the 9/11 attacks that almost brought the nation to a standstill. The threat not only makes the country vulnerable to a security breach but also seeks to destabilize the very social, political and economic systems of the country. However, the state prioritizes interventions at all levels from the state-level to the national standards that target to dismantle the organizations through attacks and sabotage of their funding networks across the globe. To date, these strategies effectively protect the US against the threat, even as it continues to evolve and expand.
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