Constant Threat of Terrorism
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York and the Pentagon showed the power of a hazardous terrorist network. Al Qaeda is the main organizer of large-scale terror attacks of the last fifteen years. It consists of the most powerful terrorist and public organizations whose purpose is to establish the Islamic government and revive their faith. The emergence of such movements is due to their non-acceptance of Jews and Christians. International terrorist organizations also seek to acquire the weapons of mass destruction and sabotage plans in the areas of oil and gas. Terrorists are eager to facilities and technology of chemical and biological and bacteriological weapons, to the radioactive, toxic substances.
Al Qaeda has transformed into a movement that brings together independent terrorist cells in the world on the ideological basis. It has established strong contacts with regional extremist organizations in the Islamic Maghreb, in south-east Asia - with a "JI", in Russia - the “Caucasus Emirate” (Bergen, 2006).
In addition, the terrorist organizations are planning to sabotage the sea lanes, coastal infrastructure in areas of hydrocarbon production. The priority areas they consider are Gibraltar, Hormuz, Bab-el-Mandeb Straits and the Suez Canal.
Business and political establishments of the Islamic countries financially stimulate the anti-Western and anti-American terrorist groups, trying to get a fundamental power from their countries to the outside. Islamic fundamentalists seek to impose their ideology and direct the terror against the enemies of radical Islam.
Changing political environment within recent years has led to the phenomenon of super terrorism or over terrorism. This has large financial, ideological, and human resources, which creates a threat of the use of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons (Levi & Kelly, 2002).
The administration of the United States of America distinguishes the distribution of weapons of mass destruction among the major threats to national security. It is evident that America is at risk of attacks with weapons of mass destruction. Such assaults may involve foreign terrorists, single terrorists, or even criminal groups. Chemical, biological, or radiological weapons are likely to be used rather than nuclear devices.
Hundreds of foreign terrorists access the weapons of mass destruction each year. When U.S. troops entered Afghanistan, they found that al Qaeda was working on weapons of mass destruction, linking chemical and biological weapons. In any case, so far, all reports of foreign terrorists obtaining weapons of mass destruction have been not confirmed. However, FBI investigates more than a dozen cases of intent to use a weapon of mass destruction in the United States of America each and every year.
Since the early 1990s Islamic radicals have been trying to create their own nuclear weapons. There are 22.4 thousand nuclear warheads in the world, 95% of which are in Russia and America. In the whole, 9 states own nuclear weapons. Russia, Israel, India, and Pakistan are the most powerful and active terrorist network, the object of interest of which may be national nuclear arsenals. Other states owning nuclear weapons are also not free from manifestations of political extremism (Gunarathna, 2002).
The failure to create or steal nuclear weapons sketches has forced the terrorists to find other ways. They use radiation as a weapon; it is invisible and frightening for the mass consciousness. The radiological or dirty bombs are the explosive devices, where radioactive objects are used as the striking element. There were cases, when al Qaeda militants were preparing terrorist acts using such weapons in a number of Western countries (Gunarathna, 2002). Creation of radioactive weapons is much easier, and the access to sources of radiation is much wider, as they are a part of the mass devices: from X-ray equipment to various fire detectors.
The object of a terrorist threat is also a nuclear power. The experience of the Chernobyl accident shows that the reactor explosion leads to the release of a mass of radioactive elements that are spread over long distances by wind and fall to the ground along with the precipitation.
The process of the production of chemical and biological weapons is also technologically simpler than of nuclear. It does not require inaccessible raw materials, like uranium or plutonium. Even affluent states or terrorist groups are able to get these types of weapons. However, it is not as simple as it seems at first. Attempts to use chemical and biological weapons when attacking were made in the last century, but their effectiveness was limited. From 1900 to 1999 the Montreal Institute of International Studies in Canada recorded 126 such attacks. 96% of those cases ended up with 3 victims and 60% of all were without people’s deaths (Sokolski, 2000).
The production of biological weapons is associated with a great number of technical problems. This involves bacteria to ensure their dissemination in the environment. In 1990 the U.S. military conducted an experiment on homemade production of biological weapons of mass destruction. However, it failed. The experience of well-trained terrorist groups did not bring success either. At the disposal of the sect Aum Shinrikyo there was biological laboratory with the cost over $ 1 million and a team of qualified specialists. However, during a few years they have not been able to create biological weapons of mass destruction.
Based on the above, it can be concluded that the creation of biological and chemical weapons by terrorists is possible. However, due to many problems in most cases it does not justify the money spent. It is possible that in the future, with the development of military biochemistry, the role of the weapons of mass destruction in the world will change (Norris. & Kristensen, 2010). Now, though, it is rather risky to forecast.
Threats of super terrorism related to the use of WMD by extremists, can be divided into two groups: 1) of low probability or impracticable; 2) theoretically feasible, but having limited risk. The first group includes terrorism using nuclear weapons (stolen or home-made), and undermining the reactors of nuclear power plants. The difficulty of implementing these threats is due to the fact that modern terrorist organizations cannot manipulate sufficient material, human, and intellectual resources to overcome the security measures taken by the modern society. It is not reasonable to completely exclude the possibility of such situations in the future. This process may be accompanied by a large-scale commission of terrorist actions using the conventional weapons, capturing the governmental institutions, and using a significant amount of explosives when attack.
The theoretically feasible super attacks implicate the use of dirty bombs, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction. In all these cases, the main threat is not the actual number of victims, but panic caused by the character of attacks. When using such weapons in a big city many people will be feared to become victims of radiation exposure, infection or gas. This will cause panic and medical facilities overload. An example of the above is the gas attack in the Tokyo subway. In such cases, the consequences of terrorist attacks using this type of WMD is largely determined by the media, government information policy and the level of awareness of the real level of threat from the above types of WMD.
It should be emphasized that low threat assessment of the Super terrorism does not mean the absence of a non-standard risk of terrorist attacks. The experience of the tragedy of September 11th showed that international terrorism does not have to use sophisticated and expensive technological solutions to make large-scale terrorist attacks with many victims. However, too much attention to the threats, the real level of which is low, would be a mistake.
According to the majority of foreign experts, in the next two or three years people are most likely to face the terrorist attacks with the use of conventional explosives. However, in the coming ten-year period, the same forecast predicts the transition of terrorist to the use of WMD components. The most likely targets of attacks are the infrastructures of attacked countries, instead of towns and cities.
Officially, America has in total 77,069 potential targets of terrorist attacks. As to the implementation of the terrorist attacks, they can generally be summarized in three main directions, different in identifying the priorities of attacks.
In accordance with the first method, the most likely target of terrorist attacks are large commercial and corporate business objects and, probably, military and diplomatic facilities. Such an assessment argues that business objects are rather open and accessible to attack, less protected and guarded than military and diplomatic facilities.
The second method involves a priority of the civilian facilities with large populations. Such crowded objects are suitable for terrorists as such attack leads to mass casualty of population, causes huge and social and political repercussions desirable for international terrorist leaders.
The third method implies terrorists focusing their attention on objects which are the symbols of the state. Such attacks may also lead to mass casualties. This choice states that terrorists are willing to avoid a sharp reaction against their groups and leaders of military force.
All three methods mainly deal with facilities in the United States of America, Russia, Israel, and the West in general.
However, it should be emphasized that the specificity of globalization is a general openness and interaction, so sooner or later international terrorists may own the modern technology. Modern high-tech terrorism can provoke a systemic crisis in the advanced information structure and even the crisis of the world community. Unfortunately, if the situation in the world will not change drastically, the terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction is only a matter of time. The fight against terrorism by force and technological methods can only restrict or change the time and place of attack. Deferred terrorist attack could be even more powerful of magnitude than prevented one. Eradication of terrorism is only possible in the ideological, social, and spiritual measure.