Terrorism in Society: Kidnapping

Terrorism is something that has always interested me, because terrorism, like many, is a term that, still today, is difficult to define. It is not a physical entity that has dimensions that can be weighed, measured, and analyzed. Terrorism is more of a socially constructed term with multiple definitions and originates from a variety of sources and directions. What some might view as an act of terrorism may be lawful to others. While it is impossible to formulate a definition of “terrorism” that satisfies everyone, many experts have given a conventional definition of terrorism, defined by an act, or threatened act of violence against innocent people, for political purposes or for profit. (White, 2013)

Social Context

The social construct surrounding the term “terrorism” influences how it is defined. The definition becomes even more complicated in the war zones in Afghanistan and countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel. Entire nations have changed their approach to national security, intelligence, and law enforcement depending on the historical, political, and criminological circumstances at a given point in time. In fact, when the term terrorism was first introduced in Western History, governments adjusted their policies based on the way they defined the threat. (White, 2013)

Forms of terrorisms

According to FBI.gov the term terrorism can be broken down into two basic forms: International or state-sponsored terrorism, which is terrorism perpetrated by an individual or a group inspired by or associated with designated foreign terrorist organizations or nations, for example, the December 2, 2015 shooting in San Bernardino, CA, that killed 14 people and wounded 22 which involved a married couple who radicalized for some time prior to the attack and were inspired by multiple extremist ideologies and foreign terrorist organizations. Domestic terrorism, which is terrorism perpetrated by an individual or group inspired by or associated with primarily U.S.-based movements that espouse extremist ideologies of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature, for example, the June 8, 2014 Las Vegas shooting, during which two police officers inside a restaurant were killed in an ambush-style attack, which was committed by a married couple who held anti-government views and who intended to use the shooting to start a revolution.

Methods. In addition to the forms of terrorism. There are six forms or methods of terrorism in which it is distributed, which include, bombing, which was a tactic used in the twin bomb blasts explosion near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and wounding at least 264. One suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed in the encounter with police. His brother, suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was captured and charged with one count of using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death and one count of malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device resulting in death. He was given the death penalty on June 25, 2015. Hijacking, which was used in the September 11 attack in which nineteen al Qaeda members hijacked four US passenger airliners. Two were flown into the Twin Towers in New York, one crashed into the Pentagon and another crashed into the Pennsylvania countryside after passengers attempted to wrest control of the aircraft to prevent an attack on the US Capitol.

At the World Trade Center site 2,753 people were killed; 184 at the Pentagon; and 40 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. A total of 2,977 people were killed. Assault, which was a method used by married couple Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik who opened fire on a holiday party taking place at Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 people. Arson, which The U.S. Fire Administration, the government agency that researches, analyzes and disseminates fire data, estimated that there were more than 175,000 arson fires in this country in 1980 alone, resulting in 877 deaths and 3,595 injuries. These blazes also accounted for nearly $2 billion in smoke and fire damage. Indirect losses were estimated at about $15 billion. The last two methods of terrorism are kidnapping and taking hostages, which since the mid-1990s, has dramatically increased as a preferred tactic of political terrorists. According to police statistics, nearly 2,000 people worldwide have been taken hostage during the last 10 years. However, the actual number of cases could be several times higher. Hostage taking and kidnapping can occur anytime and anywhere. No community or country is immune to this growing phenomenon. (White 2013; “CNN”, 2018; Yun; “Arson”, 1982).

Types of terrorism. Terrorism can come in many forms and in many ways, the most common causes or roots of terrorism include, civilizations or culture clashes, globalization, religion, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. More personal or individual-based reasons for terrorism are frustration, deprivation, negative identity, narcissistic rage, and/or moral disengagement. However, there are five major types of terrorism and they are Nationalist terrorism which is aimed to promote the interests of a minority ethnic or religious group that believe it has been persecuted under majority rule and that wishes to carve out its own independent homeland. (Lippmann, 2017) Retributive or religious terrorism which are groups who want to impose their social and religious code on others and are extremely religiously motivated. State-sponsored terrorism which consists of terrorist acts on a state or government by a state or government.

Criminal terrorism which is when a terrorist becomes engaged in common-law crimes such as drug dealing, and kidnapping used to aid in criminal profit. The last type of terrorism is dissent terrorism, which are terrorist groups which have rebelled against their current government. Among others include Narcoterrorism, which is terrorism associated with trade in illicit drugs. Colonialism, which is policy or practice of full or partial political control over another country. Racial terrorism which is, a dominant group using violence to intimidate a racial minority. Cyberterrorism which refers to the use of computers to attack technological targets or physical attacks on computer networks, and nuclear terrorism which is an act where a terrorist group uses a nuclear device such as, uranium, radiation, plutonium, and weapons sold on the nuclear black market, which was a market established after the soviet union collapsed, to account for all the nuclear weapons that were in the control of military officials and the newly independent states. (White, 2013)

Some of the most devastating and deadliest attacks in history have resulted from terrorism and even today, the terrorism landscape has wildly evolved due to the internet, social media, and homegrown extremists. While, protecting the United States from terrorist attacks is the FBI’s number one priority, as citizens, it is still important for us to protect ourselves both online and in-person, and to report any suspicious activity we encounter. Here are a few things that we can do to protect themselves online and in person, remain aware of your surroundings, refrain from over-sharing personal information and if you see something say something.


  1. Lippman, M. R. (2017). Criminal procedure. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
  2. White, J. R. (2013). Terrorism and Homeland Security (8th ed.). Wadsworth Cengage.
  3. Terrorism. (2016, May 03). Retrieved from https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/terrorism
  4. Definition, History, and Types of Terrorism as discussed in the online homeland security degree program. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ekuonline.eku.edu/homeland-security/definition-history-and-types-terrorism
  5. US Terrorist Attacks Fast Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2013/04/18/us/u-s-terrorist-attacks-fast-facts/index.html
  6. Yun, M. (n.d.). Hostage Taking and Kidnapping in Terrorism: Predicting the Fate of a Hostage. Retrieved from https://campus.purdueglobal.edu/documentstore/docs09/pdf/picj/vol2/issue1/Hostage_Taking_and_Kidnapping_in_Terrorism.pdf
  7. Arson: America’s Most Costly Crime. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre1982121000