Playing the devil's advocate, this analysis will provide justifications for the actions of Al-Qaeda and will conclude with an exploration of whether or not these justifications are in fact defensible. We now turn to an introduction to modern terror and a backgrounder on the emergence of Al-Qaeda. Following this we will explore the major motivations of Al-Qaeda and conclude as to whether or not their actions are legitimate.
Political violence - also referred to as terrorism - remains one of the greatest threats to global stability and world peace. Terrorist acts threaten governments, weaken economies and effectively destabilize societies. Terrorism thus has important ramifications for the nation-state as well as for the international system. Increasingly, modern terrorist groups and networks have global aims with international reach. What is a terrorist and how does one define terrorism' The age old adage that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" (Bergesen & Lizardo 39) remains true and the term terrorist has been notoriously difficult to define. Despite these challenges, a definition of terrorism is integral and must be defined to provide a theoretical basis to this essay. According to the world's foremost expert on the suicide terror phenomenon Dr. Mia Bloom, terrorism can be defined as "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetuated against noncombatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience (Bloom 3). We can confidently say then that a terrorist is someone who engages in the act described above. Bloom's definition is comprehensive enough to guide our essay and complement our analysis of the Al-Qaeda phenomenon.
Political Effects of Terror
Terrorism - and the threat of terror - can have political, social, and economic ramifications. Politically, terror can sow fear, destabilize governments and provoke various forms of retaliatory measures. States of all stripes - including modern liberal democracies - have responded to terrorist threats through the curtailment of civil liberties (United States post 9/11), the imposition of martial law (Canada during the FLQ crisis of 1970) and the wholesale destruction of communities (Iraq's genocide of the Kurds in Halabja, 1988). Full-scale retaliatory measures, such as that which was practiced at Halabja using chemical weapons (between 3,000 and 5,000 people were killed one March afternoon), often indiscriminately target, kill and maim entire populations. In addition to eliciting violent and often disturbing political responses, terror can also have important repercussions for the economic well-being of a country (Haarf 64; Crelinsten 89; Nitsch & Schumacher 423-433).
Economic Effects of Terror
In a fascinating article entitled "Measuring the Effects of the September 11 Attack on New York City", it was estimated that the direct cost of this particular attack stood at between $33 billion and $36 billion to the city of New York (Orr, Bram & Rappaport 55). In addition to the direct costs associated with terrorism, terror, and the threat of further terrorism, can also harm important domestic markets. The