|(Eifel Tower after the Paris Massacre. Courtesy of XtoF, Wikemedia Commons)|
Let me ask you this—do you know anything about the Abu Nidal Organization, the Black September, the Baader-Meinhoff Gang, and the Venezuelan-born Illich Ramirez Sanchez aka Carlos the Jackal? If you answered "Yes" to this question, I would think then that you are from the old generation.
If you recalled the intermittent campaigns of terror in Europe and in the Middle East in the 1960s and the 1970s, you would surely agree the al-Qaeda attacks in the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon Building were unprecedented in the annals of terrorism compared to the pre-9/11 era.
Now, if you answered "No" to the above question, I would assume that you are from the 1980s, 1990s or from the early 2000s. You—from the younger generations—who have a slightest idea about terrorism, have now become aware of the horrible consequences of ideological extremism gone berserk after the Paris Massacre and the San Bernardino Carnage.
In light of the recent terror activities in France and the United States, those who seek to understand the intricacies of threats and threat groups would find this topic informative because this article discusses the various types of terrorism.
Terrorism is a relative term, as other people would say. We heard so much about the truism “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” People in the United States might condemn Usama bin-Laden as a terrorist, but to some people in the Muslim world, he was glorified like a hero ala Che Guevarra. (Regan 2005).
Robert S. Barbers defined terrorism as a “cause, attempt, or threat of destruction of properties or death by showing terror to the public, disturbing peace and order internationally or domestically due to ideological, political, religious, ethnic or cultural belief.” (Barbers 2004).
The Federal Bureau of Investigation defined terrorism as “a violent act or an act dangerous to human life, in violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any state, to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social goals.” (Cooper 1995).
Another definition of terrorism is “the use of covert violence by a group for political ends and is usually directed against a government, but is also used against other ethnic groups, classes or parties. The aims and objectives may vary from the redress of specific grievances to the overthrow of a government and the seizure of power, or to the liberation of a country from foreign rule.” (Lacquer 1977).
The definitions of terrorism entail conceptual and syntactical. It is not surprising that alternative concepts with more positive connotations—guerrilla movements, underground movements, national liberation movements, commandos—are often used to describe and characterize the activities of terrorist organizations, thus establishing their activities on a more positive and legitimate foundations. (Ganor 2005).
In the past decades, numerous terror groups came into existence to advance their struggle either for economic, political, or religious battles. Security experts have categorized these groups into six major types, namely: the nationalist-terrorism, state-sponsored terrorism, left-wing terrorism, right-wing terrorism, anarchist-terrorism, and religious-terrorism. (CFR 2004).
1. Nationalist-Terrorism is a “form of terrorism through, which participants attempt to form an independent state against what they consider an occupying, imperial, or otherwise illegitimate state.” (Wikepedia 2005). The nationalist-terrorists are individuals who resort to terrorism as a means of achieving independence from foreign control. These groups include the Basque Separatists-ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna), which fought for independence from Spain; the Irish Republican Army, which fought against the British rule; and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, which wages war against the Turkish government.
2. State-Sponsored-Terrorism refers to foreign government providing “supplies, training and other forms of support to non-state terrorist organizations. One of the most valuable types of this support is the provision of safe haven or physical basing for the terrorists' organization.” (Terrorism-Research 2005). The groups belonging to the state-sponsored terrorism are the Japanese Red Army, which was once financed by Libya; and the ANO, which was once bankrolled by Saddam Hussein before his defeat in Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Department of State 2004).
3. Left-Wing Terrorism “seeks to destroy capitalism and replace it with socialism or anarchism. Extreme cases of radical environmentalism verge on ecoterrorism, which is pushed primarily by left-wing radicals” (Wikepedia 2005). The BMG and the Brigada Rossi (Red Brigade) are examples of groups associated with left-wing terrorism. The Communist Party of the Philippines/New Peoples Army (CPP/NPA) falls under this category also and has been fighting for the eradication of the capitalist society of the Philippines since 1969.
4. Right-Wing Terrorism, also called as neo-fascist terrorism, is known for their “reactionary violence to what is seen as perceived threats to a group's value system. Right-wing terrorist ideology tends to be a belief in a religious, political, or ethnonational superiority while often supporting the status quo” (Wikepedia 2005). The Ku Klux Klan, the South Africa’s Warriors of the Boer Nation, and Russia’s Skiff are groups that engage in right-wing terrorism.
5. Anarchist-Terrorism has originated in the late 1800s, and through the years has developed into a different philosophical idea. Anarchism “in its most general meaning, is the belief that the rulership is unnecessary and should be abolished. The word anarchy, as most anarchists use it, does not imply chaos or anomie, but rather a stateless society with voluntary social harmony” (Wikepedia 2005). Through the years, the real meaning of anarchist-terrorism has changed, and its definition evolved into something new that now carries a violent connotation. The present-time anarchists are identified with violent demonstrations and they have been constant protesters in the World Trade Organization meetings. Anarchists co-exist with eco-terrorists, and eco-terrorism is a neologism from anarchist-terrorism. Some of the anarchist-inspired groups are the Animal Rights Militia and also the Green Anarchists, which was formerly known as the Earth Liberation Front (ELF).
6. Religious-Terrorists “use violence to further what they see as divinely commanded purpose.” (Wikepedia 2005). The Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, the doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo of Japan, the al-Qaeda (AQ) network and its affiliates, Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the Abu Sayyaf Group, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are examples of organizations engage in religious-terrorism. The suicidal mindset of the religious-terrorists deepens the degree of concern of their existence because of their religious adherence to jihad (holy war). Their willingness to die for their cause make them dangerous as exemplified by the suicidal operations of al-Qaeda on 9/11 and of ISIS attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. The heavenly rewards—72 virgins and 80,000 servants—are incentives to the Islamist recruits to engage in martyrdom. (Warraq 2002).
In recent years, there was a gradual and steady shift of mode of attacks from conventional to a more sophisticated form of terrorism using biological and chemical weapons. For instance, the religious-terrorist group Aum Shinrikyo used a chemical weapon-like Sarin (deadly nerve agent) and Botulin Toxin in the 1990s to spread terror in Japan. (Olson 1999). Security experts consider religious-terrorism as the most dangerous kind compared to the other types of terrorism because the religious members are the ones most likely to procure or develop weapons of mass destruction and use them in pursuit of their messianic or apocalyptic visions. (Hudson 1999). Associated Press reports indicated that ISIS has a branch dedicated to creating chemical weapons. (AP 2015).
The modern day terrorists are no longer confined in one geographical area as exemplified by the operations of JI and AQ networks in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. (CFR 2004). Past terrorist events suggest that the AQ network is also active in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. For instance, The bombings in London on July 7, 2005, has confirmed the overseas infrastructure of AQ network in Europe, which was reported supervised by one Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, a British national of Syrian-descent. (Fielding and Walsh 2005). JI, AQ, and ISIS are transnational terrorists, which means, “involving or operating in several nations or nationalities.” (WordNet 2.0 2005).
After the 9/11 attacks, the emergence of transnational-terrorists and the imminent danger they present to global security did not escape the attention of the United Nations (UN). On its proactive stance, the UN prodded its members under the UN Security Council Resolutions 1368 and 1378 to work closely with one another in the global war on terror. The call to form security alliances was answered favorably by the democratic nations around the world as they looked up to the United States for leadership.