IT Performance Improvement
Networking and Telecommunications
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Terrorism: An Overview
Terrorism is a political act, though its use and processes have very specific, horrific components and consequences. In this country terror is perhaps no longer perceived to be the same thing it was in the years immediately following the events of September 11, 2001-events that tragically introduced international terrorism to the American public. Terrorism on American soil was not new, because political activists, extremists, and radicals had used bombs, kidnapping, hijackings, and hostage taking as tactics in campaigns to press their points of view into the public awareness. But foreign terrorists striking on the American mainland had a devastating effect physically, psychologically, and emotionally that, a decade later, still inhabits the nation's psyche. Governments-federal, state, and local-continue to struggle to reduce the anxiety levels among the general public. In addition, private sector security has never been so finely tuned.
The last two decades of the twentieth century saw the rise of extreme Islamic radicalism to levels that threaten regimes throughout the Muslim world, as well as nations throughout Asia, Europe, much of Africa, and North America. Terrorist attacks carried out by Islamic terrorist groups have risen not only in number, but also in level of violence. The United States, which had largely been free of confrontations with Islamic terrorism, received its first taste in 1993, with a truck bomb attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, the same target leveled in the aerial assault on September 11, 2001. The earlier incident was largely disregarded at the highest levels of our government, perhaps considered aberrant and amateurish, and it went largely unacknowledged.
In the years up to the first World Trade Center attack, there were a number on incidents against Americans and American interests perpetrated, or believed to have been perpetrated, by Islamic radicals. But these were largely confined to the Middle East and adjacent territories. More recently, however, the United States has been engaged in hot wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The war in Iraq quickly went from a classic military operation into an insurgency-though the "rebels" were mostly from outside Iraq-with the improvised explosive device a weapon of choice. The incursion by American forces into these countries further fanned the flames of radical Islam.
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