Terrorism Essay for Students and Teacher

500+ words essay on terrorism essay.

Terrorism is an act, which aims to create fear among ordinary people by illegal means. It is a threat to humanity. It includes person or group spreading violence, riots, burglaries, rapes, kidnappings, fighting, bombings, etc. Terrorism is an act of cowardice. Also, terrorism has nothing to do with religion. A terrorist is only a terrorist, not a Hindu or a Muslim.

terrorism essay

Types of Terrorism

Terrorism is of two kinds, one is political terrorism which creates panic on a large scale and another one is criminal terrorism which deals in kidnapping to take ransom money. Political terrorism is much more crucial than criminal terrorism because it is done by well-trained persons. It thus becomes difficult for law enforcing agencies to arrest them in time.

Terrorism spread at the national level as well as at international level.  Regional terrorism is the most violent among all. Because the terrorists think that dying as a terrorist is sacred and holy, and thus they are willing to do anything. All these terrorist groups are made with different purposes.

Causes of Terrorism

There are some main causes of terrorism development  or production of large quantities of machine guns, atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs, nuclear weapons, missiles, etc. rapid population growth,  Politics, Social, Economic  problems, dissatisfaction of people with the country’s system, lack of education, corruption, racism, economic inequality, linguistic differences, all these are the major  elements of terrorism, and terrorism flourishes after them. People use terrorism as a weapon to prove and justify their point of view.  The riots among Hindus and Muslims are the most famous but there is a difference between caste and terrorism.

The Effects Of Terrorism

Terrorism spreads fear in people, people living in the country feel insecure because of terrorism. Due to terrorist attacks, millions of goods are destroyed, the lives of thousands of innocent people are lost, animals are also killed. Disbelief in humanity raises after seeing a terrorist activity, this gives birth to another terrorist. There exist different types of terrorism in different parts of the country and abroad.

Today, terrorism is not only the problem of India, but in our neighboring country also, and governments across the world are making a lot of effort to deal with it. Attack on world trade center on September 11, 2001, is considered the largest terrorist attack in the world. Osama bin Laden attacked the tallest building in the world’s most powerful country, causing millions of casualties and death of thousands of people.

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Terrorist Attacks in India

India has suffered several terrorist attacks which created fear among the public and caused huge destruction. Here are some of the major terrorist attacks that hit India in the last few years: 1991 – Punjab Killings, 1993 – Bombay Bomb Blasts, RSS Bombing in Chennai, 2000 – Church Bombing, Red Fort Terrorist Attack,2001- Indian Parliament Attack, 2002 – Mumbai Bus Bombing, Attack on Akshardham Temple, 2003 – Mumbai Bombing, 2004 – Dhemaji School Bombing in Assam,2005 – Delhi Bombings, Indian Institute of Science Shooting, 2006 – Varanasi Bombings, Mumbai Train Bombings, Malegaon Bombings, 2007 – Samjhauta Express Bombings, Mecca Masjid Bombing, Hyderabad Bombing, Ajmer Dargah Bombing, 2008 – Jaipur Bombings, Bangalore Serial Blasts, Ahmedabad Bombings, Delhi Bombings, Mumbai Attacks, 2010 – Pune Bombing, Varanasi Bombing.

The recent ones include 2011 – Mumbai Bombing, Delhi Bombing, 2012 – Pune Bombing, 2013 – Hyderabad Blasts, Srinagar Attack, Bodh Gaya Bombings, Patna Bombings, 2014 – Chhattisgarh Attack, Jharkhand Blast, Chennai Train Bombing, Assam Violence, Church Street Bomb Blast, Bangalore, 2015 –  Jammu Attack, Gurdaspur Attack, Pathankot Attack, 2016 – Uri Attack, Baramulla Attack, 2017 – Bhopal Ujjain Passenger Train Bombing, Amarnath Yatra Attack, 2018 Sukma Attack, 2019- Pulwama attack.

Agencies fighting Terrorism in India

Many police, intelligence and military organizations in India have formed special agencies to fight terrorism in the country. Major agencies which fight against terrorism in India are Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Terrorism has become a global threat which needs to be controlled from the initial level. Terrorism cannot be controlled by the law enforcing agencies alone. The people in the world will also have to unite in order to face this growing threat of terrorism.

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Counter-Terrorism and Emergency Management: Keeping a Proper Balance

Subscribe to the center for asia policy studies bulletin, jibum chung jibum chung visiting fellow - foreign policy , center for asia policy studies.

May 7, 2013

  • 12 min read

Counter-terrorism strategies and tactics are rightly in the consciousness of officials and civilians in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing. While preventing future attacks should be a leading priority for government at all levels, officials must take care not to focus only on the threat of terrorist attacks. Doing so could diminish the resources, preparation, and skills needed for management of other disasters, and therefore result in greater risk to the population.

Psychology of terrorism

The major characteristic of contemporary terrorism is its unexpectedness. The time and manner of attacks are unpredictable and catch targeted communities – normally innocent civilians – by surprise. In the past, targets of were often political and symbolic figures, not the general public, and the perpetrators proudly notified who they were and why they had acted. The purposes and targets of contemporary terrorism, on the other hand, are often very unclear. Terrorists attack innocent civilians indiscriminately without prior notification, making attacks more difficult to prevent.

Even though the physical damage from terror attacks is normally smaller than that from large natural disasters, the psychological damage of such terror attacks is significant. Early research performed by Paul Slovic and others in 1980s delved into this concept of psychological damage. Using psychometric methodologies, they defined several important characteristics of many different forms of risk. At that time, in the wake of the Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear power plant accident in 1979, their main research target was nuclear power plants. Slovic underlined the importance of psychological effects of risk stating that “despite the fact that not a single person died (in the TMI accident), … no other accident in our history has produced such costly societal impacts.” [1] Reminiscent of today’s terror attacks, they concluded that the nuclear risk is unknown, dread, uncontrollable, involuntary, and likely to affect future generations, so it has a very critical impact on the minds of the general public. Contemporary terrorism shares many of these characteristics: it is usually unknown, frightening, uncontrollable, involuntary, and also indiscriminately fatal to even children (future generations). It surely has significant psychological effects on people’s minds.

Terrorism and media

For the news media, terrorism is a very strong “product” which easily attracts a lot of viewers. Most media aggressively sell the product, terrorism, and help sow fear as people enthusiastically consume the product. In a seminal work on the “social amplification of risk,” Roger Kasperson and colleagues [2] described how the public perception of risk interacts with social and cultural systems (such as the media) and can be amplified during the information delivery process, sometimes resulting in “institutionalized fear.” This amplification process can eventually generate certain public behaviors, some negative and some positive, and may result in disruptions in society. Obviously, some risks are more likely to be amplified than others. Terrorism, because of its special characteristics, is easily amplified. Also, today’s social network communication technologies, such as Facebook and Twitter, can accelerate and strengthen the amplification process.

Thus, the media focus and public concerns create political pressure, and national emergency management policymakers prioritize counter–terrorism, or “civil defense,” over other forms of risk management, such as “civil protection” against all hazards including natural disasters.

Civil defense again?

Culturally and historically, “civil defense” is quite different from “civil protection.” Civil defense, “born out of wartime efforts to organize air-raid precautions, sheltering arrangements and alarms for non-combatants,” has military origins and focuses on protection against foreign military attacks. [3] Civil protection, on the other hand, has disaster origins and focuses on many forms of natural and man-made disasters and other public safety issues. In the Cold War era, civil defense against nuclear attack was the main objective of national emergency management in the United States. At that time, nuclear attack was an “institutionalized fear” made by media and government authorities. Many American homes and public buildings prepared nuclear fallout shelters, illustrating this fear very clearly.

Following the end of Cold War and recognition of the increasing trend of large man-made and natural disasters, “civil protection” gradually replaced the term “civil defense” in most countries. Civil protection focuses more on generic disasters than on the armed aggression, and administratively it is more decentralized than civil defense. In the United States, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was established in 1979. It was mainly a civil defense organization during the Cold War, but in the last two decades has worked to redirect some resources toward the management of various disasters (civil protection). James Witt, director of FEMA under President Clinton, clarified this change of direction. As the FEMA website explains, “the end of the Cold War also allowed Witt to redirect more of FEMA’s limited resources from civil defense into disaster relief, recovery and mitigation programs.” [4]  FEMA also introduced an “all hazards approach,” recognizing the many different kinds of disasters that may require mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

The September 11, 2001 terror attack dramatically changed the direction of emergency management in the United States. After the attack, the United States hastily constructed the Department of Homeland Security and downgraded FEMA, whose main duty was civil protection. This attracted criticism from some public administration experts that the U.S. government concentrated too much on terrorism, perhaps because of the “social amplification” of the risk in the wake of the attack, despite the many other critical risks facing U.S. citizens. Basically, the critics charged, the United States changed the direction of its emergency management from civil protection back to Cold War-style civil defense.

Balance collapsed in emergency management

The cost of that shift in priorities was on full display when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, easily destroying the weak levee system and submerging much of New Orleans under water. Federal and local governments’ mitigation, response and recovery to the Hurricane Katrina were mostly inadequate – resulting in the most severe disaster damage in U.S. history at that time. Due to budget cuts, the Army Corps of Engineers had been unable to strengthen the levee system protecting New Orleans. After the flooding and other damage occurred, the governments’ disaster situation awareness was poor. Communication among authorities and between authorities and civilians was broken. Assistance from the federal government was delayed and insufficient, and people died while awaiting rescue or other assistance. Critics also charged that too many government officials were not familiar with the “National Response Plan” which was implemented in December 2004 after 9/11 terrorist attack. Planning and training for large natural disasters were insufficient after the implementation of the plan. In short, too great a focus on counter-terrorism undermined capacities for natural disaster mitigation, response, and recovery in the post-9/11 United States.

This not only the case in the United States, however. The United Kingdom experienced a similar transition after the 7/7 London bombings in 2005, in which suicide attacks by four home-grown terrorists killed 55 civilians. In response, the U.K. government introduced several measures such as the Prevention of Terrorism Bill. Critics said that some responses to the attacks were anti-liberal, militarizing, and centralizing, and were in the wrong direction from the viewpoint of an all hazards approach. The problem, as one observer wrote, was that “too great a focus on one type of threat and on institutional preparedness can divert attention away from other problematic areas and distance the public.” [5]

In South Korea, the provocations of North Korea can divert the direction of national emergency management. South Korea had been under a thorough civil defense-oriented culture since the end of the Korean War in 1953. All citizens, for example, must participate in compulsory civil defense training preparing for military attacks from North Korea, and there is a military service requirement for men.

The mood of reconciliation that developed on the Korean Peninsula during the post-Cold War Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations (1998-2008) changed the direction of Korean emergency management policies, highlighted by the 2004 establishment of the South Korean National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) by the Roh Moo-hyun administration. Large disasters such as Typhoon Rusa in 2002 and the Daegu subway accident in 2004 demanded a comprehensive emergency management system that can manage the all types of hazards, not only a military attack by North Korea. South Korea is gradually replacing its civil defense culture with one of civil protection. The Lee Myung-bak administration (2008-2013) established the Ministry of Public Administration and Security (MOPAS) in 2008. MOPAS enlarged the scope of disaster management to include fostering a safety culture and anticipating future disasters induced by climate change. The Ministry has proposed civil protection strategies such as promoting public safety awareness, strengthening leadership of local governments, and promoting participation of private companies in disaster preparation and mitigation. Also, MOPAS pushed ahead several projects like the “Safe City” initiative that tries to enhance the safety level of local communities by encouraging the participation of various local stakeholders in preparation, mitigation, and response planning an activities. This means that the civil protection ideals and an all hazards approach were widely adopted as a government policy direction at that time.

However, the bombardment of Yeonpyeong Island by North Korean forces in November 2010, which was unexpected and resulted in four deaths, changed this trend back again. After the Yeonpyeong Island bombardment, most projects for disaster and safety management were canceled and delayed because the highest priority was placed on national defense against North Korea. To some extent, this mirrors the experiences of the United States after 2001 and the United Kingdom after 2005. Although the deaths by Yeonpyeong Island bombardment were relatively few compared 209 deaths in Typhoon Rusa and 192 deaths in the Daegu subway accident, the political impact on the Korean government was huge.

Keeping a balance in emergency management

Civil protection and an all hazards approach are vital to maintaining preparation and the best possible response to major natural and man-made disaster. But they can be weakened if governments focus too heavily on national security (including civil defense against terrorism). And that can result in the other large disasters. Keeping balance in emergency management planning, and implementing an all hazards approach are crucial to effect public administration in this area.

The United States is at risk from a diverse range of natural and man-made disasters. Climate change will produce historically strong hurricanes like Katrina and Sandy more and more frequently. There is a high possibility of large earthquakes and outbreaks of new pandemic diseases. As indicated by the recent Texas fertilizer plant explosion, man-made disasters can also have big impacts. To cite another area where civil protection should not be neglected, the number of road fatalities per one million inhabitants was 111 per million inhabitants – or, well over 30,000 individuals – in the United States in 2009. This rate is almost three times Japan’s rate of 45 fatalities per one million inhabitants, and higher than the European Union average of 70 fatalities per one million inhabitants.

How do we keep balance in emergency management? Though officials in democratic countries such as South Korea and the United States must respond to public opinion, approaches to emergency management should be decided neither by public opinion, which can be easily agitated by shocking incidents, nor by the news media which tend to follow sensational events. Although the number of casualties in the Boston terror attack was much smaller than Texas explosion, the psychological impact and news attractiveness of Boston were much higher. Indeed, the news of the Texas fertilizer plant explosion was almost swept away in an ocean of news about Boston. Instead, priorities in emergency management should be decided based on the scientific evidence, accurate statistics, and rational policy planning.

Counter-terrorism is necessary and obviously very important. Governments must take policy measures to prevent terrorism, but they should resist contributing to institutionalized fear. They must also remember that human beings are surrounded by a plethora of risks, many of which cause more physical damage than terrorism. Governments should prepare policy measures for mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery for all hazards we can encounter, and should keep a balance based on sciences and accurate statistical data.

For this purpose, a number policy measures are appropriate. First, we need a clear cost-benefit analyses of the current policies in emergency management. According to research conducted by John Mueller and Mark G Stewart and published in 2011, [6] the United States has spent over $1.1 trillion on homeland security after 9/11; Mueller and Stewart evaluate the effectiveness of this massive spending as very low. If this money, or some of it, had been applied to other public safety areas, such as climate change mitigation or industrial safety management where the cost effectiveness is high, the United States could be a safer place.

Second, people should know what the real risks are. The well known risks such as traffic accidents, industrial accidents, and floods kill far more people in America than terrorism does. According to several psychological research studies, familiarity can reduce the level of the public’s risk perception. So, there is a much smaller sense of urgency about many of the risks that surround us every day. Science and statistics on risks, and governmental efforts to provide information and education about risks, can help individuals and local communities effectively increase their overall safety level.

[1] Slovic, P. “Perception of Risk,” Science , Vol. 236, No. 4799 (1987): 283.

[2] Kasperson, R., Renn, O., Slovic, P., Brown, H. and Emel, J. “Social Amplification of Risk: a Conceptual Framework,” Risk Analysis , 8(2), (1988): 177-187.

[3] Alexander, D. “From Civil Defense to Civil Protection–and Back Again,” Disaster Prevention Management , 11(3), (2002):  209.

[4] FEMA, about the agency, http://www.fema.gov/about-agency .

[5] O’Brien, G. “UK Emergency Preparedness: A Step in the Right Direction?” Journal of International Affairs , Vol. 59, No. 2 (2006): 79.

[6] Mueller, J. and Stewart, M.G., Terror, Security, and Money: Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs of Homeland Security  (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).

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The Oxford Handbook of Terrorism

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The Oxford Handbook of Terrorism

17 The Causes of Terrorism

Jeff Goodwin, New York University

  • Published: 04 April 2019
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Terrorism, understood as the killing of noncombatants in order to frighten, intimidate, or provoke others, has long been an important method of warfare or contention for both states and non-state groups. Yet states and rebels clearly do not attack just any noncombatants. Indeed, both states and rebels are also usually interested in securing the support of noncombatants. So who are the noncombatants whom warriors choose to attack? Armed groups have an incentive to attack and terrorize those noncombatants who support enemy states or rebels politically or economically. Terrorism is thus a method of undermining indirectly one’s armed enemies. By contrast, armed groups do not have an incentive to attack noncombatants who do not support enemy states or rebels. Whether noncombatants are supporters of states or rebels, in other words, is the key to understanding why terror tactics are or are not likely to be employed against them in any particular conflict.

Ascertaining the causes of terrorism depends of course on how we define terrorism. Alas, as is well known, scholars have been unable to reach a consensus on the meaning of the word. In 1981, Martha Crenshaw, a well-known scholar of terrorism, wrote an important article titled “The Causes of Terrorism,” published in the journal Comparative Politics . Crenshaw was interested in discovering the causes of “symbolic, low-level violence by conspiratorial organizations” (Crenshaw 1981 , 379), which is one of the ways in which scholars have defined terrorism. Crenshaw had in mind violence by such groups as the Irish Republican Army, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Red Army Faction in West Germany. To be sure, Crenshaw was well aware that states as well as dissident groups can employ terrorism—in some sense of the word. In fact, the first sentence of her article states, “Terrorism occurs both in the context of violent resistance to the state as well as in the service of state interests” (Crenshaw 1981 , 379). But Crenshaw focused exclusively on anti-state terrorism by “conspiratorial organizations” in her article.

In this chapter, I want to consider the possible causes of terrorism defined in a rather different way, one which encompasses both state and anti-state or rebel violence. I define terrorism, like many scholars, as violence against noncombatants, usually common or ordinary people, in order to advance a political cause (cf. Richards 2014 ). The immediate purpose of this violence, furthermore, is not just to kill or injure people but to frighten, intimidate, provoke, or otherwise influence a larger population, among which the killed and wounded were either randomly or selectively targeted (Goodwin 2006 ). Terrorism thus differs from other forms of political violence, such as conventional (or guerrilla) warfare and assassination, which aim to kill soldiers (whether state or rebel troops) and political leaders, respectively.

Formally, I define terrorism as any tactic or set of tactics used by any government, group, organization, or individual, in pursuit of a political goal (broadly defined), which is intended to kill or harm civilians or noncombatants (as opposed to soldiers or political leaders) so as to frighten, intimidate, demoralize, provoke, or pressure other civilians and/or political leaders . A shorter, “sound bite” definition of terrorism is the killing or harming of civilians to intimidate others .

Terrorism, then, is not an ideological movement like socialism or conservatism, nor is it violence by a particular type of organization (e.g. covert or conspiratorial). Rather, terrorism refers to tactics that may be employed by either states or rebels, whether they are ideologically conservative, moderate, or radical. This definition encompasses (1) forms of violence or other lethal actions against noncombatants by rebel groups (i.e. “terrorism” as many if not most people tend to think of it today) but also (2) forms of violence or other lethal actions by states or allied paramilitary forces against noncombatants in conflicts with rebels. (Much counter-insurgent and indeed counterterrorist violence is itself terrorist in nature.) It also encompasses (3) violence or other lethal actions by states against noncombatants in international conflicts, and (4) violence or other lethal actions against an oppressed racial or ethnic (or other) group for purposes of controlling or intimidating that group.

“State terrorism,” for its part, is important for scholars to consider for several reasons, not least because state violence against noncombatants has claimed many more victims than has anti-state violence, and because terrorism by rebel groups is sometimes a strategic response to state terrorism (see e.g. Herman and O’Sullivan 1989 , chs 2 – 3 ; Gareau 2004 ).

My definition of terrorism entails a distinct understanding of what exactly we must explain in order to explain terrorism. What we must explain, plainly, is not why states or political groups sometimes resort to violence as such, but why they employ violence against (or otherwise seek to harm) civilians or noncombatants in particular, with the further goal of intimidating many others in the process. Indeed, one virtue of this definition is that it squarely focuses our attention on violations of the idea (and the ideal) of noncombatant immunity —the principle that noncombatants should never be targeted in wars or civil conflicts, whether by states or rebels. Noncombatant immunity is a fundamental principle of “just war” theory and international law, including the Geneva Conventions.

How, then, are we to explain terrorism defined in this way? In the remainder of this chapter I will critically review two traditional theories of terrorism, then examine at greater length the currently dominant “radicalization” perspective on terrorism, and then develop and briefly illustrate an alternative account of terrorism, which I call the “indirect-war” theory. I argue that neither the traditional theories nor the radicalization perspective tell us much at all about terrorism as I have defined it, but that the indirect-war perspective offers greater promise for the empirical analysis of a wide range of cases of terrorism.

Traditional Theories of Terrorism

How have social scientists and other analysts traditionally attempted to explain why states or rebels have sometimes used violence against, or otherwise sought to harm, civilians? Many theories have been proposed—far more than I can review here—but prior to the 9/11 attacks two hypotheses were especially influential: (1) terrorism is a product of the weakness and/or desperation of some rebels or states (a “weapon of the weak”), and (2) much terrorism is a retaliatory response to violence, including terrorism, by the perpetrators’ armed enemies, whether states or rebels. After 9/11, a new theory of terrorism has become dominant. This theory holds that terrorism is the result of the “radicalization” of particular individuals or groups.

Before the radicalization perspective became dominant, perhaps the most common idea about what causes terrorism was the notion that oppositional or rebel movements turn to terrorism when they are very weak, lack popular support, and yet are desperate to redress their grievances. A similar argument has been proposed as an explanation for state terrorism, claiming that states turn to terrorism—or “civilian victimization”—when they become desperate to win wars (Downes 2008 ). The core idea here is that rebels and states which lack the capacity or leverage to pressure their opponents either nonviolently or through conventional or guerrilla warfare, or who fail to attain their goals when they do employ these strategies, will turn to terrorism as a “last resort.” Disaffected elites sometimes resort to violence, according to Crenshaw’s influential account ( 1981 ), because it is easier and cheaper than strategies that require mass mobilization, especially when government repression makes mass mobilization extremely difficult if not impossible.

There are, however, a number of logical and empirical problems with this “desperation” theory of terrorism, as we might call it. Most importantly, the theory seems simply to assume that desperate rebels or politicians would automatically view attacks upon civilians as beneficial instead of detrimental to their cause. But even if terrorism is cheaper and easier than many other strategies, why would one employ it at all? We need to know what beneficial consequences rebels or state officials believe their attacks on civilians, or on specific kinds of civilians, would bring about. How exactly will these attacks advance their cause? Why would officials or rebels not assume that attacks on civilians would undermine their popularity or otherwise hurt their cause?

Second, there does not in fact seem to be a particularly strong empirical relationship between the strength of states and rebel groups, on the one hand, and their use (or not) of terrorism, on the other. For example, the US government was hardly desperate when it imposed economic sanctions on Iraq during the 1990s, which may have resulted in the deaths of more than half a million children (Gordon 2010 ). (Although these sanctions did not entail direct violence against Iraqi civilians, they fit our definition of terrorism because they deliberately resulted in the deaths and suffering of noncombatants.) The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka, to take another example, was a powerful rebel movement during the 1990s according to most accounts. The LTTE sometimes even waged conventional warfare against Sri Lankan government forces, and it used small aircraft in some of its attacks. Yet the LTTE, which was predominantly Tamil, also engaged in indiscriminate attacks on ethnic Sinhalese civilians, and it did so long after it had decimated rival Tamil nationalist groups (Bloom 2005 , ch. 3 ). So its growing strength did not lead it to abandon terror tactics. The desperation theory does not tell us why.

One can also point, conversely, to relatively weak states and rebel movements that have largely eschewed terrorism. Perhaps the best example of the latter is the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa. In 1961, as many of their leaders were being arrested and many others driven into exile, the ANC and the Communist Party of South Africa established an armed wing called Umkhonto weSizwe (“Spear of the Nation” or MK). The ANC explicitly adopted armed struggle as one of its main political strategies. By most accounts, however, MK failed to become an effective guerrilla force, as the South African Defense Forces were simply too strong and effective (Cherry 2011 ). And yet MK did not then embrace terror tactics against the dominant white minority, despite the fact, as Gay Seidman points out, that, “In a deeply segregated society, it would have been easy to kill random whites. Segregated white schools, segregated movie theaters, segregated shopping centers meant that if white deaths were the only goal, potential targets could be found everywhere” (Seidman 2001 , 118). (I address the question of why the ANC rejected terrorism later in this chapter.)

In short, weak and desperate rebels and states do not necessarily adopt terror tactics, and strong states and rebels do not necessarily eschew such tactics. As Turk concludes, “Because any group may adopt terror tactics, it is misleading to assume either that ‘terrorism is the weapon of the weak’ or that terrorists are always small groups of outsiders—or at most a ‘lunatic fringe’” (Turk 1982 , 122). Indeed, terrorism is often and perhaps usually a weapon of the strong, and of strong states in particular.

The main insight of the desperation theory of terrorism is that states and rebel groups do often take up arms after they have concluded that diplomacy and nonviolent politics cannot work or that these work far too slowly or ineffectively to redress urgent grievances. But notice that this does not tell us why armed actors would employ violence against noncombatants in particular. Moreover, the argument that attacking “soft” targets such as unprotected civilians is easier than waging conventional or guerrilla warfare does not explain why states or rebels would ever wage conventional or guerrilla warfare. The argument implies that rational people would always prefer terrorism to these strategies, which is clearly not the case. In sum, the most we can say is that weakness and desperation may be a necessary but not sufficient cause of terrorism in some cases. But as a general theory of terrorism, this perspective is clearly inadequate.

A second traditional view of terrorism is that it is a retaliatory response to violence, including terrorism. Leftist and radical analysts of terrorism have often made this claim about oppositional terrorism, and it is emphasized by Herman and O’Sullivan ( 1989 ). They suggest that the “retail” terrorism of dissident groups is caused or provoked by the “wholesale” or “primary” terrorism of states, especially powerful Western states, above all the United States. The terms “wholesale” and “retail” are meant to remind readers that state terrorism has generally been much more deadly than oppositional terrorism, which is undeniable. Other scholars have rightly emphasized how state and non-state terrorism have been dynamically intertwined (e.g. English, 2016 ) and how, as a result, revenge often becomes a powerful motivation for terrorism (e.g. Richardson, 2006 : ch. 4 ).

But how far does this view take us? It is certainly true that indiscriminate state violence, especially when perpetrated by relatively weak and ineffective states, has encouraged the development of violent rebel movements (Goodwin 2001 ). But the question is why these movements would attack and threaten civilians as opposed to the state’s armed forces. If rebels are responding to state terrorism, after all, why would they not employ violence against the state ? State terrorism, in other words, would seem more likely to induce rebels to employ guerrilla or conventional warfare than terror tactics.

Empirically, one can also point to dissident organizations that have arisen in contexts of extreme state violence which have nonetheless largely eschewed terror tactics. For example, Central American guerrilla movements of the 1970s and 1980s, including the Sandinista Front in Nicaragua and the Farabundo Martí Front for National Liberation in El Salvador, confronted states that engaged in extensive violence against noncombatants, yet neither movement engaged in much terrorism. Another example is, again, the ANC in South Africa. Interestingly, Herman and O’Sullivan’s book devotes considerable attention to both South African and Israeli state terrorism ( 1989 , ch. 2 ). And yet, while they note the “retail” terrorism of the Palestine Liberation Organization during the 1970s and 1980s—emphasizing that Israeli state terrorism was responsible for a great many more civilian deaths during this period—they do not discuss the oppositional terrorism in South Africa which their theory would seem to predict. In fact, as we have noted, the ANC simply did not carry out much terrorism at all. So “wholesale” state terrorism, clearly, does not always cause or provoke “retail” oppositional terrorism.

Having said this, it is indeed difficult to find a rebel group that has carried out extensive terrorism which has not arisen in a context of considerable state violence. For example, those rebels in French Algeria, the West Bank and Gaza, Sri Lanka, and Chechnya who engaged in extensive terrorism have been drawn from, and claim to act on behalf of, populations that have themselves suffered extensive and often indiscriminate state repression. The question is what to make of this correlation. Why, in these particular contexts, have rebels attacked certain civilians as well as government forces? The retaliatory theory of terrorism does not tell us.

The Radicalization Perspective

A huge literature on terrorism has appeared following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Much of this literature is descriptive or focuses on particular aspects of terrorism, broadly conceived (e.g. recruitment, organization, ideology, etc.). Surprisingly little of this literature is concerned with proposing general causal hypotheses about the choice of terror tactics by either rebels or states. One theory of terrorism, however, has clearly risen to a position of dominance in both the journalistic and academic literature—the idea that terrorism is the result of “radicalization.”

At its core, the radicalization approach to terrorism has a simple thesis: not all radicals may be terrorists, but all terrorists are radicals . It thus follows that a process of ideological “radicalization” (or “violent radicalization” in some accounts) is a necessary if not sufficient cause of terrorism . And it follows in turn that scholars need to identify the factors and processes that cause or facilitate “radicalization” if we are to explain terrorism. It also follows that individuals will be weaned away from terrorism if they can somehow be “de-radicalized.”

These claims, alas, are based on a misunderstanding and misappropriation of the concept of radicalization. Indeed, there are several fundamental problems with the radicalization perspective. This approach often assumes, first of all, that terrorism is a kind of ideological movement—like socialism or conservatism, for example—which seeks out converts. The idea is that terrorists seek to radicalize people or recruit people who are already radicalized. But terror tactics have clearly been employed by groups and states with a very wide range of ideologies, not all of them “radical” in any sense of the word. In fact, the basic theoretical assumption of this approach—that only radicals engage in terrorism—is plainly wrong, unless one defines “radicalism,” tautologically, as a propensity to kill civilians in order to intimidate others. It follows that the basic causal claim or hypothesis of this perspective—that radicalization is a necessary cause of political violence and terrorism—is also plainly wrong.

What does it mean, we might ask, to be a “radical”? The word has had a straightforward, uncontroversial meaning in historical and social-science discourse for many decades. According to the Oxford English Dictionary , “radical” means “Advocating thorough or far-reaching political or social reform … Now more generally: revolutionary, esp. left-wing” ( Oxford English Dictionary online: < www.oed.com/view/Entry/157251#eid27277866 >). A radical, in other words, is a revolutionary—usually on the left but possibly on the right. A radical desires fundamental as opposed to limited social change. Radicals differ from reformists, who desire modest or incremental socio-political changes, and from conservatives, who seek to preserve the existing order more or less as it is.

It follows from this longstanding definition that to “radicalize” means that one comes to have revolutionary or at least far-reaching goals. Historians and social scientists have always used the concept in just this sense, especially those who have written about revolutions or revolutionary movements. The point to emphasize is that the concept of radicalization clearly speaks to ends, not means, let alone violent means . “Radical” has never meant “violent.” In fact, violence and coercion are not associated with any of the several definitions of “radical” which are found in the Oxford English Dictionary . The close association between radicalism and violence, alas, is a very recent and not particularly helpful invention of certain scholars of political violence and terrorism.

Many scholars who employ the term, to be sure, do not explicitly define “radicalization” at all (see e.g. Sageman 2008 ; Horgan 2008 ; Ranstorp 2010 ). And many understand “radicalization” tautologically, that is, as nothing other than the process or processes—whatever they may be—by which one becomes a terrorist. So, for example, according to two leading scholars of terrorism, “Radicalization may be understood as a process leading towards the increased use of political violence, while de-radicalization, by contrast, implies reduction in the use of political violence” (della Porta and LaFree 2012 , 5). “Radicalization” and “de-radicalization” seem to have no other content or meaning for these authors. According to two other prominent scholars,

Functionally, political radicalization is increased preparation for and commitment to intergroup conflict. Descriptively, radicalization means change in beliefs, feelings, and behaviors in directions that increasingly justify intergroup violence and demand sacrifice in defense of the ingroup … [B]ehavioral radicalization means increasing time, money, risk-taking, and violence in support of a political group. (McCauley and Moskalenko 2008 , 416)

These definitions empty the words “radical” and “radicalization” of their traditional meaning. The word “radical” no longer means revolutionary, but is simply used as a synonym or placeholder for the word terrorist, and the word “radicalization” becomes a synonym for whatever process or processes might lead people to become terrorists. The underlying claim is thus entirely circular and unenlightening: Terrorism is a product of radicalization, we are told, and radicalization is the process which leads to terrorism.

It is not clear why some scholars have emptied the word “radicalization” of its traditional meaning in this way. It may be that they have done so because of the obvious fallaciousness of the basic theoretical assumption of the radicalization perspective, namely, that only revolutionaries engage in political violence or terrorism. Of course, no one would deny that revolutionaries have sometimes used violence and terrorism. The term terrorism, after all, was first used to describe the actions of French revolutionaries. Moreover, some scholars who write from the radicalization perspective have correctly emphasized that not all radicals use violence or terrorism. Indeed, some employ the concept of “violent radicalization” precisely in order to address this reality (e.g. Bartlett and Miller 2012 ).

But the assumption remains for most who write from this perspective that all terrorists are revolutionaries (or “extremists”). This assumption, however, is empirically wrong. There is, to begin with, what we might call conservative terrorism or what some have termed “pro-state” terrorism—in other words, non-state terrorism in defense of the status quo (e.g. Bruce 1992 ; White 1999 ). Two better-known cases of such conservative terrorist movements would be the Ku Klux Klan in the United States, which for many decades used terror tactics to reinforce white supremacy, and the Loyalist paramilitary movement in Northern Ireland, which used terrorism in order to maintain Protestant domination of those six counties as well as their union with Great Britain. It simply makes no sense to describe Klan members or Loyalists as radicals or revolutionaries who sought “fundamental socio-political changes.”

The radicalization perspective fails just as clearly to explain most state terrorism, which, like conservative or pro-state terrorism, has also been mainly employed to defend the status quo. Again, state terrorism has sometimes been employed in the service of political projects aimed at radically transforming societies, as in France and Russia. But much more state violence has been used to intimidate civilians so as to maintain the existing social order or to defeat domestic rebels or foreign enemies (Downes 2008 ). State terrorism, indeed, is quite often counter -revolutionary violence in defense of the status quo.

The Indirect-War Theory of Terrorism

A causal explanation of terrorism, as we have defined it, requires us to specify why and under what conditions armed actors (state or non-state) come to regard the killing and intimidation of civilians or noncombatants as a reasonable and perhaps necessary (although not necessarily exclusive) means to attain their political ends. A causal theory should also tell us why and under what conditions armed groups consider terror tactics unnecessary and perhaps even counterproductive. Because terrorism cannot be unintended according to our (and most) definitions, the deliberate targeting of civilians—often just ordinary people—may be considered the sine qua non of terrorism.

Of course, terrorism, like other forms of violence, requires a certain infrastructure (weaponry, means of gaining proximity to targets, etc.) as well as warriors willing and able to carry out the violence. But neither of these is specific to terrorism. Conventional and guerrilla warfare as well as a strategy of assassination also require these things. The essential characteristic of terrorism is the intent to kill or harm as well as to intimidate civilians, and it is this intent which demands an explanation.

Let me now sketch what I call the indirect-war theory of terrorism, which follows in the footsteps of Charlies Tilly’s “relational” approach to terrorism (Tilly 2004 , 2005 ), so named because social relations among key actors (states, armed rebels, and civilians) carry the primary explanatory burden. The indirect-war theory is based on the idea that terrorism is an indirect way for armed groups (state or non-state) to attack their enemies. The theory proposes that an armed group will employ terror tactics against those civilians who are supporters of the group’s armed enemies—provided those civilians are not also seen by the group as their own potential supporters. Terrorism arises, in other words, when one or more parties to an armed conflict seeks to harm their adversaries by harming the civilians who support those adversaries. Killing and terrorizing civilians is thus an indirect means of undermining one’s armed enemies, instead of, or in addition to, directly attacking these enemies. By contrast, there is no incentive to attack civilians who are not supporters of one’s armed enemies.

The indirect-war theory requires a consideration of the characteristics of the civilians or noncombatants whom states and rebels (sometimes) target for violence or harm. Why and how states and rebels come to see particular noncombatants as enemies or appropriate targets of violence is a puzzle that the aforementioned theories of terrorism, as we have seen, generally ignore. Yet states and rebels clearly do not attack just any civilians or noncombatants. Indeed, both states and rebels are also usually interested in winning the active support or allegiance of civilians—or at least civilians of a certain type. So who are the “bad” or enemy civilians whom warriors choose to attack? And what good, from the warriors’ perspective, might come from attacking them?

When states or rebels employ terror tactics in a civil or international conflict, they generally attack and try to intimidate civilians who in one way or another are valuable to or support their armed enemies. These are civilians upon whom enemy armed actors are dependent in different ways. Again, attacking such civilians is a way to attack indirectly one’s armed opponents, and it is perfectly rational from this standpoint, despite the widespread moral condemnation of terror tactics.

The main tactical objective of and incentive for terrorism in armed conflicts is to induce the targeted civilians to stop supporting certain government or rebel policies. Terrorism, in other words, typically aims to apply such intense pressure to civilians that they will demand that their government or movement change certain policies or activities. Better yet, from the perpetrators’ perspective, these civilians may even cease supporting the government or rebels altogether in order to end the violence directed at them. The perpetrators may also hope that the states or rebels they are fighting will unilaterally change or abandon certain policies or activities in order to end the killing of civilians. In either case, the government or rebels cannot be indifferent to attacks on civilians who are valuable to them.

In short, there is a general incentive for armed groups to attack and intimidate those civilians who are supporters of states or rebels with whom they are at war. But how exactly do certain civilians support armed groups? Civilians may support armed groups in two main ways—politically and economically—each of which produces a distinct incentive for armed enemies to attack them. First, terrorism is likely to be employed against noncombatants who politically support one’s armed enemies. In this context, terror tactics are a reasonable means to weaken civilian political support (or tolerance) for violence by “their” government or rebels. For example, Al Qaeda and other “jihadist” groups have attacked civilians in the United States, the UK, France, and other Western countries in order to erode political support for their governments’ policies in the Middle East. By contrast, terrorism is much less likely to be employed against civilians who do not politically support—or are substantially divided in their support for—one’s armed enemies. In this case, terrorism may alienate potential allies.

Second, terrorism is likely to be employed against noncombatants who economically support one’s armed enemies by, for example, supplying them with weapons, transportation (or the means thereof), food, and other supplies needed to employ violence. In this context, terrorism is a reasonable means to weaken civilian economic support for violence by “their” government or rebels. For example, the “terror bombing” of World War II, which resulted in hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of civilian deaths, was undertaken primarily to destroy the industrial economies of England, Germany, and Japan (in part by eroding civilian morale), on which those countries’ armed forces were dependent. Such destruction required massive civilian victimization. By contrast, terrorism is much less likely when soldiers are supplied by foreign states, for example, or through covert, black markets that involve few civilians.

Terrorism is also likely to spread and escalate in conflicts in which an armed actor has begun to attack the civilian supporters of their armed enemies. When this occurs, terrorism may become a reasonable means (other things being equal) to deter terrorism by armed enemies, thereby protecting one’s civilian supporters, or, alternatively, to avenge such terrorism, thereby winning or reinforcing the political support of those civilians who feel they have been avenged.

Generally speaking, civilians who enjoy extensive civil and political rights are more likely to support their government than those who do not enjoy such rights. It follows that civilians with rights are more likely to be attacked by rebels or enemy states during times of conflict than civilians without rights, other things being equal. For example, when extensive and indiscriminate state violence appears to be supported by civilians, it is hardly surprising that rebel movements would tend to view such civilians, as well as the states perpetrating such violence, as legitimate targets of violence; the purpose of such violence is to undermine these civilians’ support for their government. Extensive state (“wholesale”) terrorism thus begets extensive rebel (“retail”) terrorism in conflicts in which a citizenry with significant democratic rights supports the state’s violence. Such a citizenry would appear to be a common if not strictly necessary precondition for extensive terrorism by rebel movements (see Pape 2005 ; Goodwin 2006 ).

The indirect-war theory also helps us to understand why rebels who are fighting autocratic or authoritarian regimes tend to eschew terror tactics. Relatively few civilians tend to support such regimes, so there is no benefit in employing terror tactics against the general civilian population, unless for economic purposes. For example, the Sandinista Front in Nicaragua carried out virtually no terror attacks during its armed conflict with the autocratic Somoza dictatorship during the late 1970s, an otherwise bloody insurgency during which some 30,000 people were killed (Booth 1983 ). Civilians who supported the dictatorship consisted of a small number of Somoza cronies and a loyal elite opposition, both of which were drawn mainly from Nicaragua’s small bourgeoisie. Virtually all other civilians in Nicaragua, from the poorest peasant to Somoza’s bourgeois opponents, were viewed by the Sandinistas as potential allies, and indeed many would become such. It obviously made no sense to attack such people. Of course, had the Somoza dictatorship been supported by broader sectors of the population—by a broader class coalition, for example, or a large ethnic group—then the Sandinistas might very well have employed terror tactics against such sectors in order to undermine their support for the dictatorship.

In summary, armed groups, whether states or rebels, are likely to attack and terrorize noncombatants who politically or economically support enemy states or rebels. This is a way to undermine indirectly one’s armed enemies. By contrast, armed groups are unlikely to attack noncombatants who do not support enemy states or rebels. In such instances, attacking such noncombatants would serve no purpose and would alienate potential allies. Whether civilians are supporters of states or rebels, in other words, is the key to understanding why terror tactics are or are not likely to be employed against them in specific conflicts.

Contrasting Case Studies: Al Qaeda and the ANC

In the final section of this chapter, I want to illustrate, if only briefly, how the indirect-war theory of terrorism just outlined can help us to understand the contrasting tactics of two non-state armed groups—one that decided to employ terror tactics and one that rejected terror tactics, although not violence as such.

Al Qaeda, and armed groups affiliated with it, have carried out a number of terrorist attacks in recent years against US and certain European noncombatants (see e.g. Hoffman and Reinares 2014 ). Why does Al Qaeda attack such civilians? Why, in other words, has it chosen to employ terror tactics?

Al Qaeda adheres to the view that the global Muslim community, or umma , is currently oppressed by both “apostate” secular and “hypocritical” pseudo-Islamic regimes, from Morocco to the Philippines, as well as by the “Zionist entity” (Israel) in Palestine. And standing behind these regimes is the powerful US government and its European allies, especially the UK and France. Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups are hostile toward the United States and its allies for supporting repressive, un-Islamic regimes in Muslim countries. Al Qaeda believes that unless and until the US and its allies—the “far enemy”—can be compelled to end their support for these regimes—the “near enemy”—and withdraw their troops and other agents from Muslim countries, local struggles to overthrow these regimes cannot succeed (Gerges 2009 ).

Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups have attacked US military forces in the Middle East. But why have they also decided that ordinary civilians are legitimate targets of violence? After all, terrorism is rejected not only by mainstream Islamists, but also by many jihadists themselves. In fact, “when finally informed about the major attack against the United States [i.e. the 9/11 plot], most senior members of the Al Qaeda Shura Council reportedly objected on religious and strategic grounds; bin Laden overrode the majority’s decision, and the attacks went forward” (Gerges 2009 , 19).

Shortly after 9/11, Osama bin Laden described the rationale for the 9/11 attacks in an interview that first appeared in the Pakistani newspaper Ausaf on November 7, 2001:

The United States and their allies are killing us in Palestine, Chechnya, Kashmir, Palestine and Iraq. That’s why Muslims have the right to carry out revenge attacks on the U.S. … The American people should remember that they pay taxes to their government and that they voted for their president. Their government makes weapons and provides them to Israel, which they use to kill Palestinian Muslims. Given that the American Congress is a committee that represents the people, the fact that it agrees with the actions of the American government proves that America in its entirety is responsible for the atrocities that it is committing against Muslims. I demand the American people to take note of their government’s policy against Muslims. They described their government’s policy against Vietnam as wrong. They should now take the same stand that they did previously. The onus is on Americans to prevent Muslims from being killed at the hands of their government. (Quoted in Lawrence 2005 , 140–1.)

In short, bin Laden believed that American citizens support their government and its policies in the Middle East. They have elected and pay taxes to their government, which in his view makes them responsible for its actions in Muslim countries (Wiktorowicz and Kaltner 2003 , 88–9). Al Qaeda views American citizens, in other words, not as “innocents,” but as economically and politically complicit in US-sponsored massacres and the oppression of Muslims. Bin Laden hoped that attacks on US citizens would lead them to reject and demand a change in the policies of their government in the Middle East. He hoped that Americans would oppose their government’s actions—as they did during the Vietnam War—in order to stop it from killing more Muslims and supporting oppressive regimes (Lawrence 2005 , 141). In short, Al Qaeda has attacked US citizens because they support Al Qaeda’s armed enemy (the US government) both politically and economically, and the purpose of such attacks is to undermine this support. All this is consonant with the indirect-war theory of terrorism.

The indirect-war theory, as we have seen, also proposes that armed groups are unlikely to employ terror tactics against civilians who are not supporters—or are divided in their support—of these groups’ armed enemies. An armed group is especially unlikely to employ terror tactics against a particular civilian group when some significant fraction of it has come to support that group; it would obviously make no sense for an armed group to attack a civilian population from which it draws a substantial number of supporters. Such terrorism would not only put at risk the support these warriors are receiving from those civilians, but would also make it much less likely that additional civilians would come to support these warriors.

The existence of a substantial group of “dissident civilians” of this type (i.e. civilians who support the armed enemies of “their” government or rebel group) seems largely to explain why the African National Congress—the leading anti-apartheid organization in South Africa—rejected the use of terror tactics against white South Africans. The ANC eschewed such tactics even though the apartheid regime that it sought to topple employed extensive violence, including terrorism, against its opponents. This violence, moreover, was clearly supported or tolerated by large segments of the white population. The Nationalist Party governments of the apartheid era which unleashed the security forces against the regime’s enemies were elected and widely supported by the white population, which enjoyed a range of political privileges and economic benefits under apartheid.

So why did the ANC refuse to view whites as such as enemies or to employ terror tactics against them? The answer lies in the ANC’s long history of “multiracialism,” that is, the collaboration of whites with black South Africans in the ANC (and with South Asian and “colored” or mixed race people), both inside the ANC and in allied organizations. Especially important in this respect was the ANC’s long collaboration with the South African Communist Party, which also has a long history of multiracialism. Tellingly, an important, long-time leader of the ANC’s armed wing was Joe Slovo, a white Communist. (This is analogous to an Israeli Jew leading Hamas’s armed wing or a Christian American directing Al Qaeda’s covert operations.)

For the ANC to have indiscriminately attacked white South Africans would have soured this strategic relationship, which, among other things, was essential for securing substantial Soviet aid for the ANC. Terrorism directed at white South Africans would also have put at risk the large amount of aid that the ANC received from Western Europe during the anti-apartheid struggle. In sum, given the longstanding multiracial—including international—support for the anti-apartheid movement, the use of terrorism against white civilians made little strategic sense to ANC leaders. The ANC would have been much more likely to employ terror tactics against white South Africans if the latter (as well as Europeans) more or less exclusively supported the apartheid regime and opposed the ANC.

Terrorism, understood as the killing of noncombatants in order to frighten or intimidate others, has long been an important method of warfare or contention for both states and non-state armed groups. However, neither traditional theories nor the currently dominant “radicalization” perspective on terrorism help us very much in understanding why states or rebels would choose to attack and intimidate civilians as opposed to soldiers or political elites. Some armed groups undoubtedly employ terrorism out of weakness and desperation, as a “last resort,” but many and probably most do not. Similarly, some warriors use terrorism as a retaliatory response to violence by others, but not always; and this claim fails to explain why warriors would retaliate against noncombatants in particular as opposed to soldiers. And the radicalization perspective, for its part, errs in assuming that all terrorists are ideologically radical and that individuals therefore become terrorists through a process of radicalization. In fact, terror tactics have been employed by rebels and states with a wide range of ideological views. Not all radicals, furthermore, employ terrorism or any other type of violent tactic for that matter.

I have argued, by contrast, that what I have called the indirect-war theory of terrorism offers a more adequate causal account of why some but not all states and armed groups have employed terror tactics. I have suggested that armed groups are likely to attack those civilians who are supporters—politically or economically—of these groups’ armed enemies. The purpose of terror tactics is to undermine civilian support for armed groups—and thereby to attack the latter indirectly. On the other hand, I have suggested that armed groups are unlikely to employ terror tactics against a civilian population when such groups are themselves supported by some significant fraction of that population. I illustrated this theory with the contrasting cases of Al Qaeda, which has employed terrorism in order to undermine civilian support for US and European government policies in the Middle East, and the African National Congress, which largely rejected terror tactics in its fight against apartheid, tactics which would have undermined the support it received from white South Africans and Europeans.

Bartlett, J. , and C. Miller ( 2012 ) “ The Edge of Violence: Towards Telling the Difference between Violent and Non-Violent Radicalization, ” Terrorism and Political Violence , 24(1): 1–21.

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Bruce, S. ( 1992 ) “The Problems of ‘Pro-State’ Terrorism: Loyalist Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland,” Terrorism and Political Violence , 4(1): 67–88.

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della Porta, D. , and G. LaFree ( 2012 ) “ Processes of Radicalization and De-Radicalization, ” International Journal of Conflict and Violence , 6(1): 4–10.

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English, R. ed. ( 2016 ) Illusions of Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism . Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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essay on terrorism is disaster

Lessons for first responders on the front lines of terrorism

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Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Director of the Acute Care Research Unit, Affiliated Adjunct and Natural Scientist, RAND Corporation, University of Michigan

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Professor of Policy Analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School

Disclosure statement

Mahshid Abir is an Affiliated Adjunct staff member at the RAND Corporation and received funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (HHS/ASPR) for the research discussed in this article.

Christopher Nelson is Professor of Policy Analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School and Senior Political Scientist at RAND. He received funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (HHS/ASPR) for the research discussed in this article.

University of Michigan provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.

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Acts of terrorism are on the rise globally . Over the past several weeks alone, the world has seen stabbings, shootings and bombings in Flint, Tehran, London , Kabul and Bogota.

We’ve spent the past several years researching how communities can prepare to provide urgent medical care to the large numbers of victims these events produce.

Given the persistent risk of terrorist attacks and large-scale accidents, it’s more critical than ever to learn from past incidents. That will ensure that first responders can work together effectively during the chaotic but critical minutes and hours after an incident.

Better coordination

Televised images of attack or disaster scenes often show patients being treated and transported by paramedics. Hours later, hospital press conferences often recount the heroic efforts of emergency physicians, trauma surgeons and nurses to minimize loss of life and limb.

But equally important are the actions of nonmedical first responders. Police, firefighters and even bystanders compress wounds, apply tourniquets or drive casualties to hospitals.

In the Boston marathon bombing , for instance, 264 victims transported to local hospitals survived, despite many serious injuries. This was credited not only to excellent triage, transport and care by medically trained paramedics, EMS and hospital staff, but also to immediate lifesaving actions by police and bystanders.

essay on terrorism is disaster

However, things do not always go so well. In the often chaotic post-incident scene, it can be difficult to coordinate the efforts of multiple response agencies and bystanders. Even as EMS personnel triage and transfer victims, law enforcement needs to maintain security, preserve evidence and locate potential perpetrators. That makes it challenging to manage access to and traffic around the scene.

For instance, an Orlando Police Department report on the Pulse nightclub attack cited the need for improved communication and coordination between the police and fire departments responding to the incident. While such problems do not always affect how many lives are saved, they can slow down the overall response.

Even when well-coordinated, those not trained in post-disaster casualty triage can unintentionally cause problems. They might transfer patients to hospitals that lack the resources needed to treat them, or transfer them in vehicles that lack critical life-support equipment, such as IVs or oxygen.

What’s more, unforeseen events such as poor weather or volume-related cell tower outages can create additional challenges.

Preparing for the next attack

Our recent research looked at three mass casualty incidents in the U.S. between 2013 and 2015, examining both the health care system and community responses.

We identified several best practices that can help medical and nonmedical first responders handle these incidents more effectively.

First, we must provide co-training for medical and nonmedical first responders. Police and firefighters are already starting to be trained in basic lifesaving skills in non-mass casualty incident contexts. In some communities, such as Atlanta and Irvine, California, police patrols carry automated electronic defibrillator devices as well as Narcan to reverse opioid overdose. Other police departments, such as in Denver, provide staff training in tourniquet application . These efforts should be continued.

Moreover, both medical and nonmedical responders should be trained in scene safety, bystander management, field triage and medical techniques such as effective application of tourniquets. Even many medical professionals lack sufficient training in these skills.

Second, we need to ensure open communication lines. A dedicated radio frequency can facilitate communication among the various responder disciplines, as well as guard against problems caused by cell tower outages. Also, responders can be trained to rely, when necessary, on text messaging, which worked when voice communication did not during the events we studied.

Third, interdisciplinary disaster drills are critical. Communities should conduct regular citywide disaster drills that include EMS, fire and police departments, as well as area hospitals and health care systems. Responders need to test their training and protocols under conditions that simulate some of the complexity and stress of real events. This could include adding components without notice, to simulate the sudden onset of terrorist events .

Such drills will help each group understand how its actions contribute to an integrated multidisciplinary response. They can also promote more effective collaboration during response to an incident.

Finally, we need to build relationships in advance that can be leveraged during emergencies. Our research indicates that one of the most important ingredients of an effective multidisciplinary medical response is strong relationships and trust among key players. Regular exercises and drills can help, but they need to be supported by leaders and organizational cultures.

For example, in recent years, with support from the federal government, many communities across the U.S. have created health care coalitions that provide formal mechanisms – including regular multi-stakeholder meetings and agreements to share critical resources – for coordinating the preparedness and response efforts of first responders, health care providers and private sector partners.

Moreover, given the frequent role of bystanders, professional responders should reach out to community emergency response teams and other organizations. That can help raise citizen awareness of basic lifesaving techniques.

Public support

Effective medical response to terrorism and disasters requires sustained investment. That can be difficult to muster in an era marked by increasing skepticism about public investment and distrust in public institutions.

However, experience suggests that we need collaboration among medical and nonmedical response organizations – and civilians. Through supporting public investments in mass casualty incident preparedness and response, both policymakers and civilians should have the confidence that, even when attacks cannot be prevented, their communities are resilient enough to respond to and recover from them.

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Defining terrorism is a tedious and confusing task as there is a lack of consensus at the international level. However several efforts have been made in this regard.

Table of Contents

Defining Terrorism

An agreed, comprehensive definition of terrorism has never been created by the international community. The United Nations’ attempts to define the term during the 1970s and 1980s failed mostly because of disagreements among its members over the use of violence in conflicts over self-determination and national liberation. Due to these differences, a conclusion cannot be reached.

According to the FBI: “Terrorism is the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

Causes of Terrorism

There are many causes for terrorism such as:

Political causes

Insurgency and guerrilla warfare, a type of organized conflict, were the contexts in which terrorism was first theorized. A non-state army or organization committing political violence. Because they dislike the current system, they pick terrorism. They oppose the current social structure and wish to change it.

Religious reasons

In the 1990s, experts started to claim that a brand-new sort of terrorism propelled by religious zeal was on the increase. They cited groups like Al Qaeda, the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo, and Christian identity movements. Religious concepts like martyrdom were viewed as especially hazardous.

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According to socio-economic theories, persons who experience different types of deprivation are more likely to turn to terrorism or are more open to being recruited by groups that use terrorist tactics. Lack of political freedom, lack of access to education, and poverty are a few examples.

Types of Terrorism

The following are the various types of terrorism.

Ethno-Nationalist Terrorism

According to Daniel Byman, ethnic terrorism is the premeditated use of violence by a subnational ethnic group to further its cause. Such violence typically aims at either the establishment of a separate State or elevating one ethnic group above another.

Activities by Tamil nationalist groups in Srilanka are an example of Ethno-Nationalist terrorism.

Hoffman claims that those who engage in terrorism who are either wholly or partially driven by religious imperative view violence as a sacramental or heavenly responsibility. Religious terrorism is more destructive in nature because it adopts different justifications and modes of legitimization than other terrorist organizations.

Ideology oriented

Several ideologies have been used to legitimize terrorism. They include:

Left-Wing Extremism

The idea focuses on overthrowing the state through an armed struggle and establishing a communist state.

Right Wing Terrorism

Right-wing organizations typically aim to preserve the status quo or go back to a scenario from the past that they believe should have been preserved.

They might compel the government to seize a piece of land or to step in to defend the rights of a minority that is being “oppressed” in a neighboring nation.

State Sponsored Terrorism

State-sponsored terrorism and proxy war are as old as organized warfare itself. According to Walter Laqueur, these customs were in place in antiquity in the Eastern Empires, Rome and Byzantium, Asia, and Europe.

Impacts of Terrorism

It seriously jeopardizes global peace and security and undercuts the fundamental principles of growth, peace, and humanity. Terrorist activities not only have a catastrophic human cost in terms of lives lost or permanently changed, but they also endanger political stability and economic and social advancement.

Often, terrorist attacks disregard international boundaries.CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives) materials are used in terrorist attacks that have devastating effects on infrastructure and communities.

Measures To Counter Terrorism

  • The United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) is responsible for leading and coordinating the UN system’s efforts to prevent and combat terrorism and violent extremism worldwide.
  • Under UNOCT, the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) encourages global collaboration in the fight against terrorism and assists the Member States in putting the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy into practice.
  • The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) Terrorism Prevention Branch (TPB) is a key player in global efforts.
  • International standards are established by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) , a global organization that monitors money laundering and terrorist funding with the goal of preventing these illicit actions and the harm they do to society.

A combined effort at the international level is the need of the hour to tackle the perils of terrorism. Terrorism of any form is unacceptable in a civilized society.

Article written by: Vivek Rajasekharan

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Planning Against Terrorism And Disasters Essay Samples

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Government , Infrastructure , Crime , Money , Security , Politics , Terrorism , Social Issues

Words: 1100

Published: 04/02/2020



Terrorist is a national issue, and every country should have great mechanism of dealing with this issue that is threatening the security of many nations. Various studies have recommended changes in various approaches used to respond to terrorism. Terrorism threat has generated debates concerning the organizational aspect of the problem. They have focused on organizational structure, intelligent, collection and budgetary priorities. Various studies have suggested a bigger role to the military in combating terrorism while others call for a new structure which will fight terrorism.

How to develop counter-terrorism plan

The United States safeguard their core values. They stand for equity, dignity, hope, freedom and opportunity for all, despite the injustices offered by terrorists. The power of those values builds a broad coalition against the common threat posed by terrorists. The respect for the rights of human rights, respecting the right of privacy, encouraging responsive governance and balancing security and transparency help in countering terrorism attacks (Cohen, 1972).

Building Security Partnerships

One state cannot possibly eliminate terrorist organizations that threaten security and safety. State must join with key partners so that they can share the burdens of common security.

Applying CT Tools and Capabilities Appropriately

The state must evaluate the tool they use to ensure that their efforts are appropriate and that they match with values, law and long-term strategic objective. Authorities of every department and agency should ensure appropriate tools are used at the appropriate time.

Building a Culture of Resilience

In order to counter terrorism attack, the state ought to create a culture of preparedness and resilience. The culture will help the state to respond successfully from any acts of terror directed to the nation.


Counter-Terrorism Control Centre The counter-terrorism center identifies intelligence needs, manages government counter-terrorism priorities and makes sure that the process of collecting and distributing counter-terrorism is harmonized fully. Commonwealth agencies evaluate and integrate counter-terrorism intelligence. The intelligent community gathers intelligence and pursues investigation (Hoffman, 1992).

Threat Assessment

The National Threat Assessment Centre assesses the likelihood and the nature of terrorism, violence and protest. This assessment supports agencies and jurisdiction to make decisions on risk management, how to respond to the threat and to mitigate risks (Hoffman, 1992).

Criminal Investigation

Prevention of terrorism entails using various methodologies in order to identify suspects and activities of terrorism. Police carry out investigative capabilities to prevent terrorism activity and to gather evidence that is used in prosecutions for terrorism-related offences.

Police Commissioners and the heads of intelligence agencies create a framework for the strategic management of counter-terrorism.

Border Control Government ensures that the profiles of all non-citizens seeking entry to the state are checked they also monitor the entry of and exit of aircraft, goods, vessels and people to curb terror activities.

Transport Security

The Office of Transport Security regulates the provision of security measures by maritime, private operators in the aviation and air freight sectors to curb the threats from unlawful acts of terrorism. It coordinates transport security policy and provides advice on the effects of security developments on the transport industry. The regulations entail security programs at designated airlines and airports. They provide industry with information that can pose a threat to transport security in order to guide in risk management and security plans (Hoffman, 1992).

Participants in developing plans to counter terror attacks

Commonwealth Government, State and Territory agencies should participate in developing plans to counter- terrorism attacks. They have a responsibility to ensure that right standards for transmission, handling and storage of security classified materials and secure information. The State and Territory Governments: They have a responsibility of operational response to the incidents of terrorism. They maintain policies related to counter-terrorism, plan and legislation in their jurisdiction (Crenshaw1992). Police Commissioners and the heads of intelligence agencies should also be involved since they will provide framework for strategic management of counter-terrorism operations United Nations should also participate so that they can create a forum for victim’s voice through dialogue between government and international leadership. The communication between the victims to victim, victim to government and government to government will help counter terrorist recruitment and criminal activities (Crenshaw, 1992).

Roadblocks to planning counter-terrorism plans include;

Financing of Terrorism Prevention of the financing terrorist is an important decision so as to deny terrorist the means to commit crimes. However, this implementation set new burden to the banks and financial professions. The existence of anti -money- laundering will help to curb the financing of terrorism. However, the ant-money-laundering has failed in taking into account transfers of money aimed to fund terrorism. The fight to curb financing of terrorism includes anti -money-laundering and specific measures to address the nature of this problem. Lack of transparency on international financial transaction pose a high threat to the effort made to prevent financing of terrorism (Cohen, 1972).

Competence of the courts

The state has a role to prosecute and try those who are responsible for the terrorism acts. Such measures are put to ensure terrorist will not have a place of refuge. However, some states have been reluctant in creating such mechanisms in their legislation. As a result, ratification of anti-terrorist conventions has been used as a method to accomplish the goal of resolution, to create international cooperation network for mutual assistance. Mutual laws of national assistant in criminal matters will help in creating an international network for social cooperation in all states (Hoffman, 1992).

Ratification without Enforcement Measures

In order to broaden anti-terror activities, it is important to ratify international anti-terrorist conventions. However, reports show that many countries ratify conventions without adopting internal enforcement measures. Without these measures, convention has no practical effects.

Links between terrorism and organized crime

Organized crime and terrorism have similar effects. Studies indicate that trafficking done by organized crime is often aiming at financing terrorist. Monitoring of transactions which involve variable metals, weapons and dangerous materials should be given high priority in dialogue between states (Crenshaw, 1992).

Cohen, S. (1972). Folk devils and moral panics: The creation of the mods and rockers. Oxford: Blackwell. Crenshaw, M. (1992). Current research on terrorism: The academic perspective. Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 15(1), 1-11. Hoffman, B. (1992). Current research on terrorism and low-intensity conflict; Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 15, 25-37.


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  • Terrorism Essay


Essay on Terrorism

Terrorism is a blunder committed by the terrible individuals around us. To demonstrate their strength, a group of people attempts to govern a specific arena. Terrorism has a negative impact on both society and personal life. As a result of their acts, a large number of families are destroyed. Regrettably, the number of crimes in India is increasing on a daily basis. Ancient India was ruled by a monarchy, and the ruling was a source of pride for the king. However, India later accepted democracy, and everyone is treated equally under the Indian constitution. Even so, some cowards try to keep their power over the impoverished and weak.

Terrorism represents the foolish act done by the cruel people around us. The bunch of groups tries to rule the certain arena to show their power. Terrorism had a adverse effect on the society as well as a personal life. Their number of families gets destroyed due to their actions. In India, it's sad to say, but the number of crimes is increasing day by day. Ancient India was in Monarchy where ruling was a pride to the king, but later on India accepted democracy and everyone is treated the same under the Indian constituent. Still some cowards try to maintain their dominance over poor and helpless people.

Who could forget the date 26th November, better known as 26/11! Where 10 terrorists entered the country and attacked the economic city in India. Bringing grenades, pistols, automated rifles and other destructive weapons they almost destroyed the city and shocked the Indians in the midnight. The people are helpless, weaponless and in their own world of enjoyment at the railway station, hotels and in the drives on the roads, and suddenly a danger happens in their lives, which they did not expect. 

Osama Bin Laden was the greatest terrorist in the world! People are still afraid of hearing his name. He had destroyed a building named ‘world-trade center’ with the help of an airplane. It has also been stated in the reports that frequently Osama had been amorphous with him. Even the police themselves got confused and captured the wrong one. After his death there was lots of time still required to recognize the originality of him.

Lying in court is an offense. Frequently the needy and poor people lie in court for the sake of a certain amount of money. But, this money would be a help to criminals outside the world. Even, we purchased CDs and DVDs at an economic rate. To save a certain amount of money, we help piracy. These pirates invest this money in the armonony and indirectly we are sponsoring a bullet in every war which would be used against us only. 

The origin of terrorism starts with a little things. The first pen stolen from a friend could even lead to mortal works. Everything has a start and if left unmanaged, they can leave the astray and lose the right path. In the school, if the adverse effects of being bad are explained properly with illustrations to some real life examples, the students may get aware about all the facts and take an initiative to stop the spread of crime. Instead of making criminals with heroic roles in the television serials, the more heroic movie super cops are to be made. Instead of writing biographies of terrorism supporters, write articles about terrorism demonization. The start of this cleaning starts from home, if you have a child, teach them the ways to be a great person in good habits rather than supporting him when he starts stealing something. Terrorism has an end, if we are united the terrorism can be thrown is out of the windows! 

Various Forms Of Terrorism

Political terrorism, which raises mass concern, and criminal terrorism, which involves abduction for ransom money, are the two sorts of terrorism. Political terrorism is significantly more essential than criminal terrorism since it is carried out by well-trained personnel. As a result, apprehending them in a timely way becomes increasingly challenging for law enforcement agencies.

Terrorism has spread across the country and around the world. Regional terrorism is the most dangerous type of terrorism. Terrorists feel that dying as a terrorist is a priceless and sacred experience, and they will go to any extent to attain it. Each of these terrorist groups was founded for a different motive.

Who can forget November 26th, often known as "26/11"? Ten terrorists infiltrated the country and assaulted India's economic centre. They nearly devastated the city and astonished the Indians by bringing explosives, pistols, automatic rifles, and other lethal weapons. People are defenceless, without weapons, and engrossed in their own realms of pleasure at the railway station, motels, and on the highways when an unanticipated menace enters their life.

The Origins of Terrorism

The invention or manufacture of vast quantities of machine guns, atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs, nuclear weapons, missiles, and other weapons fuels terrorism. Rapid population expansion, political, social, and economic issues, public dissatisfaction with the country's system, a lack of education, corruption, racism, economic disparities, and language disparities are all key factors in the development of terrorism. Terrorism is sometimes used to establish and maintain one's stance. Despite the contrast between caste and terrorism, the most well-known riots have taken place between Hindus and Muslims.

Consequences of Terrorism

Individuals are filled with fear as a result of terrorism, and people of the country feel vulnerable as a result. Millions of goods have been destroyed, thousands of people have died, and animals have been slaughtered as a result of terrorist assaults. People lose trust in humanity after seeing a terrorist attack, which fosters more terrorists. Terrorism comes in many forms and manifests itself in different parts of the country and outside.

Terrorism is becoming a problem not just in India, but also in our neighbouring countries, and governments throughout the world are battling it. The World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001, is considered the world's worst terrorist strike. Osama bin Laden launched an attack on the world's tallest tower, resulting in millions of injuries and thousands of deaths.


FAQs on Terrorism Essay

1. Who was Osama bin Laden?

Osama Bin Laden was the world's greatest terrorist! Hearing his name still makes people fearful. With the help of an aeroplane, he had destroyed the 'world-trade centre.' According to the rumours, Osama had been amorphous with him on several occasions. Even the cops got mixed up and arrested the wrong person. There was still a lot of time required after his death to acknowledge his uniqueness.

2. Identify the countries that are the most impacted by terrorism.

Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Syria were the countries most hit in 2014, with the highest number of terrorist incidents. This year has been dubbed "Terrorism Year." Furthermore, it has been reported that these five countries were the primary targets of 78 per cent of all attacks last year. Apart from them, there are 39 countries that endured the most attacks, and their index rating is based on the severity and frequency of attacks they experienced.

3. What is the true cause of terrorism?

Terrorism is defined as the use of violence for a specific purpose. This motivation could stem from a sense of social and political injustice, or just a belief that violence can bring about change. The main cause of terrorism is usually perceived unfairness or rage against specific societal conditions. Many people join terrorist groups out of desperation or to exact personal vengeance on powerful authorities. Terrorism is also a result of strong feelings of injustice. Millions of young people aspire to make a difference by utilising violence as a tool for social upheaval. As a result, in order to combat these extremists, we must provide them with alternatives to violence that can be useful to them.

4. What is the best way to combat terrorism?

The reduction of terrorism threats and the safeguarding of the state, its interests, and citizens against all types of terrorist activity are two of the State Security Service's top priorities in the battle against terrorism. It is critical to detect and suppress operations carried out by international terrorist groups and anyone linked to them. It is necessary to conduct an active search for persons linked to terrorist organisations. Enhancing the capacity of readiness and reaction to terrorist threats should receive special focus.

5. Give an overview of the history of terrorism.

The term "terrorist" was coined by François-Nol Babeuf, a French philosopher, in 1794. As a result of his denunciation of Robespierre's regime as a dictatorship, the Brunswick Manifesto threatened Paris with military punishment and complete devastation. This threat, however, only fueled the Revolution's determination to overthrow the monarchy. Tyranny, according to ancient philosophers, was the greatest political threat to Greco-Roman civilization prior to the French Revolution. Philosophers in the Middle Ages were also preoccupied with the concept of tyranny.

6. Explain the historical background of terrorism.

The word "terrorist" was first used in 1794 by François-Noël Babeuf who was a French philosopher. He denounced Robespierre's regime as a dictatorship therefore Brunswick Manifesto threatened Paris that the city would be subjected to military punishment and total destruction. But this threat only increased the Revolution's will to abolish the monarchy.

Prior to the French Revolution, ancient philosophers wrote tyranny as the greatest political threat to Greco-Roman civilization. Medieval philosophers were similarly occupied with the concept of tyranny.

7. How to fight against terrorism?

One of the main priorities of the State Security Service in fighting against terrorism is the reduction of the risks of terrorism and the protection of the state, its interests and citizens against all forms of terrorist activities. The detection and suppression of activities carried out by international terrorist organizations and persons related to them is important. Active search of individuals connected with terrorist organizations needs to be conducted. Considerable attention should be paid in enhancing the capabilities of readiness and responses to terrorist threats.

8. What is the real reason behind terrorism?

Terrorism is the use of violence for a certain cause. This cause may be due to the perceived social and political injustice or simply a belief that violence can lead  to change.

Usually perceived injustice or anger against a certain social conditions is the main cause  that foster terrorism. Many people join terrorist groups because of poverty or to take their personal revenge from the powerful authority. Strong feelings of injustice also results in terrorism. There are millions of young people who want to create change by using fight as the tools for social upheaval. So, in order to counter these extremists we need to give them alternatives to violence which can prove beneficial for them.

9. Name the countries which are most affected by terrorism.

Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria are the most affected countries which suffered the largest number of terrorist attacks in 2014. This year is called the year of terrorism.

Also it has been recorded that these five countries were the major victims of 78% of all attacks that happened last year. Apart from these countries there are 39 countries which saw the greatest number of attacks, and their index ranking is calculated against severity and frequency of attacks they experienced.

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Man Made Disaster Essay

A disaster is a significant issue that occurs over a short or long period. It results in widespread loss of life, property, or resources that are greater than the capacity of the affected community or society to cope with using its resources. Typically, disasters are classified as either "natural disasters" produced by natural hazards or "human-instigated disasters" induced by human hazards. Here are a few sample essays on "Man-Made Disasters".

Man Made Disaster Essay

100 Words Essay On Man-Made Disaster

A disaster is an unexpected accident. It may also be called a "calamity". Disasters caused by the activities of humans or the involvement of humans or their negligence are known as man-made disasters. They are also called "anthropogenic hazards". Man-made disasters impact livelihood, cause injuries, cost lives etc. Examples are chemical spills, nuclear explosions, cyber-attacks, fire, hazardous material explosions etc.

Disasters also affect the economic and social environment. Some disasters might even cause massive loss of life. Since every component of an ecosystem is interrelated, when one is disturbed by human activity, the entire ecosystem is disturbed. Many activities undertaken by man become the main reasons for the disturbance in the ecosystem.

200 Words Essay On Man-Made Disaster

Change in the environment caused by the involvement of human or human-related activities is considered a man-made disaster. Man-made disasters are further classified into societal, transportation, and environmental disasters.

Societal Disasters

Certain societal disasters can arise due to people ignoring or failing to detect disasters, and their intentional inaction or negligence, which results in little to no preventative action. Even though humans cannot control everything, there are some anti-social behaviours and crimes committed by people or groups that a justifiable fear of harm or death can stop. For the authorities to look into or take action in dangerous situations, suspicious behaviour, or criminal intent, people frequently report these to the police. Examples of societal disasters are criminality, terrorism, war etc.

Transportation Disasters

Vehicle accidents involving air, rail, road, and sea transportation constitute transportation disasters. These mishaps are frequently too small to classify as disasters. However, there have been many instances where transportation mishaps have resulted in many fatalities. These incidents often happen as a result from natural disturbances, such as extremely foggy weather or icy roadways.

Environmental Disasters

Natural or environmental disasters are dangers that impact ecosystems or biomes rather than directly harming living things. Oil spills, water pollution, slash-and-burn deforestation, air pollution, and ground fissures are a few well-known examples.

Therefore, man-made disasters can have severe social and environmental impacts.

500 Words Essay On Man-Made Disaster

Man-made disasters, in contrast to natural disasters, are caused by human activity, whereas natural disasters are caused by natural forces. Man-made disasters can be small, like accidents on the road, or big such as war or explosion. Most of them can be controlled or prevented by knowing the correct way to deal with them.

The disaster management cycle is the best way to prepare for an unexpected event and to recover from it as early as possible. The cycle includes four steps – mitigation, planning, response, and recovery.

The impact of unavoidable disasters or the probability of a disaster occurring is eliminated or reduced by mitigation activities.

Some examples of mitigation activities are building codes, updated vulnerability studies, zoning and land use management, building use restrictions and safety requirements, preventative healthcare, and public awareness campaigns.

By enhancing the technological and managerial capabilities of governments, organisations, and communities, disaster preparedness programmes aim to reach a suitable degree of preparation to respond to any emergency.

These precautions can be thought of as logistical preparedness for disaster. They can be strengthened by having reaction processes and procedures, practising them, creating long and short-term strategies, educating the public, and constructing early warning systems.

Its main aim is to prioritise the population's basic requirements and give more long-lasting and durable solutions. The emergency response aims to deliver quick aid to keep people alive, enhance their health, and boost their spirits.

Such support could involve establishing a temporary settlement in camps and other places, or it could provide specialised but restricted aid, such as helping refugees with transportation, temporary housing, and food.

The affected people can carry out an increasing number of tasks targeted at restoring their life and the infrastructure supporting them as the emergency is under control. Examples include grants, short-term housing, and health treatment.

Other Ways To Prevent Disasters

By taking the following actions, man-made disasters can be greatly reduced-

People working in dangerous industries must have adequate training.

Adequate upkeep and maintenance of safety precautions.

Educating the general public about first aid procedures for accidents.

The health risks are reduced by covering the mouth and nose with a wet cloth in the event of gas leaks.

Remaining indoors in the event of a radiological disaster.

Ensuring that the people receive appropriate medical care.

Offering the impacted people sufficient financial and employment help.

Bhopal Gas Tragedy

The Bhopal Gas Tragedy, the worst industrial accident in history, happened on December 3, 1984, in Bhopal, India. Methyl Isocyanide (MIC) gas leaked from Union Carbide of India Ltd.'s factory, causing the Bhopal gas disaster. This chemical is the main component of pesticides.

A lethal cloud developed above Bhopal due to leakage from the factory. More than 5000 people died, half from direct contact with the chemicals and the other half through their aftereffects, with those living in the nearby slums being the most affected. MIC is a colourless gas and is fatal when inhaled directly because it produces extreme irritation, violent coughing, respiratory failure, haemorrhage, and death. More than 1000 persons also experienced eye loss as a result. More than 50,000 people experienced issues with their eyes, nose, stomach, nervous system, and ability to procreate.

Therefore, either directly or indirectly, man-made disasters will affect us and our environment. These effects can be avoided by taking a few preventative measures in advance.

Explore Career Options (By Industry)

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Bio Medical Engineer

The field of biomedical engineering opens up a universe of expert chances. An Individual in the biomedical engineering career path work in the field of engineering as well as medicine, in order to find out solutions to common problems of the two fields. The biomedical engineering job opportunities are to collaborate with doctors and researchers to develop medical systems, equipment, or devices that can solve clinical problems. Here we will be discussing jobs after biomedical engineering, how to get a job in biomedical engineering, biomedical engineering scope, and salary. 

Data Administrator

Database professionals use software to store and organise data such as financial information, and customer shipping records. Individuals who opt for a career as data administrators ensure that data is available for users and secured from unauthorised sales. DB administrators may work in various types of industries. It may involve computer systems design, service firms, insurance companies, banks and hospitals.

Ethical Hacker

A career as ethical hacker involves various challenges and provides lucrative opportunities in the digital era where every giant business and startup owns its cyberspace on the world wide web. Individuals in the ethical hacker career path try to find the vulnerabilities in the cyber system to get its authority. If he or she succeeds in it then he or she gets its illegal authority. Individuals in the ethical hacker career path then steal information or delete the file that could affect the business, functioning, or services of the organization.

Data Analyst

The invention of the database has given fresh breath to the people involved in the data analytics career path. Analysis refers to splitting up a whole into its individual components for individual analysis. Data analysis is a method through which raw data are processed and transformed into information that would be beneficial for user strategic thinking.

Data are collected and examined to respond to questions, evaluate hypotheses or contradict theories. It is a tool for analyzing, transforming, modeling, and arranging data with useful knowledge, to assist in decision-making and methods, encompassing various strategies, and is used in different fields of business, research, and social science.

Geothermal Engineer

Individuals who opt for a career as geothermal engineers are the professionals involved in the processing of geothermal energy. The responsibilities of geothermal engineers may vary depending on the workplace location. Those who work in fields design facilities to process and distribute geothermal energy. They oversee the functioning of machinery used in the field.

Remote Sensing Technician

Individuals who opt for a career as a remote sensing technician possess unique personalities. Remote sensing analysts seem to be rational human beings, they are strong, independent, persistent, sincere, realistic and resourceful. Some of them are analytical as well, which means they are intelligent, introspective and inquisitive. 

Remote sensing scientists use remote sensing technology to support scientists in fields such as community planning, flight planning or the management of natural resources. Analysing data collected from aircraft, satellites or ground-based platforms using statistical analysis software, image analysis software or Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a significant part of their work. Do you want to learn how to become remote sensing technician? There's no need to be concerned; we've devised a simple remote sensing technician career path for you. Scroll through the pages and read.

Geotechnical engineer

The role of geotechnical engineer starts with reviewing the projects needed to define the required material properties. The work responsibilities are followed by a site investigation of rock, soil, fault distribution and bedrock properties on and below an area of interest. The investigation is aimed to improve the ground engineering design and determine their engineering properties that include how they will interact with, on or in a proposed construction. 

The role of geotechnical engineer in mining includes designing and determining the type of foundations, earthworks, and or pavement subgrades required for the intended man-made structures to be made. Geotechnical engineering jobs are involved in earthen and concrete dam construction projects, working under a range of normal and extreme loading conditions. 


How fascinating it is to represent the whole world on just a piece of paper or a sphere. With the help of maps, we are able to represent the real world on a much smaller scale. Individuals who opt for a career as a cartographer are those who make maps. But, cartography is not just limited to maps, it is about a mixture of art , science , and technology. As a cartographer, not only you will create maps but use various geodetic surveys and remote sensing systems to measure, analyse, and create different maps for political, cultural or educational purposes.

Budget Analyst

Budget analysis, in a nutshell, entails thoroughly analyzing the details of a financial budget. The budget analysis aims to better understand and manage revenue. Budget analysts assist in the achievement of financial targets, the preservation of profitability, and the pursuit of long-term growth for a business. Budget analysts generally have a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, economics, or a closely related field. Knowledge of Financial Management is of prime importance in this career.

Product Manager

A Product Manager is a professional responsible for product planning and marketing. He or she manages the product throughout the Product Life Cycle, gathering and prioritising the product. A product manager job description includes defining the product vision and working closely with team members of other departments to deliver winning products.  


An underwriter is a person who assesses and evaluates the risk of insurance in his or her field like mortgage, loan, health policy, investment, and so on and so forth. The underwriter career path does involve risks as analysing the risks means finding out if there is a way for the insurance underwriter jobs to recover the money from its clients. If the risk turns out to be too much for the company then in the future it is an underwriter who will be held accountable for it. Therefore, one must carry out his or her job with a lot of attention and diligence.

Finance Executive

Operations manager.

Individuals in the operations manager jobs are responsible for ensuring the efficiency of each department to acquire its optimal goal. They plan the use of resources and distribution of materials. The operations manager's job description includes managing budgets, negotiating contracts, and performing administrative tasks.

Bank Probationary Officer (PO)

Investment director.

An investment director is a person who helps corporations and individuals manage their finances. They can help them develop a strategy to achieve their goals, including paying off debts and investing in the future. In addition, he or she can help individuals make informed decisions.

Welding Engineer

Welding Engineer Job Description: A Welding Engineer work involves managing welding projects and supervising welding teams. He or she is responsible for reviewing welding procedures, processes and documentation. A career as Welding Engineer involves conducting failure analyses and causes on welding issues. 

Transportation Planner

A career as Transportation Planner requires technical application of science and technology in engineering, particularly the concepts, equipment and technologies involved in the production of products and services. In fields like land use, infrastructure review, ecological standards and street design, he or she considers issues of health, environment and performance. A Transportation Planner assigns resources for implementing and designing programmes. He or she is responsible for assessing needs, preparing plans and forecasts and compliance with regulations.

An expert in plumbing is aware of building regulations and safety standards and works to make sure these standards are upheld. Testing pipes for leakage using air pressure and other gauges, and also the ability to construct new pipe systems by cutting, fitting, measuring and threading pipes are some of the other more involved aspects of plumbing. Individuals in the plumber career path are self-employed or work for a small business employing less than ten people, though some might find working for larger entities or the government more desirable.

Construction Manager

Individuals who opt for a career as construction managers have a senior-level management role offered in construction firms. Responsibilities in the construction management career path are assigning tasks to workers, inspecting their work, and coordinating with other professionals including architects, subcontractors, and building services engineers.

Urban Planner

Urban Planning careers revolve around the idea of developing a plan to use the land optimally, without affecting the environment. Urban planning jobs are offered to those candidates who are skilled in making the right use of land to distribute the growing population, to create various communities. 

Urban planning careers come with the opportunity to make changes to the existing cities and towns. They identify various community needs and make short and long-term plans accordingly.

Highway Engineer

Highway Engineer Job Description:  A Highway Engineer is a civil engineer who specialises in planning and building thousands of miles of roads that support connectivity and allow transportation across the country. He or she ensures that traffic management schemes are effectively planned concerning economic sustainability and successful implementation.

Environmental Engineer

Individuals who opt for a career as an environmental engineer are construction professionals who utilise the skills and knowledge of biology, soil science, chemistry and the concept of engineering to design and develop projects that serve as solutions to various environmental problems. 

Naval Architect

A Naval Architect is a professional who designs, produces and repairs safe and sea-worthy surfaces or underwater structures. A Naval Architect stays involved in creating and designing ships, ferries, submarines and yachts with implementation of various principles such as gravity, ideal hull form, buoyancy and stability. 

Orthotist and Prosthetist

Orthotists and Prosthetists are professionals who provide aid to patients with disabilities. They fix them to artificial limbs (prosthetics) and help them to regain stability. There are times when people lose their limbs in an accident. In some other occasions, they are born without a limb or orthopaedic impairment. Orthotists and prosthetists play a crucial role in their lives with fixing them to assistive devices and provide mobility.

Veterinary Doctor


A career in pathology in India is filled with several responsibilities as it is a medical branch and affects human lives. The demand for pathologists has been increasing over the past few years as people are getting more aware of different diseases. Not only that, but an increase in population and lifestyle changes have also contributed to the increase in a pathologist’s demand. The pathology careers provide an extremely huge number of opportunities and if you want to be a part of the medical field you can consider being a pathologist. If you want to know more about a career in pathology in India then continue reading this article.

Speech Therapist


Gynaecology can be defined as the study of the female body. The job outlook for gynaecology is excellent since there is evergreen demand for one because of their responsibility of dealing with not only women’s health but also fertility and pregnancy issues. Although most women prefer to have a women obstetrician gynaecologist as their doctor, men also explore a career as a gynaecologist and there are ample amounts of male doctors in the field who are gynaecologists and aid women during delivery and childbirth. 

An oncologist is a specialised doctor responsible for providing medical care to patients diagnosed with cancer. He or she uses several therapies to control the cancer and its effect on the human body such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy and biopsy. An oncologist designs a treatment plan based on a pathology report after diagnosing the type of cancer and where it is spreading inside the body.


The audiologist career involves audiology professionals who are responsible to treat hearing loss and proactively preventing the relevant damage. Individuals who opt for a career as an audiologist use various testing strategies with the aim to determine if someone has a normal sensitivity to sounds or not. After the identification of hearing loss, a hearing doctor is required to determine which sections of the hearing are affected, to what extent they are affected, and where the wound causing the hearing loss is found. As soon as the hearing loss is identified, the patients are provided with recommendations for interventions and rehabilitation such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, and appropriate medical referrals. While audiology is a branch of science that studies and researches hearing, balance, and related disorders.

Hospital Administrator

The hospital Administrator is in charge of organising and supervising the daily operations of medical services and facilities. This organising includes managing of organisation’s staff and its members in service, budgets, service reports, departmental reporting and taking reminders of patient care and services.

For an individual who opts for a career as an actor, the primary responsibility is to completely speak to the character he or she is playing and to persuade the crowd that the character is genuine by connecting with them and bringing them into the story. This applies to significant roles and littler parts, as all roles join to make an effective creation. Here in this article, we will discuss how to become an actor in India, actor exams, actor salary in India, and actor jobs. 

Individuals who opt for a career as acrobats create and direct original routines for themselves, in addition to developing interpretations of existing routines. The work of circus acrobats can be seen in a variety of performance settings, including circus, reality shows, sports events like the Olympics, movies and commercials. Individuals who opt for a career as acrobats must be prepared to face rejections and intermittent periods of work. The creativity of acrobats may extend to other aspects of the performance. For example, acrobats in the circus may work with gym trainers, celebrities or collaborate with other professionals to enhance such performance elements as costume and or maybe at the teaching end of the career.

Video Game Designer

Career as a video game designer is filled with excitement as well as responsibilities. A video game designer is someone who is involved in the process of creating a game from day one. He or she is responsible for fulfilling duties like designing the character of the game, the several levels involved, plot, art and similar other elements. Individuals who opt for a career as a video game designer may also write the codes for the game using different programming languages.

Depending on the video game designer job description and experience they may also have to lead a team and do the early testing of the game in order to suggest changes and find loopholes.

Radio Jockey

Radio Jockey is an exciting, promising career and a great challenge for music lovers. If you are really interested in a career as radio jockey, then it is very important for an RJ to have an automatic, fun, and friendly personality. If you want to get a job done in this field, a strong command of the language and a good voice are always good things. Apart from this, in order to be a good radio jockey, you will also listen to good radio jockeys so that you can understand their style and later make your own by practicing.

A career as radio jockey has a lot to offer to deserving candidates. If you want to know more about a career as radio jockey, and how to become a radio jockey then continue reading the article.


The word “choreography" actually comes from Greek words that mean “dance writing." Individuals who opt for a career as a choreographer create and direct original dances, in addition to developing interpretations of existing dances. A Choreographer dances and utilises his or her creativity in other aspects of dance performance. For example, he or she may work with the music director to select music or collaborate with other famous choreographers to enhance such performance elements as lighting, costume and set design.


Multimedia specialist.

A multimedia specialist is a media professional who creates, audio, videos, graphic image files, computer animations for multimedia applications. He or she is responsible for planning, producing, and maintaining websites and applications. 

Social Media Manager

A career as social media manager involves implementing the company’s or brand’s marketing plan across all social media channels. Social media managers help in building or improving a brand’s or a company’s website traffic, build brand awareness, create and implement marketing and brand strategy. Social media managers are key to important social communication as well.

Copy Writer

In a career as a copywriter, one has to consult with the client and understand the brief well. A career as a copywriter has a lot to offer to deserving candidates. Several new mediums of advertising are opening therefore making it a lucrative career choice. Students can pursue various copywriter courses such as Journalism , Advertising , Marketing Management . Here, we have discussed how to become a freelance copywriter, copywriter career path, how to become a copywriter in India, and copywriting career outlook. 

Careers in journalism are filled with excitement as well as responsibilities. One cannot afford to miss out on the details. As it is the small details that provide insights into a story. Depending on those insights a journalist goes about writing a news article. A journalism career can be stressful at times but if you are someone who is passionate about it then it is the right choice for you. If you want to know more about the media field and journalist career then continue reading this article.

For publishing books, newspapers, magazines and digital material, editorial and commercial strategies are set by publishers. Individuals in publishing career paths make choices about the markets their businesses will reach and the type of content that their audience will be served. Individuals in book publisher careers collaborate with editorial staff, designers, authors, and freelance contributors who develop and manage the creation of content.

In a career as a vlogger, one generally works for himself or herself. However, once an individual has gained viewership there are several brands and companies that approach them for paid collaboration. It is one of those fields where an individual can earn well while following his or her passion. 

Ever since internet costs got reduced the viewership for these types of content has increased on a large scale. Therefore, a career as a vlogger has a lot to offer. If you want to know more about the Vlogger eligibility, roles and responsibilities then continue reading the article. 

Individuals in the editor career path is an unsung hero of the news industry who polishes the language of the news stories provided by stringers, reporters, copywriters and content writers and also news agencies. Individuals who opt for a career as an editor make it more persuasive, concise and clear for readers. In this article, we will discuss the details of the editor's career path such as how to become an editor in India, editor salary in India and editor skills and qualities.

Linguistic meaning is related to language or Linguistics which is the study of languages. A career as a linguistic meaning, a profession that is based on the scientific study of language, and it's a very broad field with many specialities. Famous linguists work in academia, researching and teaching different areas of language, such as phonetics (sounds), syntax (word order) and semantics (meaning). 

Other researchers focus on specialities like computational linguistics, which seeks to better match human and computer language capacities, or applied linguistics, which is concerned with improving language education. Still, others work as language experts for the government, advertising companies, dictionary publishers and various other private enterprises. Some might work from home as freelance linguists. Philologist, phonologist, and dialectician are some of Linguist synonym. Linguists can study French , German , Italian . 

Public Relation Executive

Travel journalist.

The career of a travel journalist is full of passion, excitement and responsibility. Journalism as a career could be challenging at times, but if you're someone who has been genuinely enthusiastic about all this, then it is the best decision for you. Travel journalism jobs are all about insightful, artfully written, informative narratives designed to cover the travel industry. Travel Journalist is someone who explores, gathers and presents information as a news article.

Quality Controller

A quality controller plays a crucial role in an organisation. He or she is responsible for performing quality checks on manufactured products. He or she identifies the defects in a product and rejects the product. 

A quality controller records detailed information about products with defects and sends it to the supervisor or plant manager to take necessary actions to improve the production process.

Production Manager


A QA Lead is in charge of the QA Team. The role of QA Lead comes with the responsibility of assessing services and products in order to determine that he or she meets the quality standards. He or she develops, implements and manages test plans. 

Metallurgical Engineer

A metallurgical engineer is a professional who studies and produces materials that bring power to our world. He or she extracts metals from ores and rocks and transforms them into alloys, high-purity metals and other materials used in developing infrastructure, transportation and healthcare equipment. 

Azure Administrator

An Azure Administrator is a professional responsible for implementing, monitoring, and maintaining Azure Solutions. He or she manages cloud infrastructure service instances and various cloud servers as well as sets up public and private cloud systems. 

AWS Solution Architect

An AWS Solution Architect is someone who specializes in developing and implementing cloud computing systems. He or she has a good understanding of the various aspects of cloud computing and can confidently deploy and manage their systems. He or she troubleshoots the issues and evaluates the risk from the third party. 

Computer Programmer

Careers in computer programming primarily refer to the systematic act of writing code and moreover include wider computer science areas. The word 'programmer' or 'coder' has entered into practice with the growing number of newly self-taught tech enthusiasts. Computer programming careers involve the use of designs created by software developers and engineers and transforming them into commands that can be implemented by computers. These commands result in regular usage of social media sites, word-processing applications and browsers.

ITSM Manager

Information security manager.

Individuals in the information security manager career path involves in overseeing and controlling all aspects of computer security. The IT security manager job description includes planning and carrying out security measures to protect the business data and information from corruption, theft, unauthorised access, and deliberate attack 

Business Intelligence Developer

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Six workers presumed dead after crippled cargo ship knocks down Baltimore bridge

  • Six workers presumed dead
  • Search and rescue operations suspended


A drone view of the Dali cargo vessel, which crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge causing it to collapse, in Baltimore


Get weekly news and analysis on the U.S. elections and how it matters to the world with the newsletter On the Campaign Trail. Sign up here.

Reporting by Joseph Campbell, Andy Sullivan, Andrea Shalal, David Shephardson, Steve Holland, Christian Schmollinger, Rich McKay, David Shepardson, Gabriela Borter, Shubham Kalia, Harshita Meenaktshi, Shreya Biswas, Jyoti Narayan, Kat Jackson, Jonathan Saul; Writing by Doina Chiacu and Ros Russell; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Josie Kao, Howard Goller and Stephen Coates

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essay on terrorism is disaster

Thomson Reuters

Andy covers politics and policy in Washington. His work has been cited in Supreme Court briefs, political attack ads and at least one Saturday Night Live skit.

essay on terrorism is disaster

Gabriella Borter is a reporter on the U.S. National Affairs team, covering cultural and political issues as well as breaking news. She has won two Front Page Awards from the Newswomen’s Club of New York - in 2020 for her beat reporting on healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and in 2019 for her spot story on the firing of the police officer who killed Eric Garner. The latter was also a Deadline Club Awards finalist. She holds a B.A. in English from Yale University and joined Reuters in 2017.

Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore

Two civilians have been injured in Israeli strikes on the outskirts of Damascus on Sunday, the Syrian defence ministry said, in the second such attack on the country in a few days.

A boat carrying Chinese migrants capsized off the coast of the Mexican southern state of Oaxaca, killing eight migrants, and Mexican authorities said over the weekend that they were investigating the incident.

Aftermaths of deadly attack on Moscow concert hall

Police in Amsterdam gave the all clear after briefly closing off the central Rokin metro station to the public on Sunday due to what they had said was a suspicious situation.

Ankara Mayor Yavas votes during the local elections, in Ankara

Unfounded conspiracy theories spread online after Baltimore bridge collapse

Outlandish conspiracy theories circulated on X after a containership collided with a major bridge in Maryland, causing it to collapse, early Tuesday morning.

The ship hit a supporting structure of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which is located southeast of the Baltimore metropolitan area.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore declared a state of emergency and said the calamity that knocked down the bridge was most likely the result of an accident and not an act of terrorism. Moore  told reporters that crew members of the Dali containership, which struck the Key Bridge on Tuesday morning, had notified authorities that they lost power.

As rescuers search for survivors , some online conspiracy theorists have attempted to uncover a nonexistent plot to explain the collision.

Major news events — like the pandemic , natural disasters and mass shootings — now consistently serve as fodder for fringe figures, many of them on the far right, to amplify their world views that often feature shadowy cabals or major unseen threats. 

Once relegated to certain corners of the internet, these figures have flourished on X since Elon Musk acquired the platform and removed many of the rules that once tried to limit the spread of false claims. Musk has garnered backlash in the past for amplifying conspiracy theories and restoring accounts for known conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones . A spokesperson for X did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some on Tuesday claimed that the shipping vessel came under “cyberattacks,” or that Covid-era lockdowns were to blame. There have been no reports suggesting that any of these conspiracies are remotely true. In response to some of the posts, X had a “readers added context” note/disclaimer, in which people fact-checked the posters. 

But it’s not just so-called keyboard warriors who are posting the theories. Several conspiracies were elevated by public officials on TV and by those with massive followings on social media. 

On Fox Business, anchor Maria Bartiromo falsely suggested the “wide-open border” could have something to do with the collision, a clip of which circulated on X. No link to immigration has been made by officials. 

A spokesperson for Fox did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Controversial influencer Andrew Tate shared a conspiracy that falsely suggested the ship had been “cyber-attacked,” citing that in the video of the collision, the ship’s lights appear to turn off just before impact. 

In video leading up to and of the incident, around 1:24 a.m. EDT, the ship’s lights turn off for a minute but then flicker back on. About 10 seconds later, smoke is seen coming from the ship’s chimney. At 1:26 a.m., the ship appears to turn and moments later loses its lights again. They come back on a half a minute later.

A spokesperson for Tate did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Alex Jones responded to Tate, writing in a post : “Looks deliberate to me.” 

Michael Flynn, who was national security adviser to former President Donald Trump, appeared to suggest it was not an accident in a post on X .

A spokesperson for Flynn declined to comment.

His account was previously removed from X , then known as Twitter, in January 2021 after he promoted a conspiracy theory around the 2020 election. At the time, the platform cited its policy against “coordinated harmful activity.” He was reinstated on Jan. 6, 2023 and posted a message “to personally thank” Musk for allowing him back.

Another unsubstantiated claim that circulated X on Tuesday was made by Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union.

In a clip of his interview with Newsmax, Schlapp suggested that the Francis Scott Key Bridge’s infrastructure and transportation services were weakened by Covid lockdowns. Later, he suggested drugs could be behind the collision.

Maersk, a shipping company, confirmed in a statement that the ship, called Dali, which is operated and managed by a company called Synergy Group, had been charted to transport its customers’ cargo.

Synergy said in a statement that Dali had “collided with one of the pillars of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, Baltimore whilst under pilotage with two pilots onboard.”

The company said all 22 crew members onboard at the time of the crash were accounted for and there were no injuries or any oil pollution.

The bridge, which is about a mile and a half long and carries Interstate 695 over the Patapsco River, was “fully up to code,” Moore said .

Utah state Rep. Phil Lyman falsely blamed diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for the collapse, writing in a post on X that "This is what happens when you have Governors who prioritize diversity over the wellbeing and security of citizens."

essay on terrorism is disaster

Kalhan Rosenblatt is a reporter covering youth and internet culture for NBC News, based in New York.

Right-Wing Media Blames Bridge Collapse on ‘Open Border’ and COVID Lockdowns

While Fox’s Maria Bartiromo tried linking the disaster to border policies, Matt Schlapp suggested it had something to do with post-COVID labor policy.

Justin Baragona

Justin Baragona

Senior Media Reporter

That didn’t take long.

Hours after a cargo ship destroyed Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge on Tuesday, right-wing pundits, Fox hosts, and GOP lawmakers found a way to blame the deadly disaster on Democratic policies and their favorite culture-war battles.

According to the conservative media ecosystem, the horrific bridge collapse could be linked to President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan, the “wide open border,” pandemic-era lockdowns, and companies being forced to hire “drug-addled” employees.

The Dali, a 948-foot Singaporean cargo ship, struck the bridge’s pillar around 1:30 a.m. local time, causing the entire structure to fall into the Patapsco River. A harbor pilot was piloting the ship out of the bay at the time, and it appeared to lose power just before colliding with the bridge.

Six people remained missing as of Tuesday morning and two construction workers were rescued from the frigid waters, with one avoiding injury. A “mayday” call made just before the collision likely saved lives as it allowed bridge operators to halt traffic. Maryland Gov. Wes Moore asserted that there was no indication the crash was intentional, calling it an “accident.” Federal and local authorities concurred that the “catastrophic” disaster didn’t appear to be a terrorist act.

While the U.S. and Singaporean governments announced investigations into the incident and first responders continued searching the waters for potential survivors, right-wingers got right to work floating unhinged conspiracy theories about the bridge collapse.

With Elon Musk’s X awash in baseless claims that corporate diversity initiatives or Israel or globalist cyberattacks were to blame for the crash, conservative cable outlets Newsmax and Fox Business Network decided to dabble in some baseless speculation of their own.

During an interview with Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Fox host Maria Bartiromo repeatedly attempted to link border security policies to the bridge collapse. “Maersk is out with comments this morning, the container vessel that collided with the bridge was chartered by Maersk,” she said on her morning show. “You’re on Homeland Security. I want to understand the threats or the potential threats that this country is facing right now given the wide open border, the fact that we don’t know who is in the country. We heard from officials that the FBI is looking into that but this is customary. FBI is always going to look into a situation like this to ensure there was no foul play.”

A once-respected business reporter who has transformed into a MAGA-pilled conspiracy theorist in recent years, Bartiromo continued to tie immigration to the bridge disaster.

“Let me get your take on what’s going on in terms of world affairs. The White House issued a statement on this saying there’s no indication of a nefarious intent in the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. The ship involved in the collapse of the bridge is 948 feet long and called The Dali, a Singaporean-flagged container,” Bartiromo declared. “Of course, you’ve been talking a lot about wrongdoing or the potential for foul play, given the wide-open border. That is why you have been so adamant. Why have the Republicans had such a hard time securing the border? The president says he’s not going to take executive action. You know that!”

Towards the end of the interview, Bartiromo wondered whether the bridge collapse would “stoke inflation again,” adding that “it’s expensive to be transporting all of these goods and we saw what happened in the Red Sea when the ships were getting attacked.”

Over on Newsmax, meanwhile, one pundit deemed persona non grata at Fox suggested the disaster was caused by supposedly lowered employment standards brought about by COVID-19 and diversity hiring.

“You look at our critical infrastructure and I’m one of these people that believes we’ve never fully come out of all the lockdowns and the COVID issues and you can look…at our air traffic controllers where we have critical mission problems with filling slots,” American Conservation Union president Matt Schlapp said on Tuesday morning.

The CPAC organizer , who was effectively banned from Fox News following accusations of sexual assault and misconduct, went on to admit that he’s “no expert” before giving more of his opinion on the root cause of the collision.

“All I would say is that if you talk to employers in America, they'll tell you that filling slots with employees who aren't drug-addled is a very huge problem, so I'm making no specific charges here because we don't know,” he stated. “But you know anybody who flies in America can see that you're constantly waiting on a tarmac somewhere for some crew to show up. There's more maintenance problems than we've ever had, which I think are euphemisms for the problems that I’ve described.”

Elsewhere on Newsmax, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) and the network’s hosts implied that the Biden administration's recent infrastructure bills were to blame for the collapse, claiming that not enough spending was going toward roads and bridges. According to the South Carolina lawmaker, the bill’s climate change initiatives have resulted in “rusting” bridges.

“Look at the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that was done a couple of years ago that the left hails as this massive success, but it was mostly ‘Green New Deal,’” she groused. Actually in that bill, $110 billion went to surface transportation, which is roads and bridges. And of that $110 billion, $70 billion went to public transportation, leaving only $40 billion for traditional roads and bridges, what you and I think about. And if you live along the coast or you live near water, you know that our bridges are rusting out, you know that we have many, many bridges that have to be replaced and upgraded.”

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