Lesson Objectives:- Forms of terrorism
- War on terrorism
- The Gulf Wars
- ISIS and the Taliban
- The death of Bin Laden
Terrorism is a systematic attempt to inspire fear to gain political ends, typically involving the indiscriminate use of violence against noncombatants. Generally, there is a political purpose. When the Irish Republican Army would regularly launch terrorist attacks in the British province of Northern Ireland, it was to drive the British out and reclaim the province as part of the Republic of Ireland.
On September 11, 2001, when terrorists hijacked airplanes with the purpose of crashing them into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, terrorism struck us in a way that many had not thought possible. A couple of reasons for the attack seemed to be because we had U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia and because al Qaeda, under Osama bin Laden, saw us as the primary defender of Israel against the Palestinians.
Deeper than those motives, however, Al Qaeda's actual goals were to bring the world under the theocratic rule of an Islamist empire. There was no negotiating with them because they did not have a goal that is reasonable and there was no compromise.
America has had to deal with terrorism even before al Qaeda struck on 9/11. Domestic terrorists are terrorists from our own country, like the radicals who were blowing up bombs in protest to the Vietnam War and the right-wing militants who blew up the federal office building in Oklahoma City.
Domestic terrorism has seen a shift in recent years to domestic Islamists who get indoctrinated over the internet and self-radicalize, like the Army psychiatrist who killed 13 people in Fort Hood, Texas in 2009 and the brothers who bombed the Boston Marathon in 2013. In both cases, the perpetrators were self-radicalized Muslims.
September 11 led to sweeping changes. President Bush put in place strong measures to secure our borders and protect our interests abroad. We saw it in the airports when security was heightened. We saw it working as new surveillance measures were discovering and stopping terrorist activities.
The biggest change came when we attacked al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Then, we went to war in Iraq.
In 1990 to 1991, the United States went to war in Iraq in what became the First Persian Gulf War. That time, it was in answer to Saddam Hussein's occupation of Kuwait. Coalition forces led by the U.S. took back Kuwait.
Even though a cease-fire was called and Iraq agreed to let UN weapons inspectors oversee the destruction of its missiles and chemical and nuclear weapons development, they did not make it easy.
By 2003, President Bush was fueled by Iraq’s lack of cooperation and the recent September 11 attacks. He was ready to enter Iraq again and topple Hussein's dictatorship, which he accomplished in less than a month. The three principal ethnic groups of Iraq were the Kurdish-speaking people to the north who loved us being there, the Shiites in the south who were skeptical of our intentions, and the Sunnis in the west who hated the idea of us being there.
When the Sunni guerilla insurgency started attacking the coalition forces, it became a political nightmare for President Bush. To make matters worse, a new Al Qaeda had formed and was staging suicide bombings and attacking the Shiites. In April 2007, it seemed the new al Qaeda had overplayed its hand and Sunni tribal leaders asked U.S. troops to assist them in rising up against the Sunni militant organization. Once the Iraqi government gained control of its territory, President Bush and Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki set deadlines for U.S. troop withdrawal.
Combat troops left by August 2010 and the rest of the American troops were there until the end of 2011.
A radical Islamist rebel group in Syria calls itself the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS). They are also called the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). ISIS descended from al Qaeda in Iraq.
Launching a major offensive in Iraq in June 2014, ISIS took control of a city named Mosul. Its intentions were to rule the Middle East and then, the entire world. Their intentions for Christians and others in that area was genocide. President Obama provided air support to the Iraqi forces fighting ISIS and after government reorganizations, as well as a shift in our air support commitment, Iraqi forces began to push back ISIS and recover ground.
The al Qaeda camps and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan were actually President Bush's first military objective. Building a coalition of international allies and anti-Taliban rebels, Bush began an air campaign against the Taliban in late 2001. The Taliban were quickly ousted from power and the Northern Alliance, the anti-Taliban group, was able to take the capital city of Kabul.
The Taliban were defeated but they retreated and established bases in the mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan. They started taking over some areas of Pakistan again in 2008 and 2009 as the U.S. launched drone strikes against suspected Taliban targets.
Having gathered information on Osama bin Laden for years, in 2011, the CIA and U.S. intelligence forces finally found the evidence they needed to figure out where bin Laden was hiding. With protection from members of the Pakistan military, Bin Laden lived in a residential compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
May 1st, 2011 marked the day that U.S. Navy SEALs raided that compound and killed bin Laden along with four others, bringing closure to many Americans. People in Pakistan were not happy, however, seeing the raid as an attack on Pakistan’s sovereignty.
And while Al Qaeda was no longer a significant threat in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, the threat from radical Islamic movements was far from over.