Revenge Not Terrorism

The term terrorism is a fairly new word that has a variety of interpretations.  Terrorism affects everyone in the world; therefore, it is imperative to understand the motives behind terrorism to effectively counter it.  This leads to the discussion of the state’s role to effectively counter terrorism even if it means compromising the nation’s values and notion of civilization.  This essay will analyze the role of counter-terrorism by states as well as evaluating theatrical portrayals of terrorists and acts committed thereof.

Acts of terror are difficult to prepare for and lead to mass devastation and chaos among populations.  Due to the unpredictability and threat to national security these attacks impose, it gives the state the authority and obligation to eliminate these threats in order to maintain national security for its citizens.  In the film, Munich, it illustrates the Israeli government’s support of five men chosen to eliminate the Black September assassins who killed Israeli athletes preparing for the 1972 Olympic Games.  The Israeli intelligent group; Mossad, is the key player in eliminating the Palestinian terrorist leaders suspected in planning the killings of the Israeli athletes.  The undercover Mossad agents hunt these suspects down throughout Europe and Lebanon. This brings in to question whether or not it is ethical for a state to sponsor assassinations in retaliation for terrorist attacks carried out against them. Recently, the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a co-founder of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades part of an Islamist Palestinian militant group called Hamas was said to be sponsored by the Israeli government. He was wanted by the Israeli government for the kidnapping and murder of two Israeli soldiers in 1989 and for buying weapons from Iran for use in the Gaza Strip.  This assassination was said to be carried out by Mossad agents holding false passports.

Do the attacks carried out against the Israeli government give justification for Israel to carry out their own attacks against these terror groups? It is imperative to understand that a states’ role is to maintain the welfare and security of its citizens and when terrorist carry out attacks against the state’s population it is the duty of that state to hunt down and eliminate these threats. A nation’s values might have to be compromised in order to complete this objective; however, it should be done in an ethical way that does not lead to genocide or a nuclear holocaust.  Intelligence agencies should be the key players in countering terrorism targeting specific individuals and organizations.

Nevertheless, the primary objective of a terrorist is to get their message across. The influence of media plays an essential role is shaping the minds and perceptions of many people on how they view terrorism and the terrorist who commit these assaults through mediums such as; newspapers, television, social networks, and the internet. However one medium that is somewhat overlooked in how films shape our opinion on terrorism. In her book, Packaging Terrorism, Susan Moeller quotes Rand expert Brian Michael Jenkins, “Terrorism is theatre,” and further states, “Audiences are mesmerized by fear” (Moeller 184). These two quotes do characterize many Americans. Hollywood today creates many movies about terrorism with major box office success such as The Sum of all Fears, based on Tom Clancy’s book with the same title, World Trade Center, a film based off of 9/11, and The kingdom, a film inspired by the bombings at the Riyadh compound and Khobar housing complex in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  These terrorism based films have grossed millions of dollars in box office sales prompting directors to create similar projects because people crave the adrenaline rush they get from suspenseful situations in turn generating large amounts of revenue for the filmmakers.

Theatrical portrayals of terrorist events do educate the audience on specific events that have occurred throughout the world but do not accurately depict the event as it unfolded.  Hollywood has a way of sensationalizing events and recreating them in a way that has a greater emotional connection with their audience; therefore, losing credibility. So although theatrical portrayals to educate the audience it also leaves them fear struck.  The exaggeration of events does instill fear into the viewer and can give a false sense of could happen if such an event would occur again. Hollywood does help spread fear into populations and it has a positive effect for the terrorist because the ultimate objective of a terrorist is to instill fear into a population. Films on terrorism are free publicity for terrorists because at the end of the day their message is being extended which is the primary objective of these networks.

Terrorism is a threat to all people who cherish freedom and the right to live a happy prosperous life.  It is fundamental to the welfare of a state to effectively counter-terrorism even if it means jeopardizing the nation’s values in order to maintain national security. Likewise, it is equally important to understand the theatrical portrayals of terrorism can help foster the motive and objectives behind these terrorist organizations by instilling fear into a population, so it is vital to fully understand the difference between what is real and what is simply Hollywood.

Works Cited

February 19th 2011.Web. <>.

Christine MacDonald, Globe. “Film’s Portrayal of Muslims Troubling to Islamic Groups.” The Boston globe (1998): B.10. Print.

Grey, Tobias. “Film: Radical Chic: Europe’s New Wave of Films about Terrorism.” Wall Street journal.Europe (2009): W.8. Print.

Harrison, James. Hollywood and terrorism (2008)Print.

Susan D. Moeller. Packaging Terrorism: Co-Opting the News for Politics and Profit., 2009. Print.

Vanhala, Helena. Hollywood portrayal of modern international terrorism in blockbuster action-adventure films: From the Iran hostage crisis to September 11, 2001 (2005)Print.