Diverse perceptions on terrorism


Diverse Perceptions on Terrorism

The United States of America's laws has defined terrorism as "Premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub national groups or clandestine agents" U.S. Code Title 22, Ch.38, Para. 2656f(d). The law has also defined international terrorism as terrorism that involves the citizens or the territory of more than one nation. On the other hand FBI[1] has defined terrorism as the unlawful use violence or force against a people or property intimidating or coercing, the civilian population, the government or a segment thereof in furtherance of some social or political objectives (Zalman 2010, P.6). The league of Nations has defined terrorism as "All criminal acts directed against a State and intended or calculated to create a state of terror in the minds of particular persons or a group of persons or the general public" (Zalman 2010, P 2).

The question of whether terrorism is an international crime has raised queries asking whether in times of peace it does exist. There are disagreements over whether the definition is applicable in times of armed conflict; for example are the actions of freedom fighters in liberation of their nation terrorist acts? It has been perceived that the definition is exceptional of freedom fighters. It's from this argument that states have failed to achieve a general definition in the general treaty on a real meaning of terrorism. Rather the customary international rules continues to denote terrorism as any terrorist acts that done in times of peace and are international in nature; with transnational connection (Cassese 2006, p. i).

European Unions versus U.S. Approach to Terrorism

The European Unions'[2] nations and the United States of America have a lot in common in relation to their approach to support of human rights. Both have a commitment to 'majority rule' through multiparty democracies gained genuinely through free elections. Despite the many grounds that the two camps share they have sharp and pronounced differences in relation to approach of some issues in life. Such may include varying ideologies of political economy, approaches to international criminal accountability, approaches to international laws, fundamental religious values and diverse religious roles, contrasting attitudes towards state endorsed violence and diverse approaches to Palestinian-Israel conflict[3] (Carsel 2009, p.1).

The United States have been perceived to be so powerful that some times it does not require the international organizations or the international law in order to approach international terrorism. On the other hand Europe understands that for it to manage to compete with the U.S, or the East Asia, it needs to unite under common organization and common rules. The unity that Europe nations have been trying to achieve is diplomatic, economic or otherwise. Europe's approach to international crime has been enforcement of counter-terrorist operations except in military cooperation with NATO[4] in Afghanistan. This was illustrated by the Grand Chamber judgment of the European Court of the Human rights (App. No. 46221/99, Judgment of 12 May 2005).

Terrorist target the United States

Though the other nations of the world are equally involved in the fight against terrorism, the United States seems to be in the forefront as it's the major target of the major international terrorists. A terrorist like Osama bin Laden[5] and terrorist organization such as Al Qaida have focused on destroying the Economy of America so that America will cease from influencing the other nations of the world. Osama argued that U.S has been busy enslaving the oppressed people (NYT, 28Dec01), which is opposed to the Sharia (Islamic law), that demands equal treatment of all people. Osama bin Laden has pointed out that "the United States will lead the western world to unbearable hell and chocking of life" Osama bin Laden, Al-Jazeera interview, 21Oct01; reported on CNN's Wolf Blitzer reports, 31Jan02). The U.S secretary of defense cautioned defense minister to NATO of the need to confront the reality that September 11th attack was just a dim preview of what the terrors had in store. He therefore called upon the international perspective in the approach terrorism" (NYT, 18Dec01).

The issue of international terrorism has raised concern as to whether the terrorists are international are specifically enemies of the United States and her allies. The Islamism groups that are connected with terrorist activities appear to operate internationally but aiming at hurting the United States consequently every regime that is friendly to the U.S. becomes subject to their attack and suffers in the process. The terrorists acts qualifies to international crimes because over the last few years, there has been an apparent growth of cross-national links among diverse terrorist organizations, involving combination of military political advice, technological transfer and funding of the terrorist activities. The major sponsor of international terrorist activities is Iran that is known for its claim to have weapons of mass destruction (nuclear weapon) as well as Uranium enrichment (Council on Foreign Relations 2007, Para. 2-4).

Because of the diversity in perception of international terrorism, many policy makers have found it hard to maximize international cooperation for the same course without compromising the U.S. national security. The United States has stated that for the war towards internal terrorism to be won, there is a need to deal with all the nations and organizations that fund the terrorist activities (Council on Foreign Relations 2007, Para. 5-7).

International War on Terrorism:

Terrorist cell operate in very many countries including where they are not tolerated such as Western Europe and United Sates. That was made clear when the aggressive international law enforcement efforts led to detention of about 3,000 terrorists and their supporter in about 100 nations, freezing $124 million in about 600 bank accounts all over the world. The G-8[6] leaders publicized plans, to establish 'Counter-Terrorism Action Group'. This was meant to assist nations in enhancing their abilities of antiterrorism through initiatives that include: outreach activities in counter-terrorism cooperation's areas ad in provision of capability building assistance to states that have insufficient capacity to terrorism fighting (Zalman 2010, Para 5-7).

Contravention of Human Rights

The issue of human rights raises concern in the endeavor to overcome terrorism both to the victims and the perpetrators. Universal Declaration of Human Rights was expressed in 1948. It established recognition of inalienable rights and inherent dignity for all human beings. It was observed that all activities that could endanger people's peace, security and lives should be avoided at all cost (Carsel 2009, p. 2-4). Those suspected of being agents of terrorism do also have their rights as members of human family. Such people are deemed innocent until they are proved guilty so any suffering they are subjected to should be humane.

Since the September 11th attack[7] of the U.S. and the subsequent declaration of war against terrorism, human rights pitched human rights issues. Since the attack many countries have been known to contravene human rights of political prisoners. The western countries were known for their respect to human rights and excessive power institutional checks took the advantage of the attack to erode the checks consequently undermining human rights. Bush administration which initiated 'global war on terror' was known for contravention of human rights. Australia, United Kingdom, and the European countries took the advantage of global war on terror to restrict civil liberties of suspects as well as those people who are associated with them. The European Union has been accused of facilitating illegal deportation and detention of terrorist suspect to some prisons that are based in third countries where torture is done. In the process governments have this opportunity to exercise crackdown on their political rivals and fight Islamic religion. Some countries have even used this loophole to employ unnecessary restrictive measures and punitive policies anti-refugees, aslylum seekers, and other foreigners such countries include: China, Jordan, Liberia, Malaysia, Syria, Kyrgyzstan, Israel, Eritrea, Australia, United States, Zimbabwe, Macedonia, India, Belarus, and Russia (Zalman 2010, Para 7).

International Anti Terrorism Body

It's incumbent to protect the rights of all citizens to peaceful living. There has been erosion of civil liberties in the national levels corresponding to undermining and marginalization of national sovereignty. The nations involved in this have been criticized for self-assertion of super power via war on terrorism consequently making the power of the powers of the super powers globally unchallenged. Any move that would attempt to create an international body and special force that would deal with terrorism would be faced by a challenge of defining terrorism in nations where there are groups that are using terror to force tyrant governments to change and ensuring that all the nations have equal say in decisions regarding to fight of terrorism. The greatest challenge would be in incorporating Islamic nation that perceives fight for terrorism as a victimization of the Muslim faithful (Koechler 2002, p 10).


Council on Foreign Relations, State Sponsors: Iran. (2007), Retrieved on 9th February, 2010 from: http://www.cfr.org/publication/9362/

Koechler Hans, THE WAR ON TERROR, ITS IMPACT ON THE SOVEREIGNTY OF STATES, AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES. 2002, Retrieved on 9th February, 2010 from: http://i-p-o.org/koechler-war-on-terror-paper-manila.pdf

U.S law. U.S. Code Title 22, Ch.38, Para. 2656f(d).

Zalman Amy, Terrorism Issues: FBI Definition of Terrorism. Retrieved on 9th February, 2010 from: http://terrorism.about.com/od/whatisterroris1/ss/DefineTerrorism_6.htm

Cassese Antonio, Journal of International Criminal Justice Advance Access originally published online on December 15, 2006. Journal of International Criminal Justice 2006 4(5), 933-958.

App. No. 46221/99, Judgment of 12 May 2005 Grand Chamber judgment

Al-Jazeera. Osama bin Laden in Al-Jazeera interview, 21Oct01; reported on CNN's Wolf Blitzer reports, 31Jan02).

Cassel, Doug (2009), THE EUROPEAN UNION, THE UNITED STATES AND HUMAN RIGHTS: MAJOR TRENDS AND CHALLENGES. Retrieved on 9th February, 2010 from: http://www.nd.edu/~ndlaw/news/EU-US-HR.pdf

Zalman Amy, 2010. Human Rights & Terrorism: AnOverview. Expanding anti-terror measures produces new human rightsissues. Retrieved on 9th February, 2010 from: http://terrorism.about.com/od/humanrights/a/Human_Rights.htm

[1] FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation a United States agency responsible for criminal investigation and trials especially international criminal activities.

[2] European Unions: an economic and political union of twenty seven members states which s located in Europe. It's committed to regional integration. It was established in on 1st November 1993 in the Maastricht treaty.

[3] Israel- Palestine conflict: A conflict in the Middle East between the Jewish people and the Arabic people over the ownership of some lands of Palestine.

[4] NATO: North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

[5] Osama bin Laden: the most wanted criminal by the (CIA) and the FBI for his support of terrorism. He is associated with September 11 attack in the U.S.A.

[6] G-8: formerly G-6, G-7 a forum that was created by Germany, France, Japan, Italy, United Kingdom, United States, later joined Canada in 1976 and Russia in 1997. European Union is also represented in the G-8.

[7] September 11th Attack: A terrorist attack that took place on 11th September 2001 to World Trade Center and the Pentagon

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