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Bloody Sunday

Northern Ireland: A Place of Beauty and Conflict

When you think of Ireland most likely you will imagine a beautiful green landscape, Irish pubs, and a cheerful redheaded man dancing to their traditional bagpipe music. However, just to the north lies Northern Ireland, which is apart of a much larger region, known as the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom consists of; England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.  Northern Ireland is a country known for its political and religious conflict between the Irish Catholics and the loyalist Protestants.  A major event that focused attention on the conflict between the two groups is known as “Bloody Sunday.”

Bloody Sunday occurred on January 30th, 1972 in Derry, Northern Ireland, whereas a Northern Ireland civil rights association held a march ending in twenty-six unarmed civilians being shot by British soldiers.  Many people were killed in this event including thirteen males seven of which were teenagers.  This event revealed the civil unrest the United Kingdom was facing and educated many people about the conflict between the British and the people of Northern Ireland. In 2002, a film by the title Bloody Sunday, directed by Paul Greengrass, produced by Granada Television (IMDb) about the 1972 shooting in Derry was released. The focus of this essay is to analyze the position of the film, how the genre of “mockumentary” achieves a feeling of utter reality, and press coverage of the Northern Ireland conflict.

The film, Bloody Sunday is a great depiction of the tragedy that unfolded on January 30th, 1972, but is the film really fair? Does it convey the truth as the events unfolded on both sides of the conflict?  According to a review of the film by The New York Times, Elvis Mitchell who critiques the film states, “it would be a mistake to say it has the even-handedness of a down-the-middle docudrama, because “Sunday” is clearly on the side of the 15,000 Irish-Catholic demonstrators who turned out to make a nonviolent point about their grievances at what they saw as discrimination by the Protestant majority in the Ulster Government.” Mitchell makes the claim that the film sides with that of the Irish-Catholics.  It is clear to see in the film that the director creates a sense of empathy for the audience towards the Catholic protesters and creates a villainous image towards the British soldiers.

The film also focuses on the main character Ivan Cooper, who is a Member of Parliament as he tries to maintain a peaceful march.  His good intentions were illustrated within the film and allows for viewers to emotionally connect with him creating a slight bias by the director.  Nevertheless, there are instances in the film where many mischievous teenagers engage in violent attacks against the British soldiers such as throwing rocks, which gives the audience a slight sense of compassion for the British soldiers that in a way may justify the shots fired from them. The film Bloody Sunday, is fair in the way the event unfolded and how it portrayed both sides of the conflict.

Bloody Sunday is a drama that gives a picture of exactly what occurred that day. Nonetheless, some may classify it as a mockumentary. A mockumentary is a type of film in which fictitious events are presented in a documentary format.  Furthermore, Webster defines mockumentary as a facetious or satirical work (as a film) presented in the style of a documentary. An example of a mockumentary is the Blair Witch Project.  When audiences first seen the film many of them thought the film was actual footage captured on video.  It was said that the three individuals in the film were never seen after they captured video of these horrific events; however, their footage was located a year later.  Mockumentaries achieve a sense of utter reality by producing films that seem to be real in the eyes of the audience, and the Blair Witch Project is a great example of that.  Many believed it to be real until it was later announced it was fictitious.  This was done by filming in real time that in turn eluded it to be perceived as reality.  In the case of Bloody Sunday, due to the events really occurring in 1972 in Derry, the film is more in the documentary genre rather than the mockumentary genre of film.

The Northern Ireland conflicts have been going on for many years and have sparked a lot of attention. How does the press cover the conflict? Is it fair or is one side supported more so than the other. This is a debate that is hard to solve.  The television stations of Britain and the Irish Republic are widely, if not patchily, available across Northern Ireland and many argue there are biases by the media from both the Nationalist and the Unionists sides (Herbert 5).  The media has been blamed for instigating and creating tension between the Catholics and the Protestants. The Irish and British governments have gone as far to ban voices of members of people named to be apart of terrorist organizations but this has been avoided by having actors simply say what they want.

It is mind boggling to understand why there is so much conflict between two groups of people whose religious views promote peace.  Whether it is a religious conflict or merely a political and social conflict in the name of civil rights is unclear. What is clear is that people from different religions have been in conflict with one another since the beginning of civilization; therefore it is not rational to make judgment against the conflict in Northern Ireland but to better understand the rational behind the Northern Irish and the rest of the United Kingdom.

Works Cited

“Blair Witch Project.” 2011.03/05 Web. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0185937/

“Bloody Sunday.” 2011.3/6 Web. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0280491/

Elvis Mitchell. The New York Times.Web. <http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9C01E2DC1338F931A35753C1A9649C8B63>.

Herbert, David. “Shifting Securities in Northern Ireland.” European journal of cultural studies 10.3 (2007): 343-59. Print.

Merriam-Webster.Web. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mockumentary>.

Mogensen, Kirsten. “Television Journalism during Terror Attacks.” Media, war & conflict 1.1 (2008): 31-49. Print.

Gordon Friedrichs Pen Pal

http://www.kpho.com/news/27403898/detail.html

As for the last link, I have to get back to my outgoing quotation on terrorism. Considering this quotation while reading the Channel 5 news report, I believe the word terrorism does not fit well here. As far as I see it, the man who tried to turn of waste water treatment operating systems might be considered a “crazy” in a theoretical sense, who is neither part of an organisation nor had the goal to spread an ideology or revolt against the establishment.

I do believe that the term terrorism suffers from a lack of understanding and comprehensiveness about the theoretical concept of its very meaning. It seems to be that terrorism has been used to describe the intensity, lethality, cruelty or abnormality of a certain illegal behaviour of somebody or a group of people. Unfortunately, this leads to certain misperception among the society about what is actually terrorism. If a society has a misperception on certain things, it might cause wrong reactions, i.e. public policies.

Gordon Friedrichs Pen Pal

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/europe/04/06/n.ireland.fallout/index.html

Although this article does not really stress the term „terrorism“ as the other articles do, it points to a quite important sub-term within the terrorism concept: state-sponsored terrorism. The question arises though: what to do and who to blame? State-sponsored terrorism can appear in basically two forms: intrinsically and extrinsically. Intrinsically means, that the state (government or regime) uses the method terrorism against its own people. This can be witnessed for example in Iraq prior to 2003, Libya over many decades, Afghanistan under Taliban rule or even partly in Burma. Unfortunately, this form of terrorism is hard to come by due to the recognition of every state’s sovereignty.

Extrinsically, means that a state funds, supports and supplements terrorist groups abroad in order to achieve political or military goals. Examples are numerous, i.e. Iran and Hamas, North Korea and Syria, Pakistan and Kashmir and Libya and Northern Ireland. The cases of actual terrorism are mostly deadlier, although less numerous. As can be seen in the case of Libya and Northern Ireland, the motivation for states to do so, is mainly economical nature (i.e. arms trades, export market etc.) and only secondary of ideological nature.

As hard as it might be to counter such form of terrorism, I believe it is the task of the whole international community to reduce arms trades to a minimum. Obama talks a lot about reducing nuclear weapons, although conventional weapons have proven to be far more lethal and devastating than anything else in the world. And if somebody paid attention to the latest news in and around Libya, this concern is strengthened: The German intelligence service raises concerns that Al-Qaeda becomes stronger in the Maghreb due to the ongoing war in Libya and the constant arms flow in the country.

Gordon Friedrichs Pen Pal Post

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/americas/04/15/cartels.terror/index.html

I raked a little bit in my older power point slides from a seminar I once participated in about Terrorism, and I found this quite interesting definition of the term “Terrorism”:

“Terrorism is an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi-) clandestine individual, group, or state actor, for idiosyncratic, criminal, or political reasons, whereby – in contrast to assassination – the direct targets of violence are not the main targets. The immediate human victims of violence are generally chosen randomly (targets of opportunity) or selectively (representative or symbolic targets) from a larger population, and serve as message generators. Threat – and violence – based communication processes between terrorist (organization), (imperiled) victims, and main target (audiences(s)), turning it into a target of terror, a target of demands, or a target of attention, depending on whether intimidation, coercion, or propaganda is primarily sought.”

(Schmid, Jongman et al. Political terrorism: a new guide to actors, authors, concepts, data bases, theories, and literature. Amsterdam: North Holland, Transaction Books, 1988)

Taking this into account while reading the first link you send me, led me to the conclusion that Mexican drug cartels are technically not a terrorist organization. I believe it is due to their criminal organization and purpose that they fall out of the definition of a classical terrorist group. They do not seek for public attention in order to change the state of mind of the population. They rather try to fight other drug cartels for their goal of supremacy within the drug market. Terrorist groups, as Schmid puts it, strive for an ideological goal and thus choose their targets randomly. As I understand the procedure of drug cartels, they choose their victims with precision (e.g. the FBI agent mentioned in the article) in order to iron out hindrances.

Pen Pal Three Cups of Tea

Hey Albert,

sorry for answering a little bit late, but I had some stuff to do for my
thesis.

So here is my opinion:

First of all, I believe we have to distinguish between various forms of
terrorism when we try to incorporate terms like tolerance and understanding
into a discussion about terrorists and their characteristics.
As I have learned throughout my undergraduate and graduate years, terrorism
can take on different forms making it necessary to analyze and frame it
accordingly. When we look at national terrorism or state terrorism for
instance, we might have to abandon the perspective that terrorists are
irrational crazies. When we look at terrorism emerging after the
de-colonization period, i.e. in the 60s and 70s in Asia – but also for the
radical left terrorist groups in Italy and Germany in the 70s and 80s, we
can quite easily come to the conclusion that these terrorist act out of
their own interest. They strive to accomplish their goals through a
technique called terrorism. I would highly doubt that a society has any
chance but none to prevent terrorist groups as these to appear on the scene.
While de-colonization terrorist groups acted because of national pride
against foreign occupiers (what western society also termed as “freedom
fighters”), national terrorist such as the RAF in Germany or the Red Brigade
in Italy, simply had different – of course radical, extremist – views on how
a society should be run politically. Neither education – which by the way
was stated relatively high among the national terror groups (they were
pretty much al students) – nor a stable political infrastructure can prevent
such groups from emerging.

Religious terrorism has to be seen in a completely different light. I will
mark three reasons framing this argument.
First, religious extremist are motivated by completely different ideals,
norms and values as the society has inherent. Hence, there is no basis for
being tolerant in the first place since the reasons differ.
Second, religion is immanent, meaning that it is a state of mind which has
nothing to do with rationality or reflection. If somebody is fundamentally
religious, it means that his life cycle is based on this principle. In the
end, this means that the radical element might have to be tackled, but not
the religious one.
Third, religious extremist are most of the time highly nationalistic,
meaning that they are tremendously endemic. Therefore, outside attempts to
change their society for the better good might not be at all in their simple
interest. This makes it sometimes extremely difficult to fight terrorism at
the grass-roots level, as can be seen in Afghanistan (where aboriginals
weigh more value to a cow than for instance to a new cell phone) or also
Egypt (where the Muslim brotherhood has their own perspective on how a
society has to look like).

From these concerns, I would like to stress two – although humble – opinions
on how I believe tolerance can still be shown by western societies (and I
mainly speak of the US and German society):

First, respecting the sovereignty and national independence of each state
affected by terrorism (whether they bear terrorist groups or just suffering
from them) is an important first step. Actively and aggressively trying to
implement western thoughts, values and norms into a society in order to
“make them think like we do” can not be considered to be effective.
Fundamental extremists are highly sensitive to things like that, trying to
take advantage of every imperialism action undertaken by western societies
in order to strengthen their own position.
I believe the Cairo-speech of President Obama is a good example of how such
a step might look like. Winning the sympathy of a country, making the
society to believe that there are options for you can be truly promising.

Second, implementing organizations from other countries into our own society
can help to push the transatlantic dialogue on a lower level forward. I can
think of the Islamic Conference in Germany, were representatives of
Christian, Catholic and Islamic come together and discuss issues of societal
importance, whether they happen in our country or in any other country of
the world. This can also help to motivate people from other societies to be
curious about our own country.

Of course, those are really small steps and I particular emphasized a more
sociological solution than a political one. Maybe this can keep your
discussion flourishing.

Best
Gordon!

Three Cups of Tea

After reading “Three Cups of Tea” my own perspective of how to bring tolerance and understanding in areas marked by

terrorism and conflict are through education.   By providing education into areas marked by terrorism and conflict allows for

the investment of human capital.  Human capital leads to other things that will benefit the people socially, politically, and

economically.   Many people in these regions live in fear of the ruling regimes and are unable to have access to education

because of fear by the dictating regime to lose control in those areas if people become educated and begin to mobilize.

Through education, the people can adopt democratic ideals and a new social and political order could be established.  It will

not be an easy task to bring tolerance and understanding solely through education because many of the radicalized people

who are committing terrorist attacks are hard to persuade into a different mindset.  By slowing incorporating education into

these areas the ideology adopted by the terrorist and the ideology that they try to instill within the population they are trying

to instill fear into can be changed.  It will be an extremely difficult task to help bring this tolerance and understanding into

regions where radical religious extremist exist because they feel they are doing the work of God.

Munich

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. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_Mahmoud_al-Mabhouh>.

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.

Gordon Friedrichs My Pen Pal

Gordon Friedrichs is a Graduate student from Frankfurt Germany who Studied here at Arizona State University last year.  He was in about three of my classes and that is how we met.

Below is a conversation between us where we talked about how the events of September 11th changed media coverage:

Hey Albert,

sure thing

Where were you when you first heard about the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center?

I just came back from school (High school) and turned on the TV. It was around 2pm here in Germany and there first picture I saw was the first tower burning. I thought it was a trailer to a movie or something until I realized I was actually watching the news.

Was it headline news in Germany?

We have 2 public broadcast channels and 4 private and they ALL simultaneously reported live about the events in NYC from the minute on of the first plane crash. They all stopped their regular programme in order to broadcast live from NYC. They interviewed people from the streets, experts, politicians as well as local news reporter in NYC. Additionally, they started later that day some special reports about Al-Qaeda, terrorism as well as fact findings to explain this attack in any sense. Altogether, I think they had a broadcasting marathon of about 16 hours of live reporting. And that was only on 9/11.

What was your initial reaction to the events?

Actually, my first thought was: this will be war. I was still in High School so I did not have an analytical or sober view on American politics like I have today, but the picture that was portrayed in Germany about the Bush administration (hardline, hawkish conservative) led me to thought that this is going to get us into a war scenario. I think pretty much everyone felt shocked and couldn’t believe it. I felt fear though. Fear because I was afraid the US will overreact. We were taught about WWII and the nuclear bombing on Japan and I saw similar pictures in my head. I was also afraid of additional terrorist attacks, not so much in Germany, but maybe other parts in US forcing the country into chaos.

Do you think 9/11 changed the American news media in any way?

That’s an interesting question. As a non-US citizen you might get the impression that the war on terror sharpened the tone on how to protect the country and the world from such a threat. At the same time you might also think that the media uses this topic for their own purpose, namely to promote their ideological principles, whether they are liberal or conservative.

I do teach US-foreign policy here at my University for freshmen and sophomores and I also teach them about the polarization of the media in the USA and their dividedness on pretty much every issue. During my preparation for this class I found out that all of these polarized broadcasts like MSNBC or FOX News were founded in the early to mid 90’s. So long before terrorism could have any polarizing factor on the way news are covered.

So my answer is a yes and a no.

I do think that the media now talks about topics which had been taboo for a long time, therefore creating a different level of readiness among the people for cuts of their rights.

Did it change the news media in your own country?

It did not really change the news media in general, like the kind of presentation or structure. It did change the selection of topics though. Topics that are correlated to terrorism or are an immediate consequence of the war on terror enjoy now a higher sensitivity as well as a higher attention by the media. We almost had a 24/7 news coverage on the war in Afghanistan and Iraq and we are always sensitive to new terrorist attacks around the world. Moreover, as soon as there are events happening such as in Tunisia or Egypt right now, the news media considers potential uprising of fundamentalists or terrorist groups.

So all in all, I believe the way international politics is covered in the media changed slightly, drawing the attention and the peoples awareness to the presence of terror in the world.

I hope this gave you some insight on German news coverage.

Feel free to ask me more questions or if I didn’t make myself clear enough on some questions!

Best

Gordon

What is Terrorism?

The term terrorism is a word that cannot be defined by one simple definition. It is a word that provokes thought into what it really means and for most it carries with it a connotation of violence and fear. According to the Belgian Red Cross there is no universal definition of a terrorist act instead it may cover many different things that include different types of perpetrators, different types of targets and different types of objectives. Furthermore the Belgian Red Cross has agreed to qualify a terrorist act on the basis of three elements: A terrorist act is a specific offence, that may seriously damage a country or an international organization and is committed for the purpose of intimidating the population, forcing a third party to act or destabilizing or destroying the fundamental structure of a country or of an international organization. In Packaging Terrorism by Susan Moeller, she quotes British academic and former foreign correspondent Anatol Lieven, “Terrorism is not a movement, terrorism is not a state, terrorism is a tactic.” Moeller goes on to list factors that separate terrorism apart from other political violence such as guerilla warfare. These factors include: Terrorism deliberately targets civilians, the victims and the intended audience of a terrorist act are not the same, and the psychological impact of a terrorist act is intended to be greater than the physical damage caused. The goal of terrorism is to send a message, not defeat the enemy. As you can now notice there is no uniform definition for the term. Many Americans perceive the word terrorism by the way in which the media uses it. After the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a radical religious person carrying out surprise attacks on a population in order to spread their radical ideology most closely associates to the word terrorism or terrorist. The United States Department of Defense defines terrorism as “the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.” Although there is no precise definition for the term terrorism one commonality between each of the definitions presented is that violence is carried out in order to instill fear and intimidation among a population.

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Terrorism and the Press

This blog is an integral part of a special section of Honors 394 Spring 2010, Arizona State University. Rather than a routine history course this dynamic, interactive seminar explores the interplay between terrorism and television, and other media sources on-line and in print. 26 students and their global pen pals comprise the bloggers. We welcome all to share their opinions, pertinent observations, insights, comments, feedback. Please post in a responsible manner.