International Terrorism in the Contemporary World

By Marius H. Livingston; Lee Bruce Kress et al. | Go to book overview
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From Protest to Terror-Violence: The African Experience

It is sad to admit that transnational mugging or terror-violence has, to our general dismay, become the most effective weapon in national and international power politics. So far, neither national nor international law has an effective answer against its use.

Hijacking of planes, assassinations, destruction of property, and kidnapping, whether by individuals, groups, or governments, have been on the increase. Paradoxically, the industrialized and affluent democracies are more concerned, because the terrorists have selected them as targets for attack in the hope that these target nations may use their international influence to secure for them some redress of their grievances. These acts of terrorism and violence, these political crimes that produce psychic fear, by and large, should be looked upon as the normal behavior expected of desperate people in our human society. These atrocities, although highly reprehensible, could be acts of protest which our technological and modern society has neglected to look into at the initial stages.

Speaking as an African about Africa, and on the important subject of this symposium, I must observe as Dr. E.V. Walter did, that the terror process involves three actors: the source of violence or the perpetrator, the target of violence, and the victim of violence. I must also assume, as Allen Silver did, that “men who engage in dangerous and desperate behavior…have a certain claim to have taken seriously the meaning which they see in their acts and wish others to see in them.” We must accept that transnational muggers of today are engaged in dangerous and desperate behavior. In this regard, where does freedom fighting end and terrorism begin? Where does mere protest end and violence begin?

Africa has been the target and the victim of international terror and violence, notably from the fifteenth century to the present. The slave raiding and the slave trade in East, North, and West Africa were indeed acts of transnational terrorism. They were acts of terror in which Africa was the target and Africans the victims. The emotional reactions and the social and political consequences continue to live with us on both sides of the Atlantic and in the Arabian peninsula.

The scramble for and the colonization of Africa in the nineteenth century was achieved as a result of terror and violence. The protests and resistance of African kings and leaders to these unwarranted intrusions and imposi-


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International Terrorism in the Contemporary World
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