Terrorism expert Bruce Hoffman has noted that left-wing European groups’ “use of violence historically has been heavily constrained,” and even their right-wing counterparts used violence “based not on some pathological obsession to kill or beat up as many people as possible but rather on a deliberate policy of intimidating the general public into acceding to specific demands or pressures.” In the United States, the Weather Underground embarked on a campaign of planting bombs in public buildings to call attention to the group’s opposition to the Vietnam War and its support of the Black Panthers. And it worked: President Ronald Reagan withdrew the remaining U. In 1993, Ramzi Yousef, a nephew of future 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, organized a plot to blow up a truck bomb under the World Trade Center.
But after a bomb-making accident killed three of the group’s members, they began to provide advance warning so that targeted buildings could be evacuated. It killed six and injured more than 1,000 but fell far short of what he’d wanted: for one tower to crash into the other, killing as many as 250,000 people.
The recent mass shooters who have generally been called terrorists — Fort Hood’s Hasan, San Bernardino’s Farook and Malik, and Beltway sniper Muhammad — were all identified as Muslims.
What these arcs share is the lack of any apparent purpose beyond mass murder and possibly some vague notions about attacking the West.
Arguably, the post-9/11 version of terrorism doesn’t even fit the statutory definition anymore.
Even as terrorism became more lethal in the 1980s, one could generally discern the goals of the attackers. Yousef claimed credit afterward, demanding that the United States cease supporting Israel and interfering in the Middle East.
Two years later, Army veteran Timothy Mc Veigh and his co-conspirator, Terry Nichols, set off a truck bomb next to the Alfred P.
Sorting all of this out was much easier when terrorists reliably took credit for their actions and issued rationales.
The primary goal of most terrorists in the 1970s, for instance, was to gain publicity for their causes, with violence (actual or threatened) as a means to an end, rather than the end itself. Marines, sailors and soldiers, the attack was aimed at driving American forces out of Lebanon. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, however, terrorism morphed into something more savage and, sometimes, more ambiguous.(Perhaps he would have made some public statement later, but a highway patrol officer detained him on a routine traffic stop, and he was identified as the perpetrator during his time in custody.)Since then, the direction of terrorism has split into two fairly distinct arcs.One is mega-terrorism aimed at killing large numbers of victims in spectacular ways, such as the 9/11 attacks; airliner-targeting plots, including unsuccessful ones by “shoe bomber” Richard Reid and “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab; and the liquid-explosives plot foiled by the British in 2006.(These would-be bombers did not announce their intent before they were stopped.) The other is small-scale ground attacks, typically carried out with firearms and sometimes small explosives, often by lone wolves.But as the devastating attacks in Mumbai in 2008 (death toll: 164) and Paris in 2015 (death toll: 130) demonstrate, even firearms-based plots can rack up high casualty counts.He was convicted of hate crimes and murder, not terrorism.