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Nuclear Terrorism - Articles Surfing

The major obstacle to nuclear terrorism is not obtaining the weapon. It is obtaining the terrorist group. A single terrorist fired the weapon that ignited World War 1. When the Archduke Ferdinand died, Europe erupted into a war, which resulted in the deaths of millions. Not since then has a single individual or small group been able to commit an act that has caused such devastation. Until a few years ago, the repeat of such an act would seem unlikely.

Today, a terrorist act resulting in millions of deaths is increasingly likely. A single nuclear weapon in the hands of a well-funded, technically able, and properly motivated individual could result in upwards of millions of deaths. The act that started World War I, the assassination of the Archduke was committed by the Black Hand, which was sponsored by Serbia. The gunman, Gavrilo Princip, was captured. Serbia was destroyed in retribution. While the assassination was successful, the consequences greatly outweighed the benefits. Traditional terrorist organizations have had one or more limitations, which prevented them from committing acts or large-scale terror: retribution or loss of support. Retribution is the limiting factor for state-sponsored and economic-based terrorist groups. State sponsored terrorist groups have to temper their attacks, unless their parent-state faces the retribution as in the example of the Black Hand and Serbia. Irani-sponsored Hezbollah appears to be in an all out war with Israel. However, they are conducting a series of attacks designed to turn opinion in the Arab-Persian world against the Israeli's while limiting the outrage in the Western media. By firing rockets at Israel inside Lebanon, the Israeli's are unable to defend against the missiles. They are forced to invade Lebanon and destroy the missiles or create a buffer zone in Lebanon that exceeds the range of the missiles. If Iran were unafraid of Western retribution, Hezbollah would take a more direct approach when attacking Israel. However, right now they are more interested in the pictures of Lebanese civilian casualties killed by invading Israeli's for public opinion purposes, than they are doing real damage to Israel.

Economic-based terrorist groups such as the narco-terrorists of Columbia only want to commit enough violence to ensure their business. They want to avoid incurring the wrath of a state. The best example of this was the eradication of the Medellin Drug Cartel by the combined forces of the United States and Columbia. It must be noted that since the Medellin Drug Cartel was destroyed dozens of more subtle organizations have risen to take its place. Ethnic or religious organizations such as the Irish Republican Army (IRA), Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), or the Basque Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) tempered their attacks after September 11 so as to not lose the support of their backers. Any of these groups had the expertise to perform a large-scale attack such as the September 11th attacks. However, an attack of that size would have resulted in severe retributions against their affiliated ethnic or religious groups. The resulting hardships - would turn these groups against the terrorists. An example is current battle between Palestine and Israel. During the Infatada, Palestinian nationalism soared. Israel was with suicide bombers and popular opposition rallies. Israel counter-attacked effectively by building a protective wall which forced Palestinians to pass through security checkpoints. While this was intended to prevent bombers from sneaking through, it was most effective as an economic threat against the Palestinians who rely on Israel for work.

Another effect from a September 11th size attack is that victims would not be guaranteed to be from the target group. An attack of that magnitude by the IRA in England would likely kill many Irishman in addition to the English. Once again this would cost popular support without any recognizable trade-off. The success of the September 11th attacks can only make large scale attacks by similar groups more likely. The United States suffered several thousands of deaths at the hands of a small number of poorly armed terrorists. Years later the United States and its allies have been unable to enact proper retribution against the leaders of the Al Qaeda Terrorist group. This is because Al Qaeda lacks a single national affiliation. Utilizing terrorists recruited from neighborhoods throughout the Arab world, Al Qaeda has an inexhaustible supply of soldiers. These soldiers come from various countries including those allied to the United States such as Saudi Arabia. This denies the United States an easy target for retribution. Like the average Al Qaeda terrorist, the organization's leadership could easily be replaced.

The group is well financed and led by a single individual - Osama Bin Laden. Possessing the organizations largest source of financing and being the most recognizable leader, Osama Bin Laden is the only leader of any true value. Killing him would destroy the organization but not the model. All other acts of retribution against Al Qaeda are meaningless. Lacking a single national identity and recruiting its soldiers from several different countries including our allies prevents the target nations from taking the simplest precautionary measures. The terrorists who were involved in the September 11th attacks were mostly Saudi citizens. Knowing this a logical precautionary measure would be to place tighter controls on immigration of Saudi citizens. However, if we did this, our ally Saudi Arabia would be deeply offended. Another logical step would be to freeze Saudi assets which are just as unlikely. Governments can not be held accountable for actions performed by the citizens which are contrary to the governments policies.

The Al Qaeda terrorist is a religious fanatic. He or she is ready to give up their lives for their cause as has been evidenced in the September 11th attacks and countless others. This type of fanaticism combined with virtual immunity from retribution is a combination that makes nuclear terrorism possible. Add to this combination billions of dollars of Osama Bin Laden's personal wealth and a nuclear terrorist event becomes probable. In terrorism, success breeds imitators. While Al Qaeda will only continue to exist as long as Osama Bin Laden is alive or free, other groups will take its place. Seeing that a target country could not strike back against a stateless terrorist group will breed imitators. Without any deterrence, what is to prevent Al Qaeda from performing a nuclear terrorist attack? More horrifying, once that genie has been let out of the bottle, what is to prevent other groups from repeating the act?

Copyright 2006 Andrew Horan

Submitted by:

Andrew Horan

Andrew Horan has a political science degree and graduate work in Soviet Studies.http://www.paskamansett.com



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