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Terrorist Bombs In The U.S. Essay, Research Paper

Although the people of the United States are still

concerned with the threat of international terrorists attacking

our land and citizens, there has been an alarming increase in

domestic terrorism that has raised the nation?s concern about

this problem. This increase in terrorist activity has not been

imported from other countries but has had it?s start within our

nations boundaries. This increased violence seems to be aimed

at influencing governmental policy and public opinion. ?The

recent increase in domestic violence is said to be associated

with the rise of anti-government sentiment and the

proliferation of self-styled militia and paramilitary groups -

some of which take extremist positions on race, religion,

federal authority, gun control, or taxation (Fisher 1998).?

One of the most devastating and well known forms of

terrorism are bombings. Most of the violence associated with

anti-governmental attacks takes this form. According to a

recent Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) report,

bombings or attempted bombings increased from 2,098 in 1990 to

3,199 in 1994 (the latest year available), a 52% increase.

Property damage from bombings rose to $7.5 million, with 308

people injured and 31 killed. This does not take into account

the tragic Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Some ATF experts

believe that it is the ready availability of materials and easy

access to instructions and explosives information on the

internet that has been the reason for this increase of


There are several theories in the class text that help to

explain the justification behind the actions of these local

terrorist in our country. H. H. A. Cooper (1977) describes one

called the ?doctrine of necessity.? He believes that these

terrorist cannot accept the world as it is and they also reject

the possibility of peaceful means for social change. This is

why they become terrorist. Cooper feels most of the terrorist

do not enjoy the thought of random violence and murder but that

they are driven by their utter hatred of the social status quo.

He believes the first step in being a terrorist is the violent

rejections of normative society. Although most terrorist do

not enjoy violence or wish to adopt terrorist methods, Cooper

feels that they are forced toward violence. Violence becomes

necessary because there is no other alternative for correcting

the injustices of contemporary society. This doctrine of

necessary violence, according to Cooper, justifies acts of

terrorism. This theory of Cooper?s can be seen in an example

from the Arson and Explosive Incident Report by the ATF.

October 11, 1995, The Arizona Desert. Unknown terrorists derail a passenger train

60 miles southwest of Phoenix. One person was killed and 80 injured when the

Amtrak train jumped the track and plunged over a bridge. Saboteurs had removed a

section of track and bridged the gap with wire to disable the electronic warning system.

Notes found at the scene referred to the federal siege at Waco and to Ruby Ridge. At

least one note was signed ?Sons of Gestapo,? a group unknown to terrorism experts.

These terrorist ultimate hatred of the status quo might

have pushed them to do this deed. They made sure to leave some

kind of item behind in order for the emergency personnel to

know what the reason was for this meditated action. It might

be possible that this incident is race related also, due to the

fact the Gestapo were German military police during the


Frederick J. Hacker (1976), was a physician who developed

an expertise in terrorism and hostage negotiations. He found

that terrorists seek reinforcement based on their orientation

to life. There are three types of terrorists according to

Hacker; criminals, crazies, and crusaders. Crusaders are the

type of terrorist that seem most related to the bombings that

are occurring in our homefront. According to Hacker?s theory,

crusaders make up the bulk of political terrorists. He

describes the category as people who are using terrorism to

change society. These terrorist are similar to Cooper?s

doctrine of necessity in that violence is accepted and

justified in the name of the cause. Crusaders feel that they

must be violent for society to change for the better according

to Hacker. This can be seen in another example from the Arson

and Explosive Incident Report.

November 13, 1995, Muskogee, Oklahoma. A self-proclaimed ?anti-government

prophet,? Ray Willie Lampley and three others are charged with plotting a series of

bombings against abortion clinics, homosexual gathering places, welfare offices and

offices of the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center. The

four members of the Oklahoma Constitutional Militia were arrested before any of their

plans were carried out and charged with conspiracy to manufacture and possess bombs

to blow up federal offices in several cities. Lampley and two others were found guilty

of the bomb charges in April 1996.

This group of terrorist seemed to have been unsatisfied

with the way society has changed in recent years. They do not

like things that are common in our society now like abortion

and homosexuality. It can be inferred that they are unhappy

with how society has become and wants society to change by any

means necessary. In this case, bombs would have made a

devastating and deadly point.

One final theory that I felt was very important to the

matter of bombings that were occurring domestically was the

Social Conditions Justification. Richard Rubenstein (1987)

agreed that terrorists must ultimately justify their acts, but

he argues that instead of terrorist being psychological

misfits, social and economic conditions cause terrorism to

occur among this group. This, Rubenstein believes, is used to

justify acts of violence. An example of this occurring here in

the United States can be seen by looking again to the Arson and

Explosive Incident Report.

December 18, 1995, Reno, Nevada. Two unemployed and heavily indebted

construction workers, Ellis Hurt and Joseph Bailie attempted to bomb the Reno,

Nevada, office of the Internal Revenue Service. The pair placed a bomb made of about

100 pounds of fertilizer and kerosene with a lit fuse in a parking lot nest to the IRS

building. However, the triggering mechanism failed and the bomb did not ignite.

Authorities on the scene believe that many deaths and injuries would have occurred had

it gone off. Bailie was described by an assistant U. S. Attorney as a man obsessed with

the IRS, who has boasted that he had not paid taxes since 1985. Hurst testified against

Bailie and was sentenced to 10 years. Both were convicted of conspiracy, attempted

destruction of a government building, and the use of an explosive device while

committing a violent crime. Bailie received a 36-year sentence.

Because these two men were poor and in debt, they may have

felt severe frustration and hopelessness with their situation

and needed someone to blame for their plot. The Internal

Revenue Service seemed like a good idea because they were the

ones who were constantly taxing them and taking away their

money. This frustration caused these men to act out against

the IRS.

In order to learn more about the problems that our

occurring on our homestead and if bombings were the most

prolific avenue of destruction, I went to interview someone in

the Metro Police Department in order to gain some insight into

what is going on with terrorism in our city and how it is

handled. After making several phone calls, I was finally able

to reach the terrorism division of the Los Angeles Police

Department (LAPD). But to my disappointment, the officer on

the other line told me that he was not able to discuss any of

the information they had concerning terrorism and their tactics

with the general public. Because of this reason, I had to

settle for a detective in the police department.

I first asked Detective John Doe what position he held in

the police department, what he did, and how long he had been

working at it. I learned that John is a detective in the Los

Angeles Police Department, Metro division and his basic duties

is to figure out what happened at a scene of a crime and who

that person/s was that committed the crime and even how it was

committed. This ranged greatly from murder, stolen vehicles,

robberies, vandalism, and even missing persons. He said he has

been a detective for about ten years and a police officer for

about 16 years.

Have you ever been involved with any cases dealing with

terrorist activities? John said that he had been called to the

scene of several bomb threats and suspicious packages that were

laying around. He also said that he had reported to many

crimes scenes where things were either blown up or burned, but

he did not really consider them terrorist activity necessarily

but more rather vandalism and arson.

Where did most of these bomb threats occur? Mostly at

places such as abortion clinics and churches with specific

races such as Black and Jewish. I found that this was quite

interesting because it falls into the model of Cooper?s idea

that terrorist are driven by their utter hatred of the social

status quo.

How does one get involved with terrorism and what kind of

training is involved? Everyone in the Police Department must

first enter the Police Academy where everyone receives the same

basic training. This includes the physical and mental. You

have to be in shape and you have to learn how to handle certain

situations that normally people are not faced with. After the

Police Academy you can pretty much decide which area of law

enforcement interest you and lean toward that direction. There

are several ways to get involved with terrorism though because

there are so many different aspects of terrorism. There is the

bomb squad, SWAT team, hostage negotiation, and even airport

security. It is pretty easy to get involved if there is an

interest because there is definitely a need.

What type of policies are there on terrorism? There are

several general policies that we follow. But, probably the

most important one is to never take any threat lightly. This

is the reason why even if we do not believe that a bomb threat

is real, we will still evacuate the building and check because

there is always that 1% chance that it is real.

Where do you get your information on terrorism from?

Everywhere. There are many different city and federal agencies

that are involved with terrorism and information is shared

between these agencies. We also have many specialist and

experts that range from doctors to engineers who specialize in

terrorist activities. Their research and studies gives us a

lot of information. We also get information from the internet.

The internet is probably the most easily accessible holders of

vast amounts of information. We also have people just like you

that might see or learn of something that is going around in

their community.

What kind of preventative measures are taken? There are

only so many things that can be done such as metal detectors

and such at the airports but the best preventative measure that

we have is to be very alert of any suspicious or abnormal

behavior. This includes purchases of large amounts of

gasoline, ammunition, or firearms. Our best help are people

that are out there being alert. This guideline helps to

educate people on what to look for. Any of the following

events might mean danger and should be a reason for an

immediate report or for seeking advice from security or law

enforcement officials:

Anonymous tips, phone calls, or notes of a threatening

nature which may identify groups or carry extremist


Surveillance by suspicious persons of federal offices or

federal employees performing official duties.

Unidentified or unattended packages, cans, or other

containers left in or near government offices.

Unattended and unoccupied vehicles parked in unauthorized or

inappropriate locations, particularly those in close

proximity to buildings or other structures.

Requests for plans, blueprints, or engineering specification

for federal buildings or commercially-owned buildings that

house government offices, by those who have no official

reason to have them.

Unauthorized access even to unsecured areas by unknown or

unidentified persons who have no apparent reason for being


Packages or heavy envelopes which arrive in the mail from

unknown senders or which have a peculiar odor or appearance

- often without a clear return address.

Confrontation with angry, aggressively belligerent, or

threatening persons by federal officials in the performance

of their official duties.

Extremely threatening or violent behavior by co-workers who

indicate that they may resort to revenge against a group,

company, or government agency.

When a bomb threat or bombing occurs, who is first on the

scene? The police are usually the first to arrive because they

are the ones that are out on the street. Then it is the

emergency medical and fire that arrives next. The police

usually try to control the situation and make sure people are

safe from danger. Medical and fire personnel take care of the

human and non human damages. If it is a threat, they are there

on standby to be ready. Then after these two agencies have

arrived, the more specific departments are called in such as

the bomb squad, SWAT team and some federal agencies (FBI and

ATF) if necessary.

How is it coordinated? Once the necessary agencies

arrive, a command post is usually set up in an empty parking

lot or such. This usually involves a mobile office vehicle

that we have that has communication devices, computers, and so

on for the incident. It kind of looks like a mobile home.

There are usually people who are in charge of specific

responsibilities that order things to happen. Traffic control,

media, ground assault, surveillance, air, security and so on.

By speaking with this officer, I learned that there are

many aspects of terrorism. Even though many terrorist events

have not happened here in Los Angeles, there are agencies and

people that have training and are prepared just in case some

thing were to happen. There are many things that can be looked

for that alert of possible terrorist threat. This terrorist

threat is very real here in Los Angeles because of the society

involved in Los Angeles. As in the theories discussed earlier,

there are people who have bad social conditions in Los Angeles

and there is also a proliferation of different races. This

could cause some friction. Also there are many who believe

that Los Angeles has many morally corrupt people such as gays

and lesbians. It is important to understand these theories of

terrorism in a practical way in order to help save lives and

understand and prevent terrorism.


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