Computer terrorism: What are the risks?
Chapter 1: Terrorism
The term " terrorism " appears for the first time in 1798 when
the philosopher Emmanuel Kant uses it, strangely, to describe a pessimistic
view of the destiny of humanity. The same year, one finds the term in
a supplement to the large Dictionary of the French Academy; it evokes
excesses of revolutionary Terror then and thus does not have the meaning
that we accord to it today. We refer, generally, to the action of clandestine
movements which target the government of a country with an aim of radically
reversing its political and social command: it is not only the State which
is aimed, but the entire social system [BONA94]
Let us look at some other definitions:
"Terrorism: The systematic use of terror especially as a means of
" Terrorism: Set of acts of violence made by an organization to
create a climate of insecurity or to reverse the established government.
(...) The terrorism be thus primarily a strategy intended to unbalance
a country or a regime, use the subversion and the violence on a medium
or a institution in crisis to contribute with disorder, the day before
of a revolution or a war of conquest carried out by a foreign power(...)
It is advisable to add to these definitions, the use of terrorism as
a means of pressure. In the case of international terrorism, the attacks
are generally used to create pressure on a government by means of public
opinion, in order to obtain something precise such as the release of a
prisoner or stopping the export of weapons to a certain country.
Forms of terrorism
Terrorism can take various forms. Luigi Bonanate [BONA94]
proposes following classification:
First of all, it is necessary to distinguish internal terrorism
and international terrorism. Internal terrorism includes at the
same time the terrorism of State (terror) and revolutionary terrorism,
according to whether it is a question of reinforcing or of destroying
the State. The State can apply the reign of terror or use the
terrorism of State, as when one shows it to support destabilizing
terrorist actions with an aim of reinforcing the central authority. The
State can be finally at the origin of aggressive forms of terrorism,
when, for example, during the war, it ordered massive bombardments to
frighten the enemy (bombardment of Dresden, February 7-15, 1945) or to
definitively discourage it (atomic bombardment of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
August 6, and 9 1945).
There are also various types of international terrorism. Initially,
comes independence or separatist terrorism, which are movements
that wish to overcome a colonial domination or to constitute an independent
State or even sometimes to link itself to another State than that to which
they belong. By nature, independence terrorism is always international,
because it carries its strikes beyond the borders of the concerned territory.
this is the case of Palestinian terrorism. On the other hand, one can
find a colonialist terrorism that aims to preserve the sovereignty
of a State on a colony.
To supplement this picture, it is advisable to evoke an ultimate form
of recourse to terror on a planetary scale, even if it comes out of the
specific problems of terrorism: it is about " the balance of terror
". This formula summarizes the policy led by the United States and
the Soviet Union (until the dissolution of the latter), in order to freeze
the international order resulting from the Second World war, via the threat
of a total nuclear destruction.
In 1937, after the attack against the king of Yugoslavia and the French
minister Louis Barthou in October 1934 in the city of Marseilles (France),
the LON (League Of Nations) drew up a International Convention which was
signed in Geneva on November 16 1937 by twenty-five countries (except
Italy and the United States). This convention defined overall the terrorist
acts as " criminal facts directed against a State and of which the
goal or nature is to cause terror towards determined personalities, groups
of people or the population " (article 2). The signatories of the
text thus drew up the detailed list of the various forms of terrorism:
- Facts intentionally directed against the life, the physical integrity,
health or freedom of:
- heads of States, people who exert the prerogatives of head of
State, their hereditary or designated successors;
- husband or wife of the above peoples;
- invested people of functions or public offices when the above-mentioned
fact was made because of the functions or the responsibilities which
these people exert.
- The fact of destroying or of intentionally damaging public goods or
goods intended for a public use, which belong to another State signatory
or which belong to the State.
- The fact of intentionally endangering human lives in order to create
a common danger.
- The attempt to commit offences envisaged by the preceding provisions
of this article.
- The fact of manufacturing, of getting, of holding or of providing
weapons, ammunition, explosive products or harmful substances for the
execution, in any country, of an infringement envisaged by this article
Evolution of international terrorism
The tenth annual International Conference on Criminal Justice Issue 1,
joined together, among other things, at the end of July 1995, current
and old members of the FBI, the American State and the Defense Departments,
Argentinean and Israeli anti-terrorists experts.
It was learnt from this conference, that in the future, the use of weapons
causing much more civilian victims is very probable. According to Peter
Probst (DoD), the ethnic or religious terrorist groups will not be reticent
to cause a great number of victims, whereas the old political terrorist
groups hesitated to do it, fearing to lose the possibility of population
support. Moreover, the attack with toxic gas, in Japan, broke the taboo
of using chemical weapons [FANNING95]