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Domestic Terrorism Essay, Research Paper

Trent Kenmai 5/15/00


Over the past few years a new threat has been encountered by the United States.

This threat does not come from away, but from within. It is know as domestic terrorism.

This has been seen over the past decade in the form of violence and terrorism across the

United States. This has become a threat to American security and the American people in

general. To battle against this issue, Congress has upheld the Anti-Terrorism Act in 1996.

One of the best examples on examining these acts of uproar can be viewed, seen and

understood by studying the case of the Oklahoma bombing which occurred in 1996. Major

newspaper headlines have also described the World Trade Center bombing, the

Unabomber?s arrest, and Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta as other major cases. All this

demonstrates how sinister1 terrorism is in American society. This paper will explain

background data on anarchy/terrorism, case studies including the Oklahoma bombing,

government?s reaction toward terrorism. In addition terrorism now and the

years coming.

A number of terrorist attacks in the 1990s have brought the fear to the public,

giving rise to vulnerability2 between many Americans. Most terrorist incidents in the

United States have been bombing attacks, involving detonated and undetonated explosive

devices, tear gas and pipe and fire bombs. The effects of terrorism can cause loss of life

and injuries to property damage and disruptions in services such as electricity, water

supply, public transportation and communications.

The dictionary defines terrorism as ? n. the policy of using acts to inspiring terror

as a method of ruling or of conducting political opposition?. though terrorism can be

expressed in two ways. Domestic terrorism involves groups or individuals whose terrorist

acts are directed at situations of our government or population without unknown ways.

International terrorism involves groups or individuals whose terrorist activities are

foreign-based and/or directed by countries or groups outside the United States or whose

acts pass national boundaries. In the United States, most terrorist attacks have involved

small anarchy groups who use terrorism to achieve a destined objective. Local, State and

Federal law enforcement officials monitor suspected terrorist groups and try to prevent or

protect the US against a suspected attack. Also, the US government works with other

countries to end the cause of support for terrorism. A terrorist attack can take certain

forms, depending on the technological approach available to the terrorist, the kind of the

political issue causing the attack, and the points of weakness of the terrorist’s target.

Bombings are the most frequently used terrorist method in the United States. Other

possibilities include an attack at transportation facilities, an attack against uses or other

public services or an attack involving chemical or biological weapons. Terrorist incidents

in this country have included bombings of the World Trade Center in New York City, the

United States Capitol Building in Washington, DC Mobil Oil corporate headquarters in

New York City, the Oklahoma bombing, and the Continental Olympic Park.

Terrorism in America

During these past few years, there has been a perception3 that the United States is

becoming more vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Many cases such as The World Trade

Center Bombing, The Olympic bombing, The Unabomber?s arrest, , and the Oklahoma

bombing, has given many Americans fear among terrorism. Below are a few case studies

that have been researched.

World Trade Center Bombing: In February 1993, a bomb exploded in the World

Trade Center in New York City. The World Trade Center is the third tallest building in

the world, and more than 100,000 people work and visit every day. The bomb exploded in

the parking structure underneath the building, damaging the base and subway tunnels.

Smoke reached the top of the 110-story building in minutes. Six people were killed; more

than 1,000 were injured. The FBI joined the Joint Terrorist Task Force in the research,

which eventually brought 22 Islamic extremist to trial. The trial revealed extensive plans to

use terrorism to wreak havoc4 in the United States, including targeting government


In April 1996, federal agents arrested Theodore Kaczynski and charged him with

the crimes committed by the so-called “Unabomber.” The Unabomber, who targeted

university scientists and airline employees among others, had evaded authorities for over

18 years. According to the FBI, the suspect had killed three people and injured 23 others

with package bombs.

Olympic Bombing: During the Summer Olympic Games, in July 1996, a pipe bomb

exploded at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia, killing two people and injuring

more than one hundred others. The FBI said that the pipe bomb looked “homemade” with

“nails and screws attached.” They suspected domestic terrorists, and members of local

militia groups were questioned without any results. Olympic athletes and spectators

became tense and worried. Lines to attend Olympic events became even longer than

before; spectators were submitted to more precise observation as they passed through

metal detectors and had their bags inspected.

One of the recent and major attacks from terrorism has been the Oklahoma

bombing. Oklahoma City became the site of the most deadly terrorist bombing in the history of

the United States. At 9:02 a.m., on April 19, 1995, a massive bomb exploded in a truck in

front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City , killing 168 , injuring more than

500 people and destroying much of the building and damaging surrounding buildings. On April

19, Timothy James McVeigh was arrested in Oklahoma for vehicle and weapons

violations. On April 21, 1995, McVeigh was charged with violating Title 18, US Code,

Section 844 {f} and 2, Maliciously Damaging and Destroying a Building by Means of

Explosives. On May 11, 1995, Terry Lynn Nichols was charged with the same violation.

Timothy McVeigh was charged with 11 counts of conspiracy5 and murder by the federal

government. His trial took place in April of 1997. On June 2, 1997, McVeigh was convicted on all

charges and was sentenced to death . McVeigh?s partner Terry L. Nichols was sentenced in

1998 Calling him

“an enemy of the Constitution,”

a federal judge sentences Terry L. Nichols to life in prison. This was the ending to a part

in American history that showed the nation’s vulnerability to domestic terrorism.

On July 17, 1996, TWA Flight 800 exploded in the air off the coast of Long

Island, shortly after taking off from New York?s Kennedy International Airport. The

explosion killed all 229 passengers and crew. People guess about whether the crash

resulted from technical failure or a bomb. In response, President Clinton assigned Vice

President Al Gore to head a new Commission on Aviation Safety and Security. The

President also announced that the federal government would take on the primary

responsibility and cost for airport security. Airline security has received renewed attention

since the crash, even though no evidence has been found that the explosion was a result of

a bomb. More strict security measures are now in place.

Government?s reaction toward Terrorism

In 1996 President Bill Clinton signed Antiterrorism Act to strengthen the power of the

federal government to foresee6 and respond to both international and domestic terrorism. The


makes terrorism a federal crime punishable by death, as well as aids in the investigation,

capture, and trial of terrorists in the United States, and includes terms that allow US

deportation proceedments without being bound by Terrorists to show classified

information. Disallows fundraising in the US that supports terrorist organizations, and

bars terrorists from entering the US The law also allows for the deportation of foreign

terrorists without the need to disclose classified evidence against them, and it authorizes

overdoing of up to $1 billion on state and local antiterrorism efforts. Both the American

Liberties Union and the National Rifle Association opposed portions of the legislation

that they claimed would provide the federal government with too much power. An earlier

provision in the Anti-Terrorism Act that would have given the federal government power

to wiretap suspected terrorist groups? phones without a warrant was removed from the

final bill, following objections from both Democrats and Republicans. The Act would have

allowed the information obtained in this way to be used in court. Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.)


“We do not need to give our government vast new powers.”

Members of civil liberties groups agreed, saying that this provision would have violated

people?s right to privacy. Other lawmakers argued that tragedies such as the Oklahoma

City bombing make it essential that the federal government be allowed to monitor militia

groups more closely.

Terrorism Today and Years Ahead

Since the world has become so very technically advance it will be more difficult to

find concealed or secret explosives, and these technological advances have made chemical,

biological and even nuclear weapons much more widely available, and have thereby

occupy the ability to inflict mass destruction. As lawmakers debate what steps to take to

prevent future attacks, many Americans ponder what sacrifices they are willing to make to

counter the terrorist threat. Are air travelers willing to wait in longer lines at the airport so

that sensitive equipment can inspect their bags for explosives? Are they willing to pay

more for airplane tickets to finance new detection equipment? Are Americans willing to

submit to increased security measures at the expense of their freedom of movement as well

as privacy?

In conclusion lawmakers have tried to respond to the fear that America is

becoming more vulnerable to terrorist attacks. But, many experts believe that the

American public and lawmakers need to think about whether they are responding to fear

or to facts. For these experts, the response to the explosion of TWA Flight 800 is an

example of overreaction. Investigators have not determined what caused the explosion,

and yet, this explosion has prompted a revival of the Anti-Terrorism Act and President

Clinton has requested the expansion7 of the federal government?s wiretapping rights once

again. Should Americans give up a measure of freedom for the increased safety it will

likely provide?


Greenberg, Keith. Terrorism the New Menace.

Brookfield CT, 1994

Gaines, Ann. Terrorism.

Philadelphia PA, 1999

Close Up Foundation on Terrorism http://www.closeup.org/terror.htm

Alexandria VA, 1997

FEMA backrounder- terrorism http://www.fema.gov/library/terror.htm


Lexicon publications, inc. Webster?Dictionary and Tesaurus.

Danbury CT,1993

Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia. ? 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights


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