Terrorism refers to the illegal use of violence to create fear and intimidate people. The violent acts target innocent civilians or segments of the population. The primary purpose of targeting the public is to achieve a particular religious, political or social objective (“Definition, History, and Types of Terrorism,” 2019). People who carry out acts of terror are known as terrorists. In most cases, they terrorize society as a group while others act alone. Regardless of the methods used by either category, terrorists have far-reaching impacts on society. By appealing to the human instinct of fear, they manage to wreak havoc across the globe. When terrorists attack a place, they throw it into disarray. They interrupt the usual way of life due to the extensive damage they cause. For instance, detonating explosives in public spaces necessitates emergency care for the affected. Depending on a variety of factors, the effective response of the emergency services providers determines ability to rescue victims and save lives. Thus, this paper will discuss the various impacts of terrorism on emergency management planning.
During terror attacks, the affected regions or populations require a lot of assistance. Terrorism can cripple society if an attack hinders the ability of emergency care providers to meet the needs of the people. In such a scenario, civilians suffer the most since they are helpless. The outcomes are far much worse in communities whereby members lack basic knowledge or training on how to respond to massive disasters. Regions that depend on specialty emergency professionals are more likely to record more fatalities. Given the cruelty of methods used by terrorists to spread fear and disrupt society, there is a possibility that a coordinated attack can render some areas helpless for a significant period. For example, an attack that disables essential infrastructure such as transport and communication compels victims to fend for themselves while waiting for help. Depending on the preparedness and response capacity of emergency services, affected populations can receive basic aid promptly. Thus, emergency management is central to minimizing the effect of terror on society.
Terrorist organizations pose a significant threat to the security of citizens, a nation and region. Their activities negatively impact the welfare of communities due to the extreme level of violence of their attacks. Various terror groups have terrorized people around the world and disrupted peace. They have caused several deaths, damage to property, political instability and inhibited economic growth and development. Members of terrorist organizations carry out specific attacks based on the primary objective and type of agenda that they seek to advance. State-sponsored terror groups will organize and conduct terror attacks on another state or government. On the other hand, dissent organizations that have rebelled will initiate attacks on their governments (“Definition, History, and Types of Terrorism,” 2019). The purpose of such groups is to influence or change the leadership structure and authority figures in power. Left and Right wing terrorists hold different political ideologies that drive them to fight each other. Another notable category of terror groups is religion-themed organizations that seek to advance specific religious views (“Definition, History, and Types of Terrorism,” 2019). Despite having varying objectives and approaches, terror organizations are a persistent cause for worry in the 21st century.
There are various terrorist groups. The US State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism is responsible for monitoring and identification of active terror groups across the world. The agency lists these groups to facilitate law enforcement efforts in the fight against terrorism (“Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” 2019). Some of the notorious organizations include al-Qaida (AQ), Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, and the Taliban (Dudley, 2018). These organizations, alongside other smaller groups, are a menace to society. The groups perform their activities through the provision of material and financial support for combatants who advocate their agenda. Groups identified as terrorist organizations do not necessarily have to carry out terror attacks to qualify for listing by the bureau. Instead, the process also considers the role of specific actions such as active participation in planning and preparations for attacks by other units. Besides facilitation, other elements have the capacity as well as a motive for orchestrating attacks. Thus, their existence threatens security and peace across nations.
Al Qaida, formed in 1988 by Osama Bin Laden, is a broad-based militant group. Based in Afghanistan, the organization operates a vast network of extremists through the Islamic world. While the group’s founder begun an initiative of a joint effort aimed at resisting invasion, it evolved to become a unit for opposing what it termed as corrupt regimes and foreign presence in Islamic countries. Its members pledged an oath of allegiance to the founder and the group itself (“Inside the terror network,” 2014). Individuals developed a unique interpretation of Islam law based on an extremist perspective. For instance, they defined countries such as the US as infidels, using this skewed understanding of doctrines about their religion. Thus, they strongly opposed their activities and support for other nations categorically identified as Al Qaida’s enemies (Mishal & Rosenthal, 2005). By declaring a holy war against the US, Al Qaida and other militant Islamist organizations sought to terrorize the country and its allies.
The terrorist organization has a global impact. Sustaining its command and control structure across several countries yet it is an illegal entity implies that it is a well-financed group. Carrying out the nature of undertakings and terrorist operations they run requires vast human, material and financial resources. While speculations about sources of money that funds terror activities are rife, these groups have designed devious ways of obtaining capital. At the inception of Al Qaida, Osama Bin Laden supported the group (“Inside the Terror Network,” 2014). However, over the years, the unit has raised millions of dollars through unlawful inhumane acts like kidnapping and ransoming hostages. By targeting specific subpopulations, the militants leverage captive citizens for money from governments. Another significant source of income for terrorists is control over oil fields. Oil trade is one of the most profitable businesses in the energy industry. By establishing dominance in oil-rich regions, the groups set up operations that generate many profits used to fund their agenda. When the groups’ process and export oil, they also obtain finances from various taxes imposed on businesses(Williams, 2015). Thus, money enables Al Qaida to operate around the world.
Al Qaida recruits several individuals to participate in spreading its agenda across the globe. It has a vast network of operatives, extremists, and supporters who play various roles in ensuring that the terrorists fulfill their missions. The organization has affiliate groups that assist in the selection and recruitment of potential militants. Since it lost its primary training base in Afghanistan, the leadership has adopted more clandestine methods of recruitment. For instance, the group uses centers of activities as a platform for recruiting new members to the cause. These include places such as mosques, universities, and charity events and organizations(Gerwehr & Daly, 2006). They identify and target potential recruits who share a radical jihadist perspective of the present day state of the world. By appealing to various aspects of rationale, recruiters target youths. For instance, they tune them to believe that fighting the holy war is a revolutionary act. Thus, through such an approach, the group has established a broad network of militants.
Emergency management requires a strategic approach. Preparation for a terrorist attack calls for tactical planning to ensure that nations can deal with the adverse effects of terrorism. Emergency management planning refers to action plans developed in readiness for disasters that may occur in the future(“Emergency Response Plan,” 2019). The concept entails four crucial stages. The first stage involves enacting of mitigation measures. It involves undertaking activities whose primary role is to minimize the likelihood of occurrence of an impending calamity (“The Four Phases of Emergency Management,” 2019). For instance, efforts to step up security at strategic facilities seek to mitigate terror acts at such installations. The next stage involves making preparations to ensure that maximum success is achievable when dealing with the outcomes of an attack (“The Four Phases of Emergency Management,” 2019). Mitigation and preparing for a disaster take place before it happens. During the second phase, emergency service providers and the authorities make plans that can help when terrorists strike. For instance, preparations conducted to create awareness about terror threats can involve emergency drills. Thus, the initial efforts seek to reduce the impact of an attack.
Emergency management plays a significant role in responding to dangerous environments when an attack is in progress. The effectiveness of response to such a crisis varies with the level of mitigation and preparedness put in place before the disaster. At this phase, the attack has happened. Another factor that determines response speed is the level of confusion, panic and chaos witnessed in the aftermath of a crisis. The disarray makes it challenging for emergency response to take place due to the fear and uncertainty that follows. It is essential for members of the public to act responsibly and prioritize their safety during this time (“The Four Phases of Emergency Management,” 2019). The primary objective is to save as many lives as possible while caring for the injured. Thus, individuals ought to prioritize the protection of self, one’s family, those around you as well as animals. After contending with the immediate damage and losses incurred, the public has to move on with their life. Safety services provided by care providers after a terror attack goes beyond physical security. Thus, they seek to cushion society against possible future effects related to the crisis.
Coordination of emergency management activities occurs through various organizations. Agencies tasked with formulating and implementing strategic, operational and tactical approaches of dealing with crises run the show when terrorists attack. In the US, terror threats and terrorism are a significant concern for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It is the office responsible for public security, as well as disaster prevention and management. Part of the primary role of DHS includes developing and coordinating a comprehensive national strategy to facilitate counterterrorism measures adopted at the federal, state, and local levels. The department facilitates service delivery during disasters through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA exists to ensure adequate preparation, prevention, response and recovery from catastrophes that disrupt society. Its primary purpose is to coordinate efforts by the government and other agencies to reduce the adverse outcomes during a crisis(“About the Agency,” 2019). Thus, through the DHS, FEMA ensures national preparedness and development of collaborative processes to facilitate effective management of response to terrorist incidents.
As an international humanitarian organization, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement play a significant role in emergency management. Branches such as the American Red Cross are a central force in the provision of essential goods and services required to satisfy basic human needs during crises. Besides, it is among the leading groups that provide first-line disaster response services when terrorism occurs (“Terrorism; Preparing for the Unexpected,” 2001). Its goal to assist in efforts aimed at alleviating human suffering due to natural or human-made events that disrupt livelihoods and expose human beings to extreme adversities. It avails items such as food, shelter and medical care when people lack access. The organization consists of several volunteers equipped with varying levels of skills and professional qualifications. These professionals are of vital when they work and coordinate their efforts with other first-responders to rescue and care for terror survivors. Apart from its participation in search, rescue and treatment activities, the branch contributes to mitigation efforts through the dissemination of information about the essence of preparedness. Thus, its preparatory activities and involvement in disaster response qualify it as one of the major organizations that help when terror attacks happen.
Preparing for and responding to massive disasters such as terror attacks is a costly exercise. Organizations responsible for dealing with emergency management of the crises require vast financial, material and human resources to meet the needs of a given population or region. The various phases of emergency management require varying amounts of funds for organizations to fulfill them. At the mitigation stage, activities that occur seek to reduce the probability of occurrence of terrorism (“The Four Phases of Emergency Management,” 2019). Since counterterrorism is a public safety concern, departments and security agencies have to spend to protect citizens against unlawful elements. Bodies such as the DHS and state and local enforcement incur costs trying to minimize the possibility of attacks targeting civilians or government institutions. For example, the DHS may have to continually upgrade its security measures and terrorism-affiliation detection features by increasingly relying on expensive advanced intelligence technologies. Thus, efforts to mitigate attacks are costly.
At the preparations phase, activities undertaken primarily strive to increase the ability to handle emergencies. Plans by organizations and the government aim to facilitate life-saving initiatives and to develop strategies that will contribute to response and rescue measures. The purpose of preparedness is to ensure that communities are aware of ways to save lives before an attack occurs (“The Four Phases of Emergency Management,” 2019). Institutions responsible for creating public awareness require funding to educate the public on appropriate strategies for use during terror attacks. The government, through organizations such as FEMA and Red Cross, has to ensure that target regions or at-risk populations have developed emergency action plans. By teaching the people on what to do in the event of an attack, the government reduces dependency on professional emergency service providers. Organizing occasions such as drill exercises require spending as it involves setting up of similar scenarios to assess situational awareness and preparedness at various strategic facilities or crowded areas (“Terrorism,” n.d.). Therefore, relevant authorities have to incur expenses.
During an attack, organizations also require a lot of resources to facilitate activities such as search and rescue, and provision of medical care to the injured. The success of events that occur in the course of a terror attack and after vary depending on the availability of sufficient resources. For instance, terrorism activities that incorporate the use of biological weapons lead to a lot of expenses. In a case where there is a need to evacuate a sizeable section of the population due to a risk of exposure to toxic agents, emergency service providers have to mobilize resources to effect the move. Besides, costs incurred while ensuring the safety of survivors and relocating others, expenses also arise in providing treatment complex conditions. Given the scale of interruption of daily life and limited access to essential utilities during a terror crisis, affected populations need assistance. Expenses arise when organizations buy items such as foodstuff, water, blankets, medical supplies, and setting up shelters for use by survivors, responders, the public and law enforcement agents working at the scene(“Terrorism; Preparing for the Unexpected,” 2001). Thus, it is costly to provide emergency services when terrorists attack a place.
The US population recognizes that the terror threat is real. Terrorism is an issue of grave concern in the US due to the experience that the people had when they got attacked on September 11. Given the adversity of the loss that the nation witnessed during that historic day, the government and the citizens have taken various measures to prepare for a future attack. A section of the population understands that it is essential to take precautionary measures to ensure readiness in case an attack happens. Thus, a variety of organizations and institutions engage their personnel in practices that enlighten them on what to do when the worst happens. Awareness of potential attacks and beings ready is thus a priority for the US citizenry (“Terrorism,” n.d.). Therefore, the purpose of practices undertaken by the public is to meant to teach people how to survive if they become victims and how to prepare for worst case scenarios.
One of the practices that people in the US engage in is learning how to observe their environment. Situational awareness refers to the capacity to decipher what is going on around an individual at all times (“Terrorism,” n.d.). While developing it takes times, it is a crucial ability that can enable people to stay alert and reduce the chances of falling victim to terrorism. For instance, people are practicing the act of locating all or nearby emergency exits when they are in public places or areas with high populations (“Terrorism,” n.d.). They are learning that it is essential to scan and note the primary features of public buildings with public access that are terrorist targets. A good example of areas that can are likely to experience attacks includes international airports, sports stadiums, and government buildings. The purpose of developing this habit is to avoid the confusion and panic that ensues when an attack happens, and people scramble for safety blindly. Thus, situational awareness is vital as it facilitates a quick escape or access to safer locations within the area of attack.
Another way that the US practices for a terror attack are through the use of mock emergency drills. A drill refers to the simulation of an emergency conducted in a stress-free atmosphere with the goal of analyzing how people respond. Mock drills and related exercises are often deployed to ensure that people are aware of what to do in case disaster strikes. The reaction of personnel involved in the training reveals the level and adequacy of critical emergency response activities and equipment (“Terrorism,” n.d.). Preparations for a mock drill can include strategic placement of people, tools, and barriers that prevent exit to determine adaptability levels. For instance, people may experience a state of confusion due to panic that usually follows actual attacks. Authorities can organize disaster drills to establish essential steps such as numbers to call, where to hide and how to handle oneself in highly confrontational or violent encounters. Passing down this information to many people is a critical safety practice that contributes to preparedness for a terrorist attack. Thus, it is a vital precautionary exercise.
Has This Terrorist Organization Attacked the United States Before?
Al Qaida has orchestrated attacks against the US before. The most notable attack organized by the militants occurred on the historic 11th September 2001 when the US suffered immense losses from four coordinated attacks. Individuals associated with the Islamic extremist group hijacked four airplanes with the aim of carrying out suicide attacks in the US. They targeted strategic buildings of great value to American society. The militants planned to destroy the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York City, the Pentagon, and a third facility(“9/11 Attacks,” 2019). The first hijacked plane flew and crashed into the north tower of WTC causing severe damage. The building caught fire due to jet fuels and trapped several people on higher floors. As responders began initiating emergency protocols and evacuation plans to save the people, a second plane hit the south tower (“9/11 Attacks,” 2019). The impact of the two planes badly damaged the twin towers, and the infernos made it challenging to avoid entrapment. Thus, it was a big challenge for emergency service providers at the scene.
The third hijacked plane targeted the Pentagon building in Washington D.C. The extremists who had taken over the craft hoped to incapacitate critical functions carried out at the offices. The Pentagon served as the US Department of Defense headquarters. It is, therefore, a strategic facility that terrorists can target with the aim of disrupting efforts to coordinate the security of the nation. The militants crashed the craft into the west side of Pentagon. Given the vast amount of fuel in the passenger jet, a devastating fire damaged the building causing some portions to collapse. The incident led to the death of several military personnel and passengers aboard the craft (“9/11 Attacks,” 2019). The fourth plane, whose intended target remains speculative, crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. Passengers aboard the aircraft had learned about the catastrophic events through phone calls. Aware of the impending end, they opted to attempt to foil the attack. They fought the terrorists leading the plane to crash towards the ground at very high speeds, killing all aboard (“9/11 Attacks,” 2019). At the end of the incident, the US had lost several civilians, firefighters, paramedics, and police officers.
The impact of the aftermath of the attack was overwhelming. Given the extent of damage and loss of lives witnessed on that fateful day, it is safe to say the US was ill-prepared for such a coordinated attack. The toll it took on various authorities and organizations involved in the search and rescue activities was extensive. The incident was proof that the nation’s emergency plans were not comprehensive enough to cater to the needs of several individuals in case of disasters. Some of the groups that played a significant role in trying to save lives were firefighter departments, New York City and Port Authority officers(“9/11 Attacks,” 2019). By working with paramedics, these teams risked their lives to rescue those trapped or injured by debris from the collapsed structures and the fires. While analysis has identified various shortcomings in how government agencies respond to large-scale emergencies, the bravery of the first responders involved remains commendable. Issues such as lack of coordination of rescue activities exposed the individuals to more risk at the impact areas. Thus, the ineffective management of efforts impacted the general outcome.
Impact of the Terrorist Organization on Emergency Management in the US
The purpose of emergency management is to help societies and the public to prepare for the worst scenarios. Preparation and prevention of disaster are critical to avoid or minimize the gravity of impact associated with crises. While the programs can focus on getting ready for a particular calamity, knowledge is essential in ensuring public safety in most incidents. The catastrophic outcome of the 9/11 attacks changed the scene of emergency operations and management in the US. Mistakes and areas of underperformance noted from responders, and other professionals have served as a guideline for reviewing emergency policies. The events revealed the need to embrace more comprehensive, better coordinated and collaborative efforts aimed at reducing a loss of lives and damage to property(Leonard, Howitt, Cole & Pfeifer, 2016). The challenges endured by responders on the ground highlighted the essence of working together, harmonizing action plans and resources towards helping the affected populations. Thus, the attack has led to the formulation and organizing of collaborative tools and measures at the state and local levels.
Security measures undergo regular upgrading with the sole aim of preventing future terror attacks. However, the advancement also compels militant groups to adopt more discreet ways of terrorizing the public. Terrorists have had to choose more complex methods of beating security measures. As a result, curbing terrorism today is a significant challenge for various government agencies responsible for upholding public security (Leonard et al., 2016). For example, the ease of movement of goods, services, and people across international borders has made it difficult to track present-day terrorists or terror cells. While nations work towards improving trade by opening borders to businesses, criminals exploit the same avenues to gain unauthorized entry into target locations or to access their hideouts. When they travel to diverse countries, they can also use the opportunity to collect and assemble untraceable explosive devices. Law enforcement agencies have a difficult time identifying the real individuals behind attacks that use such tools to harm the public. Thus, the threat posed by terrorists persists in society.
Terrorists are changing their tactics in response to changing security measures. Predicting the style or model of future attacks is more challenging for counterterrorism units. In most incidents, the perpetrators have relied on physical aggression to inflict fear. They have orchestrated violent attacks using items such as guns, bombs, and improvised explosive devices. However, the rate of attempts thwarted by security forces that intend to use physical tactics has increased. Thus, there is a possibility that criminal elements may resort to more discrete methods of wreaking havoc in societies (Leonard et al., 2016). Future threats may thus shift to use of chemical and biological agents that are even more deadly. The public has majorly participated in awareness exercises that focus on what to do when a physical attack happens. People know how to react in situations such as active shooter scenarios and bomb threats. Compared to this level of awareness, the public is not very conversant with measures to take in case of a biological or chemical attack. Hence, there is a likelihood that future threats may deploy such methods.
There is room for improving emergency management. One of the factors that limit the success of operations aimed at helping societies deal with tragic events is the dependency on professional emergency service providers. There is an inadequate number of citizens with skills and ability to offer urgent help during a crisis (Leonard et al., 2016). While various organizations facilitate and conduct public sensitization programs about terror, a significant section of the population does not have basic knowledge about organizing and coordinating response action in real time. When a crisis happens, some citizens may not know what order of steps or measures to follow while awaiting professionals. They may only work best under the coordination of other professional emergency organizations. The first twenty-hours after a catastrophe are crucial in determining the outcome of an event such as how many lives are lost or saved. Imparting emergency care, resource mobilization and organization skills to the public can significantly improve emergency management. Thus, focusing on reducing dependency on specialty professionals can help.
The future of emergency management relies on directing more attention and input towards mitigation and preparation for disaster. There is a need to prioritize the safety and social and economic security of individuals, institutions, and communities. Therefore, future ways of improving outcomes when a disaster happens shall require the development of strategic policies and programs. These frameworks ought to reflect the expansive nature of the challenge that law enforcement and emergency organizations face (Leonard et al., 2016). For instance, it should account for the increase in the use of hidden tools and methods of operation. Therefore, these organizations should have the capacity and legal leeway to deal with imminent threats accordingly. A good example is taking steps to ensure that people close to strategic facilities are ready to respond to emergencies.
There is a success story worth sharing in the efforts made towards managing disasters when they happen. During emergencies, there is a significant shift that encourages public-private partnerships (Leonard et al., 2016). Members of the private sector share as much interest as the government in addressing disasters that disrupt society. While there is a lack of joint effort on other occasions, the public and private individuals often combine efforts and resources with the sole purpose of rescuing and assisting the helpless. Both sides share information, make plans and implement strategies that prioritize the needs of the affected communities.
Overall, terrorism poses a significant threat to public security and welfare. Terrorists carry out attacks on civilians and government facilities to inflict fear and disrupt the way of life. While different terror organizations have varying motives for their inhumane acts on society, they all have relatively similar outcomes. These include loss of human life, injured victims, and destruction of valuable property. When terrorism occurs in a region, it tests the effectiveness of a nation’s emergency preparedness and response. Various organizations are responsible for ensuring that targeted populations receive vital assistance needed to recover from the adversity of terror activities. They achieve this through the provision of critical services such as emergency medical care, food, water and shelter during and after a crisis. They also strive to initiate and implement precautionary measures to mitigate potential threats that can cause human suffering.
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