Awakening from the Algerian Nightmare of the 1990’s: the Rise and Decline of the Armed Islamic Group Essay

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Awakening from the Algerian Nightmare of the 1990’s:
The Rise and Decline of the Armed Islamic Group
Woodham R. Harvey
Introduction to Terrorism: PAD 4374
Florida State University

This paper discusses the modern definition of terrorism for the purpose of analyzing the present day activity of Islamic terrorist organizations with a primary focus on the Armed Islamic Group, or G.I.A., and the role it plays in the history and evolution of Islamic terrorism. Through the utilization of several anti-terrorist databases including the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism operated Global Terrorism Database (GTD) and the Institute for the Study of Violent Groups operated Violent Extremism Knowledge Base (VEKB), as well as the public records kept by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), an accurate profile and timeline for the group was formed and discussed. Mitigation efforts are assessed and alternative possibilities of action are discussed along with the group’s historical significance as an influencing source of modern terrorist tactics based on the information discovered in order to objectively understand their relevance in the world today.
Keywords: Armed Islamic Group, Algeria, terrorism

Terror is an intense, overmastering fear that expands far beyond the defining power of the English language. Terror is, in essence, the primary weapon of the terrorist. While the definition of terror is simple and straightforward, labeling the terms terrorist and terrorism creates a much more controversial social and legal debate that can be misunderstood amongst media and politicians alike. Perhaps one of the largest reasons the term terrorism is so loosely defined is due to the fact that the majority of organizations responsible for defining the term are directly connected to national governments. This creates a strong presence of biased opinions excluding the government from any part of the definitions. It is defined with the preconceived notion that a terrorist lacks order, legitimate cause, or morals. Due to this prejudiced approach to defining terrorism the enemy of the state may be often times be labeled a terrorist with the sole intent to destroy the credibility of a movement and to deter the advancement of its cause. Nevertheless, there are numerous “official” definitions of terrorism that are referred to by each respective organization to categorize their enemies as terrorists. The United Nations General Assembly Resolution 49/60 in 1994 defined terrorism as “Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious, or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them” (AZDEMA). While this may appear to be a very thorough definition, it still leaves out the subjective nature of those providing the definition. The terrorist of on country is the national hero of another. However, it is much more acceptable to prefer this UN definition to the one provided in the US Patriot Act of 2001. They define terrorism as “any crime committed with the use of any weapon or dangerous device when the intent of the crime is determined to be the endangerment of public safety or substantial property damage rather than for mere personal gain” (AZDEMA). Any serious crime where people are endangered can be deemed a terrorist attack by the Government under this definition. For the purpose of providing an efficient working definition of terrorism the UN definition will suffice with the addition of the acknowledgement of State-endorsed and State-sponsored terrorism. This includes acts of terror that are not directly fulfilled by the governments military against another but by outside agents and organizations…