Terrorism Demonstrate understanding of an historical event, or place, of significance to New Zealanders

Our third and final internal for the year focuses on terrorism and its significance to New Zealand. To complete this effectively you will need to establish the background to the event (or place where terrorism occurred), detail what happened during the event and lastly how a terrorist event affected the lives of people (this can include affects from the event or place studied through to the present day, which may help to explain why the chosen event or place is significant.)

What is terrorism? Let's provide some context to our study...

How you define terrorism depends on your point of view

If so called terrorists are on your side, or are acting for a cause you believe in you might not call them terrorists at all. You would more likely call them ‘freedom fighters’ or ‘protectors’.

If the terrorist acts are directed against you then you may see them as ‘traitors’ or ‘murderers’.

Here are some further opinions as to the true definition of terrorism...

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. (The FBI)

Premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-violent combatant targets by sub- national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience. (US State Department)

The use or threat, for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause, of action which involves serious violence against any person or property. (United Kingdom Government)

  1. Understand all that? Use a dictionary to help you out.
  2. Which of these definitions do you think is best? Why?
  3. What words in these definitions might a terrorist group themselves disagree with?

Not surprisingly, terrorists usually reject the labels which their opponents give them. In fact all terrorist organisations deny that they are terrorists! At a conference in 2002 some 57 Muslim nations condemned terrorism in all its forms. However when it came to defining what actually counted as terrorism they were unable to agree to a definition. The conference announced: “We urge the Islamic nations to work toward an international definition of terrorism that distinguishes between terrorism and legitimate struggles…against foreign occupation”

It is a complicated world...

Don't be fooled into thinking that Terrorism is a new phenomenon. Terrorism in various forms has been a part of human history since earliest times.

In Roman times a Jewish group called the Zealots used terrorist tactics against the Romans.

A Muslim group called the Assassins first operated in the 600’s - yes it inspired Assassin's Creed...

The Serbian Black Hand terrorists carried out the assassination which triggered the First World War in 1914. (Gavrilo Princep who killed Archduke Ferdinand)

History has shown that terrorist tactics are a very effective way to attack a larger and stronger enemy. Here the USS Cole is under tow after being holed by a terrorist act.

Terrorist groups have fought against governments, monarchs and foreign enemies. In 1984 the Grand Hotel in Brighton was bombed by the IRA who hoped to kill the Prime Minister and her cabinet who were there for the Conservative Party Conference.

With terrorism forming a significant feature of modern history then we can conclude that terrorist groups find that they consider themselves highly effective in their aim of bringing about political change and putting pressure on governments.

The fact the governments are expending so much effort to fight terrorism shows how worried they are about terrorism and shows they still see terrorists as a potent force.

Massive expenditure is undertaken by various governments in order to combat what they perceive as terrorist threats.
  1. Can you think of any other forms of expenditure undertaken by governments that are directly related to terrorism?
  2. What steps has New Zealand taken to combat the threat of terrorism both at home and abroad?
  3. How have New Zealand citizens rights been altered in order to fight terrorism?

So what motivates terrorists to commit such appalling acts, often against other humans?

Most terrorists don’t believe they are terrorists! Their actions are not evil, rather their acts are striking a blow against an evil enemy. They see their tactics as justified because it is their only way to beat an opponent who is better armed and resourced.

A common desire of terrorist organisations is to right wrongs being done to ‘their’ people. Wrongs of the present day are often seen as being deeply rooted in the past and this in turn makes the terrorist feel that he or she is part of a deep and meaningful movement. These beliefs are usually reinforced by a strong sense of history, culture, religion, political ideology or all of these factors combined. These factors often make the terrorist formidable.

Does this make terrorism acceptable in some circumstances? Check out the following acts of terror and discuss with your classmates:

The Black September group take Israeli Olympic athletes hostage at the Munich Olympics in 1972 as a statement about Palestine being given to the Jewish people after WW2.
An IRA patrol on the streets of Northern Ireland in their conflict with the 'occupying' British forces
The Sea Shepherd Eco-terrorists tangle with the Japanese whaling fleet in the waters of Antarctica trying to stop what they see as an illegal practice.
The Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am flight 103, attributed to Libyan leadership as a response to ongoing military confrontations with the USA, killed 243 civillians ( 178 Americans )
Most religious groups at one time or another seem to provide the world with terrorists. Here the KKK preach their brand of Christian values
Acts of terror have even been committed in our little backwater of the world - the Rainbow Warrior sunk by the French military in 1985 because of nuclear testing in the Pacific.

So let's meet some terrorists...

Using the information in the hand out, determine the Aims, Origins and key personalities of the following three groups:

The IRA

The PLO

Al-Qaeda

Identify any similarities between the three groups above. Consider their origins, aims, who they were fighting against and the tactics they employed.

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