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Domestic Terrorism

Domestic Terrorism

In the XXI century, humanity has raised one of the most controversial and significant issues that influence homeland security and international peace. This problem is terrorism. The term terrorism in the modern political practice is defined as the use of non-state violence or threat of violence to cause panic in society, weaken or even overthrow the Government. While trying to instill fear in individuals, groups, and society as a whole, terrorists expand their knowledge on the triggers that cause the feeling of anxiety. Terror developed their tactics with deep understanding of individual and collective psychology and used throughout history and around the world. Usually, terrorists are people who do not have state power.

The United States assumes the global leadership role in the fight against terrorism, determined by cultural aspects of American society. Democracy and human rights are the fundamental principles of the United States, and with the increase of the country’s importance in the world, the boundaries of the territories, in which America plans to distribute its values, expand. Currently the USA takes the role of a leader of global democracy, as reflected in public documents (National Security Strategy), as well as in the minds of ordinary Americans. They actively participate in international programs such as the Peace Corps and provide assistance to the countries that are in distressed or are less developed. In the framework of this collaboration, volunteers spread American values and legal documents to improve living standards. Through research, this paper will explain the origins of domestic terrorism, its law enforcement, and evaluate major problems of preventing terrorist attacks.

The Issue of Domestic Terrorism

Terrorism is one of the most earnest and significant contemporary issues faced by many governments, including the United States. Almost every day the world media reports about terrorist acts, and often with an enormous number of dead and injured. In fact, terrorism has become so ordinary and conventional that very often the information about new attacks often loses its priority and gets lost in the news. Terrorism is becoming increasingly global in the modern world. It belongs to the most dangerous and hard to predict phenomena of our time and is becoming more diverse and rampant. In the United States, the problem of terrorism has become particularly acute in the early 70s. In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, the members of the Palestinian terrorist organization “Black September” killed 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team (Reich, 1998). Since then, every US president faced with the need to coordinate the efforts of federal agencies (Department of State, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Defense and the CIA) in their fight against the phenomenon (White, 2009). The investigation of this problem has two directions. The first is to understand the nature of changes in the national and international security, and second it to define current trends in social violence.

Domestic terrorism is a widespread form of terrorism in the world. It relates mainly to internal issues, it is aimed at resolving the contradictions that exist in a country, and is one of the weightiest forms of internal confrontation in politics (White, 2009). Domestic terrorism has two particular effects (Martin, 2013). First, it defines the activities of internal extremist-oriented political forces, organizations, and individuals, which are related to the existing regime. Secondly, it refers to the actions of the opposing political forces and extremist foundations. In every case, the activities of terrorist organizations and individuals express their negative attitude towards the existing system and political authority. Their actions are aimed at the mandatory elimination, modification or weakening of sociopolitical system and its institutions (Martin, 2013). Moreover, domestic terrorism is concerned with state’s internal or external policies or the achievements of other political terrorist groups. Their actions urge to demonstrate importance and influence of the terrorists, a critical attitude to the state policy, its individual members, as well as intimidate representatives of the state and force to change the direction of its activities. The first type of domestic terrorism obtains the right to leave the country, release like-minded people from prison (Martin, 2013). In the second case, the purpose of domestic terrorism is the weakening of political opponents of a terrorist organization or other political movements what has to do with the desire to strengthen its personal position and power in the political struggle. Thus, in order to shift the power, domestic terrorism strives to eliminate the leaders and activists of political opponents, to pressure the strategy they follow, and destroy their organizations. The second type of domestic terrorism states how their supporters are intimidated, and thus attracts the sympathy of the population (Martin, 2013). Both manifestations of domestic terrorism, as the current practice shows, are associated with the use of all forms of terrorist activities. Regarding the use of means for committing terroist acts, technological terrorism mainly is used to fight the existing system and political power (Martin, 2013).

A remarkable feature of domestic terrorism in the United States is the duality of the objects (Reich, 1998). It characterizes terrorists as not only politically oriented extremist organizations but also as individuals. Acts of individuals are made in the name of political goals and have the same features as the terrorist acts committed by the extremist alliance. However, due to limited opportunities, terrorist activity of lone terrorists is usually not systematic, short-term and has a general design for one-time violent actions (Simon, 2013).

Specific Features of Domestic Terrorism

A common problem in the area of governmental security today serves an adequate response of military and political leadership to new challenges and the community threats. However, a successful solution of the problem under current conditions of traditional approaches to forecasting menace and to ensuring the proper level of domestic security is not possible. Notable, the process of further globalization and military dominance of the information within the structure of modern civilization is influenced by the content and nature of war. Naturally, this fact will significantly change the approach to conducting the armed defense of the state’s national interests on the international arena. The main specific feature of domestic terrorism is focus on the political system of the country, its law enforcement, public security, personal rights and freedoms of citizens (White, 2009). In general, this kind of terrorism is a primary threat to the constitutional order of the country. It touches on various aspects of public life, encroaching the vital interests of society, government, and individuals. Therefore, prevention and suppression of domestic terrorism is the central task of the government to ensure the safety of the public, the state, and the individuals. Moreover, it should involve the use of a wide range of appropriate general and particular measures.

The wrongfulness of the common manifestations of domestic terrorism lies in line with the national legislation of modern states (White, 2009). Due to the high degree of public danger due to terrorism in most countries, there is an intensive process of ensuring that such manifestations will be judged as criminal actions. To date, scientists developed three general approaches to the criminal law assessment of terrorist actions (Simon, 2013). The first involves the adoption of a particular criminal law on liability for terrorist acts as public political crime. The second refers to manifestations judged as offence of a civil nature. The laws of many countries used a third or mixed method, which connects the first and second approach.

Only in the US, internal terrorism is divided into two types: the actual domestic and homegrown terrorism. In the case of domestic terrorism, the initiators of the terrorist acts are Americans, whose parents were also born in the United States. The second subtype characterizes acts, committed by immigrants, who have lived for a long time in the United States, or come from migrant families. Homegrown terrorism is still a new phenomenon evolving in the United States and it have been quite clearly manifested in the case of the terrorist attack in Boston in 2013 (Simon, 2013).

The dual nature of the subjects of terroristic acts distinguishes the domestic terrorism of the state and international terrorism. The organized structures (in various forms) are not the only issue of domestic terrorism (White, 2009). For example, at different stages of its history, different politically oriented, extremist organizations, and individuals organized terrorist acts. In the context of political instability, social contradictions, the activities of the political extremists, nationalists and reactionary clericalists have resulted in the increase of  terrorist acts and politically motivated crimes.

Law Enforcement of Domestic Terrorism

In order to establish the terrorism as criminal acts, two conditions should be met: it should focus on the intimidation or coercion of civilians and/or on the impact or influence on the government. In the legal documents, terrorism is explained as way of exerting pressure on the state apparatus. This includes mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping (Simon, 2013). Thus, the aim of the terrorist attacks in the United States is always to influence the state, with or without society. Terrorism in the US is profoundly political. Therefore, any act of terrorism perpetrated in the United States has a political purpose.

After the tragic events on September 11, 2001, the US government signed a law “On granting of additional powers to security services in the fight against terrorism” (White, 2009). It adjusted the definition of terrorism in the existing federal law, and expanded the concept of federal crime related to terrorism. Moreover, the Government included to this category some serious violent crimes and added the “Federal Penal Code”, which introduced the non-existing earlier concept of domestic terrorism (Whitee, 2009). The new laws dramatically increased the penalties for terrorism-related acts. The governmental actions replenished arsenal of punitive options in the fight against terrorism and described terrorism as criminal activity.

These laws significantly have expanded the regulatory scope of the law enforcement agencies, their operational methods and capabilities, and facilitated the crime investigations. Therefore, the police gained the opportunity to detain illegal immigrants suspected of conducting terrorist activities for up to 7 days without charge (White, 2009). It also simplified requirements for obtaining authorization to control phones and all electronic communications. The law recognizes unlawful purchase of materials without permission, which are the components of chemical or bacteriological weapons. Moreover, it approved additional measures, which should enhance the effectiveness of the fight against terrorism. These include such actions as strengthening the protection of state borders, removal of temporary restrictions on the timing of the investigation of criminal cases on terrorism, gratuities for those who participated in the suppression of acts of terrorism and others.

Problems in Preventing Domestic Terrorism

Today the success of special services in their fight against terrorism corresponds three factors. The first one is dedication and skills of professional intelligence officers. The second defines the integration of structures involved in intelligence activities. The last factor points the extension of specific service opportunities for the exchange of information that is the first step towards the union of all parts of the US intelligence. The most important factors in the successful US anti-terrorism efforts, according to experts, are the consolidation and integration of the efforts of law enforcement agencies on the confrontation of terrorism, as well as actions aimed at improving the information exchange system between the units of the intelligence community. The intelligence agencies have to create an appropriate legal framework. Currently, in order to improve the forms and methods of combating terrorism at the national level, country considers proposals to create a single emergency management system. Moreover, the authorities suggest the expansion of the radio spectrum for communication systems, as well as the establishment of the Congress of a single body responsible for overseeing the activities of the organizations responsible for internal security in the USA (Simon, 2013). Moreover, experts raised the issue of creating a single communication network for police, firefighters and other structures involved in the disaster management.

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The serious problem, according to analysts, lays in the active process of radicalization of American society. At present, the nature of the terrorist threats has undergone significant changes. They began to come not only from the foreigners in the United States but also from people who were born and raised in the country. Moreover, about half of implemented and planned attacks by terrorist militants of “Al Qaeda” in the United States (175 episodes), registered on the 11 September 2001, took place in 2009 and 2010 (Simon, 2013). According to experts, the threat of radicalization of Americans becomes so dangerous that there is quite a hazardous concern about Washington’s ability to stop this process.

On the other hand, the very nature of modern terrorist threats is changing. Militants quickly and efficiently adapted to the measures of improving the activities of specific services. For example, the terrorists began to use high-powered and sensitive explosives, which are quite difficult to detect. Everything becomes a more complicated, causing significant concern among federal officials and heads of intelligence agencies. Despite the efforts to combat international terrorism, armed with modern military equipment and the latest technologies in various areas of the US intelligence agencies still cannot completely ensure the antiterrorist protection of American society.


In the legal discourse of the United States, terrorism reflects the most notable sociocultural aspect. Above all, the law has clearly defined the concept and issues that surround it. From a legal point of view, terrorism has to be detected and punished. The USA is a global leader, initiator of the trans-border democracy and international law, which is a part of the cultural identity of a country. These activities encourage ordinary Americans to travel to other states, learn their cultures and share personal values and attitudes. The clash of opinions on political issues has led to domestic terrorism and citizens of the country to use unethical methods to fight the opposition. The promotional activity of terrorist organizations and groups, are built on sowing fear among the population and thus making the authorities to change their decisions. Joint effort of all institutions of the state, information exchange and the availability of government support from influential religious and public figures of the world community may help in fighting the terrorism.

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