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Posted: May 2nd, 2020

Three Religious Terrorist Organizations Originating from three Different Continents

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Question 1
Three Religious Terrorist Organizations Originating from three Different Continents
Al Qaeda was formed by a group of radicals including Osama Bin Laden in the modern day country of Pakistan in 1988. The country is under the control of Israel that has occupied some regions of the country such as the West Bank. The country is riddled with terrorist activities since its formation, what resulted in its occupation by the United States and other western countries in a bid to restore peace and support the government.
The main political goal of the movement is very straightforward, to bring together all the Muslims and create a government based on the rules of the Caliphs. The other aim of the movement is to stop the occupation of the country by the forces allied to the United States and its friends. The movement additionally seeks to re-establish itself and achieve its former status and glory.
The movement has chosen various tactics to achieve their goals. The main one is to wage an extensive campaign of terrorism in attempt to cause significant infrastructural, political and economic destruction to the enemy countries. Thus, compel them to withdraw their troops from the region. Given that the movement does not have the means to finance its campaign against the United States, it mostly relies on affiliated movements to destroy its enemy’s interests. The current al Qaeda exists more as an ideology that has become a vast enterprise—a worldwide authority with compatible local agents, loosely related to a central philosophical or inspirational base. Yet the remaining centre’s objectives progress at once concurrently and self-sufficiently of one another. The withdrawal of these forces would enable the movement to oust the local leadership and assume power. According to the 2004 edition of the Strategic Survey, a cadre of at least 18,000 individuals who trained in al Qaeda’s Afghanistan camps between 1996 and 2001 are today strategically positioned in some sixty countries around the world. It comes as no surprise that al Qaeda claims to be stronger and more capable now than it was on 9/11 (Johnson, 2004).
The movement has largely targeted the interests of those countries that are waging war against them. They have, therefore, targeted those countries property with the aim of creating damage to their infrastructure, economy and also their politics. The movement has additionally undertaken to activities which further their goals, just like most other terrorist groups. To this end, their actions of terrorism have similar intentions to the ones that they attempt to draw inspiration from. Publicity and attention are, without a doubt, paramount objectives. However, at the same time, there is a conscious recognition that only if their violence is properly calculated, and at least in some way regulated, will they be able to achieve effects they desire and the political objectives they seek (Johnson, 2004).
The Aum Shinrikyo
Aum was formed in Japan with the input of Shoko Asahara. The group took advantage of the country captivation with mystical, ambiguous religious groups that pool the spiritual with the supernatural. The country once is reported to be home for over 83,000 different religious cults. Aum’s highly characteristic combination of Buddhism and Hinduism merged with notions of apocalyptic reclamation applied a powerful attraction for young, intelligent Japanese isolated by society’s obsession with work, success, technology, and earning money.
The Aum Shinrikyo arguably signifies a new kind of the terrorist challenge posed by a big spiritual group inspired by the spiritual, almost mystical, exquisitely motivated imperative. The group was founded in by Shoko Asahara and is based in Japan. Indeed, Asahara, the leader, frequently blamed the United States for all of Japan’s financial and social difficulties. Asahara had specified that after conquering the Japanese government, and grabbing power, the movement’s real test would be to deal with the U.S. military forces positioned in the country.
Aum’s objective, however, was not, as many have described it, wanton, mass indiscriminate murder as an end in itself, but the acquisition and unimpeded exercise of political power. Theological treatise and religious imperatives clearly played a preeminent role in the justification behind and motivation for Aum’s campaign of violence and subversion. However, killing as an end to itself was not the engine driving Asahara’s and the movement’s grandiose ambitions. Aum’s most determined mission was without doubt its effort to build a nuclear capability. Thus, Aum embarked on its program to acquire an array of conventional and nonconventional weaponry that would effectively dwarf the arsenals of most established nation-states’ standing forces.
The movement mostly used the strategy of mass murders and bombings to send its message home. At about eight o’clock one Monday morning, in the middle of a rush hour, designated Aum teams placed eleven packages comprising sarin nerve gas on five subway trains on the Eidan Chiyoda, Hibiya, and Marunouchi lines. The trains were scheduled to converge within four minutes of one another at Kasumigaseki central station: the terminus at the heart of the Japanese government, used daily by the thousands of office workers employed in the country’s most important ministries—including the National Police Agency. The consequences of these actions were enormous.
American Christian White Supremacists
American Christian White Supremacists was formed in the United States of America. The country at that particular time had passed legislation prohibiting the ownership of guns by the residents in a bid to curb violence and maintain peace. It is on this basis that the group was formed.
The group had several objectives that they wanted to achieve through violence. The use of violence is similarly justified by religious imperative as a means to take over a reviled secular government and attain both racial purification and religious recovery. There were other motivations as well— including vengeance, protest, and armed resistance—which, it transpired, is shared by the members of the well-armed, militantly anti-government “citizens’ militias” with whom McVeigh mixed. Even though there have been organized racist and other groups likewise obsessed with extensive scheme philosophies that have been in the United States for a long time, the arrival of radical racial supremacist “citizens’ militias” and related Christian Patriot paramilitary groups oriented toward “survivalism,” outdoor skills, guerrilla training, and outright sedition is a more recent development (Chalk, 2013).
The group’s more than twelve thousand claimed members accordingly train in guerrilla combat, survivalist procedures, and other exceptional strategies in readiness for enduring the inevitable federal government attack to seize their guns and deny them of their absolute right to bear weapons, presaged by the Branch Davidian raid. The group’s goal, as indicated by the cofounder and commander, Norman E. Olson, is not to organize for a revolution but to form the Republican Provisional Government.
Secular Terrorists Vs religious Terrorists
The course readings indicate that terrorist activities motivated by religion are more dangerous than the terrorist actions motivated by secular terrorists. The explanations as to why terrorist incidents committed for religious reasons result in several more deaths can be established in the fundamentally diverse value schemes, devices of legitimating and justification, notions of ethics, and worldviews regarded by the religious terrorist and his secular colleague.
Violence for the religious terrorist is first and most importantly a divine action or responsibility performed in direct reaction to some religious demand or requirement. The act of violence, as a result, assumes a mystical perspective, and the organizers, therefore, often ignore the political, ethical or real restriction which may influence their colleagues. Secular terrorists, even when they have the means to do so, hardly engage in undifferentiating murders on a wholly extensive scope since doing so are not consistent with their political objectives and as a result perceived as counterproductive and also unethical. Religious ones on the other hand regularly pursue the eradication of extensively defined groups of opponents and consequently consider such large-scale vehemence not only as ethically justified but as essential measures for the accomplishment of their objectives.
Religion—carried by holy text and communicated via religious authorities alleging to represent the divine—thus critically works as a way of justifying current occurrence and, in turn, as authorising force alleviating violence. This enlightens why religious sanction is so significant to religious terrorists and why spiritual individuals are often necessitated to bless or authorise terrorist activities before they are performed. Lastly, religious and secular terrorists also have unambiguously different opinions of themselves and their terrorist activities.
While secular terrorists view violence either as a means of prompting the improvement of a fault in a structure that is essentially good or as a technique to stimulate the formation of a new structure, religious terrorists perceive themselves not as constituents of a scheme worth conserving but as “strangers” pursuing important changes in the prevailing order. This sense of isolation also empowers the religious terrorist to consider far more damaging and terminal types of terrorist actions than secular terrorists, definitely to embrace a far more flexible group of “enemies” for violence—that is, anybody who is not an associate of the extremists’ religion or spiritual group. This describes the speech making shared among “holy terror” platforms defining those external to the terrorists’ spiritual public in condescending and degrading words as, for instance, “infidels,” “dogs,” “children of Satan,” and “mud people.” The considered use of such vocabulary to disregard and substantiate terrorism is substantial, for it additionally erodes restrictions on viciousness and violence by representing the terrorists’ targets as either bestial or undeserving of living.
Question 2
Background of the PLO and how it has Transformed the Nature of Terrorism
The Organization was formed in the month of May in 1964 in Jordan. The group sought to bring together various organizations in the Arab world under one umbrella. However, its main objective was to confiscate, or reclaim according to the groups viewpoint, the land given by the United Nations to Israel. With its existence, the group’s influence on the history of the Middle East is distinct.
The organization had no history of violence when it started. This changed following its association with another organization named Fatah, which means to liberation. Some of the fractions within the PLO included the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PELP), Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC), and the Fatah. Fatah was based in Syria under the leadership of Yasir Arafat. The group became increasingly violent following the military success of Israel and became unwilling to return the land belonging to the Arabs, especially from the regions of Sinai and Golan Heights. This resulted to the emergence of even more extreme subunits within the PLO. The two units that had terrorist links were the Black September and the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The two groups became convinced that violence was the only means by which Israel could be forced to return the land and, as a result, they resorted to explosions, kidnappings and mass killings (Chamberlin, 2012).
At the dawn of the year 1967, the organization made a resolve concerning their basic objective, which they decided would be to cause great devastation to Israel thereby leading to its ultimate downfall. The activities undertaken by the organization in the course of the subsequent ten years focussed on the attainment of their primary objective, which greatly shaped the world’s perception of the group. The outcome of the acts of terror carried out by the group caused several losses of lives and casualties on both sides. However, the organization achieved very little success from their acts of terror, forcing the group to rethink its objectives. They made an absolute decision to change their focus from just carrying out terrorist activities and decided to embrace diplomatic and political means as possible solutions to their problems.
As a result of their actions, PLO started carrying out acts of terrorism. The most recognized terrorist activity, organized by the Black September, was done in September 1972 when the group attacked Israeli Olympic squad. This drew a lot of attention to the group. The attack resulted to the death of two Israeli wrestlers and the kidnapping of nine others. A rescue attempt undertaken by the German police led to the death of the nine athletes, two officers from Germany, and five members of the group. The rest were captured and imprisoned. However, six weeks later they were released when the other members of PLO hijacked a German plane and threatened to kill the passengers on board. The released captives received a hero’s welcome upon their return. Even though the world perceived the perpetrators who attacked the Israeli Olympics as heartless terrorists, majority of citizens in the Arab world perceived them as heroes willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the people of Palestine. The attach and hijacking incidence laid the foundation for future terrorist attacks both in Israel and in other parts of the world towards the end of the 20th century and the first few years marking the start of the 21st century.
Attempts have made by the leader of Jordan, King Hussein, try and limit or regulate the terrorist actions of the more radical units within the PLO. Such calls ended up triggering a civil unrest in Jordan in the September of 1970 and resulted to the withdrawal of the guerrilla units of the PLO from both Syria and Lebanon. They understood that they had the moral backing of the citizens of those countries. They were regarded as fighters of freedom by several people in Lebanon who would assist in the reclamation of Golan Heights. The government of Syria, similarly, either chose to ignore or refrained from interfering with their activities.
Come 1974, it was resolved by the representatives from every state in the Arab world that the PLO would be responsible for all citizens of Palestine both at the national and international level. In March 1976, the United Nations admitted the representatives from PLO to discuss the conditions regarding their occupation of the West bank of Jordan by Israel. The discussions offered the organization the recognition is had sought for years. However, some individuals within PLO felt that the organization was abandoning its core mission of forcing Israel to return land belonging to the Palestinians and that it was assuming a more political role that is, advocating for violence as a means of negotiation. The conflicts within the PLO ended with the recognition of Arafat as the leader of the group even though the most extreme groups were no longer within his control (Chamberlin, 2012). Operations within the PLO changed quickly as a result of the worldwide recognition that the group attained following its meeting with the United Nations. With the assistance of Arafat, the group successfully altered its image from one perceived as a terrorist group to one identified as fighting for the freedoms and rights of the people of Palestine. Sensing that the group was achieving more moral backing from the rest of the world, Israel increased its endeavour to eradicate the group from the region.
Success/Failure of the PLO Based on Hoffman’s Five Objectives for Terrorism
Towards the start of the war in June of 1967, the leadership of PLO fell in the hands of independent political groups with different ideologies from those of the founders. Factions such as Fatah, being the largest unit within the PLO, have greatly influenced the organization since and have directed its development.
The modifications of ideology by the organization once more created fractions among several adherents of the organization who viewed the change as sign that the organization was fast losing its focus on its objectives. The disputes within the group led to the creation of yet another group referred to as the Rejection Front. About the same time, the unit under the leadership of Arafat assumed control of the terrorist group.
With the rise of Yasir Arafat to the helm of PLO, an organization started to gain independence from the control of Egyptian president Gamal Nasser. Arafat changed the ideology of PLO to resemble those of Fatah, who preferred to use violence in an attempt to liberate Palestine from Israel. The new approach contrasted those of the founders who believed Palestine would dominate other Arabs states in their relations with Israel. The use of violence was also supported by the new leaders who disregarded the input of the Palestinian elite, who were considered less suitable in military terms. The newer and younger leaders of PLO had diverse backgrounds. Arafat, for example, drew a lot of inspiration from the Muslim Brotherhood while the other depended on the ideologies of the Arab nationalists. Their common agreement, however, was that Palestinians had to initiate armed struggle to achieve its political independence (Chamberlin, 2012).
Starting from 1974, the Palestinian National Council dropped its push for an extreme approach and focussed more on a two-state resolve that would create a Palestinian country next to Israel. The result was an achievement that resulted to the declaration of independence for Palestine in 1988 by the Palestinian National Council.
Letters of recognised were subsequently exchanged between Israel and PLO, and the two groups signed a Declaration of Principles on Oslo Accords. The agreement did not offer favourable terms to the PLO considering its poor organizational circumstance. The PLO’s backing of the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq in the year 1990 led to financial decline of the group and also its political influence regionally and worldwide. The group was however rescued by the terms of the Oslo Accords that opened up opportunities for change regarding the Occupied Territories. Despite a series of agreements between Israel and Palestine in the 1990s, the country did not achieve independence from Israel. With the failure of PLO, the groups rivals gained more recognition especially Hamas. A disagreement between the two countries and the United States triggered the a second war in the September of 2000, which resulted to PLO losing ground to Hamas with more injuries being inflicted on the citizens of Israel (Kimmerling, Migdal & Kimmerling, 2003).
Both PLO and Fatah suffered significant fragmentation following the death of Arafat in 2004. Towards the end of 1993, Fatah had lost its influence on its diaspora population with its concentration on creating an independent Palestinian country near West Bank and Gaza. The decline in the influence of PLO was symbolized by the lawlessness that resulted in the refugee camps in Palestine that were under the control of the group. At the same time, a rival organization, Hamas, continued to gain control over the same region at the expense of PLO. Within Palestine, the control by Israel led to the loss of West Bank where several road blocks and check points had made travelling between the towns difficult. This enabled local strongmen to assume control over some parts of Palestine. The extensive acts of corruption among the leaders of Fatah additionally led to resistance among the Palestinians. The withdrawal of Israel from Palestine in 2005 led to a scramble for power enabling Hamas to win through elective politics. In 2007, Hamas vowed to drive both Fatah and PLO out of Palestine that further resulted to a decline in their dominance and presence in the region.

Chalk, P. (2013). Encyclopedia of terrorism. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO.
Chamberlin, P. T. (2012). The global offensive: The United States, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the making of the post-cold war order. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Johnson, S. (2004). The myth of ham in nineteenth-century American Christianity: Race, heathens, and the people of God. Gordonsville: Palgrave Macmillan.
Kimmerling, B., Migdal, J. S., & Kimmerling, B. (2003). The Palestinian people: A history. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

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