Developing emergency responses to terrorism involves taking planned and decisive steps all targeted at managing the global effects of terrorism. The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines terrorism as an illegal use of force against the people and their property in a bid to force, intimidate the people, their government for political, economic or social reasons. Terrorism is an unlawful act of violence that is targeted at manipulating governments, societies and individuals.
It is usually motivated by religion, politics or ideological beliefs and has been in existence since the beginning of time. As early as 66 A. D, terrorists were known to kill Roman soldiers and destroy their property. They were often crowned as martyrs and it was believed that their rewards awaited them in heaven. The act of terrorism is usually justified by the perpetrators by hiding behind the tenets of religion (Garrison, 2008). Terrorism has however become increasingly frequent since the beginning of the 21st century.
During the keynote address by Gareth Evans, president of the International Crisis Group in October 2005, he asserted that the rate of significant terrorist attacks, as described by the U. S. Government, has more than tripled to 650 since 2004. About a third of these attacks have taken place in Iraq (Evans, 2005). This study takes a look at the concept of terrorism, the different approaches of attack, the motivating factors behind such attacks and the emergency responses that may be implemented to ensure that this recurrent and damaging issue is nipped in the bud.
Methods of Attack Terrorist attacks may come in different forms. The use of chemicals, nerve gases and other harmful substances can be very inimical when released into the atmosphere through spray devices, water contamination, food contamination, injection or direct skin contact. Biological attacks are perpetrated through the use of harmful agents like bacteria, virus, and toxins (Federal Emergency Management Agency, n. d. ). Nuclear attacks are another approach to terrorism.
Terrorists may not readily have access to nuclear devices but if they do, it could have devastating effects. Apart from the high cost of nuclear weapons, most countries protect their weapons through the use of activation codes; the possibility of theft of these weapons is unlikely but possible (Macko, 1996). Terrorists may also adopt the use of incendiary devices; these include any device that is capable of burning or exploding for a designated period of time. They may be placed at different and strategic spots within the target area.
Attack may also take place through the use of chemical agents like nerve gases; choking agents, which cause stress to respiratory tissues; irritating agents and other types of harmful chemicals which can cause harm to the unsuspecting public. Even though biological and chemical attacks are relatively new, highly destructive and explosive materials can be easily made by individuals without significant expertise; there is presently no operational framework to deal with such attacks (Federal Emergency Management Agency, n. d. ).
Factors that Contribute to Terrorism The factors that motivate terrorism are as diverse as they are baseless. Some terrorists are missionary or spiritual in nature. This class of terrorists is motivated by the need to preserve Islamic faith and eradicate any belief that is contrary to Islam. The second class of terrorists identified by the Crisis Group Study is those with political objectives that use violence and religion as a tool to fight for their political causes. The third class of terrorists identified is those with Islamic and political objectives.
Though they adopt the laws of sharia fanatically, they do not use violence to achieve their objectives (Evans, 2005). Other major factors that contribute to terrorism are education, training, and religious mentoring. Some of these terrorists are normal people who suffered or lost family members in earlier violence; in such cases, it becomes a cultural legacy passed on to generations. Poverty is another major contributing factor that exposes young people to being influenced by men willing to manipulate them and offer justifications for waging war against identified targets (Evans, 2005).
Terrorist Attacks in Recent Times Instances of major terrorist attacks include the Bombing of the World Trade Center which took place in February 1991, the Oklahoma City Bombing in April 1995, Bali Bombing, the Tokyo Subway Nerve Agent attack of March 1995 amongst many others (U. S. Department of State, 2004). Other bombing incidents occur on a regular basis; the frequency of attacks is becoming increasingly worrisome and as such, theres a growing need to develop emergency plans to curtail it.
These bombings are usually targeted at social clubs, mass transit systems, and places of considerable economic importance and historical significance with a high concentration of people or targets, as the case may be. There is also a corresponding rise in the possibility of nuclear and biological attacks. Sam Nunn, a Georgia Senator said in March, 2008 that the United States of America is unprepared to deal with chemical and biological attacks within the country. The Emergency Response & Research institute has also been warning of the likelihood of such attacks since 1987.
The fear of the occurrence of such attacks is understandable because the materials needed to build biological and chemical weapons are more available today than ever before (Macko, 1996). If such weapons were to fall into the hands of hardened terrorist groups in areas like Burundi, Sudan or Somalia, thousands of lives may be at stake (Macko, 1996). This potentially dangerous situation could be worsened by the fact that some scientists from the Soviet Union with the technical knowledge of building nuclear weapons may have defected from their governments and started working with hostile groups (Macko, 1996).
America is considered to be at the front line of such potential attacks because it is one of the last remaining superpowers (Macko, 1996). The country of Iran is susceptible to becoming a breeding ground for terrorism. This is largely due to the fact that it is believed to have a large quantity of harmful chemicals like nerve gases, blister agents, phosgene, cyanide and mustard gases (Macko, 1996). There are also significant concerns about activities taking place around the Afghanistan-Pakistan border (Evans, 2005). Al-Qaeda operatives have allegedly given advice to local Islamic cells on how to launch sophisticated attacks within the region.
Over time, there have been instances of self-motivating and self-starting individuals, not part of any terrorist cell, that make use of publicly available materials to cause harm to unsuspecting citizens. Examples of groups that are known to have embraced terrorism include the IRA, Palestinian groups, the Stern Gang and the Basques ETA (Evans, 2005). Emergency responses to terrorism Terrorists usually have access to advanced technology and different approaches of performing their insidious acts. They can strike anywhere in the world and at any time.
This is why it is imperative to be prepared at all times. No country is immune to the occurrence and consequences of terrorism. It should be considered a subject of global importance with widespread effects that should be tackled by adequate collaboration at all levels. In order to develop effective responses to terrorism, a critical analysis of threats need to be highlighted. Threat is a combination of motive and ability. Once theres a motive and the ability to cause harm, the likelihood of terrorism is increased (Federal Emergency Management Agency, n.
d. ). In America, different strategies are being adopted to ensure that emergency responses are available in the event of a biological and /or chemical attack. They are illustrated as follows: Theres a Chemical and Biological Strike Team that has been formulated to assist people affected by biological toxins; both the military and civilians will be involved in this. Different arms of the military service like the Army, Navy, Marine Corps all have specialized teams that can deal with chemical and biological attacks.
All coordination and deployment of relief teams will be coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (ENN). Different teams have also been set up to handle any attacks in the future. The first part of the emergency response plan should always include securing the affected area. This would help to determine the severity of the attack. Experience has shown that acts of terror are usually conducted in phases. There should be a primary and possibly a secondary perimeter that must be searched and thoroughly checked to ensure safety.
The next phase of the emergency response involves identification (Staten, 1997). In the case of nuclear and biological attack, its important to identify the nature of the substance or device used to cause the damage. The identification of the causative agents helps in developing neutralization plans; decontamination steps; emergency medical treatment and prescriptions, and environmental preservation steps. For identification to work, there must be effective detection agents, substances and equipment that can be used to analyze attack scenes (Staten, 1997).
The next stage involves a pre-entry examination and donning of appropriate protective clothing & equipment. The next subsequent steps would include entry planning, gathering and preparation of equipment, entry and rescue of victims, neutralization of fire, explosives or chemical spill, as the case may be; transportation of injured victims; application of diagnosed antidotes before arrival at the hospital; post-entry evaluation of victims and rescuers; collection of evidence; cleaning up of attack scene; record-keeping and analysis of actual procedures carried out at the crime scene (Staten, 1997).
Elements of an Effective Emergency Response Developing an emergency response to terrorism is not a straightforward issue. Its a complex, multi-faceted issue that needs to be resolved by applying different layers of strategic solutions. The fight against terrorism can be won, but only through a considerable period of applying effective national policies and persistence. Terrorism is a technique used for the achievement of personal, political and religious ideals, the manifestation of which has varying dimensions and motives.
Kofi Annan in March, 2005 described strategies of responding to terrorism. These includes discouraging the affected people from engaging in terrorist acts as a means of achieving their objectives; depriving terrorists of the means to carry out their plans; developing internal strengths with which to battle terrorism; and defending human rights in the fight against terrorism. The different strategies for responding to terrorism may be classified as follows: The Strategy of Protection This involves the protection of major entry and exit points into the country.
Airline travel points, borders of the country, and all boundaries of homeland areas need to be secured, patrolled and protected so that terrorists can have little or limited access to such areas. The use of biometric identification, CCTV, and cameras located in strategic places within densely populated areas of the city can help to detect unauthorized access into the city. It could also be a means of gathering relevant clues that can lead to the persecution of apprehended terrorists and arrest of those still at large.
Theres an urgent need to be proactive about physical security as major economic cities are always likely points of attack (Evans, 2005). The Strategy of Peace Building The spate of terrorism currently faced today highlights the need for the interdependence of different countries. Peace building aims to help individual countries develop the capacity for fighting terrorism internally. Divided states can easily serve as grounds for promoting terrorism. Human rights and democratic strategies should be adopted to prevent the destitute and disadvantaged from seeking solace in the arms of terrorists.
There should also be an ambience that allows for free expression of thoughts and grievances so that people do not run to the wrong groups for justice (Evans, 2005). The Psychological Strategy This strategy is designed to alter the way people think and feel about terrorism. People should be made to realize that theres no justification for terrorism no matter what the cause is. They should be aware that such acts of violence are not supported by any religion or culture, whatsoever. Education is one of the primary measures of responding to terrorism.
If the people are educated enough to know that theres more to lose from terrorism than there is to gain, they will be less likely to support such malicious acts. Trying to understand and accept the differences in culture, religion and other peoples behaviour would go a long way to minimize friction amongst different cultures present in a country. Thinking collectively about different people, without discrimination, can also reduce feelings that lead to terrorism. Another preventive measure would be to completely eliminate the root and cause of terrorism.
Secondary measures of prevention include setting up surveillance and monitoring systems to improve security of civilians. Early identification of the perpetrators can ensure that they are brought to justice to deter other groups from performing the same crime. Firearms, Incendiary devices, chemical agents, biological agents are all objects that can be used to cause significant damage to the population; access to these devices should be limited. Conclusion The basic goal of terrorism is to disrupt the activities of the society and cause negative psychological effects to the people.
It can lead to stress-related conditions and a general feeling of insecurity in people, not to mention the loss of lives (Gorski, 2002). The most important thing however, is to be prepared for the occurrence of terrorism. If emergency response plans can be put in place, it becomes relatively easy to tackle the associated effects and even reduce the possibility of occurrence of terrorism. The fight against terrorism is one that would take time, money and collaboration. If nations can come together and speak with one voice, there will be peace someday.
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