Government Responses to Terrorism
In dealing with terrorist insurgencies, governments may utilize any or all of four broad avenues of counterterrorism. These include social, political, legal and strategic measures.
Social measures include removing the underlying motives for terrorist activity. Although this move may seem like acquiescing to terrorist demands, a number of terrorist insurgencies are based on legitimate grievances. It is only their tactics that are criminal. For example, it is clear that large segments of populations in many Latin American nations have been oppressed and economically disadvantaged by oligarchical regimes. Although most of these nations have democratized, large scale social changes are still necessary if they hope to remain stable and develop into "First World" democracies.
Political measures are diplomatic activities, mainly to deal with terrorism on an international level. Nations may engage in multilateral activities, or petition the United Nations (UN), to pressure countries that sponsor terrorism or engage in state terrorism to end those practices. Typical pressure tactics will include economic sanctions against offending nations. These measures have not proved terribly effective.
Legal measures include national procedures such as laws and penalties against terrorist activities and international agreements on extradition of terrorists. One question nations must consider when faced with terrorist activities is whether or not to treat a terrorist like any other criminal.
For instance, Britain has essentially created a separate legal system for terrorism-related crimes. Accused terrorists do not have the same legal protections against search and seizure, and detention without charge as individuals accused of other crimes. Furthermore, accused terrorists are tried in juryless "Diplock" courts, where the case is heard and decided by a single judge. Critics charge such measures are extreme and illegal, but British authorities maintain that these procedures are necessary for public safety and within the parameters of British common law.
Another common legal measure is offering amnesty to terrorists if they agree to cease their activities. This tactic is particularly effective when combined with high profile police actions and stiff penalties against terrorists. Amnesty programs have been used to great effect by Italy against the Red Brigades and Peru against Sendero Luminoso and the Tupac Amaru.
Strategic measures include the most publicized forms of counterterrorism—intelligence gathering, offering rewards for terrorists and the use of force.
Intelligence gathering is essential to preventing terrorist acts and the apprehension of terrorists. Good intelligence procedures can warn authorities of upcoming terrorist attacks or locations and identities of suspected terrorists. Relevant intelligence can help authorities understand the activities and motivations of terrorist groups in order to counter the threat more effectively.
Since terrorism often attracts common criminals, motivated by greed, offering rewards for terrorists can be an effective strategy. Between robbery, kidnapping and extortion, terrorism can be rather lucrative. Some individuals join terrorist groups not for "the cause," but simply for the money or adventure. Reward programs are aimed at these individuals. The idea is that a large sum of money can prove excellent incentive for a greedy terrorist to give up his compatriots. The U.S. State Department's Counter-Terrorism Rewards Program offers up to $4 million for information leading to the arrest of terrorists.
The most extreme counterterrorist measures include the use of force. These actions are usually a last resort where police or military units must engage in combat to end a terrorist situation. Israel has energetically used force against terrorists, often very controversial measures. Israeli forces have bombed villages containing terrorist camps, in addition to kidnapping or assassinating terrorists. More recently, Peruvian commandoes stormed the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima to rescue over 70 hostages held by Tupac Amaru terrorists, successfully ending a four month stand-off.
—First moments of the Lima rescue
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