In June 1914: A young man in Sarajevo steps up to a carriage and fires his
pistol. The Archduke Ferdinand dies. Within weeks, the first world war
began. In the 1940s: The French resistance kill occupying troops when and
how they can. In June 1944: at Oradour-sur-Glane, in Central France,
German SS troops take revenge, massacring 642 villagers. In August 1945:
the United States Air Force drops the world's first nuclear weapon. Some
190,000 Japanese die, nearly all of them civilians. Within days the second
world war has ended.
Which of these four events was an act of terrorism? Which achieved
anything? Which, if any, will history judge as justified? And in whose
history? Terrorism is not the simple, sharp-edged, bad-guy phenomenon we
all love to condemn. No clear line, marks off politics from the threat of
force, or the use, of covert or open war. Who is or is not a terrorist?
The suicide bomber, the rebel guerrilla, the liberation front, the armed
forces of the state?
Terrorism has had a long, and tainted, history. Aristotle recognized it,
even if it had no name, at the time. He wrote, "The first aim and end of
tyrants is to break the spirit of their subjects." What we know as
terrorism can be traced back to the Russian Nihilists and Anarchists of
the 19th century, who gave a name to what would otherwise be considered
"Random acts of violence" that were performed to advance their
revolutionary cause. They elevated terrorism to a high moral plane. One of
them, Mikhail Bakunin, exclaimed: "The passion for destruction is also a
British military analyst Brian Crozier wrote in his 1974 book, "Theory of
Conflict, that terrorists have several aims, falling into two categories.
Disruptive Terrorism and Coercive Terrorism
Through "Disruptive Terrorism," they try to:
� Gain publicity for their movement or arouse admiration.
� Secure funds and build up the movements, morale or prestige.
� Discredit and demoralize the authorities.
� Provoke the authorities.
� To take excessively harsh repressive measures desired to alienate
citizens and force a large
scale opposition to counter-terrorist measures.
"Coercive Terrorism, " is similar but complementary:
� It attempts to demoralize the civilian population weaken its confidence
in the government and instill fear of the revolutionary terrorists.
� By making examples of well publicized victims, they try to enforce
obedience into the people.
Analysis of the Problem
Until after World War II, most terrorists adhered to a set of rules for
moral behavior that excluded the killing, capture, or torture of civilians
who were not also government officials. In other words they respected the
rights of non-combatants as defined by various treaties that set the rules
for armed conflict (such as the Geneva and Hague Conventions). Since the
rise of terrorist groups and revolutionary guerrilla movements around the
world, such rules have been disregarded.
Time line of the Oklahoma Bombing
1. A total of three minutes and five seconds elapsed between the time the
Ryder truck was last seen on a surveillance monitor and the bomb exploded.
2. The truck traveled about 500 feet in this period. It was estimated that
it would take 2 minutes and 14 seconds to go from where it was seen on the
video to where it was parked in front of the Murrah building.
3. That leaves about one minute between the time the truck was parked in
front of the building and the time the bomb exploded.
4. The FBI next calculated how long it would take for the fuse to burn and
ignite. FBI experts concluded that the fuse was quite long and ran from
inside the cab of the truck, where the driver sat, through a hole in the
backboard, and then into the truck shell where the barrels were reportedly
loaded with ammonium nitrate fertilizer.
5. The FBI believes that the fuse was most likely about 10 feet long. That
means it would take about 2 minutes and 12 seconds between the time the
fuse was lit and the time the bomb ignited. Using that calculation, the
fuse had to have been lit before the truck came to a stop in front of the
building. In fact, it would mean that the fuse had to have been lit almost
a full minute before the truck was parked in front of the Murrah entrance.
"We don't know for sure on that," one source said. "But we're
operating on that theory."
1. The FBI believes that the Mercury was parked 80 feet from the Ryder
truck, although how they came to that conclusion is unclear. However, in
the photos, the bureau labeled the Mercury as the "getaway vehicle" and,
in contrast, the Ryder truck as the "suspect vehicle."
2. Investigators believe that it would take someone about 10 or 12 seconds
to walk the 80 feet from the truck to the car. Sources emphasized that
witnesses had not reported seeing someone run from vehicle to vehicle.
3. Finally, the FBI estimated that the Mercury left the scene traveling
about 25 m.p.h.--a likely speed because no one saw it leave in a hurry.
Using that calculation, the getaway vehicle would have traveled about
4,400 feet, or a little more than 0.8 of a mile, before the bomb
Three Minutes to Tragedy
Here are the events leading up to the Oklahoma City bombing, based on
surveillance cameras around the site, according to the FBI:
1. Minutes before: Truck last seen by surveillance cameras 3 minutes and 5
seconds before blast.
2. Minutes before: FBI believed fuse was lit 2 minutes and 12 seconds.
3. Minute before: Truck parked in front of Murrah building about 1 minute
4. Blast: Blast at 9:02 a.m., April 19, 1995.
5. FBI believes 10-foot fuse ran from cab to drums of explosives in back
of truck. 4
Myself, as a Christian, believe that there is a major underlying force
in the world that is trying to undermine the works of our Lord Jesus
Christ, through the works of terrorism.
"Imagine the leader of all the enemy, in that great plain of Babylon,
sitting on a throne of smoking flame, a horrible and terrifying sight.
Watch him calling together countless demons, to dispatch them into
different cities till the whole world is covered, forgetting no province
or locality, no class or single individual."