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  • Cited by 2
  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: July 2010

1 - Terrorism : An Introduction


The events on 11 September 2001 (henceforth 9/11) served as a wake-up call to the world that transnational terrorism poses grave risks. The four simultaneous hijackings on 9/11 represent watershed terrorist incidents for a number of reasons. First, the deaths associated with 9/11 were unprecedented: the human toll was equal to the number of deaths from transnational terrorism from the start of 1988 through the end of 2000 (Sandler, 2003). Second, the losses associated with 9/11 topped $80 billion and caused insurance companies to end automatic coverage of terrorist-induced losses. Since 9/11, many companies have been unable to afford terrorism insurance. Third, 9/11 showed that ordinary objects can be turned into deadly weapons with catastrophic consequences. Despite the huge carnage of 9/11, the death toll could have been much higher had the planes struck the towers at a lower floor. Fourth, 9/11 underscored the objectives of today's fundamentalist terrorists to seek maximum casualties and to induce widespread fear, unlike the predominantly left-wing terrorist campaigns of the 1970s and 1980s that sought to win over a constituency. Fifth, 9/11 mobilized a huge reallocation of resources to homeland security – since 2002, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) budget has grown by over 60% to $36.2 billion for the fiscal year 2004 (DHS, 2003). In fiscal year 2005, the DHS budget grew another 10% to $40.2 billion (DHS, 2004). A little over 60% of DHS's budget goes to defending against terrorism on US soil.