Terrorism In the United States
In the United States during the late 20th century, bombings were committed by extreme left-wing terrorist groups such as the Weather Underground. In the late 20th century, bombings and murders were committed by extreme right-wing terrorist organizations, such as independent militias and Aryan Nation, a network of violent white supremacists. Individuals with odd or vague agendas have also committed acts of terror. From 1978 to 1995, an American known as Unabomber sent bombs through the mail because he did not like modern industrial civilization. He targeted scientists and engineers in the computer industry and other high technology fields. The Unabomber was identified as Theodore J. Kaczynski and convicted in 1998. In 1993, a bomb exploded in the parking garage of the World Trade Center in New York City. Four men, including two Palestinians and an Egyptian cleric were convicted for planting the bombs. In 1995, right-wing terrorists detonated a truck bomb outside a federal office building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. Two Americans, Timothy J. McVeigh and Terry L. Nichols were convicted for the attacks. They said that they felt that the actions of the U.S. government had taken away citizens freedom. In 1998, terrorists bombed U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. These attacks were linked to Osama bin Laden, a Saudi-born millionaire and Islamic extremist. His group, al-Qaida, has been suspected in several other attacks, including the bombing of the U.S. Navy warship Cole in Yemen in 2000. Terrorists who claimed association with the al-Qaida conducted a series of bombings in Madrid, Spain, in 2004.
On September 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners in the United States. One plane crashed in rural Pennsylvania, one was flown into the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C, and two were flown into the twin towers of New York City's World Trade Center. The towers burned and collapsed, killing approximately 3,000 people. Another hijacked airplane crashed into a rural area in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Investigators determined there were 19 hijackers, members of an Islamic terrorist network called al-Qaeda. In response to the attacks, the U.S. government and other governments world-wide tightened public security measures and enacted antiterrorism laws. Many people believed that some of these laws, although intended to prevent future acts of terrorism, had the effect of infringing upon civil liberties. The United States, in response to the September 11 attacks-commonly known as 911, with the help of some of its allies, launched a war against terrorism, which is commonly called “war on terrorism” or the “war on terror”. The war was directed not only against terrorists but also against the governments suspected of harboring them. President Bush said that the campaign would involve tightened security, widespread intelligence efforts, economic bans, and military action. When the attacks began, bin Laden and his group, al-Qaida were being given protection by Taliban, a militant Islamic group that was in control of the government in Afghanistan. The military strikes led by the United States led to the fall of Taliban in December 2001. A number of al-Qaida members and officers were captured or killed. Their leader, bin Laden, however, was not found.
Since the September 11 attacks, counterterrorism has become the top priority of the all governments in the world. The U.S. Congress passed the USA Patriot Act in October 2001, which gave greater power to the government to conduct searches, use wiretaps, and arrest and interrogate suspects. Countries like India and United Kingdom have adopted similar measures.
In 2002, President George W. Bush signed an anti-bioterrorism bill that provided several billion dollars towards the cost of stockpiling of vaccines and improving measures to keep the country's food and water supplies safe. Later that year, Congress created the Department of Homeland Security, a new executive department, to help protect the United States against terrorist threats. In 2004, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act was passed by the Congress. The act restructured the governments intelligence community and introduced extra measures to identify, investigate, and prevent terrorist activity.
The United States led a military campaign against the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein in March 2003. The Bush administration accused Hussein of supporting terrorist groups and being capable of supplying weapons of destruction to them. The campaign led to the ouster of the Hussein administration in early April. The next few years saw a number of terrorist attacks across Iraq. U.S. officials suspected the pro-Hussein Iraqi groups against the U.S. of conducting these attacks.
On July 7, 2005, a series of suicide bombings shook London killing over 50 people and injuring more than 100. The bombs exploded on three subway trains and one bus. Four other bombings were attempted in London on July 21, but none of the bombs exploded. Several suspects were arrested by the London police in connection to the July 21 plot.
On July 11, 2006, commuter trains in Mumbai were targeted. The bomb explosions took place at evening rush hour, killing over 200 people and injuring hundreds more. The government blamed the Pakistan-based militants for the attack.
On August 10, 2006, British police declared that they had discovered and disrupted a plot to smuggle liquid explosives onto airplanes traveling from the United Kingdom to the U.S. Many arrests were made and the discovery led to increased counterterrorism measures at British and U.S. airports.
The Military Commissions Act of 2006 in the U.S. put forward procedures for trying terrorist suspects in military courts. Legal protection was provided by the law to U.S. military and intelligence officials who question terrorist detainees.
In January 2007, British counterterrorism officials held nine people in Birmingham, England, in connection with the plot of kidnapping a British Muslim. The officials believed that the suspects were planning to abduct, torture, and behead the soldier. The arrests have led to tightening of security in the United Kingdom to avert any possible terror attacks. In February 2007, the French police conducted antiterrorism raids and detained several suspects in Paris and parts of southwestern France. For many months, the French intelligence agents had been keeping a close watch on the activities of the suspects, some of whom are believed to have connections with the al-Qaida.
In June 2007, terrorists planned three car bombings in the United Kingdom. On June 29, explosive materials were recovered inside two abandoned cars in downtown London. The explosives were removed after the police was alerted by the people. The very next day, two men drove a burning car loaded with explosives into the main entrance of Glasgows International Airport. No one was killed and the police detained many suspects.
A suicide bomber drove a car that exploded into a group of tourists at the Queen of Sheba temple in Marib, Yemen, in July 2007, killing nine people, but no group took responsibility for this attack.
Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister of Pakistan, went back to her country in October 2007, to contest in the parliamentary elections. On her return, suicide bombers unsuccessfully tried killing her and around 140 people were killed. Bhutto was assassinated by a suicide bomber on December 27, while addressing her supporters at a rally. The attack caused the death of nearly 20 other people.