New Terrorism

How can police and law enforcement agencies best utilize resources to confront this new threat?

Briefly describe the important features of “new terrorism” as discussed in the readings. What is “new” about contemporary, international terrorism?

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Identify the police and law enforcement resources most relevant or essential to the threat of terrorist attacks. Also identify any important gaps between resources and needs.

In contrast to the terrorists of the past, the most aggressive forms of modern terrorism have been religious, rather than political in nature (Morgan 2007: 32). Historically, as horrific as the actions may have been, earlier types of terrorists at least had a defined political objective which they wished to attain through the use of violence and drawing attention to their cause. Modern terrorists, however, tend to view themselves in an unending and relatively vague ‘war with the West’ and Western values. They draw no line in this war between civilian and government targets.

There are also a number of other components which serve to make the new terrorism more violent. “First, the saturation of the media with images of terrorist atrocity has raised the bar on the level of destruction that will attract headline attention. Second, terrorists have realized that civilian soft targets involve lower risk to themselves” (Morgan 2007: 31). Coupled with the “shift from the politically-minded terrorist to the vengeful and hard-line fanatic” this has been a deadly combination (Morgan 2007: 31).

Given the strong cultural components of modern terrorism, understanding the factions that pose the greatest threats is essential for law enforcement. Terrorists can no longer be ‘easily’ understood by analyzing schematic global conflicts, such as the IRA vs. The British government or the Israelis vs. The Palestinians were in the past. Modern terrorist networks defy state borders and alliances between groups can be extremely fluid. This makes the accumulation of sound intelligence essential. Although some states do clearly sponsor terrorism, “One of the major consequences of globalization has been a deterioration of the power of the state” (Morgan 2004: 37). Law agencies at every level within the U.S. must improve their information-sharing from the CIA to down to the local police. Also, it is important that the U.S. keep open channels of dialogue with other nations when pooling of intelligence resources is mutually advantageous. And the tools terrorists can use are in a constant state of flux: “in addition to…

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