Do you think terror attacks are slowed down or the overall security situation has improved after giving harsh punishments?
It is natural for harsh punishments to be instituted once people are scared. What makes terrorism so scary is the lack of control people feel. Like the nuclear bomb threat in the 50s, people feel like they could be attacked any time, any where, by anyone. Lawmakers respond with harsh laws and punishments that take away liberties. For example, the Patriot Act. We have plenty of people rotting in secret prisons or secret wards of prisons who have not been legally charged or tried. Habeas corpus and "innocent until proven guilty" went the way of the Geneva Convention as quaint concepts. People are often ready to give up freedom for security when they are scared, but they don't realize they aren't going to get it back.
I have to agree that the consequences we or any other country imposes on terrorists will have little difference on terrorism. As mentioned by others terrorists are not afraid of, and in some cases welcome, the consequences. I think that in the US increased security and awareness have helped to deter further terrorist attacks. I also have to agree with the last statement by brettd, there are many vulnerable targets in our country that could be attacked.
Very few terrorists have been punished in the United States or Britain. Terrorism itself is an idea, which is very difficult to defeat. By imprisoning or executing members of terrorist groups, you can make them into martyrs and indirectly recruit more terrorists, and if you were to completely secure the country, you risk sacrificing so much of your personal freedoms that the terrorists still win.
In the US, I don't feel that we are much safer outside of airline security. There are thousands of targets that would be very easy to strike still. I just think that al-Qaeda is actually quite incompetent and disorganized.
Terrorists are typically so radical that imprisonment or even execution is a small price to pay. Most terrorists today are Islamic extremists--NOT a reflection on Islam, incidentally--and they believe that dying for the cause entitles them to instantly enter paradise and be surrounded by 72 virgins. They are not afraid of consequences; but are rather immersed in their own cause. So that this post does not appear to denigrate Islam, I should point out that Timothy McVeigh, an American home grown terrorist, never flinched during his trial; in fact when he was executed, he kept his eyes open the entire time. The only solution for terrorism is for those who support the cause they follow to shame them. Over time, those coming up will not consider it a romantic crusade, but a mistake. Only then will terrorism subside.
Looking at your question, I wonder what country you are referring to. There has not been much talk about punishment and the death penalty in relationship to terrorism here in the US. Therefore, I wonder if you are talking about some other country. Perhaps you could tell us which country you are asking about.
In general, it is not clear to me that harsher punishments would reduce terrorism. Terrorists are generally quite motivated to commit their crimes and so they will not really care if they are punished harshly.
I think that a reduction in the rate of terrorism generally comes about because of better security, not because of the harshness of punishments that can be meted out to terrorists.
I think that this is going to be moved to the "discussion" topic fairly soon. I am not sure one can receive a clear and definitive answer to this topic. I believe that there is something to be said for stricter and harsher measures, but in the end, if someone is committed to the ends of terrorism, I am not sure anything can really deter them. If someone is willing to sacrifice their own lives for a goal, would harsher penalties really scare them? The death penalty is moot here because a suicide bomber already sees death as the portal to something else. I think that the sharing of information and the overall public vigilance to the issue of terrorism is probably the reason why terror attacks might have been slowed down. Yet, I think that one could gain traction in an argument to suggest that terror attacks still happen and there is not a real slowdown present. While the events on the scale of the September 11 attacks are not as evident, I think that one could find people who live in Israel or other area of the world where small scale terror attacks are real elements of daily life suggest that there is not much of a slow down. The large scale attacks might not be as present, but if there is a belief that any act of terror proves it exists, I think that one could say that there is not much of a slowdown. Having said that, I do believe that there is a greater share of information in the post 9/11 world to ensure that the element of surprise is not as present as it previously was.