If terrorism is important, it is because it has certain consequences and impacts. This chapter examines these under five headings: the economic costs of terrorism; changes in social behavior and public opinion; how the media portray terrorism; terrorism as a political issue; counterterrorism policies and the outcomes of terrorism. The September 11 events were compared to the attack on Pearl Harbor, and in many respects the scale of the attack dwarfs all previous acts of terrorism in the United States—or indeed in the world. 1 If we consider the loss of life as a measure of the severity of terrorism, this single attack took more lives than all the terrorist attacks in America over the previous half-century. Therefore, in examining the effects of terrorism, the results of September 11 will be considered separately.
Prior to September 11 the economic costs of terrorism within the United States were relatively trivial. Terrorist bombings occasionally caused costly property damage. The explosion at the Army Math Center in 1970 resulted in damage of over $2.5 million (about $10 million at current prices), while damage from the World Trade Center bombing of 1993 was estimated at $250 million (more than $400 million at current prices). An audit conducted for the state of Oklahoma concluded that the cost of the damage resulting from the Oklahoma City bombing totaled at least $652 million. Terrorist robberies and other forms of “self-financing” have sometimes netted large sums, with more than $1 million being stolen in three cases. In 1981, the M19CO got $1.6 million when they robbed a Brinks truck, and in 1984 the Order got $3.6 million in the robbery of another Brinks truck. The record was set by the Puerto Rican Macheteros, who stole $7.1 million from a Wells Fargo depot in 1983.