Terrorism is a complex subject these days but certain principles do not change, and one of the primary terrorist aims is to intimidate peoples and communities by causing serious Economic Consequences.
Terrorism is defined under the Code of Federal Regulations as
“the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a govern-ment, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85)”
The FBI further describes terrorism as either domestic or international, depending on the origin, base, and objectives of the terrorist organization. For the purpose of this paper, the FBI uses the following definitions of terrorism:
“Domestic terrorism refers to activities that involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any state; appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States”. [18 U.S.C. § 2331(5)]
“International terrorism involves violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or any state, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or any state. These acts appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping and occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished, the persons they appear intended to intimidate or coerce, or the locale in which their perpetrators operate or seek asylum”. [18 U.S.C. § 2331(1)]
Many people associate terrorism with an act of atrocity designed to gain media attention for a specific cause. Obvious examples are the downing of the Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland in December 1988; the terrible “9/11” events in New York City and Washington D.C.; the killing of 12 U.S. soldiers, and the wounding of 31 others at the U.S. Army base at Fort Hood, Texas on November 5, 2009; the 2012 Benghazi attack on the U.S. Consulate; the April 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, the downing of a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 over Eastern Ukraine on July 17 and many other incidents, including the very recent hotel shooting in Libya on January 27, 2015.
Unfortunately, that is only a part of Terrorism.
It can be stated that there are three major aspects to Terrorism being:
- An Act of Atrocity
- The Deliberate Intent to Cause Fear and Panic
- The Resulting Economic Consequences
The real damage is that involving economic consequences, and in that respect, I believe that groups such as Al Qaeda, ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Taliban, Boko Haram and others are quietly winning throughout the World.
“9/11” was a good example where a number of industries and a significant number of companies were severely impacted in an economic sense by the terrorist event. It would appear that terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS are winning the “war on terrorism” in that many of these attacks are resulting in economic consequences. Examples include the following:
Every time a bomb threat is called-in, or there is a “tweet” from ISIS identifying a particular flight, or a terrorist attempts suicide with a new form of explosive material on an aircraft, it results in delays, loss of productivity, cancellations against one or more airlines, etc., all of which is creating economic damage. Those incidents involving aircraft also lead to even more delays at airports for passengers, and a likely result that more people will be less likely to travel by air.
Other examples involving transportation would be the Russian subway bombing in 2010 in Moscow there, killing some 38 people and likely deterring many people from taking the subway for days, if not weeks. Again in Russia, there was the Volgograd train station suicide bombing, killing 15 people in 2013. Almost certainly, many individuals did not go to work the following day and may still be avoiding the use of trains there.
Perhaps one of the worst terrorist train incidents was that in 2004 when a number of commuter trains in Madrid were bombed with some 198 persons dead and an entire general election was affected by the terrorist claims and a government was ousted. Exactly what the terrorists were trying to achieve.
Another form of terrorist attack is that involving bombings in major city centers as happened in London and almost happened in New York City not too long ago. The media coverage of such events would have caused many people to not go to work and to have avoided travelling to those cities, perhaps for days and weeks.
When there is a possible active shooter event at a school, or even just an incident triggering a lockdown, there are economic consequences where many parents will immediately leave work to race to their children’s school to protect their sons and daughters. The number and range of terrorist events are increasing throughout the world, Western and otherwise, and each time there is an inevitable economic consequence.
The events follows the familiar trail of (1), (2), and (3) above in that first there is the act of atrocity, which in turn causes fear, and in numerous situations, also panic, which then leads to economic consequences for a community, or a city, or a country.
Perhaps the most insidious economic consequence is the overall effect on working populations where each event compounds an overall degree of depression and subsequent loss of productivity. This depressive cloud intensified when governments refuse to recognize certain active groups as being terrorist in nature, make up fancy names such as regional insurgents to avoid using specific names of terrorist organizations.
Perhaps all Government should take a far stronger attitude to terrorism, understand that it is not possible to negotiate with terrorists or the countries that harbor such organizations, and set standards that make it very clear that terrorism will not be tolerated, with perhaps the following promise:
“If you strike us, prepare to be struck back with twenty times the effect of your strike on a continuous basis.”
The author does not mean to imply that countries and governments do so in committing similar acts of atrocity, but the U.S., and other countries have the power to inflict severe economic sanctions with a vengeance, and should do so.