Political Terrorism in Europe

There is no universal agreement on the definition of terrorism. Various legal systems and government agencies use different definitions. Governments have been reluctant to formulate an agreed upon and legally binding definition. These difficulties arise from the fact that the term is politically and emotionally charged. There are many reasons as to why there is no universal consensus regarding the definition of terrorism. The United Nations attempts to define the term foundered mainly due to differences of opinion between various members about the use of violence in the context of conflicts over national liberation and self-determination. In this sense the way one group looks at the actions of another group could be interpreted in two completely different ways; where one group sees terrorism the other group might interpret themselves as revolutionaries and or freedom fighters. How did the British see the American Revolutionaries? Much differently than many of their American supporters.

These divergences have made it virtually impossible to conclude a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that incorporates a single, all-encompassing, legally binding, criminal law definition of terrorism. In the meantime, the international community adopted a series of sectoral conventions that attempt to define and criminalize various types of terrorist activities. In addition, since 1994, the United Nations General Assembly has condemned terrorist acts. This was done by the Nations General Assembly using the following political description of terrorism; Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them. International terrorism has increased rapidly and become more menacing. Its main aim is to terrorize the people psychologically.

These terrorists would perpetrate their terrorism by doing things such as spreading fear and undermining morale for political blackmail. This is not to be confused with a guerilla war of national liberation. In self-protection, the free world must join together against terrorist attacks on innocent civilians. Not only that, the free world would need to adopt a policy of zero tolerance for many other types of terrorism such as the taking of hostage, hijacking of aircraft and involvement of third-party countries. From 1970 to 2015 terrorism has been all over the charts. In the year 1970, there was barely any terrorism in Europe but then in 1972 terrorism sky rocketed, it went from barely any attacks too close to 300 attacks with at least one death. Attacks with at least one death stayed around 200. It was not until 1977 that they went back down to around roughly 150 attacks. In 1978, it was also around 150 attacks but then in the year 1979 to 1980, they went right back up to around 200 attacks.

For the next roughly 30 years terrorist acts slowly decrease to a little over 100 attacks with at least one death. This trend lasted until around 2014/2015 when terrorism skyrocket again over 200. Statistics also show that in Western Europe terrorism exploded in 1970 and slowly decreased by 2015 and in Eastern Europe there was no terrorism until around 1983 and then around 1995, it slowly increased into 2014 when terrorism got really big in Eastern Europe. From 1970 to 2016 there has been so many different forms of terrorism. Some of the few main types have been acts of terrorism such as bombings, assassinations against the people, assaults on innocent victims, building attacks using weapons such as explosives and bombs, hostage situations such as kidnapping and midway robberies, and last hijackings of vehicles such as airplanes.

From the 1970’s to the early ‘90s, attacks from separatist and extremist groups rippled in western countries, such as Northern Ireland and Spain. By the mid ‘90s, the number of deadly attacks in the region fell. That was not the case in the eastern region. In the years after the fall of the Soviet Union, terrorist groups formed in the ensuing conflicts throughout the former Soviet republics, with some receiving support from foreign extremist groups, including Al-Qaeda. The vacuum of power and structure that was absent after the fall of the Soviet Union presented terrorist groups and the states/counties that sponsor these groups the perfect opportunity to spread their message of fear and to recruit many formerly oppressed individuals to their cause. In recent years, the conflict in eastern Ukraine have led to a spike in terrorist attacks in Eastern Europe. Russia, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Spain and France are among the countries with the highest number of deaths from terrorism, according to the database.

More people died in terrorist attacks in Russia than any other country in Europe. Russia experienced one of Europe’s deadliest attacks in September 2004 when members of the Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs, an Islamist force of suicide attackers, took more than 1,000 people hostage during the first day of classes at a school in Beslan, North Ossetia, in the North Caucasus region. More than 300 people died at the end of the three-day siege. About half of the victims were children, according to reports. Ukraine saw more than 180 terrorist attacks that resulted in at least one death since 1992. However, a majority of the country’s deaths, more than 800, occurred in 2014 and 2015 during the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine. The attacks – those targeting civilians, businesses, the media and government officials without any wartime strategic value have been attributed to the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics.

The deadliest attack occurred on July 17, 2014, when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down in eastern Ukraine. Nearly 300 crew members and passengers died. In September, a Dutch-led investigation said the missile that brought down the plane originated in Russia and was fired from territory held by pro-Russian separatists. Much of the terrorism-related deaths in the United Kingdom during the late 20th century came from attacks orchestrated by pro-Irish and pro-English extremist groups, notably the Irish Republican Army and Ulster Volunteer Force, in Northern Ireland. These attacks occurred during The Troubles, a 30 year ethno-nationalist conflict between loyalists, a majority of which were Protestant who wished to remain part of the United Kingdom, and republicans, who were exclusively Catholic and fought to become part of Ireland. While the IRA was the deadliest group to be active in the United Kingdom responsible for more than 1,700 deaths, they were not responsible the country’s most devastating terrorist attack: the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. France’s deadliest year for terrorism-related deaths was 2015.

The year 2015 was France’s deadliest year for terrorism-related deaths because there were more than 140 deaths from only two different attacks in Paris. In January 2015, there were three men who were suspected and determined to have ties with a terrorist group known as Al-Qaeda in Yemen. Not only that, the Islamic State had gone, shot, and killed 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris. Ten months later, the country saw its worst terrorist attack in history. This was when members of the Islamic State coordinated a series of shootings and bombings across Paris that left about 130 people dead. In July 2016, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhel, a Tunisian national, drove a truck into a crowd on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. This resulting in the death of more than 80 people and injuring hundreds more. All Of these European countries had and still have terrorism running through them, however, the amount of terrorist attacks and deaths are different. Russian itself had 3,860 deaths in 895 lethal attacks from 1992 to 2016, the united kingdom was not far behind with 2,519 deaths in 1,622 lethal attacks, and last france which is far behind with 492 deaths in 165 lethal attacks.

In France, October 1878 Marie-François-Sadi Carnot was appointed undersecretary of public works, and in 1880 he took charge as minister. Elected vice president of the Chamber in April 1885, he served as Minister of Commerce and Finance. In 1887 he was elected president of the republic without actively aspiring to the office. The Carnot presidency was marked by the plots of the political adventurer Gen. Georges Boulanger, labour agitation, anarchist movements, and the Panama Canal scandals. Yet he managed to retain his popularity through 10 different governments formed in the course of seven years. Marie François Carnot was reaching the zenith of his popularity, when, on June 24, 1894, after delivering a speech at a public banquet in Lyon in which he appeared to imply that he would not seek re-election, he was stabbed by an Italian anarchist named Sante Geronimo Caserio. Carnot died shortly after midnight on June 25. The stabbing aroused widespread horror and grief, and the president was honored with an elaborate funeral ceremony in the Panthéon on July 1, 1894. Caserio called the assassination a political act, and was executed on August 16, 1894. In a painting of the assassination it shows the president riding in his chariot and out of nowhere this man ran up and stabbed him right in his side. The men around him reacted by all pushing the man away and grabbing him to make sure he could not get away. Ian Gow, although aware that he was a potential IRA assassination target, and unlike most British MPs of that era, he left his telephone number and home address in the local telephone directory.] In the early hours of July 30, 1990, a bomb was planted under Gow’s Austin Montego car, which was parked in the driveway of his house in Hankham, near Pevensey in East Sussex. The 4½-lb Semtex bomb detonated at 08:39 as Gow reversed out of his driveway, leaving him with severe wounds to his lower body. He died ten minutes later. On hearing of Gow’s death, Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock commented, “This is a terrible atrocity against a man whose only offence was to speak his mind…. I had great disagreement with Ian Gow and he with me, but no one can doubt his sincerity or his courage, and it is appalling that he should lose his life because of these qualities. “The IRA claimed responsibility for killing Gow, stating that he was targeted because he was a “close personal associate” of Thatcher and because of his role in developing British policy on Northern Ireland. By killing Mr. Gow, the IRA has struck closer to Mrs. Thatcher herself than at any time since the Brighton bombing. His assassination is all too reminiscent of that of Mr. Airey Neave in 1979. Mr. Neave, like Mr. Gow, was an implacable foe of the IRA and all it stands for. He had been the campaign manager for Mrs. Thatcher’s successful 1975 challenge to Mr. Heath for the Tory leadership. At the time of Mr. Neave’s murder, he was probably Mrs. Thatcher’s most trusted adviser.

These two terroristic attacks against humankind have their similarities and differences. There would be similarities such as the time of the attacks, and also the way the attacks were carried out. Terrorism has changed drastically from pre 1989 and post 1989. Pre-1989 people were oblivious to bombs and explosions, the people then carried out their attacks against people with other terroristic weapons such as knives and assault rifles. In the first attack, the president of France in 1894, the president was stabbed to death by an Italian anarchist. Think back on this tragic event in France, this would easily just show you that terrorism back then was important where people were mourning over the death of the President. At that time as well, the terrorists committing the terroristic acts didn’t care if they themselves got caught they only cared about what they wanted to do and didn’t care about the consequences that came with committing these crimes against humanity. But even after the post-1989 and even post-World War II time period, the people started to figure out about the bombs and that the whole platform of terrorism just shifted from using weapons such as knives and assault rifles to using even more deadly and dangerous explosives such as car-bombs and suicide-bombs. This was because of how the terrorists started to think, if they were to use a bomb that they might not get caught.

They might as well be able to do more harm to people and die rather than do minimal damage to people or their target and then get caught as well. Not only that, they usually thought that they might be able to kill more people and prove their point that much more. Terrorist also had the same idea with using cars, maybe if I run people over with my car I might not die in the process and I might be able to get away and live. These are some of The sick thoughts terrorists had going into the 1900’s which includes 1989. The way the media and the people of the country react has changed too, due to the constant attacks post 1989, pre 1989 and even before, that people were heartbroken after a political figure or an attack on anyone occurred. But post 1989 people have been exposed to terrorism for a long time, so as bad as it is people are use to terrorist.

People are sad over a mass shooting or a political leaders death but not for as long as they were pre 1989. People got use to and maybe even expecting people to die in a terrorist attack.  For many Americans and people around the world that are members of the older generations, they can look back to a time in their past where there were world wars and various conflicts, but what all of these things shared were clear boundaries. These boundaries were represented by clear sides and methods of battle, almost a rule of how Countries are to fight one another. These, for lack of a better term, rules of battle, no longer exist in the modern era. This environment feeds into what terrorism wants to accomplish, to terrorize others so that they can accomplish their long term goals. For all of these reasons, what the majority of mainline Countries and the citizens of those countries feel is terrorism is not necessarily seen by those committing the acts of violence.

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