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On September 11, 2001 Islamic terrorists hijacked American airplanes leaving from Washington DC and headed west towards California. After hijacking the planes the men flew two planes into the World Trade Center in New York and one plane into the Pentagon in Washington DC. A fourth plane hijacked crashed in Philadelphia; never reaching it’s designated target. The terrorist attack created a magnitude of devastation across America, amounting to the largest attack worldwide to date. Though this attack raised awareness about terrorism in the United States, many East-Asian countries have been living with the reality of terrorism for decades. However, over the last decade attacks have increased and spread outward, away from the east and into the west. Why have Islamic terrorist acts expanded to western countries? Why has the institution of terrorism become such an intriguing profession for many middle- eastern men? Why has there been a steady increase in terrorism over the last decade? The answers to these questions come from complex psychological aspects in the fundamentalist mentality and way of life.
Islam is a religion based on the teachings from the Koran, a book containing the Prophet Mohammed’s prophecies from Allah (God). Many Muslims interpret the Koran in ways to verify destructive and harmful acts their organizations orchestrate. With terrorism on a significant incline and technology advancing by the day, interpretations have the ability to create agents of mass destruction.
Destructive deadly acts committed annually by terrorists have been increasing steadily the past five years starting in 1995 when 420 terrorist attacks occurred worldwide; presenting a significant increase from the previous years 322 (Leader). Though the number of attacks alone appears quite alarming, the new tactics and motives demonstrated by the religiously inclined terrorists, such as Islamic fundamentalists, are even more shocking and have lead to the rise and cause of the terrorist trend (Leader).
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After September 11 the world seemed to open it’s eyes and recognize the growing problem with terrorism. Islamic groups have been committing these chaotic acts for years believing it to be the will of Allah. The increase in terrorist attacks can be traced to the increase in fundamentalists religious following. Groups such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, two very active terrorists groups in Palestine, recruit from the streets spreading their propaganda and attracting impressionable youth, males between 14-30, to their cause. Hassan, a reporter stationed in Palestine, met with members of both organizations for a period of 5 years. Over this time period he met with the founder of the Islamic Jihad organization, Dr. Fathi Shiqaqi. Shiqaqi explained using human bombs as “ a necessary tactic in striving for the goal of Allah (Hassan, 2001)” Many Arabic-Islamic terrorists have the same aspects on the bombings leading many young men to join with hopes of pleasing Allah and reaching paradise (Hassan, 2001).
The hope of reaching paradise inspires many Islamic terrorists to commit a suicide mission. To put the person that will become the human bomb in a state of reliance, the person prays endlessly all day believing that once they died they will be in Heaven with Allah and Muhammad. Men that Hassan interviewed believed dying for Allah is the quickest and most reliable way to reach paradise (Hassan, 2001). Most humans exhibit some desire to reach a paradise or at least a better world after death. To impressionable youth the guarantee of a paradise after committing suicide appears to be a “win-win” situation; Allah is served by destroying non-believers and he journeys to a splendorous paradise. Many times in life we seem to see only the good and are blind to the bad. Nevertheless, the rise in Islamic fundamentalist members contributes to the rise in terrorist attacks.
Another factor that has contributed to the rise in terrorist acts is the advancement in technology. The Al-Queda organization, an Islamic terrorist group founded by Osama Bin-Laden, now use “computerized files, email and encryption to support their operation (Freech)”.
Along with the advancement in technology based communication there have also been advancements in explosives and chemical warfare. Not only have the bombs increased in magnitude they’ve also become harder to detect leaving the world blind to many attacks before they occur. Also, the advancement in protection of buildings from possible terrorists have led fundamentalists to use larger bombs in order to still cause destruction and devastation and not be detected before detention (Watson, 1998). However, it is not the size of the bomb used that has begun to attract attention and gain Muslim support, it is the newfound availability. Through recent used private sponsors, terrorists are directly supported with enough money to be able to buy black marketed weapons, a practice rarely done before private sponsorship due to lack of funds (Leader, 2002).
Although many Americans and others worldwide have come to believe that all Muslims are violent destructive terrorists who hate the United States and have caused the rise in terrorism, it is simply not true. Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadel, an Islamic journalist, explains to journalist Keith Morrison the importance of peace in the Islam faith. Fadel doesn’t excuse the acts of terrorism that fellow believers have committed, but instead says “Religion has the power of producing enormous amounts of good but also has the power of producing an enormous amount of evil (Morrison, 2002).” Fadel explained that all religions have activists that take the written word very literally and Muslims are no different. Karen Armstrong, a religious scholar explains “ It’s very easy to play up the more aggressive passages of scripture and play down those parts that speak of peace and compassion (Morrison, 2002).”
The causes that have led to the incline in Islamic terrorist activity are bountiful. Explained in this paper are basic causes that have come from simple advances in society. A more psychological view on the incline would stem from the moral of the people and their demented confused views of their religion. Add campaigns across the country for the NRA use the slogan “guns don’t kill people” as their support for anti-gun control in America. The planes that flew into the WTC and the Pentagon caused the building to explode but the men behind the control, the ones who took over the plane are the ones responsible. A generation now lives in these middle- eastern countries that believe and are prepared to bring about the end of the world. This reality of the Islamic fundamentalist and their beliefs rightfully strikes terror into million worldwide. It is hard to believe that such few men can become such large agents of destruction (Morrison, 2002).
However, due to the advancements in technology, use of the literal meaning of the Koran, and the rise in propaganda supporting the devastation and destruction of millions, terrorism has become a deadly trend and an increasingly popular way to make a point.
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