Terrorism as Crime: From Oklahoma City to Al-Qaeda and Beyond

Terrorism as Crime: From Oklahoma City to Al-Qaeda and Beyond

Terrorism as Crime: From Oklahoma City to Al-Qaeda and Beyond

Terrorism as Crime: From Oklahoma City to Al-Qaeda and Beyond


Car bombing, suicide bombing, abduction, smuggling, homicide, and hijacking are all profoundly criminal acts. In Terrorism as Crime Mark S. Hamm presents an understanding of terrorism from a criminological point of view, arguing that the most successful way to understand, detect, prosecute and deter these acts is to use conventional criminal investigation methods. Whether in Oklahoma City or London, Terrorism as Crime demonstrates that criminal activity is the lifeblood of terrorist groups and that there are simple common denominators at work that can remove the mystery surrounding many of these terrorist groups. Once understood the vulnerabilities of these organizations can be exposed.

This important volume focuses in on six case studies of crimes committed by jihad and domestic right wing groups, including biographies of more than two dozen terrorists along with descriptions of their organizations, strategies, and terrorist plots. Terrorism as Crime offers an original and significant framework for explaining international and domestic terrorism, as well as how future acts might be detected or exposed.


Our world is flooded with images of terror. Each day, it seems, we are hammered by a televised rain of suicide bombings, mass murders, and assassinations. Historically this represents a seismic shift in the nature of terrorism, a shift from the symbolic to the concrete. Nowhere is this change more evident than in the media reporting of violence committed in the name of Islamic extremism.

Live terrorist tv was born at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich when the Palestinian group Black September broke into the dormitory rooms of the Israeli team and took eleven athletes and coaches hostage. As some 900 million television viewers followed attempts made by German authorities to negotiate with the guerrillas, cameras captured extraordinary footage of a lone Palestinian gunman, his head covered by a dark hood, standing on a balcony of the dormitory. in the end, though, things went terribly wrong, and the terrorists killed all of their hostages. Yet these murders were carried out in secret, far from the camera's eye, and Munich was framed as a political crisis of the Middle East.

In contemporary America, terrorism garners a disproportionately large share of news coverage where it is typically presented through the frame of private stories—stories of fallen firefighters, soldiers, airline pilots, subway riders, and others. As such, television reporting highlights the personal (and the extremely emotional) aspects of terrorism's global criminal threat at the expense of its broader political content. For American viewers, this human focus has resulted in a nightly ritual of random death, which exposes the public to images symbolizing the nation's vulnerabilities. Through international satellite television networks and the video capabilities of the World Wide Web, millions of people are now able to watch hijackings, torture, missile firings, and suicide bombings. Today, not only can we watch ter-

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