The pentagon and the white house were the key targets in 2001,due to their importance in the stability of America and in the defense system. Attacking these two institutions would be of great peril and consequently much satisfaction to the terrorists. The uncertainty surrounding the possibility and the likelihood of a terror attack has put the response system in US on its toes. Response and preparedness program have been stepped up in the hope, should the unexpected happen the nation would be able to avert possible high casualties.
The various preparedness programs initiated in the various cities seek to demonstrate to the people how to respond to the WMD in case it happens. Expert have stated that in case of a WMD attack, high casualties would most definitely arise from the fact that majority of the people would not be able to know how to respond to an attack of such scale, casualty hence would be high rationalizing the essence of such programs. These programs are costly enough to maintain and sustain them at their initial level.
They might run the risk of laxity or crying wolf. This is a scenario whereby the public might in the end down play the threat of WMD attack thinking that it might not come and it does, the big cities will be the first victims. As we have seen the threat of WMD terror attack is increasingly becoming unpredictable with some saying it is unlikely. However, the sheer size of the casualty is nerve wracking. The attack in the U. S soil of 2001 has brought to the surface and indicated how vulnerable the United States can be in the face of adversities.
The situation however would be further worsened by the lack of enough preparedness on the side of the population. Where the threat and the risk of such an attack cannot be quantified the risk in the loss of lives and property would be immense. Looking back at the evaluation of terrorism indicates that terrorism is changing its nature of organization and form. Whereas the traditional terrorist groups were organized with proper structures and the motivation being either political or ideological, the motivation behind the new terrorism tends to coalesce around religious issues.
They have become sporadic in their activities and can attack even when least expected. The large number of these terror organizations and the divergence in their demands also a factor to be put into consideration. This presents a myriad of problems especially when trying to understand the nature of the organization having taken religious angle, their actions and motives sometimes are not clear. This is what makes the threat of WMD terror attack to be more real than imagined.
The 9/11 attacks re-affirmed the terrorist’s viciousness as far as meting violence against innocent civilians is concerned. The ease of acquisition of some of the WMD is a major concern to the American authorities. With some perceived terror friendly states like Iran and Libya experimenting with nuclear technology, many shudder at what the next move of the terrorism might be. The steps taken by the U. S administration to step up domestic security are laudable and might in the long run bear fruits either averting the situation altogether or scaling down the intensity of the attack.
However, more still needs to be done. The role that the media plays in the nation has been over time recognized, however it has also its share to the blame. The terrorist organization uses the media to hype up their cause as well as cause panic in the population hence instilling psychological fear. While the certainty of a WMD terror attack is not know the media should exercise self restraint in its reportage and desist from exaggerating and sensationalizing on terror attacks and threats.
The war against terror attack especially the use of WMD cannot be won overnight but requires a multifaceted approach, an approach that seeks not to deal with the terror group but as well as find a lasting solution to the cause of terrorism.
References: Ian O. Lesser, Bruce Hoffman, John Arquilla. David F. Ro Feldt, Michele Zanini, Brian Michael Jerkins, 1999. Countering the new terrorism RAND. Omar Malik, 2001. Enough of the definition of terrorism. A royal institute of international affairs book broking institution press. Walter Laquer, 1999. The new terrorism. Fanaticism and the arms of mass destruction. Oxford University Press http://www.nonproliferation.org