Terrorism is a threat that does not only affect the people of the United States but also put their lives into a great danger while abroad. Fear keeps growing among the Americans, more so when they hear that places like Brussels have been attacked. The major question they ask themselves is whether it will happen again on their land. Terrorism is a major threat even to the security officers who keep the borders of the country from attack. In return, the government spends a lot of taxpayers money in keeping the country and its borders safe. The threats are everywhere and people meet them in their daily activities, some available on the internet. The ISIS and Al Qaeda are the two main groups posting this great danger to the United States. Apart from the external threats, there are also some home-grown jihadist groups who work close with the ISIS and Al Qaeda to jeopardize the security of the people of the United States.
Terrorism according to Hoffman (2015) is defined as the systematic use of or threatened use of violence with the aim of intimidating a large population or the government that can lead to a political, religious or ideological change. In the United States, the systematic use of violence can be dated back to the mid 19th century when the pro-slavery activists killed an abolitionist Elijah P. Lovejoy. Since then a group of people or organizations have used different styles of violence to intimidate the people of the United State with the aim of swaying either their ideologies, political or religious stands.
The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) group was the first organized group in the United States to have used violence as a way of making done their command. 1865-77 a group of white men formed a group which was later called the KKK. This group slaughtered at least 300 freedmen and their Republican Party allies. They used the terrorist type of violence to overthrow the Reconstructionist government and reestablished total segregation in the South. The main motivation of the group was to undermine the freedom and rights of the African Americans who came into the country as slaves. There were many other forms of terrorism that followed the KKK group; however, this article will be specifically based on the Islamic extremism.
The current terrorist threats the United States is facing at the moment are caused by Islamic extremism. Jihadism, as it is called by the Muslims, is the use of violence to achieve political goals. Series of Islam-related terrorist acts has been reported across the United States and even in the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The threat became into being when a section of the Muslims in the United States started using violence such as shooting a CIA agent. According to Bergen (2016), series of radicalizations followed across the country to enlist those who claimed an affiliation to Nation of Islam. The movement started to get out of hands as their terrorist acts across the country escalated. The initial motivation of the Islamic extremism in the United States was to inflict fear in people and use violence for both political and religious gains.
Terrorism in the United States sprung with the advances in technology. Technological factors such as the availability of media to recruit and spread propaganda made it even a more challenging threat to track and control. The other factors that promoted the rise of terrorism in the United States are the religious freedom that the country boasts. It was not easy to track the activities of a particular religious group as that was against the provisions of the Constitution. Additionally, the availability of Native Americans who agreed to be recruited to spread propaganda for political gains made terrorism a real threat in the country.
The main terrorists that threaten the United States today are the Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. The members of these groups are majorly located outside the country in places such as Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan. However, there are also many Americans living in America operating under the instructions of these terrorist groups. Through the internet, the Al Qaeda and the Islamic States has been able to recruit members who they instruct to cause destructions, kill the innocent or spread propaganda. Kaztman (2005) asserts that the members of the group include propagandists, organizers, and bomb-making experts. The members and leaders are motivated by the lust to kill as many Americans as possible to send a message and also to change the ideology of the people of America that it is only through Allah that we get the real liberation.
The leaders of the group are spread in almost all the continents. The form of terrorism witnessed in the United States today is a replica of what is happening in other countries such as Somalia, Nigeria, Iraq and Syria. The well-known Al Qaeda leader was Osama Bin Laden who masterminded the bombing of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a tragedy that was later known as 9/11. After his death, many more Al Qaeda leaders have emerged including his own son Hamza Bin Laden who pledged to mastermind series of attacks in the land of the United States to avenge the death of his father. These leaders have managed to recruit a number of members and remain in a hideout from the authorities. Even though the United States has one of the stringent homeland securities, these leaders still manage to spread propaganda, kidnap Americans and behead some. This just shows how effective they are.
The terrorist threat the United States face comes from two main organizations. There are the formalized organizations such as the Al Qaeda and the Islamic State and then the second group formed by the loosely affiliated extremists (Bergen, 2016). The other group is the domestic terrorists. The domestic terrorists in the United States can be defined by their motives and structure. They are organized within the borders of the US and use their racial supremacy to suppress other races. Apart from racial supremacy, they embrace the antigovernment and antiregulatory beliefs.
Current Goals and Motivation
The need to cause as many casualties as possible is the center motivation for the current terrorists. This goal is evident considering the manner in which terrorists conducts their attacks today. First, they use sophisticated weapons such as machine guns and bombs to inflict pain and cause death to a bigger population. Apart from using sophisticated weapons, they target weaker or defenseless population to be able to conduct their activities over a large scope.
The main agenda is to put people in a constant fear. However, the current attacks have indicated that the group wants to achieve more than putting people in agony and fear. Some of the terrorists want to satisfy vengeance on Americans. The activities of the American forces in the Middle East that killed scores of militants and even the innocents has spurred bitterness among many, who wants to show their anger through the acts of violence and terrorism on Americans. They believe that the government of the United States will bow to the pressure and withdraw its forces from the Middle East where they are keeping track the terrorist activities.
These terrorist groups have evolved both in their motives and manner in which they attack. The Orland Shooting that claimed the lives of 49 and left many injured is just one example of how terrorism has evolved in the United States. The shooter pledged allegiance to the ISIS meaning that it was an act of terrorism. What makes this attack one of a kind is the demography of the victims. Mateen, the shooter targeted a gay club. In one way or the other, his motive was to challenge the rights of gay people in the United States. What has evolved, therefore, is who and how the attack is executed and not on who will be the victim. For example, history proves it right that terrorism in the United States was started by a few whites who never wanted to see slaves get free in their country. Their attacks were aimed at specific individuals and they will rarely hurt the innocent. Today, no one is spared. The shooter does not care whether you are a Muslim or Christian.
Terrorists threaten the peace of the United States in various ways. The main tactic used is ensuring a widespread fear among the people. They kidnap an individual and photo-shoot his or her execution and post the video online. People watching the video will get afraid of even talking about their activities. James Foley, an American journalist was beheaded by the jihadist militia who were responding to the alleged American airstrike in Iraq. During the execution, these terrorists will read a long statement to express their regret. This is just one way that they ensure that they inflict pain in the families of the victim and make those with the same intentions as the victim fear never to dare concludes Turk (2015). Apart from spreading fear within people, terrorists use propaganda to change the political views of the people. For instance, the American activities in the Middle East were politicized by the terrorists to make people believe that the government of the United States was bad. They have managed to change the ideologies of the few who accepted to follow their command and act according to their instructions. The resurgence of domestic terrorism is just a show that these groups are continuing recruiting more and more Americans posing a greater threat. Bombs, machine guns, and the word of mouth are just some of the weapons that terrorist groups in the United States use to threaten the lives of the people.
Terrorists get financial supports from different agencies and sympathizers. However, over a longer period of time, terrorists gained their financial support from charities. The Al Qaeda according to Kaplan (2006) attained massive support from different donations from Saudi Arabia where funds were donated to support the spread of Islam. Though some of the donations were made from the good will of supporting the spread of Islam, particular individuals took the opportunity to redirect the money to support terrorism activities. Other sources of the finances are illegal trades such as drug and oil trade. The ISIS and Al Qaeda boast of coming from areas rich in oil. Some of their activities involve raiding drilling companies or vandalize pipes transporting oil which they then sell at a cheaper price to other countries.
Domestic terrorists manage to use their rights to own guns as a way of attaining a weapon that they will later use for terrorist activities. Mateen is one of the examples of the domestic terrorist who used his gun for the terrorist act.
Location, Scope, and Magnitude
The scope of the threat is massive. As stated before, terrorists put Americans living in America and outside America in a constant fear. No one is safe anywhere from homes to schools, children to adults, blacks to whites and from the South to North of the country. Terrorism is not just a regional threat. In 1998, Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for an attack on the American Embassy in Kenya and Tanzania (Kaztman, 2005). The then leader of this Sunni group, Osama bin Laden, said in a statement that they will do all they can to inflict pain on Americans even if it means attacking them outside their country. From then, the people of the United States have even feared to tour some parts of the world for the fear of kidnapping. Another example of an American who was attacked by terrorists outside America was James Foley who worked as an American journalist in Iraq. He was kidnapped and beheaded in front of a camera. The interest of the government and people of the United States, therefore, has not only been jeopardized by the terrorist acts withi...
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