Balwan Nagial
Balwan Nagial

9/11 in the US and State of Terrorism

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, many people of the US were tried and charged with acts of terrorism or other organised crimes, but some of them have died before being convicted or prosecuted.  Nevertheless, they all were broadly stated to have been involved in terrorist-related criminal activities. The rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Sriya (ISIS) has led to an extraordinary surge in terrorism cases. On the other hand, there have been cases every year since the 9/11 terror attack. As the years have passed since the highest of ISIS’s impact, the number of terrorism-related cases has decreased. As per the report total of 471 people were charged with terrorism-related activities.  Nine people were from outside the country. Furthermore, a total of 39 people have died so far who were charged.

Aftermath 9/11, conservative understanding says that the jihadist terrorists’ danger was overseas. This conformist thinking is comprehensible because 19 hijackers from Arab countries permeated into the US and conducted the 9/11 terror attacks. Yet today, like Anwar al-Awlaki, the American born cleric who became a leader in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, put it in a 2010 post, “Jihad is becoming as American as apple pie.”(Terrorism in America After 9/11 – New America  https://www.newamerica.org)

Unlike being infiltrators from outside, the vast majority of the people charged with terror activities terrorists in the US have been citizens or legal residents of America. Furthermore, while an array of citizenship rules are embodied, every terrorist who carried out a deadly attack in the US since 9/11 was a citizen or legal resident apart from one who was in the US as part of the US-Saudi Arabia military training partnership.

Why do these terrorists engage themselves in terror-related criminal activities? As a matter of fact, it is challenging to ascertain why they (terrorists) commit terror-related criminal activities. After studying many cases in this database, court documents, interviews and correspondence with the charged people and many other people, it is not evident why they engage in terror activities. Indeed, there will be no forthright answer for this query. Yes, some people do complain about the foreign policy of the US. Religion ideology can be a significant factor.

Nevertheless, above all the personal attributes play a more significant role in this whole phenomenon of terrorism. The process of ‘Radicalisation’ has influenced some people, but others do not. Nor does it appear that they are either ‘mentally sick’ or ‘criminals’. Finally, it can be concluded with remarks of Immanuel Kant, “From the crooked timber of humanity, not a straight thing was ever made.”

Horgan found that people who are more open to terrorist recruitment and radicalisation tend to:

  • Feel angry, alienated or disenfranchised.
  • Believe that their current political involvement does not give them the power to effect real change.
  • Identify with perceived victims of the social injustice they are fighting.
  • Feel the need to take action rather than just talking about the problem.
  • Believe that engaging in violence against the state is not immoral.
  • Have friends or family sympathetic to the cause.
  • Believe that joining a movement offers social and psychological rewards such as adventure, camaraderie and a heightened sense of identity.

Besides the distinct features of terrorists, Horgan has concluded that it is more beneficial to explore how people change over a while due to their involvement in terrorist activities rather than asking why they enter this arena in the first place. He has found that asking why tends to yield pat, ideological responses while asking how reveals essential information about entry, involvement, and leaving organisations. Potential areas to probe consist of examining the myriad ways people join organisations, whether via recruitment or personal decision; how leaders influence people’s decision to adopt specific roles, for example, by glorifying the role of a suicide bomber; and factors that motivate people to leave.

After studying 350 terrorist cases, Bergen wrote in his article published in The New York Times, “The easy explanation that jihadist terrorist in the US is “mad” or “bad” proved simply wrong. Around one in 10 had mental health problems, below the incidence in the general population. Nor were they typically career criminals: Twelve per cent had served time in prison, compared with 11 per cent of the American male population. Perpetrators are generally motivated by a mix of factors, including militant Islamist ideology, dislike of American foreign policy in the Muslim world, a need to attach themselves to an ideology or organisation that gave them a sense of purpose and a ‘cognitive opening’ to militant Islam that often was precipitated by personal disappointment, like the death of a parent. For many, joining a jihadist group or carrying out an attack allowed them to become heroes of their own stories.”

What is the threat of terrorism to the US and the world? The primary terrorist danger today in the US can best be gauged from the signals across the political gamut, omnipresent firearms culture, political polarisation, etc. Various other factors could be combined with the power of online communication and social media, which generate a complex and varied threat of terrorism cutting across the ideologies which are disconnected mainly from traditional understandings of terrorist organisations.

Terrorism poses a direct threat to the security of global citizens and international stability and prosperity. It is a persistent global threat that knows no border, nationality or religion, and is a challenge that the international community must tackle together.

A recent tendency in terrorism gives the impression to be toward slackly organised, self-financed, international networks of terrorist organisations. Furthermore, fundamentalist Islamist groups, or groups using religion as an excuse, pose a severe threat to the US and many other countries in the world. Of concern, as well as the growing political participation of extremist Islamist parties in various countries. The apparent growth of cross-national links among different terrorist organisations is also substantial, involving combinations of military training, funding, technology transfer, or political advice.

Impending over the whole issue of international terrorism is the spectrum of production of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Various Islamic countries are supporters and sponsors of terrorism. They have been secretly conducting and now openly seeks uranium enrichment.  North Korea has both admitted to having a clandestine program for uranium enrichment and claimed to have nuclear weapons.

Reports have also shown that many terrorist organisations have attempted to acquire chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons.

Counter-terrorism. Since terrorism is a worldwide occurrence, policymakers’ most critical challenge is maximising international cooperation and support without unduly compromising vital national security interests and options of nations involved in counter-terrorism. Other significant policy challenges include (1) how to minimise the economic and civil liberties costs of an enhanced/tightened security environment, and (2) how to combat incitement to terrorism, especially in instances where such activity is state-sponsored or countenanced.

The decision-makers would be prudent enough to espouse a general outline for the flexible counter-terrorism policy to empower manoeuvrability to tackle the dynamics of terrorism. The fundamental factors of counter-terrorism policy could be intelligence, deterrence, retaliation, offensive/defensive policy, acts & rules, education, awareness, international cooperation, etc.

The complexity of the problem of terrorism is fundamentally an interdisciplinary occurrence and involve various aspects. Accordingly, there are many entities involved in the fight against terrorism. Successful dealing with terrorism requires collateral action coordinating all aspects of counter-terrorism measures. Furthermore, a lack of coordination would lead to severe wastage of essential resources.

Conclusion: Recently, terrorism has become a scourge to humankind. The objectives of the terrorists could be any from political to spreading terror among the people. Their sole aim is to destabilise or overthrow the existing political and administrative system. The means employed to achieve such targets are incredibly violent. It is not only terrorist organisations that carry out terrorist activities sometimes; states also sponsor terrorism. India has been the victim of cross border terrorism for more than four decades. Terror has become an international phenomenon and has to be fought and finished by the global community to save democracy and fundamental human rights.

Presently, many nations choose to ignore the severity of the problem of terrorism. Nations like India and Israel have been fighting the menace of terrorism all alone for the last six to seven decades. Nations that created and promoted terrorism in the past are facing the heat of it. Afghanistan is the best example of this policy. The US created mujahideen through Pakistan to fight Russians in Afghanistan. When Russia left Afghanistan in 1989, mujahideen were further divided into terrorist groups: al-Queda and Taliban. Now the US-led forces have been defeated in Afghanistan. This time, the Taliban had the support of Pakistan and China, Russia, Iran, etc.

Terrorism has no class, creed or religion. Neither there is good or bad terrorism nor your or mine terrorism. Terrorism is terrorism that has to be crushed with heavy hands. With every passing generation, new forms of terrorism are being thrown up. It is a challenge before the world community.

About the Author
Colonel Balwan Nagial retired from the Indian Army in 2019 after serving for thirty years. Managed administration, security, project mgt throughout his service. He loves writing and contributing in newspapers and magazines in India. He loves Israeli culture.
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