Terrorism-A Global Threat To Mankind By Muksam Subba

‘Is One Man’s Terrorist Another Man’s Freedom Fighter?’

Terrorism can simply be defined as the unlawful act of violence against innocent people in pursuit of political, religious or ideological goals. It has been a major problem since time immemorial[1]. It evolved as a result of inefficient administration and failure of governance in the absence of a single dominant political authority. Terrorism is used as a bargaining tool to target and pressurize the government to do or not to do something. The main reason for the emergence of terrorism is the exploitation of weaker and unheard sections of society.

As means of retaliation for suppressing terrorism, the state makes use of coercive powers including military action. Terrorism as a phenomenon is socially conditioned from the young age of children and the rationale behind killing innocent people towards has religious agenda by which they are practiced to please god. They practice such acts in pursuit of a belief to find a path toward heaven. This is commonly known as ‘jihad’ (the act of surrendering to God). Children are taught that people practicing other religions are enemies.

In this article, we have sought to analyse the global menace of terrorism caused to mankind for which the first section of this article has identified the basic types of terrorism, the rationale behind the emergence of terrorism and at the last, we have tried to identify the implications or effects of terrorism on economy, politics, society and human psychology. Terrorism has several drawbacks such as economic depletion, loss of several lives and the aftermath issues of health, economy, psychological disorders, etc. These terrorist attacks are nothing but a shame on humanity. Terrorism handicaps the stage of development and destroys almost every aspect of life. It spreads the aura of fear and intimidation in the lives of every generations. It has brought the greatest global devastation to mankind. It has rapidly become the predominant strategic tool to inculcate and spread fear among the public. This article is basically a content analysis of secondary sources such as books, journal articles and web sources.

Types of Terrorism

American scholars started to differentiate the types of terrorism in 1970. During this time, many international and domestic terrorist groups bloomed worldwide. Modern terrorist groups started to utilize different ways of terrorist acts like bombing, hijacking, assassination and diplomatic kidnapping to fulfill their goals and for the first time, they were noticed as real threats to western countries. Against this backdrop, these scholars started differentiating the types of terrorism: Cyber terrorism, Nuclear terrorism, Narco terrorism, Right-wing terrorism, Left-wing terrorism and Separatist terrorism.

Cyber Terrorism

Cyber Terrorism is the large-scale disruption of the computer network, especially computers attached to the internet by the means of computer viruses. It utilizes information technology to affect the public at large and get attention to its aims. They use information technology like telecommunications and the internet as tools to organize a conventual form of attack. This mode of attack radically interrupts the internet service, for instance, cyber-terrorists can hack into network housing to get critical financial information or disable network emergency systems. Hacking the nuclear chip containing every information can be dangerous.

Nuclear Terrorism

Nuclear terrorism is motivated by the detonation of nuclear weapons, attacking the nuclear facilities, preparing nuclear materials by the terrorist, weapons or purchasing nuclear weapons or finding ways to scatter radioactive materials. A terrorist assault on a nuclear centre or nuclear power plant can be caused by the release of nuclear material. The consequence of an attack on a nuclear research centre or nuclear power plant could equal or exceed the effects of 1986 Chornobyl disaster in the USSR[2], which led to 30 deaths from radiation sickness, 1,800 cases of childhood thyroid cancer, the evacuation of one lakh persons and the radioactive contamination of huge areas of land in numerous countries.


Narco terrorism is the action directed toward hindering the anti-drug policy of the nation. Former President Fernando Belaunde Terry of Peru coined the term ‘Narco-terrorism’ in 1983 when describing terrorist-type attacks against the nation’s anti-narcotics police. Drug traffickers make use of to prevent the government to stop the drug trade. In the last decades, drug traffickers have made use of violence for assisting other terrorist acts.

Right-Wing Terrorism

Right-wing terrorism is inspired by ideology and beliefs like Communism, Fascism, Nazism, Racism and Opposition to Immigration. Contemporary right-wing terrorism first came into existence in Europe after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The aim of right-wing terrorists seeks to overthrow the government and establish a nationalist or fascist government. In this type of terrorism, the terrorists fight with the liberal government in order to preserve their traditions. The right-wing terrorist groups are Neo-Fascists and Kul Klux Klan. There are several groups of this type in USA, India, Germany, Russia and other countries.

Left-Wing Terrorism

Left-wing terrorism wants to remove the Capitalist form of government and to establish a communist social-based government. Left-Wing terrorist groups are universally known as Maoist and Naxalites[3]. They attack with a motive to remove the class distinction for example, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Red Army in Japan and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE).

Separatist Terrorism

Separatist terrorism is directed toward the division of countries for establishing a new nation. This type of terrorism is basically carried out by the minorities, within a nation that desires their own independent state, generally due to the discrimination from the majority of citizens of the country. Tamil Elam of Sri Lanka, and Quebec Liberation Front in Canada are few examples. Separatists seek nationalist aims usually desiring to secure self-determination or home rule for a certain faction or a geographic community. Many groups who engage in separatist terrorism claim that they are neither extremists nor terrorists, but are rebels or freedom fighters.

Rationale Behind Terrorism?

There are several reasons for the cause of terrorism such as political history, modern politics, government politics, ideological reasons, cultural tensions and economic trends. The desire to separate from the existing government and form a new nation can cause the creation of terrorist organization. To cite a few examples, Hamas is one of the dangerous ethnic-nationalist groups involved in different types of terrorist activities like suicide bombings for attacking Israel with the objective of creating new nation. Palestinian Chechen terrorist organization attack against the government of Russia in order to establish a new nation. In India, there is also numerous terrorist group who want to create separate nations like in Jammu Kashmir and some of the North-East states of India such as Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram.

Religion is treated to be the significant cause of terrorism. Although, religion is not the major cause but it plays a vital role in terrorism. Terrorist attacks based upon religion are more dangerous in nature than other types of terrorism. The religious head entices the young people by saying that they would be rewarded after death. Specifically, in India religion is the main reason behind terrorism. The maximum number of deaths and incidents have occurred due to religious terrorism. In Punjab, some Sikh group chose terrorism to create an independent state called Khalistan based on Sikh religion.  

Terrorism also can be caused due to differences in the economic standards of different countries. This can lead to humiliation, frustration and victimization in groups of persons belonging to the poorer countries while making comparisons about their economic condition with the citizens of the richer nations. Economic success may attract attacks when economic deprivation is assessed globally (poor versus rich countries).

The grievances against a certain political policy or lack of political participation in the state might be a reason to join terrorist groups. The Left and the Right-wing terrorist groups are the best examples in this regard. The demand is not to create a different state or a nation but to change the political policy within the nation. Instable or failed states may even serve as schools of International terrorism, where in phases of domestic instability (i.e. civil war) individuals take recourse to violence that they can also use for internationalized terrorist campaigns. Political transformation may generally amplify terrorist behaviour, where this process influence both the production of terrorism and terrorist’s target decisions.

Cultural or civilizational clash is another reason for violence. When groups exhibit different identities such as different religion or ethnicities, this may lead to more conflict for instance, Islamic countries versus the West. Media outlets produce a larger audience so terrorists can air their grievances which may be motivated by political freedom, foreign occupation, religion, social inequality or ideological reasons. A terrorist organization engage in violence like hijackings and attract media attention in order to destabilize a country and damage the economy.

Implication of Terrorism

Before considering the applicable legal frameworks and some key recurring issues of terrorist attacks, it is important to identify some of the effects that the resultant violations and trauma may have on the victims themselves. Terrorism affects innocent civilians in different ways directly or indirectly. Here, we have mentioned different effects of terrorist activity which include; psychological effect, economic effect, social effect, and political effect.

Psychological Effects

The principal and most impactful fear in present times is mental fear. Many end up being victims of hypertension, heart diseases and social disassociation. The fear-based oppression assaults have hazardous effects, particularly on young people. In the wake of fear-based oppressor’s assaults, individuals cannot control their thoughts and forget the setbacks. For instance; following 9/11 attack 52% Americans said they couldn’t focus on their work.[4]

Economic Effects

Terrorism affects the economy in two ways, associated with the destruction caused by an act of terrorism and its indirect costs, which affect nearly every aspect of a targeted state’s economy. The financial markets have been directly and indirectly become the victims of terrorist attacks. The impact of terror attack is visible on the stocks of various industries of the country which has been attacked.

A far-stretched terrorist campaign can definitely impact a state’s Gross Domestic Product as happened in America during the 9/11 attack. The attack of 9/11 in New York affected the country’s economy at a wide range. The stock market closed for the four trending days after the attacks. Oil prices fell from $2.77 a barrel in August 2011 to 15.95 in December 2011. The airliner industry lost $5 billion from the attacks. The four-day shutdown cost $1.4 billion alone. Passengers were afraid to fly at least a year. As a result, 10,000 planes were packed during that time and thousands of workers were furloughed. On September 22nd, 2011 Bush (the then President of America) signed a law sanctioning $15 billion as federal loans. The 9/11 attack undermined the stability of USA and the other international financial markets as they were not only confronted with major activity disruption caused by massive damage to property and communication systems but also with rising levels of uncertainty and market volatility.

Also, the investors’ confidence levels have deteriorated beyond the national boundaries after 26/11 terrorist attack in Mumbai as it has been the worst time for Indian’s financial hub. There was an incalculable impact on investors climate, tourism and the hospitality industry. The stock markets i.e., Index, Sensex almost down after a day, a big terror incident in the country took place. Due to attack, financial capital of India has been hit by 4000 crores. After 26/11 attack in Mumbai, the stock market reopened for trading on November27, and Sensex opened 137 points down. Taj Hotel was a sharp dip of nearly 17% in share price to Rs.40.20 making a new 52 week low. Jet Airways was down at Rs. 129 against earlier closing of Rs. 138. Kingfisher airlines came down to Rs. 27.50. Terrorist attacks leave different effects on society, political instability for the government and lose to the economy, in shape of loss of national and international business.

Terrorism significantly affects the tourism industry of a country since tourism destinations can be easily substituted and terrorists affected area usually become unattractive to tourists. Even a small risk of terrorism lends potential tourists to travel elsewhere. In India Jammu Kashmir, a greatest source of tourism venue in the world has badly damaged the Indian economy. Tourism arrivals have reduced from 12000 to 250 per day and hotel occupancy is around 3%. 

Social Effects

The impact of terrorism on society is the effect upon people’s beliefs and attitudes. Major social effects of terrorism are a rise in ethno-centrism and xenophobia[5]. This was apparent in Russia in the wake of terrorist attack carried out by Chechen militants, when ethnic Russian identity became more silent, while xenophobia rose. This also was evident in the US 9/11 attack when there was a wave of patriotism sentiments for instance the numerous American flags that adorned windows in New York city, a place where such overt displays of American patriotism are generally less common than elsewhere in the country. Similarly, in Israel during the Intifada[6] repeated Palestinian attack led to a renewed sense of national unity among Israeli Jews. Just as Muslims in the US and Europe had complained about suffering from intolerance, harassment and discrimination in the aftermath of terrorist attack (most notably 9/11), Arabs in Israel during the second Intifada made similar complaints.

Political Effects

A government’s policy or a particular political decision may be the result of any number of factors and can therefore rarely be attributed only to a terrorist attack or a series of attacks. Take the case of Sharon government’s adoption of the policy of disengagement which brought about the complete withdrawal of Israel’s settlers and soldiers from the Gaza strip in September 2005.

The most significant way in which terrorism can influence the political process is by bringing about changes in the public opinion for a strong reaction in the wake of terrorist attack. For an elected policymaker, the political cost of retaliating to a terrorist attack is always higher than the political costs. The failure to prevent the future attacks due to inaction can be fatal to a politician’s career while failing to prevent them after having taken strong measures can be justified as having everything done possible. The assassination of Mr. Rajiv Gandhi by LTTE [7] affected Indian politics and economy at large. They were very strong politicians which otherwise would have taken Indian politics, business and industry on higher side. In another instance of 26/11 Mumbai attack Home Minister Mr. Shivraj Patel, Chief Minister Vilas Rao Deshmukh had to resign from his office[8].


Terrorism has become a part and parcel the modern life. Hijackings, bombings and assassinations on different continents of the world may seem like isolated attacks, but they reflect an easy reliance on violence as a way to promote social, political and religious goals. Many of these acts have been carried out by the members of the Islamic Jihad, while others are part of an international network of terrorists. Anti-slogans have triggered the masses to talk about each other’s religion.

Terrorism is nothing but a set of people trying to put up themselves on the map showing their superiority through violence, so in order to minimise this issue, we need good leaders to ensure a peaceful environment. The majority of the terrorist groups particularly are from Islamic nations. So, the wrong preaching of the Quran and Islamic values should be stopped.  Terrorists thrive because of media exposure and news organizations around the world have been too willing to give terrorists what they crave for that is negative “publicity”. Strict measures should be initiated by bringing together different countries, holding deliberations, and implementing strong governmental laws against terrorism. Before evil suggestions enter the mind of a youth, the knowledge of humanity and love should be adequately cultivated into such young minds.

As there is a saying “As you sow, so shall you reap”, similarly if young minds are trained with good moral values and wisdom, the best is the outcome. Training of military personnel must be frequently conducted. Systematic checks on the borders, airports, ship ports, railway stations must be conducted in a strict manner. Stopping terrorism requires tackling issues such as foreign fighters, border controls and cutting off funds. The country should jointly collaborate with each other to fight against terrorism. Peace talks and dialogues between different hostile countries should be encouraged for example India and Pakistan. The focus should be on building a strong Intelligence Organization in which young and talented citizens should be inducted. Terrorism is hard to prevent but if the global community unites and ensure a collective response then the collateral damage caused by it to mankind can be reduced to a certain extent.


 Hoffman, B. “Inside Terrorism”, Columbia university press, 2006, pp. 34.

Bockstette, C. “Jihadist Terrorist Use of Strategic Communication Management Techniques”,2010, Diane publishing, pp.125.

Singh, S and Singh, H. (ed.), “Law Relating to Prevention of Terrorism”,2003, universal law publishing Co.pvt.ltd, New Delhi, pp. 25.

Krieger and Daniel Meierriek(ed.), public choice, 147: pp. 3-27.

[1] Originated in the distant past; very old.

[2] Union of soviet socialist republics.

[3] Naxalite is a member of any political organization that claims the legacy of the Communist Party of India, founded in Calcutta in 1969. Communist Party of India (Maoist) is the largest existing political group in that lineage today in India.

[4] 9/11 attack was a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist based at Al-quida against US, at the morning of Thursday, September 11, 2001.

[5] Xenophobia is the fear or hatred of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange. It is the perceptions of an ingroup towards an outgroup.

[6]Intifada is an Arabic word literally meaning, as a noun, “tremor”, “shivering”, “shuddering”.

[7] Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam.

[8] 26/11 attacks were a group of terrorist attack that took place in Mumbai lasting for four days carried out by Lashkar-e-Taliban, an Islamist terrorist organization based in Pakistan. 

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