Terrorist Organizations and the Media
Subsequent to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the world did change. Prior to the attacks, the term ‘terrorism’ was not as frequently used by the media world over, the way we are used to it now. We have to bear in mind that it is the media that brings the world together, it is the Internet at best that allows us easy access to other areas of the globe, far from us — and their peoples. Next, the television plays a chief role in spreading news, business reports, and propaganda.
Following the attacks on September 11 in New York City, the world got to learn of Al-Qaida, (the sole terrorist group) responsible with many other terrorist organizations to spread mischief across the globe. Osama Bin Laden was turned into a celebrity overnight because his videotapes detailing his agenda to fight the United States, were discovered. Videotapes kept coming and going, each time stirring the people of the world. Laden was not found, but there was a war in Afghanistan to fight the terrorism raised (so to say) by Laden’s group and others. Recently there has been a war in Iraq too for similar reasons. Saddam Hussein was called a terrorist by countless in the media, and his domination was under attack.
Terrorism — Then and Now Terrorism is an old issue that the world is now bent to abolish. Whether this would happen or not is a separate matter because throughout the history of mankind, there have been issues such as corruption, violence, and unlawful killings, and humans have engaged in battles to overcome the bad, in favor of the good. At present, the target is terrorist organizations. We ought to understand these associations and their use of media. Here, media comprises communication of the terrorist organization among its own members besides members of the general public. How does a terrorist organization propagate its mission?
Once we are knowledgeable of the above, we may attempt to successfully counter terrorism through the use of media at our end.
As discussed before, terrorism is an ages-old concern. It is now a well-known topic since the super powerful nation of the world, United States has been subjected to terrorism. The country is taking a stand against terrorist groups, and it is gaining support of other nations that are readily battling against terrorism with the U.S. Furthermore, the media of the United States is highly influential, there is no argument about it. The number of channels owned by the U.S., and the information going through the media globally by way of the American channels is tremendous. It is no surprise then that the war of terrorism has created such a noise. The whole world, especially our nation, utilizes the media to combat terrorism. By furnishing reports on how to oppose terrorism, for instance, or disseminating information about the actions of the terrorists (for us to remain cautious), the media can and does deter terrorist groups from taking many actions that bring humankind toward extinction. (Consider a terrorist group set to bomb a locality — would it continue with its program if the media exposes the deed before it’s done?)
Media today is of course more potent than media that was. In the nineties, for example, we hardly ever heard of an anti-terrorism bill debated in Greece that made it a crime for a newspaper to print communication from a group designated as terrorist organization. This violated the rights of a free press whereby common people could be informed of the doings of terrorist groups (Hoyt, 1991). Al-Jazeera television is famous for broadcasting Osama Bin Laden’s infamous videos in which he is seen planning to wage war on America. The law in Greece in 1991 forbade such transmissions. Hence, any talk of revolution (on the part of the so-called terrorists) was curbed. This principle violated the foundations of democracy as well (Hoyt).
In spring 1991, rockets flew across Greece, damaging industrial and commercial venues. A group calling itself “November 17” took credit for these acts of terrorism and destruction. It sent “communiques to the media.” Seven newspapers printed the communique in defiance of the new law. One of these — Eleftherotypia — explained its actions in an editorial: “We believe that all Greek citizens have the right to be informed, even if they completely disagree, about the deeds and the thinking of a group that remains untouched by the authorities, of all administrations, for 16 years…. And we should never forget: Darkness breeds legends. (Hoyt)”
To make the long story short, the people responsible for publishing the reports of the attack by November 17, were jailed and made to pay fines. Following this, there was another terrorist attack that same year, and another communique was sent, this time only to Eleftherotypia. The paper published a new report and was charged under the anti-terrorism law the following day (Hoyt).
This is no time for a boom of the Greek civilization in particular. The Greek media is not as strong as the American in the present time. Therefore did many of us not know about terrorism in Greece. It is worthwhile to learn about a Greek terrorist organization, however. Later can we turn to the media today in relation to terrorist groups.
Greek Terrorist Organization: Revolutionary Organization 17 November
Based in Greece, the Revolutionary Organization 17 November was one of the most active terrorist groups in Western Europe in the 1980’s. The name of the group derives from a November 17, 1973 student uprising in Athens that was violently overwhelmed by the military junta ruling Greece at the time. This organization is a violent Marxist-Leninist one. Its ideology is anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, anti-United States and anti-NATO (Revolutionary Organization). The group, identified by the U.S. Department of State among 36 foreign terrorist organizations in April 2003, has been critical of the Greek government for not addressing issues such as the situation in Cyprus, the presence of U.S. bases in Greece, and Greek membership in NATO and the European Community (State Dept., 2003).
The first sensational act of November 17 was the assassination of Richard Welch, Chief of the CIA Station in Athens, in 1975. Since then, the terrorist group has made many attacks on Turkish Missions in Greece. A report of the U.S. Congress in 2000 on the subject of “Transnational Terrorism,” proposed that Greece be added to a list of terrorist countries. The country was urged to introduce sanctions against terrorist organizations (Terrorist Organizations, 2000).
According to press claims, November 17 works in cooperation with Abu Nidal, the German Red Army Faction (RAF), and Combatant Cells in Belgium. Moreover, the terror group is said to have connections with the Greek Army since it steals weapons and supplies from Greek military depots (Terrorist Organizations).
Terror organizations make use of propaganda to raise domestic and international awareness of their organizations and their objectives. Many have a separate propaganda unit in their organizational structure. Based on Marxist-Leninist ideologies, separate staff is assigned to propaganda activities within the front activities. These staff members are evaluated separately from the armed units of the terrorist organizations. They carry out different kinds of both legal and illegal activities necessary to achieve political ends. Armed units carry out armed propaganda for the terror groups. This is because propaganda is crucial, and armed acts must be undertaken for the purpose of propaganda first rather than for the purpose of destroying enemies (Terror Organizations, 2000).
November 17 was founded in protest to the killings of students that engaged in armed combat with the security forces on 17 November 1973. Thus, the basis of this terror group was made armed propaganda. Not much is known otherwise about the inner dynamics of November 17 except that, as mentioned before, it used the newspapers to relay information about its terrorist activities. The organization is led by a group of twenty well-disciplined people including teachers, journalists, professors, doctors, and intellectuals. Their leader is most likely Michaelis Raptis, known as “Pablos” — a writer for the Greek leftist newspaper, To Vima (Terrorist Organizations, 2000). Furthermore, no member of November 17 had ever been arrested until 2002 (Pike, 2003).
About November 17, we know that the organization receives external aid from unknown sources (Pike). It is made of assassins, it has adopted a cell system, and it seeks not an expansion strategy or new members/sympathizers. The group is involved in organized crime, in particular in the smuggling of weapons and explosives. It typically engages in armed attacks, car bombings, and rocket attacks, availing itself of military supplies. All in all, the group aims to establish a socialist system of government in Greece, to dismiss Greece from NATO, to close all American bases in Greece, and to end alleged Turkish occupation in Cyprus. Additionally, it seeks to severe Greece’s ties with the U.S., NATO and the European Union (Terrorist Organizations).
November 17 utilizes armed propaganda, the commanding form of propaganda known to activate and attract the masses that are conditioned to respond to imperialist publications dealing with daily banner headlines. Two Italian anarchists, Malatesta and Cafiero declared in 1876 that the fact of rebellion would make the socialist principles of their organizations accepted by means of violent acts. To this end, it is of significant importance to terror groups to engage in at least one sensational violent act for which they are remembered. Following are the reasons given for armed propaganda in preference over theoretical propaganda:
Theoretical propaganda could slander the bourgeois press.
Bourgeois speakers could conceal issues at their meetings by speaking pleasantly.
Workers returning home after their tiring working day might not be eager to read socialist publications.
Consequently, one act would ensure the transmission of propaganda rather than millions of statements in a day.
Armed propaganda promotes public perceptions of the efficiency of itself, and makes people aware of the cause of the terror group.
It creates an image in society that the terror organizations are a difficult power to be dealt with, and they can attain their goals.
Armed propaganda eradicates those people and institutions that are against the struggle of the terror group.
It promotes sympathy within society toward the terror organizations, and ensures a gradual increase in active support.
The terror organization ensures public perception of the definiteness of their acts by conducting acts in specific places (Armed Propaganda, 2000).
Violent acts prove the power of terrorist organizations to the public and the state. Terror groups use mass media as a vehicle of information to the masses. In this way, terrorist organizations are dependent upon the support of the mass media that make the masses aware of the continuing activities and opinions of the terrorists. This voice given to terror groups is essential for them (Armed Propaganda). On this note, we can say that the Greek government must have been right in not letting the acts of November 17 be acknowledged through the media, by banning the voice of the terrorist organizations in Greece. However, this may not resolve the problems that the terror groups are working with and for or against. The terrorist organization would always need attention to achieve its objectives. If November 17 bombs two buildings in Athens at this time, would the media not report this event? In this case, would it not be better to know beforehand that such and such violent act is about to occur? Secondly, how can media be used to restrain terrorism in view of the fact that terrorist groups rely on the mass media for recognition? Certainly, a tighter control is required over terrorist organizations and the media can give its full support first of all to the masses, in trying to check terrorism. Along with transmitting information of the terror groups’ activities, media may very well introduce programs that prove to the public that terrorism is being fought worldwide, and the terror groups would not escape retribution.
International Terrorist Organization: Abu Nidal Organization
Working in cooperation with November 17, the Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) a.k.a. Fatah Revolutionary Council, Arab Revolutionary Council, Arab Revolutionary Brigades, Black September, and Revolutionary Organization of Socialist Muslims, is an international terrorist organization founded by late Sabri al-Banna (a.k.a. Abu Nidal). Abu Nidal carried out terrorist attacks in twenty countries, killing or injuring approximately nine hundred persons (Abu Nidal, 2003). ANO is said to have committed ninety actions of violence, including a failed assassination attempt on Yaser Arafat (Abu Nidal, 2000). The targets of ANO include the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Israel, moderate Palestinians, the PLO, and various Arab countries. The group maintains its presence in Iraq currently. It has an operational presence in Lebanon too. What’s more, the terror group is said to have received considerable support, including safe haven, training, logistic assistance, and financial aid from Iraq, Libya, and Syria (Abu Nidal, 2003).
Among the U.S. Department of State’s listing of 36 foreign terrorist organizations, Abu Nidal’s name is first in alphabetical order (State Dept., 2003). It appears that terrorist organizations are connected with each other in many ways. For instance, Abu Nidal is further connected with ASALA and KADEK, two extreme violent groups. ANO is also one of the organizations with the biggest record of bloodshed in the world (Abu Nidal, 2000).
Sabri al-Banna was not the sole individual interested in the foundation of ANO. Two hundred Palestinians from France, Italy, Spain and Austria established this organization on November 22nd, 1974, in order to free Palestine from the Zionist occupation, and to establish a new Palestine state instead of a Zionist State. Abu Nidal considered armed struggle as the only solution upon the occupation by Israel of some parts of Palestine. Hence, the organization, Abu Nidal carried out immense acts of injustice to spread disorder and achieve their aims through armed propaganda. Further, it is learned that Abu Nidal Organization utilizes the press to promote itself and its cause. The organization has accepted blame for many of its terrorist actions (Abu Nidal).
We see that Abu Nidal is much like the terrorist organization discussed previously — November 17. Both of these organizations use armed propaganda, both also rely on the press or newspapers to gain the attention they feel is required for them to achieve their ends. Likewise, both November 17 and ANO are based on anti-U.S. policies which is a cause of concern at this end. No wonder that the U.S. media is strongest nowadays, fighting terrorism on behalf of not only the United States but also the rest of the world.
Lebanese Terrorist Organization: Hizballah
Related with the objectives of Abu Nidal for Palestinians is Hizballah, also among the 36 foreign terrorist organizations identified by the U.S. Department of State (State Dept., 2003). Known as the “Party of God,” “Islamic Jihad,” “Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine,” “Organization of the Oppressed on Earth,” or the “Revolutionary Justice Organization,” Hizballah began as a religious movement which transformed itself in 1982 in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. This Lebanon-based radical Shi’ite group takes its ideological inspiration from the Iranian revolution and the teachings of late Ayatollah Khomeini. We know about the inner dynamics of Hizballah that the Majlis al-Shura (Consultative Council) is the group’s highest governing body led by Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah. This organization is dedicated to the liberation of Jerusalem and the ultimate elimination of Israel. It has formally advocated the establishment of Islamic rule in Lebanon as well, and actively participated in Lebanon’s political system since 1992. Getting its directions from Iran, Hizballah has attempted to help Syria advance its political objectives in the region (Hizballah, 2003).
Hizballah is known or suspected to have been involved in countless anti-U.S. And anti-Israeli terrorist attacks, including the suicide truck bombings of the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in October 1983, and the U.S. Embassy annex in Beirut in September 1984. This is similar to both Abu Nidal and November 17’s programs. Three members of Hizballah are on the FBI’s list of twenty-two Most Wanted Terrorists for the hijacking of 1985 TWA Flight 847 during which a U.S. Navy diver was murdered. This terrorist organization has several thousand supporters and a few hundred terrorist operatives. It receives financial, political, diplomatic, and organizational aid, plus training, weapons and explosives from Iran; and diplomatic, political, and logistic support from Syria. Hizballah has established cells in Europe, Africa, South America, North America and Asia (Hizballah).
Similar to November 17 and Abu Nidal Organization, Hizballah is based on anti-U.S. principles, suggesting perhaps that there is a chain or network of terrorist organizations with the same basic objectives — freedom, liberation, and revolution, of some peoples or another, some region or another. Hizballah, like the two other discussed here, also appears to work by armed propaganda. Nevertheless, theoretical propaganda appears important to the Party of God. Hizballah operates its own website (www.hizbollah.org/)detailing its objectives in order to appeal to people’s intellect. Many other terrorist organizations too function with their websites. The governments of the world do not abolish this — it is likely that through these websites, the common people too could be kept posted about the activities of the terrorists, and thus, these websites are important. Nonetheless, it is commonsensical that the governments should be able to control terrorism somehow by at least considering to wipe out the websites of terrorists where the common man could even be duped into believing in a cause that the terror group propagates, regardless of whether the cause has sufficient grounds. The internet appears to be a vast playground for all humanity nowadays — for all who have internet access. The governments are sending out a lot of information to common people, about terror groups. We have been provided means to combat terrorism and to safeguard ourselves. Whereas the terrorists have developed biological and chemical weapons, we have protective clothing. This information too is relayed on the internet, which is in fact, the biggest, if not the second-best (after television), mode of communication in the present time. Messages are sent within seconds, received in the same time, the costs are cheaper — the internet has a great effect on the masses. It is of value to us then that the government is providing plenty of information to the general public. As a matter of fact, most of the research in this discussion has been via the internet — this is because the internet is the media that the terrorists also have an eye on, and the government is fighting terrorism through the same medium as well.
The United States refuses to negotiate with Hizballah because both the U.S. And Israel have recognized Hizballah as a terrorist organization. For peace, therefore, Japan’s Ambassador to Lebanon, Mr. Nauto Amaki, and the visiting director-general of the Japanese foreign ministry met with the leader of Hizballah, Hassan Nasrallah in 2001. The media did not report this meeting adequately although it was to promote peace, resolve conflict and bring settlement among the warring parties that this meeting was held (de Boer, 2001). In this case, the Japanese have had a proud part to play that may or may not go a long way.
Deadly battles between the Hizballah and Israeli forces have continued for quite some time. Whilst Israel sends F-16 fighter jets to bomb Hizballah strongholds, the Hizballah guerillas respond with hand held rocket launchers. The conflict for Israel is one about security; for Hizballah, it is about the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Lebanese land (de Boer). It is crucial for this conflict to be resolved in order for there to be peace in the Middle East.
Hizballah maintains a vast training apparatus in Lebanon throughout the villages and their surroundings, as well as outside of Lebanon. Training is aimed at building a solid manpower source for its military operations as well as for its terror arm. There also in an open offer to people in the areas where there is training apparatus, to join Hizballah. The organization has a base for the recruitment of additional activists and fighters among the Shi’ite populations. It has established storage depots for weapons, and it gives widespread aid to residents in South Lebanon — donation of money, equipment, medical supplies, etc., in order to gain the support of the local population in favor of the organization’s activities in the South (Information Division). Overall, it seems that this organization is a rather energetic one with extensive functions around the areas it is supporting or seeking the support of. It is using latest technology to achieve its ends. Unlike November 17 and Abu Nidal, Hizballah does not rely on newspapers as the dominant way to theoretical propaganda. However, Hizballah can be found in the international newspapers nearly everyday due to the countless merciless acts of killing going on in the Middle East between mainly the Jews and the Muslims. This Party of God is different from the Turkish Hizballah though — as though there was a dearth of terrorist organizations, this Kurdish Islamic (Sunni) extremist organization has been listed among the terror organizations in the “Patterns of Global Terrorism: 2002” report released April 30, 2003 (Turkish Hizballah, 2003; State Dept., 2003).
Hate Speech on the Internet
Terrorist organizations utilize the internet to propagate their views or causes. They get people to join them based on such causes, or they give incentives to people to join them. In the developing countries, poor individuals find the incentives on offer by terrorist organizations, rather enticing. They can be provided not only regular salaries and training but also adequate housing by the terrorist organizations. Another interesting point to consider is that when the propaganda is religion-based, the terrorist organizations find many supporters willing to offer their lives for the sake of afterworld rewards. Thus do we have suicide bombers and other warriors ready to end their lives for a cause they believe in. Many a times, the families of the martyred (those killed in the way of the terrorist organization, if called so), are honored by their poor communities. There is illiteracy and sheer poverty in the developing nations because of which the terror groups may find these lucrative or fertile grounds for their recruitment/training projects (Ahmed, 2003).
Numerous educated people too may join terror groups seeing information on the internet that may appeal to them. The internet is mostly uncontrolled in its content. Some controversial content on the networks as pointed out by the European Cultural Co-operation of the Council of Europe, is hate speech. The internet is used for outpourings of abusive and threatening words, often directed at a particular race, religion, or sexual orientation. Anti-Jewish sentiments are common and virulent. And other forms of misogyny, anti-religious and similar abuse are easily encountered on the net. This has been a cause for concern more for the representatives of the abused groups than for the campaigners for control of the internet (Sturges, 1997). Perhaps the internet has deliberately been left free at this time. A lot of advantage there is to the internet, but those who look for crookedness in most things would also use the internet in perverse ways. This is true with everything liable to abuse.
Multinational Terrorist Organization: Al-Qaida
The most dangerously celebrated terrorist organization today is Al-Qaida, led by Osama Bin Laden, an international fugitive. Of course, Al-Qaida is listed among the foreign terrorist organizations, by the State Department (State Dept., 2003). It appears continuously in the press although Osama Bin Laden is known to issue propaganda and his statements mostly via our television sets. He sends videotapes to Al-Jazeera television and the media welcomes this. The videotapes are also relayed then via the internet, and many television channels transmit them in several world languages. This is a rather advanced and direct method of theoretical propaganda. Bin Laden talks to the common people directly in their TV rooms just as the government officials do in press conferences at the Pentagon at times of war. This notorious leader of Al-Qaida is also responsible for armed propaganda, and is allegedly the man behind the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Since that time onward, messages have been coming back and forth from his terror camp, and the U.S. government is fighting the group as a whole. It is worth keeping in mind that the government has strict orders or intentions to punish and prosecute any or all members of the terrorist organizations of the world.
Like Abu Nidal and Hizballah, Al-Qaida is known by other names as well: al-Qa’ida (The Base) is called Qai’dat al-Jihad, the Islamic Army for the Liberation of the Holy Places, the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders, the Islamic Salvation Foundation, and the Usama bin Laden Network. This organization also works by anti-U.S. principles, like the rest we have considered. It is a multinational with members in innumerable countries and a worldwide presence (Al-Qa’ida, 2003). It grew out of the Afghan-Soviet war and its core members are Afghan war veterans from all over the Muslim world. Established around 1988 by the Saudi militant Osama bin Laden, and based in Afghanistan, the organization is maintained through an extensive international network of Muslim extremists in diverse countries (MAK). Osama calls to their sentiments at times of war or struggle, and thereby appeals to the emotions of many who even consider him a hero if not a messiah. As mentioned previously, this is especially so in developing countries where such propaganda is likely to bear fruit for the terror groups who can spend money on the poor and needy and obtain their services and support for their cause.
Also as mentioned before, terror organizations are linked to other terror groups. We see that senior leaders in Al-Qaida are also senior leaders in other terrorist organizations, such as the Egyptian al-Gama’at al Islamiyya and al-Jihad; and members of many Sunni Islamic extremist groups, and some members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the Harakat ul-Mujahidin are also members of Al-Qaida. Al-Qaida, actually an umbrella organization for a worldwide network of terror groups, supports Muslim fighters in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Tajikistan, Somalia, Yemen, and Kosovo. Furthermore, it trains members of terrorist organizations from as far as Philippines, Algeria and Eritrea (Al-Qa’ida, 2003).
The stated goal of Al-Qaida is to unite all Muslims under a government that follows the rule of the Caliphs of Islam. Bin Laden believes in establishing this needed Caliphate by force. To achieve this, he intends to overthrow nearly all Muslim governments seen as corrupt; drive out Western influence from Muslim countries; and eventually abolish state boundaries (Al-Qaida). Could it be that he believes himself to be the Arab man whom Nostradamus predicted would rule the world around this time? Perchance it is a self-fulfilling prophecy on his part if he has watched the film about Nostradamus’ prophecies in which the man shown to rule the world does bear certain resemblance to Osama. However, this hero is a hidden one — so threatening to the world that as soon as he comes out in public normally, people would capture him to give to the government.
Since the time that the Coalition forces removed the Taliban from power in late 2001, Al-Qaida has dispersed in small groups across South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. The organization is expected to attempt to carry out future attacks against U.S. interests. Although the U.S. is striving to combat this terror group even by blocking its ability to obtain money, Al-Qaida maintains moneymaking front businesses, solicits donations from like-minded supporters, and illicitly siphons funds from donations to Muslim charitable organizations (Al-Qaida). The organization is still a powerful one although the government has so far succeeded (it can be said with confidence) in curbing terrorism.
There are folks in the world today that believe that Osama bin Laden could be fiction. Certainly only the governments and those fighting the terror group of Osama — appreciate the complexity of the situation they are dealing with Al-Qaida on the loose acting against the interests of peace around the world. This terror group is highly structured, its members even work by a manual, and for the governments of almost all nations, this terror group is intimidating.
From some part of the world or another, fighting is going on, and this must change. It is time to live together happily ever after with tolerance and justice, also a feeling of peace and security, don’t we think so? Yet, the fight against Al-Qaida goes on at this time because it has to J.T. Caruso, Acting Assistant Director of the Counter Terrorism Division of the FBI in 2001, spoke to the U.S. Senate: “Determination and vigilance will remain the keys to any success. It is one thing to disrupt an organization such as Al-Qaida, it is another to totally dismantle and destroy it. This must truly remain an international effort, with international cooperation on all levels, in order to be successful. All agencies within the U.S. government must remain vigilant, and must continue to cooperate and work together, in order to truly eradicate this scourge to all mankind everywhere known as Al-Qaida.”
On September 20, 2001, President Bush said in an address to the Congress: “Our war on terror begins with Al-Qaida, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated. (Patterns, 2001)”
In the annual Patterns of Global Terrorism report of 2001, Secretary Powell stated: “[T]errorism cast its lethal shadow across the globe — yet the world’s resolve to defeat it has never been greater…. This chilling report details the very clear and present danger that terrorism poses to the world and the efforts that the United States and our partners in the international community are making to defeat it. The cold, hard facts presented here compel the world’s continued vigilance and concerted action. (Patterns)” These are hopeful words!
The Media, Government, and Terror Organizations
The media, the government and the terrorists all see the function, roles and responsibilities of the media when covering terrorist events from differing and often opposing perspectives. For example, over the internet are available viewpoints of the terrorists as well as the governments. Same with television and other mediums. These are the perceptions that drive respective behaviors during terrorist activities, often resulting in strategic and tactical gains or losses to the terrorist operation and the overall terrorist cause. It is a challenge for the government and the press community then to understand the dynamics of terrorist enterprises and to develop policy options that serve governmental, media and societal interests (Perl, 1997). Great planning and skill must be applied at these matters of national and international attention.
Terrorist organizations require the free publicity that the media gives to them. A terrorist act gets world attention and cannot be ignored. Terror groups need good relations with the media as they have faith in relaying information about their cause in order to gain a favorable understanding of it. Even if people do not agree with the violent acts of the terrorists, the terror groups still aim to gain the sympathy of the common people who are made to believe that armed propaganda is a must to overthrow the state or the government (Perl).
Terrorist organizations seek to have their members work with the press, especially wire services. They also endeavor to play a role in smaller news agencies through funding. For terror groups it is important that the press legitimizes what they are doing. As an example, a terror organization may want to portray itself as legitimate by declaring that war is a continuation of politics. Additionally, it may want the press to notice and legitimize certain non-governmental organizations that act as covers for terrorist fund-raising, recruitment, and travel by terrorists in target countries. Terror organizations want media coverage to cause damage to their enemy especially when the perpetrators of an act and the rationale for the act remain unclear. These groups want panic to be amplified through the media, fear to be spread, and economic loss to be facilitated. They scare away investment and tourism, make populations lose faith in their governments’ ability to protect them, and trigger governmental and popular overreaction to specific incidents and the overall threat of terrorism (Perl). Particularly in developing countries, this is a real curse understandably because when the fear and panic grow and the economies suffer through lack of investment/production, the poor countries find it difficult to sustain themselves. Poverty is an issue on its own — terrorism only exasperates the entire scenario for the people concerned.
Governments seek understanding, cooperation, restraint, and loyalty from the media in efforts to limit terrorism harm to society and in efforts to punish or apprehend those responsible for terrorist acts.” The government wants to advance its own agenda instead of the terrorists’. For this, the government requires the media to transmit any information that the government needs to be sent. In addition, the media should be able to make a balanced presentation of the issue at hand. This implies that the governments should be understood to be such that they would not give in to terrorists’ demands — the media cannot expect them to do otherwise (Perl).
It is true that for the purposes of democracy, the media must continue to send out messages on behalf of terrorist organizations. However, if the governments attempt to completely put an end to the relay of terrorists’ messages, would they not be discouraging terrorist acts to a large extent? This is exactly one goal of the government leaders: to separate the terrorist from the media, to deny the terrorist a platform unless letting him have it is likely to contribute to his imminent defeat. Another goal of the government is to have the media present terrorists as criminals, and not glamorize them. One point-of-view to be fostered is that kidnapping of somebody, blowing up a building, or hijacking an airplane is a criminal act regardless of the terrorists’ cause (Perl).
In hostage situations, the government wants the news agencies to provide information to authorities when reporters have access to the hostage site. It is also important to the government through one of its policies that the public remains calm. Therefore, the government seeks publicity to diffuse the tension of a situation. Moreover, the government wants its own plans against the terrorists to be kept as secrets, hence making it impossible for the terrorists to be helped by the media. The government seeks any information that the media has about impending terrorist acts. The government needs support for its bureaus through the media, to publicize that the government is doing a great job fighting terrorism.
For the media of course, it is about getting the scoop, timely news in the best possible manner. The media desires to work securely and protect the rights of people to know (Perl). In general though, it can be said with some confidence that today we know of foreign politics, wars or terrorism only because the media is letting us stay informed. The terrorists are transmitting data; so are the governments. The good will overthrow the evil. This is the end we all are waiting for.
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