Research Paper On Criminal Justice System Response To Terrorism

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Terrorism, Criminal Justice, Social Issues, Terrorist, Convention, Law, Crime, Organization

Pages: 8

Words: 2200

Published: 2021/01/11


Terrorist attacks have become one of the most pressing global issues of our time. Humanity no longer feels completely safe. Recent cases of terrorist attacks have demonstrated the society’s inability to confront this global problem. As a result, government authorities in different countries were forced to undertake the development of national security documents, strategies and tactics against terrorism. The issue of terrorism exists both within separate countries and on the international stage. The object of the research is the laws and regulations on terrorism combating. The subject of the research is the activities of the international anti-terrorist organizations aimed at countering this phenomenon. The aim is to analyze the origins and nature of terrorism, as well as to analyze the legal framework on fighting terrorism. In accordance with the intended purpose, the main objectives are:

Show the problems associated with the notion of “terrorism”;

Consider the major international terrorist organizations;
Analyze the criminal justice system of the United States;
Analyze the Conventions on terrorism combating;
Recommend measures to strengthen the cooperation of the international community in the fight against terrorism.
The Concept of Terrorism
Terrorist attacks have acquired special status over the recent decades. Some acts of terrorism, their scale and brutality have horrified the whole world over the last decades. In various parts of the world terrorists hijack planes, blow up railway lines, buildings, cars, take prisoners and kill innocent people. In the 19th and 20th centuries, terrorism was not of mass character and did not present so high degree of risk to the public as in the 21st century (Hoffman, 2006.) A great number of terrorist organizations with revolutionary, political, criminal and nationalistic subtext began to emerge at the beginning of the 21st century. Their ideological leaders believed that social justice and general well-being could be achieved through violence and terror.
Terrorism is a fast-changing phenomenon of an increasingly transnational nature (O’Kane, 2007.) Furthermore, it is a global threat that requires a wide range of short- and long-term countermeasures. The countermeasures should range from a removal of favorable conditions to the proliferation of terrorism and finishing by the establishment of a strong capacity to combat this phenomenon. The criminal justice system holds a prominent place in countering terrorism. The primary objective of the counter-terrorism activities is a prevention of terrorist acts (Malisow, 2008.) However, most criminal justice systems are currently better at punishment than at prevention of crimes. In other words, some systems are ineffective when it comes to preventing terrorists from gaining their goal.

International Terrorist Organizations

Many governments are trying to do everything possible to restrain the uncontrolled terrorist groups. International authorities compiled a list of the dangerous terrorist organizations. PKK is an abbreviation of Kurdistan Workers’ Party that operates in Turkey. This group pursues purely political goals since it calls for independence from Turkey. It strives for a socialist political system and universal gender equality. The group emerged due to the long years of oppression of Kurds. It has been operating since 1984 and currently has more than 7 000 members. Unfortunately, very often group members resorted to violent measures to achieve their objectives. As a result, the group is put on the blacklist of NATO and some other countries (Burgan, 2010)
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia is Colombia’s left-radical group, also known as the FARC. Although it was not officially recognized as a terrorist organization, the group has been noticed in a number of terrorist acts. It was put on the blacklist of some countries. The organization has been operating since 1946 and promotes an ideology similar to Marxism, socialism, and nationalism. FARC is involved in drug trafficking, kidnapping, committing killings and many other wrong acts (Gus, 2013.)
Hamas is the Islamist anti-Semitic movement that operates on the territory of Palestine. Group members support the idea of ​​neo-Nazism. Many of Hamas’s actions were perceived as war crimes (e.g. the use of weapons against Israel). One of the most horrible practices of Hamas is the use of children as human shields or suicide bombers. Hamas is one of the murderous terrorist organizations operating in our time (Rosaler, 2003.)
Ku Klux Klan is one of the oldest terrorist organizations. It was founded in the US in 1865. The organization promoted the supremacy of the white race over the others in quite a bloody way. Although the organization has undergone great changes, its core ideology remained the same. Currently, the organization involves about 8 000 people. It has made a tremendous impact on the history of humanity and racist propaganda (Newton, 2014.)
Al-Shabab organization recruits children into its ranks and cooperates with al-Qaeda. This group operates in Somalia. It ensures the observance of Sharia law in rural areas. The participants of the organization conduct mass murder of infidels. One of the cruelest mass murders was conducted on a recent day. Somali militants attacked campus in Kenya on 3rd April 2015. They killed 147 and wounded 80 students. Al-Shabab has repeatedly committed the attacks on Kenyan because it sent its Army to Somalia to fight the extremists (Mutiga, & Smith, 2015.)
Taliban uses terrorist tactics to achieve their goals. In 2012, more than 80% of civilians in Afghanistan became the victims of their activities. The Taliban are known for killings of civilians, deliberate destruction of food supplies and distribution of gender inequality. Although their regime was overthrown in 2001, it quickly recovered again. Today their ranks include more than 60 000 people. Boko Haram operates in Nigeria. It is another terrorist organization that pursues religious objectives. Its main goal is the introduction of Sharia throughout Nigeria and the elimination of the Western lifestyle. The number of its victims amounted up to 5000 people (Fergusson, 2010.)
Al-Qaeda is powerful terrorist organizations that become well-known after the collapse of twin towers in New York. Although the leader, Osama bin Laden was assassinated in 2011, al-Qaeda still retains its power and influence. Furthermore, nowadays al-Qaeda is even more powerful than it was under the command of bin Laden. Currently, it is under the direction of Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian doctor. The organization operates mainly in the Middle East. Supporters of al-Qaeda preach radical Shariah compliance and its promotion through terrorism and other violent methods (Burke, 2007.)

The Criminal Justice System of the United States

In different countries, criminal justice systems have different approaches to terrorism. These approaches depend on the legal tradition and level of system development. Many criminal justice systems must be improved to increase the effectiveness of terrorism prevention and elimination. For example, the United States has been working on the improvement of their system due to an urgent need for an effective response to terrorism. The United States is an active leader in the fight against terrorism (Hoffman, 2006.) The American government developed a strong criminal justice system and adequately functioning counter-terrorism regime. Effective measures aimed at prevention of terrorist acts contain a strong criminal justice background.
America provides a wide range of activities to capture and eliminate “Al-Qaeda” terrorists and similar activists within the country and abroad. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (Burke, 2007) was established after the terrorist act on 11th September 2001. DHS includes 72 specialized centers, which are the basic units for the collection, processing, storage and transmission of information on terrorist threats to the services of state and local governments. In addition, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency conducted a series of measures to consolidate the activities of its analytical units. As a result, the effectiveness of the counter-terrorist operations has significantly increased.

International Conventions on Terrorism Combating

The fight against terrorism has been in the focus of international organizations since 1934. This year, the League of Nations discussed the draft of Convention on the prevention of terrorism and announced that this phenomenon is illegal (Elagab, & Elagab, 2007.) Although the Convention was adopted in 1937, it has not entered into force. Under the auspices of the United Nations and its specialized agencies, the international community has developed 16 international documents (13 counter-terrorism conventions and three protocols).
Convention on Offenses and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft, 1963 (Abeyratne, 2010) relates to aviation safety assurance. The Convention authorizes the aircraft commander to impose measures on those who, in the opinion of the commander, have committed or intend to commit the terrorist act. According to this Convention, Contracting States should arrest terrorists and bring back the control of the aircraft to the lawful commander.
Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft (1970) (Abeyratne, 2010) considers as a crime any attempts or activities directed to hijacking. Parties to the Convention must apply strict measures of punishment to hijackers and take them into custody for the purpose of extradition of the criminals or submitting the case for prosecution. In addition, parties to the Convention must assist each other in connection with criminal proceedings.
Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation (1971) (Abeyratne, 2010) relates to acts of aviation sabotage such as placing bombs on board an aircraft in flight. According to this Convention, any similar activities, attempts or complicity in such activities must be severely punished. In addition, parties to the Convention must collaborate to assure the proper fulfillment of the Convention requirements.
Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents (1973) (Blumenau, 2014) relates to attacks against senior government officials and diplomats and their families. Parties to the Convention establish a criminal responsibility for the intentional murder, kidnapping or other attacks upon an internationally protected person. The criminal responsibility is also established for those who threat to commit such attacks, make attempts or participate intentionally in a crime.
International Convention against the Taking of Hostages (Blumenau, 2014) was adopted in 1979. According to the Convention, the person commits a crime of hostage-taking if he or she takes hostages, detains them or threatens to injure or kill them. In most cases, hostage takers force a third party to comply with their demands for the release of the hostage.
Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (1980) (Louka, 2011) relates to the unlawful taking and use of nuclear materials. The Convention establishes a criminal liability for the unlawful possession, usage, theft or transfer of such materials, as well as for the threats to use them for the purpose of causing injury, damage or death. Amendments to the Convention lay States Parties under a commitment to protect nuclear materials, as well as nuclear installations.
Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation (1988) (Evans, 2013) relates to terrorist acts on ships. The Convention establishes the legal regime to acts against international maritime navigation. Those who unlawfully and intentionally hijacked or took control of a ship by force or any form of intimidation, or committed other acts against the safety of a ship are considered to be the criminals.
Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for the Purpose of Detection (1991) (Conte, 2010) stipulates marking of chemicals to facilitate a detection of plastic explosives. The Convention is designed to establish a control and restrictions on the use of unmarked plastic explosives. It was adopted after the explosion of Flight 103 “Pan Am” in 1988. The parties to the Convention are obliged to ensure an effective control over unmarked plastic explosives. Each party is required to take the necessary and effective measures to prohibit and prevent the manufacturing of unmarked explosives in its territory. The parties should exercise strict and effective control over the possession and transfer of unmarked explosives that were made before the Convention entered into force. In addition, the parties should take the necessary measures to ensure that unmarked plastic explosives are destroyed, marked or rendered permanently ineffective and to provide a fast destruction of any unmarked explosives that were manufactured when Convention entered into force. International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings (1997) (Conte, 2010) provides a regime of universal jurisdiction over the intentional and unlawful use of any lethal devices for the purpose of causing injuries, death or destruction of public places.
International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism (1999) (Elagab & Elagab, 2007) requires the parties to take measures to prevent and combat the terrorism financing, regardless of whether such financing is directly or indirectly conducted through organizations that are claim to be charitable, social or cultural. States are required to bring administrative, civil and criminal actions against those who finance terrorism. In addition, the Convention stipulates the identification, freezing and seizure of funds that are designed to terrorist activities.
International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005) (Louka, 2011) encompasses a wide range of possible targets. The Convention provides penalties for threats, attempts to commit crime or complicity in a crime. It stipulates an extradition of criminals and prosecution of offenders. The Convention calls for collaboration by sharing information in connection with criminal investigations or extradition proceedings.
An essential part of the global legal regime is also considered to be a series of resolutions that were adopted under the authority of United Nations. The resolution 1373 is the most prominent of those resolutions (Evans, 2013.) It was adopted immediately after the terrorist act on 11th September 2001 in the United States. The resolution requires freezing of the financial assets of those who commit terrorist acts or make attempts to commit them, as well as the assets of those who support terrorists. According to the resolution, any person who finance, plan, prepare or perpetrate terrorist acts or supports terrorist acts must be brought to justice.

Significance of International Collaboration

The international community has understood that borders can hinder domestic authorities to confront terrorists because in some cases the borders serve as defense against investigation and prosecution. Effective international collaboration creates a solid base for a criminal justice response to terrorism. Since anti-terrorist operations are transitional by nature and scope, they require prosecutors to cooperate closely with their counterparts in other countries to collect evidences across borders. The universal anti-terrorist instruments provide the tools for extradition and legal collaboration. It enables national authorities to effectively fight the terrorism.
The need for international collaboration in the fight against terrorism has been stated in a serious of declarations (O’Kane, 2007.) In accordance with the obligations under the international law, Member States should undertake the following measures:
In summary, above-mentioned measures require a sufficient criminal justice capacity to establish the international cooperation. Development of such capacity can provide better prosecution capacity at the national and international levels. The legal regime offers a wide array of criminal justice tools to counteract the terrorist acts. It is based on the premise that terrorists or their supporters should be brought to trial or should be extradited to a country that could bring them to trial.


Abeyratne, R. (2010). Aviation secutity law. New York: Springer Publishing.
Blumenau, B. (2014). The United Nations & terrorism: Germany, multilateralism, & antiterrorism efforts in the 1970s. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Burgan, M. (2010). Terrorist groups. Minnesota: Compass Point Books.
Burke, J. (2007). Al-Gaeda: the true story of radical Islam. London: Penguin Books, Ltd.
Conte, A. (2010). Human rights in the prevention and punishment of terrorism. New York: Springer Publishing.
Elagab, O. & Elagab, J. (2007). International law documents relating to terrorism 3rd ed. New York: Routledge Press.
Evans, M. (2013). International law documents 11th ed. Oxford: Blackstone Press.
Fergusson, J. (2010). Taliban: the unknown enemy. London: Bantam Press.
Gus, M (2013). Understanding terrorism: challenges, perspectives, and issues 4th ed. California: Sage Publications, Inc.
Hoffman, B. (2006). Inside terrorism. New York: Columbia University Press.
Louka, E. (2011). Nuclear weapons, justice and the law. Massachusetts: Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc.
Malisow, B. (2008). Criminal investigations: terrorism. New York: Infobase Publishing.
Mutiga, M. & Smith, D. (2015). Al-Shabaab atrocity: Kenyan officials under fire for failure to protect students. The Guardian.
Newton, M. (2014) The Ku Klux Klan: History, Organization, Language, Influence and Activities of America's Most Notorious Secret Society. North Carolina: McFarland & Company Incorporated Publishing.
O’Kane, R. (2007). Terrorism. New York: Pearson Education.
Rosaler, M. (2003). Hamas: Palestinian terrorists. New York: Rosen Publishing Group, Inc.

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