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Are terrorism and technology linked?

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biofire719 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 27, 2013 at 8:41 PM via web

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Are terrorism and technology linked?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 27, 2013 at 9:12 PM (Answer #1)

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This depends on what we mean by “technology” and what kind of a link we are looking for.

Of course, there is a relationship between terrorism and technologies of various sorts.  The kind of terrorism with which we are familiar cannot happen without technology.  At the most basic level, terrorism depends on bombs like the ones used in Boston.  Such bombs can only be made using technology.  If you are asking about what we might call “high technology,” there is a link as well.  Terrorism today is often motivated and helped along by the internet.  Potential terrorists can listen to terrorist propaganda online.  They can find instructions for making bombs online as well.  Thus, there is a link between the two.

However, if we are asking if technology causes terrorism, it is hard to say that it does.  Terrorism has been around for much longer than our current kinds of high technology.  Technology helps to bring about the specific kinds of terrorist activities that we have today, but it does not cause terrorism to exist.  There would still be terrorism even without high technology. 

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kipling2448 | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 27, 2013 at 9:35 PM (Answer #2)

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Terrorism and technology are not linked.  Terrorists utilize technologies in designing new types of explosives they hope will evade detection and cause greater casualties, but there is no real linkage between the two.

Terrorism has been around for centuries, long before the industrial revolution.  Because of "terrorism" can be defined a number of ways, depending upon one's perspective, it can be traced back as far as the Jewish Zealots of the 1st Century who assassinated those they believed were working with the Romans against Jewish intererests.  It can certainly be considered to have been practiced by "the Assassins," a sect of Shia Muslims from the 11th through the 13th Centuries who murdered officials throughout Persia and modern-day Syria, primarily targeting Turkish officials.

The point of mentioning those early practitioners of terrorism was to underline the absence of linkages between technology and terrorism, whether one-thousand years ago, or today.  Terrorism is a political tactic used to instill fear and influence decisionmaking on the part of the target audience.  It can be carried out with any instrument sharp enough to penetrate human skin, and whatever lethal points the instrument can strike (e.g., major arteries).  On September 11, 2001, 19 men hijacked commercial airliners with box cutters and ruthless disregard for human life.  That they succeeded in turning those aircraft into manned missiles capable of bringing down skyscrapers and killing thousands does not equate to a linkage such as that suggested in the question.

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