Archive for the ‘Latest Cases’ Category

Pen Pal Cooperation: Facebook Or Tomahawk Revolutions?

My Pen Pal is Stevo Pendarovski – assistant professor of International Security, Foreign policy and Globalization at University American College – Skopje.

He researches and writes on International Relations, Intelligence and National Security, US Foreign Policy. He was National Security Advisor to the two Presidents of the Republic of Macedonia. Pendarovski writes a weekly column in the newspaper “Dnevnk” where he brings global issues to light for its readers in Macedonia.

For the blog of Terrorism and Press class, we exchanged our opinions on the airstrikes in Libya and editorial article posted on www.haaretz.com, the online edition of Haaretz Newspaper in Israel. The editorial West’s intervention in Libya may undermine future civil revolts” focus is the dilemma about the legitimacy of revolutions in those African countries, especially in Libya. The editorial extrapolate that peacekeeping action equally needs peace building efforts.

Pendarovski wants to be a bit cynical and according to him ”the above mentioned dilemma about the nature of revolutions is not real since both Facebook and Tomahawk missiles are preeminently western products.

“What should be the right approach in my opinion is judging on presence or eventual lack of democratic credentials on the part of the local anti-regimes movements and their legitimacy amid their nations. But what about the “quality” of revolution if there is certain percentage of “imported” legitimacy let says from USA, France or Israel”, asked Pendarovski.

Libyan rebels react on the frontline of the outskirts of Ajdabiya in eastern Libya

Credits for photo and photo info: Anja Niedringhaus/AP Photo/March 21, 2011

My response is that the editorial of Haaretz.com concludes wealthy states should support and invest in the building of the societies after the revolution period. It is not that important who is behind the scene of those revolutions and whether those are Facebook or Tomahawk revolutions.

What is important is the post-revolution period and helping people to rebuild the state. The Western coalition Odyssey Dawn operation in Libya should protect the civilians. The protection of the civilian population is in the focus of the UN Resolution 1973, which establish no-fly zone and enable the action against pro-Gaddafi forces. However, this could be changed soon with the possibilites to use NATO in order to overthrow the Gaddafi regime, as BBC is reporting today in their article “Libia crisis: Allies thrash out NATO role”.

We will see in the following day how the situation will develop in Libya. However, I agree with the Haaretz’s editorial “West’s intervention in Libya may undermine future civil revolts” point of importance to rebuild the states where the revolutions are taking place. This has equal importance for the citizens of those states as the military action support.

The Hurt Locker- Terrorism Undefined

Although portrayed from the viewpoint of a soldier, Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker initially appears to be decidedly against the war and confronts the issue of what the definition of terrorism is. Read more

Penpal: Conversation with Kenya

Me: Can you tell me your story about finding out about the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York on 9/11/2001? Like, how you found out about it, when, and what you thought about it? Read more

New Zealand Pen Pal’s Thoughts on Eco-Terrorism

Today, my pen pal and I discussed eco-terrorism.  What I really enjoyed about this groups presentation was its originality.  I wasn’t expecting a topic like theirs, so it was very exciting to learn about something so new.  It also held my attention!  Needless to say, when I signed onto skype and saw that my pen pal, Jaron, was logged on—I quickly started to talk to him about this topic called “eco-terrorism”.  Oddly enough, he had quite a lot of knowledge regarding the subject.  Here were some of his views:

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An hour with Aaron Brown

Aaron Brown’s visit to the Terrorism and the Press “think-tank” on Thursday, April 22, was nothing short of captivating. Although I was not aware of the extra credit assignment regarding guest speakers in the course, I was compelled to start writing down what Brown was saying.

Former CNN anchor Aaron Brown sat down with the class to discuss his views on terrorism and the press

As if it was a press conference or a one-on-one interview, I knew he was going to say things I would regret missing if I didn’t have them down on paper. Throughout the course of the conversation, the class developed a relationship with Brown, and as the class became more comfortable asking questions, he began to answer is a frank, candid manner.

Brown’s opinions on terrorism and the “War on Terror” are what dominated the conversation from the beginning. Being that it is a course dedicated to the topic of terrorism, almost ever question he faced was related to terrorism in some way.

The sound bites he provided were, in some cases, remarkable. At one point, when asked about how he fell about Timothy McVey’s execution and subsequent request to have it nationally televised, Brown said, “I would have shown McVey’s execution at the IMAX theatre complete with the 3-D goggles.”

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A conversation with Lebanese pen pal: “Econo-terrorism”

A conversation with my pen pal from Lebanon, Winston Smith*, discussed a recent incident in Lebanon and how the media portrayed it:

“A recent event in lebanon is hezbollah responding to israeli threats against lebanon. Nasrallah told them that if they  think of bombing us again, Hezbollah we’ll circumsize them again. pretty tense…people are talking about another war in the summer; but then again if it’s on everyone’s mind then it wont happen. its all about disturbing our economy. they’re thinking of raising TVA to 15%..CRAZY so that might lead to some domestic disturbance. the way news is portrayed here is rather simple. the anchor says a few words about the incident and then we hear it again from some minister or member of parliament as the camera switches from the studio to the Parliament or Sara’ii. Or they buy some feed from a foreign (developed) station and just air it on their time. yap yap yap…you’re class sounds soo much fun. terrorism and media. terrorism sells ratings…media sells terrorism, its a love story you can’t miss.”

The impact of terrorism, or more so, acts of violence on the economy? Perhaps we can coin this “econo-terrorism”? A popular motive behind acts of violence and disturbances in countries around the globe.

More Penpal Posts: Third Cup of Tea Reaction

It seems like a really forgot to put up the posts after I performed the requirements in the outline for the class.  Yikes, I really should have kept better track of putting things up on time.  I have a more general post I’m preparing unrelated to penpal stuff.

As you may have seen from my previous post, my third cup of tea is based on my own expertise in computer software.  My penpal George responded to my post with the following:

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Ilias on SB 1070 and racism

The latest bill SB 1070 has come under a lot of fire here in the US and I wanted to know if Ilias had heard anything about it or had any opinions. It turns out he had heard of it and had VERY strong opinions concerning how sensitive America has become to the issue of racism. While this isn’t a conversation of traditional terrorism, some claim that it terrorizes innocent citizens so I found it an appropriate topic. Again, profanity has been censored; Ilias has some very passionate stances on the issue.

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Ilias on Eco-Terrorism

Ilias and I discussed Eco-terrorism and he has a very strong stance on it but not an extremist one. I have removed occurrences of profanity; Ilias and I have become somewhat comfortable and he expresses things with a certain intensity at times.

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Eco Terrorism paper

Eco Terrorism

            Eco-terrorism is defined by the FBI as “the use or threatened use of violence of a criminal nature against people or property by an environmentally-oriented, sub-national group for environmental-political reasons, or aimed at an audience beyond the target, often of a symbolic nature.”  Eco-Terrorists utilize direct action.  This is politically motivated activity undertaken by individuals, groups, or governments to achieve political goals outside of normal social/political channels. It can include nonviolent and violent activities which target persons, groups, or property deemed offensive to the direct action participant.  Direct action has been advocated by anarchists, in particular, green anarchism groups.        Eco-Terrorist’s direct actions are referred to as “Ecotage.”  The term is only applied for actions of sabotage committed within the context of the environmentalist movement.  Some forms of Ecotage include, arson, even bombing, and tree spiking, which involves hammering a metal rod into a tree trunk in order to discourage logging.  All these methods are used to illicit fear and even, at times, injure the perceived “enemy” of the eco-terrorists.  The Sierra Club and PETA are considered environmental activist groups, yet lie in a grey area, not quite considered to be eco-terrorists.  While the Sierra club takes a non-violent stand, PETA is rarely violent, but creates disruption in society.

            Eco-terrorism may not get as much attention from the news media as suicide bombers or al-Qaeda, but they do make headlines, they are handled somewhat differently. News reports generally make a clear distinction between eco-terrorists and terrorists as we traditionally think of them. The use of the word “eco-terrorist” rather than just “terrorist” demonstrates this perceived dichotomy between the movements.

            Like other terrorists, the eco-terrorists have been loosely described by stereotypes. In one Fox News report, the reporter refers to them as “college dropouts” and “brainwashed”. He also appeared baffled by their radical concern for animals and the environment. While the eco-terrorists’ motives and ideals may not always be taken seriously, the threat the group’s pose certainly is. Many news organizations have stories that quote the FBI calling eco-terrorists the number one domestic terror threat. They also highlight the how eco-terrorists are becoming more violent and beginning to target humans more frequently in their attacks. Another recurring fact is that these are domestic terrorists, which in many ways makes them more difficult to combat for counter-terrorist groups. 

The Unabomber

            The most renowned of all eco-terrorists; the Unabomber has fallen into the category of either independently working madman or political and industrial revolutionary. It is a classic case of the media and the public’s perceptions forming an individual either into a freedom fighter or a terrorist.

            The political agenda of the Unabomber, or Theodore Kaczynski, was to stop the takeover of technology in today’s society. He believed that we are slowly losing our humanity and giving up our freedoms to technology, ultimately ending in the controlling of all aspects of our life by computers and machines. He contributed to this goal by bombing multiple targets from 1978 to 1995.

            His agenda was published in his manifesto; “Industrial Society and its Future”. Ted did this by writing both the Washington Post and the New York Times promising a cease to his campaign of mail bombings in return for the publication of his manifesto. Both newspapers acquiesced to his demands in the spirit of public safety, and so, in 1995 the Washington Post published his 35,000 word paper as an 8 page attachment to the news.

            Fortunately, printing his essay lead to the arrest of the Unabomber. The manifesto was published under the guise of FC, or Freedom Club, the fake organization that Kaczynski created to throw off the FBI.  Kaczynski’s brother, however, was able to identify his work, and reported this to the police, leading to the arrest of the Unabomber in his Montana cabin.

Green Peace, Earth First and Sea Sheppards

            From meager beginnings in 1970 to protest nuclear testing off the coast of Alaska, Greenpeace has turned into a worldwide movement towards environmental protection. As self-described “non-violent protesters”, the group has pushed a non-violent agenda since its inception and has even distanced themselves from radicals like Paul Watson, the founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. In recent years, Greenpeace members have been arrested for things like damaging power plants, boarding ships, and interrupting operations at places like logging camps and factories. The group encourages non-violent confrontation as a form of direct action.

      Out of a similar vein as Greenpeace came Earth First! Formed in the southwest United States in 1979, the group felt that environmental groups had bought into mainstream ideas. Using a more radical approach then Greenpeace, Earth First! members became notorious for using tree spiking as a form of direct action. The groups website calls for the use of “all the tools in the toolbox”, including sabotage of equipment.

            The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society spawned from a falling-out between Greenpeace and Paul Watson. Watson differed from Greenpeace in that he desired more extreme action in defense of the environment. The Sea Shepherds have become famous for intervening in whaling, sealing, and fishing operations around the globe. Tactics recently have included the use of stink bombs, boarding of ships, and ramming or ships. The groups website includes a history of encounters with ships they deem “illegal” and talks of ramming and scuttling incidents. Recently Watson has come under attack from the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador Danny Williams, who called him a “terrorist.” 

Eco Terrorism in the Media

            The mass media is a powerful tool to both gage popular opinion on a matter and to determine the frame by which the public is fed information. Researchers claim that “The mass media is an important factor to consider when evaluating current political phenomena because it provides a filter through which the ordinary American receives news of what is happening in the world” (Smith, 2008). On the issue of eco-terrorism, two mass media productions prove particularly insightful: the Animal Planet series Whale Wars, and the 2010 box office hit Avatar.

            Whale Wars follows one ship, the Steve Irwin, and its crew of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society members as they combat whaling on the high seas. Their target: Japanese whalers. The Sea Shepherd is set out to stop the Japanese from practicing what they deem in violation of international law after “Japan withdrew its opposition to the International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) moratorium on commercial whaling” and subsequently launched its large-scale “scientific whaling program” designed to resume commercial whaling with “set, sustainable limits” (Whaling, 2010). The Sea Shepherd claims it uses “non-violent, direct-action tactics to thwart whaling activity” (Let Your Voice Be Heard, 2010). Ironically, Captain Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society simultaneously claims that ”You don’t beg criminals to stop doing what they’re doing. You intervene, and you physically and aggressively shut them down” (Genzlinger, 2008). Interestingly, it’s this same “confrontational style” that resulted in Watson being kicked out of the organization he co-founded, Greenpeace (Genzlinger, 2008). Critics also disapprove of the Sea Shepherds aggression, going as far as to label them eco-terrorists. The members of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society are, “in the opinion of some of their detractors, eco-terrorists: a band of self-appointed warriors determined to stop the killing of whales” (Genzlinger, 2008). Among these detractors is Japan, who claims “the direct-action tactics of Sea Shepherd are illegal, in essence a form of eco-terrorism” (Whaling, 2010). In addition, one critic turns his comments against the aggressive tactics of the Sea Shepherd towards the existence of the show on television, saying “So what is the problem with [the show] Whale Wars? The problem is that it is cheap exploitation in praise of what is nothing less than eco-terrorism. It is the glorification of vigilantism on the high seas” (Spilman, 2009).

            Though the crew of Steve Irwin may be well-intentioned, it seems obvious to most that its tactics do cross the line of appropriate activism into the realm of terrorism. However, less obvious is the recent movie Avatar, with its eco-terrorism message hidden under layers of sensational graphic effects and fantastical fictional characters. As one reviewer summarizes and concludes,

“The story line in Avatar is simple: Humans invade the pristine planet Pandora with the intent to take all its natural resources for profit. […] Pandora is inhabited by primitive tribes of the Na’vi race (akin to the “Elves” of the Earth Liberation Front) who are in touch with nature and their “mother” planet, [and who are] fighting against those who would take that which lies above or below our planet’s surface.” (Swier, 2009)

Upon evaluation, Swier claims that,

Avatar is pure eco-propaganda designed to subtly and not so subtly force the environmentalist agenda on us all. […] This movie justifies the use of force against companies dedicated to finding, mining and processing natural resources. […] Avatar is the celebration of and a recruiting tool for ELF, ALF, Greenpeace and the Sierra Clubs around the world. […] Avatar is the perfect eco-terrorism recruiting tool” (Swier, 2009).

Avatar subtly dupes its viewers into jumping on board the eco-bandwagon – something that is increasingly easy to do in our society of “green” minded individuals – and endorses violent action as necessary means to combat the demonized “earthly-infestation” – the human race. And, this result is not entirely un-intentioned. When asked during and Entertainment Weekly interview to comment on the critique that “Avatar is the perfect eco-terrorism recruiting tool,” director James Cameron replied “Good, good. I like that one. I consider that a positive review. I believe in eco-terrorism” (Van Der Galien, 2010).

            How can the word “terrorist” be so negatively viewed when in the context of Islamic extremists, but be so “cool” when applied to eco-extremists? Is this a case of the ends justifying the means? Clearly, while the eco-terrorism tactics of those onboard the Steve Irwin are highly criticized, the same message being told through the lens of science fiction in Avatar is celebrated by the director and fans.

            As attacks become more frequent and violent, expect more media coverage on eco-terrorists to increase. Part of the reason for the escalation of violent rhetoric and tactics is that the movement feels it hasn’t made a drawn enough attention or sparked the political change they had hoped for. As James Inhofe, a Senate committee chairman stated, “Just like al-Qaeda or any other terrorist organization, ELF and ALF cannot accomplish their goals without money, membership and the media.

Works Cited

14, Mar. “Biggest Domestic Threat: Eco-terrorism.” Southwest Farm Press | Timely, Reliable Information for Southwest Agriculture | Cotton Farming, Peanuts, Grains, Soybeans, Livestock, Biofuels, Farm Publications, Ag Magazines. Web. 27 Apr. 2010. <http://southwestfarmpress.com/mag/farming_biggest_domestic_threat/>.

“BBC NEWS | Americas | Eco-warriors Are ‘US Terror Risk'” BBC NEWS | News Front Page. Web. 27 Apr. 2010. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4561059.stm>.

Chase, Alston. A Mind for Murder: the Education of the Unabomber and the Origins of Modern Terrorism. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2004. Print.

“FBI: Eco-Terrorism Remains No. 1 Domestic Terror Threat – Local News | News Articles | National News | US News – FOXNews.com.” Breaking News | Latest News | Current News – FOXNews.com. Web. 27 Apr. 2010. <http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,343768,00.html>.

“FBI Increases Reward for Suspected Eco-terrorists – CNN.com.” CNN.com – Breaking News, U.S., World, Weather, Entertainment & Video News. Web. 27 Apr. 2010. <http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/11/19/fbi.ecoterrorism/index.html?iref=allsearch>.

FC. “Industrial Society and Its Future.” Washington Post [Washington D.C.] 22 Sept. 1995. Print.

Genzlinger, N. (2008, November 7). Television Review ‘Whale Wars’; Hunting The People Who Hunt The Whales . The New York Times. Retrieved April 25, 2010, from http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C01E1DD1E3FF934A35752C1A96E9C8B63&scp=1&sq=%22whale%20wars%22%20Neil%20Genzlinger&st=cse

Let Your Voice Be Heard : Whale Wars : Animal Planet. (n.d.). Animal Planet . Retrieved April 25, 2010, from http://animal.discovery.com/tv/whale-wars/voice/

McFadden, Robert. “Manifesto Distributed; Times and Washington Post Yield to Bomber’s Demand.” Washington Post [Washinton D.C.] 24 Sept. 1995. Print.

Smith, R. K. (n.d.). “Ecoterrorism”? A critical analysis of the vilification of radical environmental activists as terrorists – page 14 | Environmental Law. BNet. Retrieved April 25, 2010, from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb3153/is_2_38/ai_n29440361/pg_14/?tag=content;col1

Spilman, R. (2009, June 5). Richard Spilman: Whale Wars – Eco-Terrorism as Reality TV. Breaking News and Opinion on The Huffington Post. Retrieved April 25, 2010, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-spilman/whale-wars—eco-terroris_b_211993.html

Swier, R. (2009, December 20). AVATAR – Recruiting Film for Eco-terrorists? | Red County. Red County. Retrieved April 25, 2010, from http://www.redcounty.com/avatar-recruiting-film-eco-terrorists/35036

Van Der Galien, M. (2010, January 17). James Cameron: ‘I Believe In Eco-Terrorism’ | NewsReal Blog. David Horowitz’s NewsReal Blog. Retrieved April 25, 2010, from http://www.newsrealblog.com/2010/01/17/james-cameron-%E2%80%98i-believe-in-eco-terrorism%E2%80%99/

Whaling: Controversy and Questions : Whale Wars : Animal Planet. (n.d.). Animal Planet. Retrieved April 25, 2010, from http://animal.discovery.com/tv/whale-wars/whaling/

“YouTube – CNSNews.com’s Jeff Golimowski on FNC’s “America’s Newsroom”” YouTube – Broadcast Yourself. Web. 26 Apr. 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUcPsJ9ffSA>.

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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.