Al- Qaeda, Homeland Security, and US Patriot Act
Terrorism was viewed in the early days as an act of violence against a limited group of individuals. The acts then were consisted of bombing, kidnapping, killing prominent public officials, and others. The purpose of staging the terrorist act was to catch the government’s attention with the hope that the government may give in to the terrorists’ demands.
The demands may be considered political, economical, or ideological. However, no matter the purpose is, the government usually do not heed the terrorist groups for they have been considered as a mere nuisance of the society that can easily be eradicated through military force.
Additionally, terrorist groups were likened to a group of rebels operating as a group of limited members. The terrorist groups were not considered as a major threat to the nation’s security. But then, the horrifying 9/11 terrorist attack have drastically and clearly changed the world’s perception about terrorism. America, on the other hand, has greatly changed in its dealing with terrorism and terror groups. The International Community also realized that terrorism is a real threat to the world’s security. The remarkable 9/11 has indeed revealed the true face of terrorism.
In response to the terrorism, America hunted all those responsible for the bombing by declaring an all out war against terrorism. Concomitant to the war is the enactment of all that would justify the government’s acts against terrorism. The government has enacted the U. S. Patriot Act and the Homeland Security. The president has rapidly heightened all measures to ensure security and to pursue all those responsible for the 9/11 and those who are connected with terrorism. Despite criticisms on the effect of the legislations to civil liberties, the government has been adamant on its stand to battle terrorism.
The vengeance has eventually resulted to the war in Iraq and bombardment of Afghanistan. Likewise, the head of terrorism, Osama bin Laden and Sadam Hussein were apprehended and punished accordingly. Despite the declared death of the prominent architects of terrorism, the fight against terrorism still continues because of the belief that terrorism is still alive. The laws are also controlling within the nation. In line with this, the study will explore the organization of Al-Qaeda and at the same time present an evaluation of the counterterrorism laws. Body
The name Al-Qaeda started to reverberate at the very onset of the 9/11 terrorist attack. The horrifying bombing of the very symbol of economic and military prowess of America, the World Trade Center, was rapidly linked to the Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. Right after the attack, the government of the United States and foreign allies has united to condemn the unjustified act of terrorism. Al-Qaeda was believed to have been established in 1988. The Al-Qaeda was the by-product of the Muslims’ retaliation against the Soviet Union that occupied Afghanistan in 1979 through 1989 (Katzman).
During the war against the Soviet Union, group of Muslims have started to recruit jihadis to fight against the Soviet Union. The recruiting and funding of the jihadis or fighters were initiated by Abdullah Azzam and his former student, Osama bin Laden, by founding the Maktab al-Khidamat which means Services Office (Katzman). This was also known as or Al Khifah. Notably, the Maktab al-Khidamat was believed to be the forerunner of Al-Qaeda. After the war with the Soviet Union, bin Laden and Abdullah Azzam established the Al-Qaeda in 1984 (Katzman). Al-Qaeda is an Arabic word which means “the base” (Katzman).
Purposely, Al-Qaeda was established as a “rapid reaction force available to intervene wherever Muslim were perceived to be threatened” (Katzman). Al-Qaeda is also defined as “a secret, almost virtual organization, one that denies its own existence in order to remain in the shadows” (Atkins, 2004). The Al-Qaeda which was jointly founded was eventually controlled by Osama bin Laden as a result of Abdullah Azzam’s assassination. Meanwhile, the assassination of Azzam was linked to Osama bin Laden. Remarkably, Al-Qaeda came to be known worldwide right after the 9/11 attack.
The firmness of the organization of Al-Qaeda was believed to have been founded on ideology. There has been several controlling ideology of Al-Qaeda. Aside from being a religious duty, the Holy War has been viewed as necessary for the salvation of one’s soul and a means of defending the Muslim nation (Martin, 2006). Second, peace with the West is impossible and the only course of action in defending Islam is through violence (Martin, 2006). Third, the Al-Qaeda considers Muslim government as apostasies and is violently overthrown when they cooperate with the West (Martin, 2006).
Fourth, the Al-Qaeda believes that only two sides exist and that no apocalyptic conflict between Islam and forces of evil exist (Martin, 2006). From the time Al-Qaeda was founded in 1989, several terrorist activities were perpetuated in some other parts of the globe. In October 1993, the World Trade Center was attempted to be blown by Ramzi Ahmed Yusef (Katzman). In June 25, 1996, US Servicemen were killed while hundreds were wounded when a bomb exploded outside the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (Martin, 2006).
Then in August 7, 1998, a bombing was also planned n the US Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Tanzania that caused almost 200 innocent people. The USS Cole was also damaged by suicide bombing in October 12, 2000 where 17 sailors were killed (Martin, 2006). The most damaging terrorist activity was the terrifying 9/11 attack. The 9/11 terrorist attack has totally crashed the World Trade Center in New York. The third plane was directed Pentagon killing hundreds of people and the fourth plane crashed in the Pennsylvania field (Martin, 2006). The 9/11 terrorist attack has drastically changed the world’s perception on terrorism.
Likewise, the attack has changed the world’s perception about Osama bin Laden. Primarily, the target of Al-Qaeda is the US government and the American people. America has been considered as the enemy of the Muslim nation because of the wars perpetrated against them. The economic embargo and the control over the world’s economy have been highly criticized by the Muslim nation. Eventually, the perception that the West is the enemy to Muslim nations has been shaped. Since the West is considered as the enemy, the Al-Qaeda’s target has been the American people.
It is noteworthy that all the attacks have been perpetrated against US embassies and US nationals. Aside from the Americans, the terrorist also targeted citizens of Europe, Israel, Russia and other allies of America. Likewise, the 9/11 is a clear message or expression of hatred of terrorist against the Americans. In order to send a clear and strong message, the terrorist has implemented high-profile target. In addition, they adopted the suicide bombing as a means of carrying out their designs because it is simplified and a means of eliminating last minute flexibility (Mannes, 2004).
In addition, they targeted high officials and use the media in order for the government not to undermine the target. Al-Qaeda also adopted the unconventional means of acquiring information through an extensive research and contacts of professionals. Internet has been essential for Al-Qaeda in penetrating the security, intelligence, and military organizations of other countries. Notably, the information the Al-Qaeda has gathered were used in planning their attacks in several countries. Additionally, Al-Qaeda’s primary goal was to obtain nuclear weapon (Mannes, 2004).
The Al-Qaeda has successfully created their own bomb through the documents they have captured. Besides, professionals were also recruited and being turned into a radical in order to obtain materials from the outside. Interestingly, the group was able to create a biological weapon through the extensive research done by Ayman Zawahari, a medical doctor (Mannes, 2004). The group also studied in order to create their own weapons. Another tactic of the Al-Qaeda in carrying out their mission is to at least impair the economy of other country.
This has been done by terrifying tourists through kidnapping of foreign nationals visiting a particular nation. Furthermore, bombing of public places has also threatened tourists from visiting places occupied by terrorist groups. In assessing the Al-Qaeda organization, it can be observed that the group has been patient and enduring in order to succeed in their plans. The tactics and strategies adopted by the group can be considered to have been brilliantly drafted and carried out. However, the group was molded and blinded by extremism. On the part of the American government, the 9/11 attack cannot just be disregarded.
Right after the attack, the administration of Bush formed the 9/11 Commission. Primarily, the Commission was directed to conduct an investigation on the bombing. Thereafter, the name of Al-Qaeda appeared. In response to the 9/11 attack, Bush administration has created a new federal office of Homeland Security nine days after the attack (Andryszewski, 2004). Pres. Bush also signed into law the U. S. Patriot Act, 45 days after the 9/11/. In addition, then President Bush also signed the Homeland Security Act of 2002 in November 22, 2002 (Andryszewski, 2004).
All these were the result of the fear of another terrorist attack. Furthermore, these laws have essentially changed the essence of security in the country. Meanwhile, in order to identify the targets of the laws, the government found the need to define terrorism. Terrorism has been defined by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as “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” (Sauter and Carafano, 2005, p. 65).
From the definition, it is clear that terrorism has been recognized to exist within the country targeting the citizens and outside the country targeting Americans. Hence, the counterterrorism laws have been designed to deal with terrorism within and outside America. One of the weapons of America in fighting terrorism is the Homeland Security which has been referred to; “consists of all military activities aimed at preparing for, protecting against, or managing the consequences of attacks on American soil, including the CONUS and U. S. territories and possessions.
It includes all actions to safeguard the populace and its property, critical infrastructure, the government, and the military, its installations, and deploying forces” (Larson, et. al. , 2000). As to the military function of the Homeland Security, it has five major key areas of focus. One is the WMD domestic preparedness and civil support (Larson, et. al). Second is continuity of government to ensure or restore civil authority (Larson, et. al. , 2000). Third is border and coastal defense which includes management of large-scale refugee flow and revention of WMD smuggling that may potentially create threat to security (Larson, et.
al, 2000). Fourth is the continuation of military operation (Larson, et. al. , 2000). And, last is the national missile defense (Larson, et. al. , 2000). In domestic preparedness, the FBI and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can request from the Department of Defense the cooperation of the federal Army (Larson, et. al, 2000). Likewise, the National Guard can also participate in maintaining civil authorities. Interestingly, military has an essential role in all areas of Homeland Security.
In a broader scope, the Homeland Security is defined as “a concerted national effort to prevent terrorist attacks within United Sates, reduce America’s vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur” (Bolt, Colleta, and Shacklford, 2005, p. 433). In order to effectively fight terrorism, the administration of Bush has formed the Department of Homeland Security. The Department is composed of 22 federal departments, agencies, and bureaus from Central Intelligence Agency, FBI, DOD, and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Andryszewski, 2004).
These different agencies have been divided into Directorates with unique duties and jurisdiction. The first is the Border and Transportation Security Directorate which is responsible for ensuring the borders of America from terrorists coming from the outside of the country (Homeland Security, 2009). Aside from that, the Directorate ensures safety of land, sea, and air transportations. Immigration laws are also attached to the responsibility of the Directorate. The second is the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate which is tasked to coordinate with federal government in case of attack (Homeland Security, 2009).
The third is Science and Technology Directorate responsible for biological, radiological, and chemical attacks, and nuclear weapons (Homeland Security, 2009). The last is the Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate tasked to gather intelligence and information in detecting terrorist activities (Homeland Security, 2009). Furthermore, it is also mandated to identify infrastructures which may be vulnerable to terrorism. An Undersecretary is assigned to administer each Directorate. The Undersecretary has been assigned a task to
“access, receive, and analyze law enforcement information from agencies of the Federal Government, State and local government agencies, and private sector entities, and to integrate such information to identify and assess the nature and scope of terrorist threat to the homeland; detect and identify threats of terrorism against United States; and understand such threat in light of actual and potential vulnerabilities of the homeland” (Bolt, Colleta, and Shackelford, 2005, p. 433). Looking back into the definition, Homeland Security has three major concerns.
First, prevent terrorist attacks in America (Fisher and Green, 2003). Second, reduce the vulnerability to terrorism of America (Fisher and Green, 2003). Third, minimize damages and recovery in case of attack (Fisher and Green, 2003). In preventing terrorist attack, the Department of Homeland Security has enhanced its intelligence and warning devices capable of tracking terrorist activities (Sauter and Carafano, 2005). In addition, national laws have been enacted to deal with domestic terrorism. Security within borders has also been intensified.
Furthermore, transportation has been highly monitored to detect travelling terrorists. In the second duty of the Homeland Security, the Department is tasked to minimize vulnerability by curbing any possibility of bringing any weapon of mass destruction into the country. This way, critical infrastructure and catastrophic terrorism are prevented (Sauter and Carafano, 2005). These kinds of terrorism involve attack through computer. Finally, the third duty is fulfilled by improving the capability of the Department in responding to a terrorist attack.
Response may not only involve military defense but rather, it entails preparedness in rescuing lives of the victims and in containing the place attack to limit the number of victims. Another prevalent counterterrorism law of the government is the U. S. Patriot Act. Since the Act was abruptly enacted into law as it was signed 45 days after the 9/11 attack, the Act was perceived to be an effective means of curbing terrorism. Primarily, the U. S. Patriot Act was enacted to prevent terrorism but has effectively expanded the power of the law enforcement and intelligence agencies in carrying out their duties with regard to terrorism.
There are basically four ways in carrying out the responsibilities of the Act. First, the Act applies to fighting terrorism through the use of investigative tools previously available in fighting other forms of organized crime (Katzman). Second, the Act has eradicated any kind of barriers that hinders the free flow of information between and among law enforcement (Katzman). Third, the act validated the use of new technology and identifying new threats (Katzman). Last, the Act has created new terrorism-related crimes and increased penalties of crimes (Katzman).
Under the first way, the tool that has been accepted or authorized includes electronic surveillances to detect terrorism in full-range and roving wiretaps to be authorized by a federal judge (Katzman). Through the roving wiretaps, the authorities are allowed to use electronic surveillance in response to “time-sensitive criminals or terrorist activities” (Purpura, 2007, p. 176). In addition, federal agents can also conduct investigations secretly under the authority of a valid warrant obtained also secretly. The person being investigated is not also informed about the warrant.
Through this, the federal agents would be able to identify agents, eliminate immediate threats, and coordinate the arrest of suspected individuals (Katzman). Furthermore, business records of individuals linked to terrorism can be examined through the order sought from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Katzman). The information held by one federal agency can also be shared to other agency in order to effectively fight terrorism. Traditionally, each agency kept information confidential from other agencies in adherence to the agency’s independence.
However, through the Patriot Act, the confidentiality of information or record is no longer controlling. In order to fully empower the federal agents in eradicating terrorism, jurisdiction as to warrant has been made general. Warrants can be obtained in any district and may be executed at any place being investigated for terrorist activities. Interestingly, cyber hacking has also been allowed in order to trace communications related to terrorism and at the same time tract hackers (Katzman).
Furthermore, in order to fully prevent any terrorist activities and ensure the punishment of terrorists, the Act has increased penalties and added crimes that are categorized as terrorism. Among the crimes includes harboring any person linked to terrorism. Likewise, conspiracy crimes and offenses have been redefined and penalties of such have been increased. There has also been a specific penalty for mass transit attack and attacks using biological weapons. Finally, some terrorist crimes have no statute of limitation while some crimes have a lengthy.
It is noteworthy that the Patriot Act has been criticized because of some acts that are obviously interfering with the rights of the citizens. Through the Act, the security in airports has been intensified and the law enforcers are even authorized to detain immigrants or suspected terrorist within the authorized time of detaining a person for questioning. Profiling has also been prevalent because Arabs, Muslims, and Asians were treated separately. Visas and passport of these people were also subjected to strict scrutiny. In addition, library records have been authorized by the Act to be reviewed by the federal agents.
Furthermore, Emails can also be tracked by the federal agents on the mere basis of suspicion. More importantly, bank transactions suspected of funding a terrorist activity can be legally tracked by the federal agents. This has in fact changed the law on money laundering. Since the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security and U. S. Patriot Act, terrorism has been effectively deterred. The enhancement of security measures within borders and ports have hindered terrorist from pursuing their evil designs. In addition, several crimes such as smuggling have been prosecuted through the implementation of the counterterrorism laws.
Several terrorist suspects have also been arrested through the active fulfillment of the federal agent of their duties. In line with this, suspects were thoroughly investigated due to the expansion of the court’s jurisdiction in trying and hearing terrorism cases. Remarkably, the laws have effectively brought back security within the nation. The fear of another terrorist attack has finally been eradicated. Despite criticisms, the effort of the government in curtailing terrorism has bear fruit. Notably, the people behind the 9/11 attack and other terrorist attacks have been prosecuted and punished accordingly.
The very seat of terrorism has also been bombarded and paralyzed in order to prevent the rise of any sign of terrorism. The measures taken by the U. S. in fighting terrorism has also been adopted by other countries in their own fight to terrorism. The application of the counterterrorism laws has also reached policies of other countries. One of which is the Money Laundering Law which has affected the bank transactions that passes through countries. Meanwhile, financial supports from suspicious donor have contributed to the success of terrorist activities.
In order to avoid the free flow of the funds to support suspicious organizations, the government has strictly monitored bank transactions involving suspicious depositors and suspicious funds through the Patriot Act. Terrorist acts have also been effectively deterred at the very port of entry. The security equipments have been intensified and upgraded to detect any weapon that may be used to perpetrate a terrorist activity. Such equipments include scanners, surveillance cameras, and x-ray machines. The use of such equipments has been legally justified by the counterterrorism laws.
Remarkably, all these measures have been effective in pacifying the nation from the threat of terrorism. Conclusion Traditionally, security can be acquired through the walls erected around houses. Terrorism, on the other hand, was considered as a petty problem yet a crime capable of being curtailed. More importantly, any act of terrorism can be disregarded by the government and responded through defensive military attack. However, the essence of security and terrorism has drastically changed after the 9/11 attack. Terrorism has become real and the injury it causes is unimaginable. Terrorism has also become the main enemy of the whole world.
It also united the international community in curtailing and in eradicating any sign of it. Likewise, the 9/11 has angered America. The architecture of the attack also proved that Al-Qaeda can penetrate and destroy the security of America. The world’s perception of security has also drastically changed. America, on the other hand, has been quite paranoid about its security. However, it cannot be blamed because of the damaged caused by the 9/11 attack. The America viewed threat to have existed within and outside its territory. More importantly, the reality about Al-Qaeda has finally been revealed through the bombing of twin towers.
Al-Qaeda has indeed existed for a very long period. It has been living as a shadow that its existence was doubted by security forces. The organization has also been intelligent in carrying out its mission by extensively and safely planning the attacks. Likewise, the measures it has adopted in implementing the plans are sure yet deadly. But such cannot be considered difficult because of the ideology that has been instilled among the members. On the part of the victim of the attack, the countermeasures that have been adopted are the Homeland Security and U. S. Patriot Act.
The Homeland Security was established as a means of centralizing the effort of the government in curbing terrorism. The Patriot Act, on the other hand, has enhanced the power of the federal agents in carrying their responsibilities with regard to terrorism. Any means that may be effective in tracking any sign of terrorism has been adopted and applied all throughout the country. Above all, the intelligence and security capabilities of the federal government have been heightened to effectively and efficiently eradicate terrorism. Both laws have been directed against terrorism.
Upon the implementation of the counterterrorism laws, several changes have transpired. The enhancement of security has ensured the safety of America and American people. Several terrorist has also been arrested and punished accordingly. More importantly, the fear that has been instilled by the 9/11 attack among the people has been pacified. Peace and security has also been restored. Above all, no terrorist attacked against America followed. Hence, the measures adopted and implemented by the government has been effective and responded to the international problem. References Andryszewski, T. (2004). Terrorism in America.
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