According to various sources, the term terrorism is used to refer to planned violence that is politically or socially motivated and targets civilians who are otherwise not involved in combat operations (Peak, 2010). The unlawful acts are generally meant to influence governments and populations while being carried out by an “opposing” group. The quotations are necessary because the motives of terrorists are not always based on opposition, but may instead be fueled by extreme support for the views of their representative group. There are several categories of terrorism that can overlap based on the primary characteristic that is being assessed. For example, international terrorist threats tend to fall into three groups made up of those funded and/or sponsored by governments (suspects include Iran and North Korea), terrorists who have formed an independent organization (Hamas and Taliban), and loosely affiliated radicals that are difficult to identify due to this disconnect. Terrorism can also be categorized by the type of attack. Nuclear threats are obviously the biggest concern and do not require further explanation, but the casualties associated with smaller explosions have become more disturbing in the 2000s. The anthrax scares that took place following 9/11 are an example of the panic that can result from the notion of biological terrorism, and groups like The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) are known to commit acts of environmental terrorism, which are based on beliefs about the human impact on nature. Cyber-terrorism is becoming popular due to the severe impact that could be made with relatively little resources, while the prospects of agricultural terrorism become increasingly troublesome everyday as such an occurrence could cripple domestic industries and compromise the health of the population. In 2002 the Department of Homeland Security was formed and imbued with the duties of developing biological vaccines/treatments, preparing first responders, and funding scientific/technological research that will aid in safeguarding the country from potential terrorist threats.
Peak, K. J. (2010). Justice administration: Police, courts, and corrections management (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.