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Violence is prevalent in our society today, present in several different forms including that of terrorism. In recent years, these acts have grabbed the attention of the public more than ever as they become more severe. Terrorism is now perceived as one of the most important security issues of all time as our society struggles to get ahold of these situations, with their continual advancements. This paper will be composed of four acts of terrorism in which are discussed and examined in extreme detail followed by the actions that took place following each event. Terrorism, and the resulting counterterrorism, have significantly advanced over time, especially since the 1970’s.
On November 10th, 1972, a Southern Airways flight coming from Birmingham, Alabama was hijacked by three African American men by the names of Melvin Cale, Louis Moore and Henry. D Jackson (Koerner, 2013, para. 4). All three men were already facing charges towards them for sexual assault, police brutality and burglary and together made a team effort to target Detroit (para. 3). These men were armed with guns and small hand-held weapons when boarding the aircraft in aims of high jacking the plane in hopes of showing Detroit Police a lesson on their “brutal and racist” approach, according to Louis Moore. (Allen, 2016, Para. 1 & 3). The threat was made that these three men were going to lead the plane directly into a nuclear reactor if they did not receive their request of 10 million dollars, making this an act or nuclear terrorism (Embry, 2017, Para. 3).
By January of 1973, new laws had already been implemented that all passengers boarding flights, not just in the United States but globally were now required to do a screening process before traveling (Koerner, 2013, para. 11). The implementation of this caused airlines to be safer and avoid people from bringing specific weapons or harmful substances on board with the use of x-ray machines and metal detectors. Although this screening process was mandatory, there was ways that individuals were still getting past this, breaching the security and potentially putting those around them in harm’s way.
A decade later in 1980, a right-wing extremist in Munich, Germany put together a bomb which was later set off at the entrance to Oktoberfest (Konzert-Wenzel, 2012, para.1). The bomb was later noted of killing 13 individuals and injuring several others, as it affected a large area (Para.1). This specific incident, unlike the hijacking of the plane in 1973, was a different situation regarding use and access to weapons as this one in particular was hand made in the home of the offender (Neef, 2015, p.11). This incident was said to have been “Germanys deadliest post-war terrorist incident” according to many (Paterson, 2015, para. 1). The severity of this attack caused a great uproar, causing police to begin the advancement of their policing styles by introducing specialized units (Friedmann, Neumann, Röbel & Winter, 2010, para. 4). For this case specifically the use of general police, investigators, and other specialized units were used to determine if this act was done alone or part of a group attack (para. 6).
The right-wing terrorism that was a leading cause was found to have been a group effort as a form of political violence that had manifested over time (Koehler, 2016, Chapter 7). With the help of these specialized units, society in Germany as well as the rest of the world began to develop separate groups of officers with more targeted subjects, whether it include federal investigation police or special tactics units. 9/11
Following the hijacking of the Birmingham plane in 1972, a second hijacking was recorded in 2001 in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania. At this time, Terrorists overcame the security that had been implemented since the 1972 hijacking and targeted four separate planes, one for the Pentagon in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the two World Trade Centers in New York. Fortunately, the two planes targeting Virginia and Pennsylvania never struck, however both Word Trade Centers were crashed into with planes, who had been taken over by the militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda (Striegher, 2013, p.36). This specific act of terrorism demonstrated that intelligence fulfilled a limited role at the early stage of this process as there was less being done regarding aircraft security than today in 2018 (p. 38).
Individuals associated with the law enforcement at this time were anything but unaware of Al Qaeda and knew that this group was suspected to act upon U.S soil much before 9/11 (Striegher, 2013, para. 26). After the attack in 2001, advancements were announced once again including adding reinforced doors to the flight deck, making them unable to be opened during flight of the aircraft, as well as the introduction of the TSA. The transportation Security Administration aimed to better protect their states transportation services to ensure that everyone felt protected (Transport Security Administration, 2001, Mission).
One of the most recent attempted attacks was in Strathroy, Ontario in 2016 with the shooting of Aaron Driver. At the time the 24 year-old, ISIS supporter, Aaron, was being monitored by the RCMP as they had previously arrested him as well as conversations documented between him and an acquaintance regarding threats of terrorism (CBC News, 2016, para 4). The suspect was witnessed entering a car with a mask on and a backpack containing a bomb which was immediately reported by civilians where he was later shot by the RCMP (Bell, 2016, para 1). It was originally a foreign government that was aware of the concern regarding Aaron before RCMP were even notified, however due to the advancements in society today, they were able to contact the RCMP to get to and deal with the suspect before he was able to cause any harm. Unlike previous situations such as this, action was able to be made prior to an incident occurring due to evidence collected by a foreign agency. In outcomes similar to this, society proves that we have come so far that we can prevent these things from happening before they arise.
Using the four specific case studies that have occurred in the past 30 years, it is seen that counterterrorism has evolved by adapting to and advancing, following each event and enhancing the safety of traveling for the future. Beginning with the hijacking of the Southern Airways flight in 1972, security began to be more strictly implemented as to what people could bring onto flights which continually progressed to now where society has a more standardized approach to the training of officers, having them inspect travelers for weapons other than guns and knives, rather nails clippers and items that are used daily that could serve purpose as a weapon. After the bombing at Oktoberfest, police implemented the use of specialized units in order to properly asses a situation and provide an overarching protection of the population (Peters & Cohen, 2017, Para 1).
As terrorism continued to evolve, security systems needed to as well, which is when CATSA was introduced. This organization is in charge of making sure that particular practices are in place when flying on an aircraft, aiming for safety for everyone (CATSA, N.D., About us). CATSA has continues to advance their systems over the past decade establishing four major areas in which they look at for their aviation security, including the initial pre-boarding screen that has been in place since 1973 but also checking baggage for possible items in which could be explosive, and even screening of non- passengers whom are in areas of airports that are restricted (Para.3). When flying within North America, undercover officers and air Marshalls are often located on flight’s as an on-board safety measure in the case that something harmful made it past security and on to the flight itself. Since the attack of 9/11, they also implemented the Terrorist watch list as an extra screening (Inserra, 2016, para. 2). This allows the given government to have access to names of suspected or known terrorists so that they are aware and able to stop them before boarding any aircraft (para.7).
After understanding the findings of the police and how they have adapted to such events as these, this research has implications that the police agencies are seeking to develop further in the future and work together to create mutual laws of safety. The Five Eyes are a huge contributor to this by sharing their intelligence to strengthen our worlds security and safety (Cox, 2012, Executive Summary). Society itself has developed noticeably since the 1900’s to the point that we are already able to stop an event such as that of Aaron Driver before the event occurs due to the advancements we have today. These advancements partially come from the international coordination of counterterrorism effects, due to 9/11.
Based on recent events, it is evident that for every advancement that is made we need to understand that there are individuals in society who are willing to go above and beyond these measures to create havoc, which only demonstrates that rules and regulations regarding security will only have to keep advancing. In order to be able to continue to stop measures before they happen, security will need to continuously develop and implement new ideas on the forefront of technology developments regarding security, as they are now.
The evolution of our security worldwide due to terrorism relates strongly to the fact that terrorist will adapt, therefore we as a collective need to as well. Our system is static and always changing but so are the new ways of these terrorist groups and dangerous people. The importance of developing counterterrorism measures has led us to stopping things before they occur, but also leave us room for future study in the future based on new findings. It is important to note organizations such as the 5 Eyes, as it is groups like these who by working together will advance our system in the future, reassuring safety to everyone and continuing to advance over time.
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