Armed Hostilities

The Terrorism Threat in the Modern World

Table of Contents
  1. Introduction
  2. Theory and Countering Terrorism
  3. International and Domestic Terrorism
  4. References


Terrorism in its form is broad, although becoming popular to many is a relatively recent activity. The fight for terrorism has gained a new strategy with the occurrence of the United States on September 11, 2001. The United States declared a fight against terrorism. The Bush administration launched military action abroad, with an intention of wiping out terrorist groups and individuals (Military Review, 2002). A more recent development is the focus on the international agenda to combating transnational terrorism.

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Theory and Countering Terrorism

Terrorism can be defined as the calculated use of unlawful violence or the threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear. However, terrorism has been indicated as adapting to the socio-political environment and evolving into the principal irregular warfare strategy of the 21st Century. Some of the aforementioned changes result to favor of terrorism in enhancing the terrorists’ capabilities and abilities and their procurement for funding. Terrorism has been in operation for thousands of years, manifesting itself in various techniques such as aircraft hijackings, bombings, hostage-sieges and physical damage or casualties. The modern form has also a religious focus as the motivation for terrorism.

Although terrorism can be theorized as an activity by groups who are not usually responding to a particular state or government, the latter may engage in terrorism where, for example, the army is used to advance the interests of state’s policy or diplomatic efforts abroad (the state can terrorize its own populations). In addition, the government can sponsor terrorism groups or get involved in terror activities other than terrorizing its own population (terrorism research, n.d.).

The modern state’s monopoly on warfare or inter-state violence is more recent than the modern nation-states. In history, the lack of predominant political authority and the central government made it impossible for terrorism to be applied as a method of effecting political change by unleashing terror. Moreover, warfare involved many people including mercenaries, non-sovereign nobility, and other leaders, instead of national armies. The operation of national armies would be facilitated by the existence of a centralized government. Therefore, the history of terrorism can be cross-linked with the evolution of central governments and political groupings. In the modern state, private participation in warfare is not only uncommon but also illegal, and nations go to war instead.

Marxism and anarchism championed the destruction of the then existing systems and embraced the idea of violent social change. The earlier evolved into communism. Both of the theories held that violence which was beyond the acceptable bounds of rebellion and warfare would be necessary. While anarchism championed the rejection of all forms of government, communism theorized the seizure of state power by the working class and economic class warfare.

Terrorism has expanded beyond the role which it was applied for after World War II; fighting against the colonials. Today, some states appear to be using it as a tool for diplomacy and international power (terrorism research, n.d.).

International terrorism is not simple to eliminate because it requires cooperation and coordination among nations. However, the cooperation and coordination required have been hampered by country victimization or what may be seen as different opinions to the strategies used by the United States to counter-terrorism. The United States has defined counterterrorism and antiterrorism in the collective term “combating terrorism”. The activities and operatives are to be countered by the use of offensive measures including the possibility of using lethal force. The use of secretive and compartmentalized countermeasures against terrorism as it is related to military capabilities or elite law establishment may hinder efforts to effectively counter the vice. Antiterrorism is the use of defensive or passive measures for example bomb-search and physical security measures. Among the methods proposed to counter-terrorism includes the restriction of the mobility of the terrorists according to the National Counterterrorism Center (2006). According to their report submitted to Congress on the matter in 2006, restricting the mobility of the terrorists is one of the most effective weapons to counteract terrorism.

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One of the ways in which countries can control the entry of terrorists into their territories is ensuring there is efficient monitoring and control of international and domestic travel systems. The United States increased the travel document security after the September 11, 2001 attacks. In addition, there is the necessity to improve border security and the sharing of information on terror and travel, among various countries. However, the increment of security related to travel is not an all-for-good strategy because it also affects the travel docket by making travel more difficult. It has been reported that terrorists use a number of ways to gain entry into the United States, and implementing countermeasures on these areas can help reduce terrorists’ movements. These ways include the use of professional human smugglers and other illicit travel networks and taking advantage of or exploitation of weaknesses at border control operations.

International and Domestic Terrorism

Domestic terrorism can widely be fought by the use of a single government strategy although border security would be very essential. The groups existing or having entered the country of the target may also escape if the conditions are unfavorable for the execution of this crime, or after they execute the crime. The National Counterterrorism Center for example proposed the implementation of the US-VISIT system across the immigration and border management enterprise, defense of the US coastlines through the governmental support for the National Strategy for Maritime Security and the passenger screening.

International terrorism may be effectively counteracted by the use of sustained bilateral and multilateral international cooperation between countries because some terrorist groups are no longer localized to one state or nation. One terrorist group may exist in many countries, and be entertained; especially in the modern system where there is grouping and victimization in the aspect of race and religion (National Counterterrorism Center, 2006). In addition, some terrorist groups have recruited members on a global scale. In other developments, terrorist groups have been said to attack particular groups of people they perceive as enemies when they are not in their countries of origin. The United States has suffered this as perceived enemies seek to attack citizens and property at the American embassies in different countries. This necessitates the involvement of other countries in the fight against the vice because they also incur losses during these attacks. There have been efforts by the United Nations to impose sanctions on the known terrorists, make possible multiple international treaties, and monitoring of the terrorist activities and this may help in combating transnational terrorism. The 192 nations in the United Nations adopted the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy to agree to a common strategic and operational approach to fighting terrorism. In addition, the body has provided for the fight against financing terrorism, the use of joint intelligent efforts, and joint legal enforcements against the vice. There are 13 various treaties adopted by the United Nations that can help combat terrorism, and these include the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism and the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings (Better World Campaign, n.d.).


  1. Better World Campaign. Fighting International Terrorism.
  2. Military Review. (2002). Military Review.
  3. National Counterterrorism Center. (2006). National Strategy To Combat Terrorist Travel. Web.
  4. Terrorism research. State sponsored terrorism. Web.
  5. Terrorism research. The evolution of terrorism. Web.

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