Terrorism State of Iraq and Syria, ISIL, and

 Terrorism is a word
that changes its meaning over time. Originally, the term was used to describe
the actions of the French government. It would be applied to groups fighting
against capitalism a few decades later and would be employed to describe both
Russian revolutionaries and eventually, the Soviet government. In the twentieth
and the twenty-first century, the word became synonymous with nationalistic,
revolutionary, radical religious, and nihilist groups.  Terrorism is,
therefore, complex in definition because it is a social construct, that is, it
is defined by different people within shifting social and political realities,
and not a physical entity that has dimensions to be measured, weighed, and
analyzed (Chaliand, & Blin, 2007). However, as much as there are
difficulties in the definition of the term, there are differences and
similarities on how terrorism was manifested in the previous centuries and in
the twenty-first-century.

In both cases, that is,
the previous centuries and the twenty-first-century, there were killings
involved. During the world war two, soldiers on several fronts often executed
prisoners. It was a routine on the Eastern Front, ant Japanese and Americans
killed captives of Guadalcanal. The German SS troops executed more than 200
American captives during the Battle of the Bulge. In the summer of 2014, the
Islamic States of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) (also known as the Islamic State, the
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIL, and Daesh) released videos showing the
beheading of American and British hostages. ISIS also filmed mass execution of
Iraqi military prisoners (White, 2016, p.2). In both cases, group murder
targeting is the distinguishing feature of terrorism. In January 2015, three
men claiming to belong to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and
influenced by the ISIS attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French
satirical magazine based in Paris. They murdered 13 cartoonists who had
satirized Islam and then killed two police officers. They would murder four
more people before they were killed a few days later (White, 2016, p.3).
Similarly, in April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh parked a track loaded by
explosive fertilizer by the Murrah federal building. One hundred and
sixty-eight people were killed, including many toddlers in a daycare center. He
did so because he hated the American government and its symbols. Anyone belong
to or associated with the U.S government was McVeigh’s enemy, including any law
enforcement or military personnel who happened to be in the building (White,
2016, p.6). Just as in both cases, if an attack is launched against a target
simply because it or its members belong to a particular group, the action is
terrorism. There i

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However, the birth and
the evolution of the Western democracies in the twenty-first century also gave
rise to a paradox, the relationship between democracy and terrorism. Many
terrorism analysts believe that terrorists need democratic states to function.
F. Gregory Gause III (2005) points to a variety of studies about this
relationship, and he comes to a depressing conclusion: Terrorist attacks occur
more in democracies than in countries with any other form of government. Citing
U.S State Department statistics between 2000 and 2003, Gause finds that of
nearly 530 attacks, almost 390 occur in countries practicing full or limited
democracy. As much as it came to play in the nineteenth century, it became
clear in the twenty first century after the rise of democratic states. Unlike
before in World War II when the American captives were just executed during the
battle, terrorist analysts argue that totalitarian states make it impossible to
engage in covert activities. Terrorists need freedom of speech, freedom of
thought, and freedom of action. Democracy therefore gave rise to this policy in
the twenty-first century. Unlike the previous terrorism, increased funding took
the twenty-first terrorism to another level. Terrorists in the previous years
were poor and often turned to crime to fund their activities. The twenty-first
century terrorism turned to support from outside sources and governments which
resulted in better planning and devolution of terrorism campaigns (Chaliand,
Gerard, and Blin, 2007, p.182).