Terrorism wasn't something that Americans thought much of up until the 1990's. Prior to the 90's, Americans felt secure against any major political violence at home. Since then, we have been introduced to growing ways of our vulnerability. With 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombings in 1995 killing 169 has raised the possibility of a sustained campaign of violence on U.S. soil. There hasn't been a war on U.S. soil since the Civil War. The problem with terrorism now is that we don't know what to expect. The hostility built up mostly in the Middle East has yet to seriously backfire on us.
We have to understand what terrorism is and how to deal with it in order to take part in counter terrorism. Terrorist's actions aren't considered acts of war. Rather, proof that they can beat us and get away at it. Webster's Third International Dictionary defines terrorism as the systematic use of terror as a means of coercion. An atmosphere of threat or violence. What Americans really think of when something like 9/11 or the Oklahoma City bombings happen is, why? .
What terrorism really is as far as the U.S. government sees it is, "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence and audience."" This definition has four main elements. .
The first, premeditation, means there must be an intent and prior decision to commit the act that would qualify as terrorism. It isn't a matter of accident. The second element, political motivation, is what all terrorists have in common and separates them from other violent criminals, it is the claim to be serving some greater good. The noncombatant target element explains itself. Terrorists attack people who cannot defend themselves with violence in return. The final part of terrorism deals with sub national groups. This would be an attack by someone or a group of people who are not represented by a uniformed government.