According to the Harvard Review of Psychiatry it is the use of force or violence by individuals or groups that is directed toward civilian populations and intended to instill fear as a means Of coercing individuals or groups to change their political or social positions (Stouten 369). To be labeled a terrorist, a person must produce an act that was intended to create terror in a larger audience in order to further another end (Smith 56). Variables like religion, economic circumstances, ethnic relations, and government policies must be taken into account to explain the emergence of terrorism (Smith 57).
Acts of terrorism are preformed in many different ways. Some acts that create terror are: bombings, assassinations, kidnapping, hostage taking, and hijacking. Often terrorists act to instill fear in a group of people through the terror put upon the victims of the attack. The victims of terrorism are often chosen because they symbolize larger groups. The fear is meant to be instilled into a large audience, also know as the larger groups (Smith 56). A primary example of terrorism to Americans is the attack that occurred on September 1 1 , 2001.
The direct victims of that attack were those who were involved in the United States government, the people who worked in the World Trade Centers and at the Pentagon. But, all Americans were victimized, because it could have happened to any one of us. The leader of that terrorist group, AAA-Qaeda, was Osama Bin Laden. He “inveighed against the presence of U. S. Troops in Saudi Arabia, which is the home of Salami’s holiest sites, and against other U. S. Policies in the Middle Ease’ (“9/1 1 Commission Report: Executive Summary”). He was sending a message to the U. S. Government through violent actions. After September 1 1, we are a wounded people. We share loss and pain, anger and fear, shock and determination in the face of these attacks on our action and all humanity” (“Terrorism and War: A Catholic Response”). “Terrorism threatens, wounds, and kills indiscriminately and is gravely against justice and charity’ (ICC 2297). Justice is the virtue that tells us to respect the rights of each person and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and the common good (ICC 1807). Terrorism violates justice because it doesn’t treat the victims fairly. The just man, often mentioned in Sacred Scriptures, is distinguished by habitual right thinking and the uprightness of his conduct toward his gibber” (ICC 1807). It takes away from the common good by hurting the victims through performing terrible deeds for various reasons. These torturous deeds cause innocent people to suffer, therefore making terrorism unjust. For example, Timothy McVeigh bombed the Alfred P. Murray government building in Oklahoma on April 19, 1995, murdering 169 people and injuring 680 (Taiga 1091). Those statistics also include innocent children who were attending the in-building daycare.
According to letters written by McVeigh to news reporter, Phil Backtrack, this great act of violence was omitted to retaliate against what he thought was a government cover up for the Waco and other incidents (Backtrack). Justice is needed in order to create a harmonious world. Charity is the virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God (ICC 1822). ‘The Lord asks us to love as he does, even our enemies, to make ourselves the neighbor of those farthest away, and to love children and the poor as Christ himself” (ICC 1825).
While sometimes terrorists act for religious or political reasons, the means in which they perform those acts are to consistent with the examples of love Jesus teaches us in the Bible. Terrorism does not show our love for God or for other people and does not show respect of human dignity. Loving one another is one of the commandments Jesus gave to us before he was crucified on the cross. Terrorism violates the virtues of justice and charity through terrible acts of violence. Just-war theory is one of the principles in conflict with terrorism. SST. Augustine of Hippo is said to be the originator of the just-war theory (Latvia).
This teaching has evolved in an effort to prevent war. Only if war cannot be avoided does the teaching then restrict its horrors. The theory sets conditions that must be met if the decision to go to war is permissible (“Terrorism and War: A Catholic Response”). The conditions for just war are: legitimate authority must declare war, the cause must be just, and the war must be waged with a right intention. The first condition means that private citizens or groups, like AAA Qaeda, cannot declare war. The second and third conditions make sure that the war is waged for the good and not for evil, like vengeance or hatred.
Our response must be done justly for the betterment of society. The Church has many teachings on how to justly respond to terrorism to restore peace and order. Legitimate defense can be not only a right but also a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others(ICC 2265). Authority must act for the common good(ICC 1902). “Every military response must be in accord with sound moral principles” (“Terrorism and War: A Catholic Response”). Nations must come together to discuss how to stop terrorist attacks (“Terrorism and War. A Catholic Response”).