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
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
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
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
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.