I got this book from the library. I ordered it from the online catalog sight unseen. It’s a small book, like one of the Backgrounders from Heritage that I used to get in the mail, but about double that size at 55 pages.
It’s part of Raintree Publishers (see www.raintreepublishers.co.uk ) Hot Topics. It was published in 2012 by Capstone Global Library Ltd. And written by Nick Hunter. It is fairly objective without any major bias other than mentioning UK terrorist groups a lot, but then it was written for a UK audience.
It was very easy read and I think it is geared toward those people who know zip about terrorism but hear about it in the news and want something more than an encyclopedia entry…which reminds me what does Britannica say about it?
Well from the book…
Historically terrorism is not new. There have been terrorist attacks throughout history like today, early terrorists had religious motives. A group called the “Assassins” carried out attacks in the Middle East between the 11th and 13th centuries. They believed in the necessity of purifying Islam.
Much like suicide bombers in the modern world, they thought that death would earn those rewards in the afterlife. We use the word assassin today to mean someone who murders people for political reasons and political leaders are the assassinated.
Outside of global war, terrorism was pretty much gone and then there was 1979 were two events, both in Iran occurred.
The first was the Iranian Revolution, which replaced Iran’s ruling shah (king), who was friendly to the West, with a fundamentalist Islamic government. This government supported Islamic fighters across the Middle East. The second was by radical students who stormed the US Embassy in Tehran in November and held 66 people hostage.
What is terrorism?
Terrorists are usually described as a “network”, “unit”, or “cell”, which suggests that they are well organized and trained. Is this always the case? There is no single definition of terrorism, although governments and international organizations like the United Nations have their own definitions.
Most definitions of terrorism cover three different aspects:
• What is it?
Terrorist acts are generally considered to be violent acts carried out against a civilian population. Many people would say that terrorist acts can also be carried out against military personnel, for example, the bombing of a barracks where soldiers are sleeping and not actively fighting a war.
• Who does it?
Most definitions used by governments say that terrorism is carried out by unofficial groups rather than governments. Many people also believe that governments can be responsible for terrorism if they commit violent actions designed to terrorize people. This kind of terrorism is called state terrorism. This book will focus on terrorism carried out by individuals and small groups.
• Why do they do it?
Most people agree that terrorist acts are carried out to achieve some kind of political or religious aim, or to have an influence on governments and the people who vote for them. “War on Terror”
How to react to terrorism
Democratic governments are normally bound by the rule of law when dealing with terrorists. This means that governments have to follow the laws of a country just like everyone else. It is not possible for the US or UK governments to go around shooting suspected terrorists or blowing up their hide-outs without accounting for their actions. Suspected terrorists have to be arrested and tried by the courts.
The fact that governments have to observe the rule of law is important for all of us. If we were arrested for a serious crime, we too would have the opportunity to go to court to protest our innocence. Many governments choose to treat terrorists as criminals according to the laws of the country this is problematic as terrorists may be in large, well-organized & financed groups that are supported and helped by that country’s community.
This often makes witnesses reluctant to come forward because they fear revenge from other members of the terrorist group. Finally, it may be very difficult to catch the culprits in large-scale attacks because the blast is carried out by remote control.