A Review of current Terrorist Organizations

Terrorism is very much on the mind of Americans today. Terrorism is defined by the FBI as violent activity in violation of Federal or state law, with the intention of intimidation or coercion of a populace or their government, to affect the policy or behavior of a government. It is delineated as international if it occurs outside the US against US interests, e.g., our foreign embassies, military bases, or American citizens abroad, or domestic terrorism that occurs within the confines of the US. (U.S. Department of Justice., n.d.). This is a look at the origins, leadership, motives and intent, and status of five terrorist organizations and the threat they to pose to the US.

1. Hezbollah

Hezbollah Aka ‘The Party of God,’ is a radical Shi’a Muslim terrorist group, identified as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the U.S. State Department in  October of 1997. Although their primary focus is against Israel, they have been responsible for many attacks against US interests, including the kidnapping and murder by torture of U.S. Army Colonel William R. Higgins and William Buckley, CIA Station Chief in Beirut. They were also behind the October 1983 suicide truck bombings of the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Americans military personnel, including 220 Marines, 18 Navy personnel and 3 Army soldiers and the U.S. Embassy annex in Beirut in September 1984.  Currently, Three Hezbollah members, Imad Mughniyah, Hasan Izz-al-Din, and Ali Atwa, are on the FBI’s 22 Most Wanted Terrorists list for the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847. During the hijacking one of the passengers, U.S. Navy Seabee Robert Stethem was murdered.

2. The Taliban

Their name in English translates into “the students”. The Taliban is a radical Islamist militant and political group which ruled large parts of Afghanistan, including the Afghan capital of Kabul, as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, until they were overthrown by US and allied forces in Operation Enduring Freedom. The Taliban later regrouped as an insurgency movement. The Taliban enforced a very literal and strict interpretations of Sha’ria (Religious) law. Akhtar Mansour was elected as the leader of the Taliban in 2015, following the death of leader Mohammed Omar in 2013, but as of November 2015, there is conflicting intelligence that he was either killed or badly wounded. For those who have doubts about US involvement in Afghanistan against the Taliban, I would offer the following for your consideration: The Taliban has been responsible for murder and severe oppression of human rights in areas they occupy. Vets returning from Afghanistan related the following to me:

“the Taliban would post flyers in a village, informing the residents this village was now under Taliban control Men had to grow beards, women could no longer leave their homes without being accompanied by a male relative, and had to be covered had to toe… anyone who resisted was shot. (Personal communication, name withheld, 2014) Note this rule could not be imposed among people who were armed. They had options.

“If an American soldier looked at a woman, the woman was beaten by the man accompanying her for “tempting him” (Personal communication, name withheld, 2015)

Here is a partial list of abuses and mistreatment under Taliban rule:

Women are forbidden to:

  • work outside the home.
  • engage in any activity outside the home unless accompanied by a mahram (husband or male relative
  • do business with male shopkeepers, merchants, or receive medical treatment by male doctors.
  • study at schools, universities or any other educational institution.
  • talk or shake hands with non-mahram
  • laugh or talk loudly or wear high heels.
  • be on radio, television or public gatherings, including playing sports, celebrations, any kind of recreation, or riding bicycles or motorcycles, even with a mahrams.
  • be visible on the balconies of their homes, and must paint windows, so women cannot be seen from the outside.
  • be photographed or filmed. Images of women cannot be printed in newspapers periodicals or books, or displayed on the walls of homes or businesses.
  • All women must wear a Burqa, which covers them from head to toe, and no brightly colored clothes because they are “sexually attracting colors.” No cosmetics are allowed.

Under Taliban rule, men and women cannot

  • listen to music, watch movies, TV, or videos, or use the internet.
  • have a non-Islamic name.
  • All must attend prayers in mosques five times a day.
  • Spectators at sporting events cannot applaud, but have to chant Allah Akbar (God is great).
  • Anyone who is in possession of “objectionable literature” or who converts from Islam to any other religion can be executed.
  • Men cannot shave or trim their beards, which must grow to “protrude from a fist clasped at the point of the chin. “ (n.a., n.d.; Taliban. (2016, April 4).

The Taliban was supported by Al-Qaeda, and are linked ideologically.

3. Al-Qaeda

Al-Qaeda means the ‘The Base’ or “The Foundation” when translated into English. It is a radical Sunni Muslim group founded in 1988 by Saudi national Osama Bin-Laden, who was put down on May 2, 2011 by members of Seal Team Six  (Al-Qaeda., 2016, April 3).  Al-Qaeda is best known for the 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia in 2001. Hijacked American Airlines flights 11, and United Airlines flight 175, were flown into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center, and American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon. The hijacking of United Airlines Flight 93 was stopped by the passengers on board before it could reach its target, which was believed to be either the White House or the Capitol. An Al-Qaeda member was also responsible for the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 (Terrorism in the United States, 2016, April 5). The leadership of Al-Qaeda has been largely captured or killed off, and their terrorist activities are typically carried out by lone-wolf operatives or groups of individuals who claim Al-Qaeda affiliation (Al-Qaeda., 2016, April 3).

4. ISIS (Islamic State of Syria and Iraq) aka  ISIL (Islamic state of Levant), Aka IS (Islamic State), aka the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham,

Aka Daesh

ISIS (Islamic State of Syria and Iraq) et al is a terrorist group originally formed of mostly Sunni Arabs from Iraq and Syria, though they now recruit followers from all over the world. ISIS is led Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Hood, 2015). As of 2016, ISIS controls parts of Iraq and Syria. A major difference between ISIS and Al-Qaeda, as well as other Terrorist groups, is that that ISIS is holding ground- they have become a nation. Numerous nations, including the US, UK, France, and Russia are engaging ISIS in Syria.  ISIS is persecuting Christians, requiring them to pay a Jizya, or tax to live in ISIS occupied territories, killing people by crucifixion and beheading, (which they consider a sacred duty), and is especially known for beheading Western journalists and posting it to YouTube. ISIS is especially adept at the use of social media. They use social media including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, a website, and a monthly periodical to recruit new members, propagate their doctrines, and publicize their activities.  The motive of ISIS is to a establish a worldwide Caliphate, which is a religious government, operated in strict accordance with Sha’ria law (Hood, 2015).

5. Boko Harum

The name Boko Harum means “Western education is forbidden” in Hausa, a local language in Uganda. This name originated when the group was headquartered in Maiduguri, Uganda. The group was founded by a radical Muslim cleric, Mohammed Yusuf in 2002. Boko Harum has received training and support from Al-Qaeda, and has aligned itself with ISIS. Most of Boko Harem’s violence has been confined to Uganda. They are especially brutal. They have beheaded truck drivers with chain saws to discourage trade, and in one incident, they kidnapped about 200 young girls to be sold into slavery (Chothia, 2015; Ford, 2014).

Keeping Perspective:

The primary goal of terrorism is to produce widespread fear, and for a populace and its government to react out of proportion to the actual threat. These terrorist groups present a threat to the United states, our foreign interests, and our allies.  But we must not panic and overreact with paranoia, or laws that infringe on civil liberties. Americans need to be united in our goal to protect our nation, and to maintain our way of life. This is yet another reason for American citizens to support our right to bear arms, so when the violence of terrorism comes to our nation, we will not be defenseless sheep.


Al-Qaeda. (2016, April 3). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:31, April 8, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Al-Qaeda&oldid=713394640

Chothia, F. (2015). Who are Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamists? BBC News. Retrieved April 6, 2016 from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13809501

Ford, J. (2014).The Origins of Boko Haram. National Interest.  Retrieved April 6, 2016 from http://nationalinterest.org/feature/the-origins-boko-haram-10609

Hood, G. (2015). What ISIS Really Wants? The Atlantic. Retrieved April 6, 2016 from http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/03/what-isis-really-wants/384980/

n.a. (n.d.). Some of the restrictions imposed by Taliban on women in Afghanistan Retrieved April 9, 2016 from http://www.rawa.org/rules.htm

Taliban. (2016, April 4). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:30, April 8, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Taliban&oldid=713591709

Terrorism in the United States. (2016, April 5). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:33, April 8, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Terrorism_in_the_United_States&oldid=713769881

U.S. Department of Justice. (n.d.) Definitions of Terrorism in the US Code. . FBI.gov. Retrieved April 3, 2016 from https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/terrorism

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