Nowadays the problem of terror attacks is one of the most important problems that many countries of the world have to solve. Moreover, this problem gradually acquires a global character since increasingly larger number of countries is involved in the global war on terror. As a result, the contemporary world face a real threat of a global terror war that undermines stability and normal life of the whole global community. This potential threat became particularly obvious after tragic events of September 11 when the US, being the only superpower in the world, turned to be unable to prevent the most terrible terror attack in its history.
More and more often terror attacks produce a larger affect on the society of definite countries where they occur as well as on the world community. This is why it is quite natural that practically all spheres of human life are affected by terror attacks and anti-terror measures. In such a situation the development of efficient anti-terror technologies is extremely important and, unfortunately a lot of countries have to develop this technology.
As a result, socio-economic life is getting to be increasingly more focused on anti-terror technologies and, in this respect, business play an extremely important role since often it is dramatically affected by terror attacks and anti-terror operations, as it used to be with aircraft, tourist and many other industries worldwide after 9/11, and business, willingly or not, is getting to be involved in anti-terror struggle and has to implement new anti-terror technologies.
The problem of terrorism in the contemporary world and its impact on society
Despite the actuality of the problem of terrorism its roots may be found in the far past of socio-political and economical development of the world and human society but in the 21st century it acquires global features. Unfortunately, globalization deteriorates the general situation in relations between rich and poor because regardless all positive trends that this process may give to the world economy but some specialists defines its general effect as the deterioration of the position of poor countries and improvement and prosperity of rich countries. Consequently, poor countries become poorer and rich become richer as a result the opposition between them growth and naturally it engenders a great tension between two polar parts of the world but if in the past the countries which felt being deprived could directly oppose their oppressors in an open war conflict now they cannot really counteract to more powerful and rich countries that makes them to look for different ways to achieve their goals and improve their position in the world. Obviously, this is one of the main causes of terror war.
In general, terrorism may be defined as a systemic use of violence, traditionally by some illegal organizations, groups, or even some individuals that aim at the creation of a general climate of fear among the population which is supposed to become more obedient to the demands of terrorists. Usually terrorists try to achieve a definite political goal and for its sake they are ready to kill not only other innocent people but even themselves. However, it would be a mistake to think that only terrorist groups or organization support terrorism. Our history, particularly the history of the 20th century can give us a lot of examples when governments of different countries provide the policy of terror. For instance, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union during the Stalin’s, practically dictatorial, totalitarian regime were extremely bloodthirsty and used terror even against the population of their own countries. But, terrorism has really become a global problem at the end of the 20th at the beginning of the 21st centuries when organized terror attacks shaken the world and after which some politicians had started to speak about a new world order. For instance, terror attacks as September 11, when as Jessica Hamblen says “the nation was forever changed”(2001: 42) as well as the whole world and the global society.
Since the main cause of terrorism is the polarization of the world and the division of countries in poor and rich it is a really global problem that involves many countries. It is noteworthy that the main source of ‘human material’ for terrorist acts are poor Asian countries such as Afghanistan, Sri-Lanka, or Pakistan, numerous African countries, some countries of Latin America and others. For instance, one of the most notorious terrorist organization Jemaah Islamiah recruit poor Indonesian because the country is overwhelmed by powerlessness of ordinary people, injustice and poverty. As a result “for many poor Indonesian children… the only opportunity to learn to read and write is found within the network of Muslim schools funded by Saudi Arabian organizations preaching an intolerant form of Islam” (Kortunov 1994:235).
In general, among the causes of terrorism may be named: a) on the organizational level the gap between well-developed countries and countries of the third world, the consequences of the cold war; b) on the personal level, individual peculiarities of character, psychology, social and economic conditions of life of individuals.
Speaking about the effect of terror acts, it is necessary to underline from the very beginning that they impacts not only individuals but also many countries and the global community at large. Numerous studies have shown that “deliberate violence creates longer lasting mental-health effects than natural disasters or accidents” (Hamblen 2001:82). Consequences of terror attacks may last for quite a long time and as it has already been mentioned they affect both individuals and community. People, particularly survived victims, their relatives or just witnesses of a tragedy may be overwhelmed by different feelings but such feelings as anger, a desire for revenge, frustration, helplessness, fear are usually the strongest. They may also be deteriorated by the feeling of injustice that people may think have been done to them. Actually, this feeling of injustice may result in all others mentioned above. It is worthy to note that the study have revealed the fact that “acting on this anger and desire for revenge can increase rather than decrease feelings of anger, guilt and distress” (Hamblen 2001:89).
For instance, after September 11 the rate of psychological and mental health problems dramatically increased. Thus, a psychological result of any terror attack is shock, growing tension, loss of confidence in the security of life, fear and a strong feeling of injustice.
However, it was not the only consequence of this terror attack. As Smith and some others researchers estimate “over a year after the bombing, Oklahomans reported increased rates of alcohol use, smoking, stress, and PTSD symptoms as compared to citizens of another metropolitan city” (1999:194). So, we may say that the terror attack had not only psychological but social and economic effect because psychological problems cause problems of interpersonal relations, it influences the working abilities of people. As for alcohol use and smoking it deteriorates mental and physical health that is naturally results in problems within families and on the working place, furthermore the threat of antisocial behavior of people who smoke or use alcohol becomes quite real. Moreover, it is important to underline that the consequences of terror attacks are really global because of the development of media and integration of many countries there is practically no room where such terror attacks as September 11 remained unnoticed and without its negative effects.
Moreover, the US is not the only country that suffered from terrorists. Practically, the same consequences we may observe in Indonesia after the bombing of Jakarta’s Marriott Hotel, or recent terror acts in Madrid that are often compared to September 11 in the US, and the list may be continued. It is also worthy to note that terror attack produce a serious negative economic effect. For instance the September 11 terror attacks caused a profound recession of American economy at large and a serious crisis in some industries in particular. To put it more precisely, aircraft industry and travel industry were in a profound crisis because of a total fear of customers to use airlines as well as because of increased norms of security which limited dramatically personal rights and freedom and created a number of inconveniences for passengers that traditionally used airlines. As for the more recent examples, London Underground bombing also provoked panic among the local population and for a certain period practically paralyzed the work of the underground railway stations and, consequently, affected the work of numerous companies operating in London whose work depended on a traditionally normal functioning of the tube.
Current measures of prevention of terror attacks
Naturally, the states which were exposed to the threat of terror attacks could not remain passive and had to undertake efficient measures of prevention of further terror attacks and provide possibly higher level of security of civil population. At this point it is worthy to note that different states have different experience in the field of security and in the development of anti-terror technologies. However, in the contemporary world there is practically no state that could feel really secure before the threat of terrorism this is why the wide implementation of technologies which increase anti-terrorist security of civilians is of a paramount importance.
At the same time, speaking about the states-leaders in the field of anti-terror technologies it is possible to say that Israel is one of the most advanced states because this country has born the burden of terrorist threat since the middle 20th century till the present moment. Naturally, the experience of Israel in the sphere of anti-terrorist technologies is very important and may be borrowed by other states facing similar threats. It is also necessary to underline that business is closely involved into the development of anti-terrorist technologies in Israel as well as in any other state.
Speaking about the experience of Israel in the field of anti-terror technologies, it should be said that as a rule targets of terror attacks are private companies, including cafes, restaurants, as well as transport and infrastructure. In fact, terrorists may target at any object which can result to a serious public disorder and panic and numerous casualties.
Facing the threat of terror attacks, many Israeli companies increased the level of their security by means of improving the technologies of surveillance over the territories surrounding offices or buildings belonging to them, including parking spots. Among the most recent trends, a particular attention should be given to the security of Israeli transport, notably buses. A few years ago, there was developed a special technology aiming at the beating bus bombers since in 2000s buses became one of the most preferable targets for terror attacks in Israel. The basic reason for such a choice of terrorists is the high efficiency of terror attacks causing numerous casualties among civil population spreading panic and terror among ordinary citizens before the threat of terrorism. In fact, the anti-terrorist system developed in Israel is quite simple and it actually provides a bus driver to block any individual he considers to be suspicious by hitting a red button to close a turnstile. Obviously, this system seems to be rather simple but still it may be quite efficient but only on the condition of a high attention from the part of a driver who should actually play the role of security services in distinguishing a terrorist among the passengers.
Naturally, such a system is not perfect and is justly criticized by many specialists because, firstly, it creates certain inconveniences for passengers since they can hardly presuppose whom the driver may consider suspicious. Secondly, the driver himself should be very attentive but often he cannot physically dispel his attention by surveying the surrounding people and the situation on the road. Finally, drivers apparently need some special training to define potentially dangerous individuals.
In response to numerous critics, the developers of the technology indicate at the possibility to improve their invention. To put it more precisely, it is suggested to introduce new technological devices which could scan and identify individuals possessing some weapon or explosive materials and which would block such individuals automatically without the driver’s assistance.
Unfortunately, Israel is only one of the countries that face the threat of terror attacks and this is a serious problem for many other states, including the USA and the UK which become the target of terrorist aggression over and over again. Not surprisingly that other states also have to develop their own systems of anti-terror protection and implement new anti-terror technologies. In this respect, the experience of the US is extremely important since the security of American airports and air lines is considered to be one of the highest in the contemporary world. It is also worthy to note that to a significant extent private companies contribute to the implementation of new anti-terror technologies because as it has been already mentioned above they suffered a serious economic crisis because of terror attacks of Spetember 11 and the following fear of customers that decreased the revenues of companies operating in aircraft industry, as well as other industries more or less relating to air transportation also demonstrated negative trends in their financial achievements.
In fact, in order to improve the security of flights in the US and prevent the potential repeat of any terror attack American airports have become probably the most secure places due to high level of implementation of the most sophisticated technologies which aim at the possibly earlier detection of a potential terrorist threat. The implemented systems of scanning and control minimize the risk of a possibility to organize a terror attack in the air. In fact, due to the recent technologies and innovations implemented in airports they are nowadays considered to be fully secured.
However, aircrafts and airports are not the only targets of terror attacks that affect dramatically the life of many people and normal development of different industries. As the recent events in the UK proved underground railways may be also a desirable target for terror attacks and their consequences may be also quite disastrous. In fact, London Underground turned to be practically totally unprepared for the terrible terror attacks and the current improvements are extremely important. At the same time, it is necessary to remember that it is practically impossible to provide the fully airport-style security in the underground railways because of the incomparably larger amount of passengers that pass through the tube and significant differences between airports and underground railway stations.
Nonetheless, it does not necessarily mean that the security of underground railways cannot be improved. In stark contrast, it can be and currently is improved that is very important, taking into consideration the significance of underground railways for contemporary large cities. Obviously, the normal functioning of economy of certain regions and even countries may depend on the effective system of security of underground railways because the recent terror attacks in London revealed the potential danger of their malfunctioning. It is obvious that underground railway are a vitally important of infrastructure of any large city. In such a situation the experience of London Underground in implementation of new anti-terror technologies is very useful.
Among the most recent technologies that are currently being implemented in London underground railways may be named X-ray screening and body scanners. It is supposed that these technological innovations would increase the security of underground railways and minimize the risk of terror attacks with the use of conventional weapon or explosives since they provide the possibility to screen for concealed weapons and traces of explosives. Obviously, the implementation of these technologies contribute to the higher level of security in underground railways.
Alternatives and perspectives of present anti-terror technologies
Unfortunately, the recent technological innovation mentioned above, being quite efficient at first glance are not perfect. The problems that the beating bus bombers systems currently face have already been discussed. At the same time, the improvement of underground railways security is not sufficient and cannot be always efficient. The problem is that it is practically impossible to establish total control and provide full security within underground railways. In fact, it is necessary to understand that anti-terror technologies cannot fully guarantee the security of citizens but may increase it significantly.
At the same time, it is always possible to improve the existing anti-terror technologies and the general tends to automatization of anti-terror systems indicate at the main trend in the perspective development of anti-terror technologies where the risk of ‘human factor’ would be minimized. Nonetheless, till the present moment it is hardly possible to speak about the total solution of the problem of terrorism. Naturally, such a situation cannot contribute to the normal development of business and economy of many countries. It is necessary to remember that terrorism undermines socio-economic stability and creates conditions for social chaos. Moreover, terror attack often results in economic crisis that may affect either some industries or economy at large. As a result, stable socio-economic life of societies suffering from terror attack is in great danger and in such a situation the perspectives of the further implementation of new anti-terror technologies are particularly important. On the other hand, there would hardly be created any technology that could totally prevent the possibility of terror attack while the solution of the problem of terrorism prevention still remains of a paramount importance.
Speaking about the solution of the problem of terrorism as a new form of war, it should be said that the problem may be solved only in a global scale. For instance, the US in response to terror attacks the country declared the War on Terror. Extremist Arab terrorist and their followers became the enemy number one for Americans as the terrorist organization Al Qaeda was declared to be the main organizer of the terror attacks.
However, such measures are insufficient since in order to prevent terrorism it is necessary to prevent its causes, notably to prevent the polarization of the society and the world at large, while the War on Terror is regarded by many international specialists as the mean to pursue American aggressive policies. Obviously its effectiveness is low because violence breeds violence and probably, the authors of Human Rights Watch Report 2004 are, to certain extent, right by saying that “governments and armed groups have launched a war on global values, destroying the human rights of ordinary people” and furthermore “Amnesty International strongly condemned armed groups responsible for atrocities such as the March 11 bombing in Madrid and the bomb attack on the United Nations building in Iraq on 19 August 2003… But it also frightening that the principles of international law and the tools of multilateral action which could protect us from these attacks are being undermined, marginalized or destroyed by powerful governments” (Parker and Fellner 2004:32; 41-42).
So, now it would be logically to analyze what could be done in order to prevent further terror attacks and discuss the possible development of the War on terror. Certainly, some military operations are necessary but they should be accompanied by real attempts to deprive terrorists from their basis, from support of not only extremists-millionaires but also from the support of average people all over the world, particularly in poor country where terrorists have quite strong positions. The terrorism may be defeated only when the gap, the frontier that divides rich, well-developed countries and poor countries, which are often exploited by richer ones, disappears. As long as the current policy continues the situation could be radically changed for better because now we observe the growing dissatisfaction of deprived nations that suffer from poverty and injustice, including social inequality.
Naturally, such positions provokes protests from the part of marginalized people and, being unable to improve their social and economic situation in an open war, they use methods of terror and frightening in order to achieve their goals and realize their hopes for better life for them. However, we see that such methods are unacceptable for both sides, for terrorists and for those who are their targets. That is why the US, the leading and richest country in the modern world, together with other well-developed countries should work on the problem how to overcome poverty in the whole world, particularly in the countries of the third world, as well as they should better control the spread of the newest weapon and technologies that would prevent such possible in future catastrophes as the use of dirty bomb, biological or chemical weapon. But that is the task that could be fulfilled by common efforts of all countries in the world, it also demands governments to have a certain political will to help the most deprived regardless some local problems that, in my personal opinion, is one of the strongest obstacles on the way to defeat terrorism.
Thus, in conclusion, it should be said that the contemporary world faces the threat of terrorism and comes prepared to protect civilians from the repeat of the most severe terror attacks and the role of anti-terror technologies is very important in this respect. At the same time, it necessary to say that the solutions mentioned above may be criticized and probably there would be much more supporters of the idea that only military operations can prevent terror war but their effectiveness are quite doubtful. At the same time, mankind cannot ignore the problem of terror attacks because nowadays it is a real war and if the solution of this problem is not found the consequences will be terrible for the global society because it is evident that terror attacks, even though they occur in some countries, effect directly the whole world and elimination of national borders and barriers between countries, spread of new technologies and media make all people of the world exposed to the effects of terror attacks as well as the spread of terrorism also acquires global character. Consequently, if the problem of terrorism is unsolved the perspective of the chaos in the whole world provoked by terror attacks is getting to be quite real.
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DiGiovanni, C. “Domestic Terrorism with Chemical or Biological Agents: Psychiatric Aspects.” American Journal of Psychiatry, 156, 1999.
Hamblen, J. What Are the Traumatic Stress Effects of Terrorism? New York: New Publishers, 2003.
Kortunov, A. Sources of International Crises After the End of the Cold War. New York: New Publishers, 1994.
Levi, M.A. “Preventing Nuclear and Biological Terrorism.” The Brooklings Institutions, Oct. 24, 2003.
Parker, A. and Fellner, J. “Above the Law: Executive Power after September 11 in the United States.” World Report 2004, Human Rights Watch, Jan. 2004.
Smith, D. et al. “Population Effects of the Bombing of Oklahoma City.” Journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, 82, 1999.
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