Tuesday, August 24, 2004

A brief history in terrorism.

Did you know the word terrorism was defined in 1795? (1)
Pronunciation: 'ter-&r-"i-z&m
Function: noun
Date: 1795
: the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion
- ter·ror·ist /-&r-ist/ adjective or noun
- ter·ror·is·tic /"ter-&r-'is-tik/ adjective

terrorism: "...the systematic use of terror or unpredictable violence against governments, publics, or individuals to attain a political objective. Terrorism has been used by political organizations with both rightist and leftist objectives, by nationalistic and ethnic groups, by revolutionaries, and by the armies and secret police of governments themselves."

Terrorism is defined in the U.S. by the Code of Federal Regulations as: "..the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives." (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85)
The FBI further describes terrorism as either domestic or international, depending on the origin, base, and objectives of the terrorists:
• Domestic terrorism is the unlawful use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual based and operating entirely within the United States or its territories without foreign direction committed against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.
• International terrorism involves violent acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or any state, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or any state. These acts appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or affect the conduct of a government by assassination or kidnapping. International terrorist acts occur outside the United States or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished, the persons they appear intended to coerce or intimidate, or the locale in which the perpetrations operate or seek asylum.

Our nation's first encounter with terrorists occurred at the end of the 18th century. Barbary pirates seized our American merchant ships that were no longer under British protection because we had gained our independence. (The term "Barbary" derives from Barbarosa ["red beard"] after Khair ad Din, also called "Barbarossa", who was a Muslim pirate during the Crusades.) Our American crews were sold off as slaves. So in 1785, we (the U.S.) agreed to pay $18,000 a year to the Tripoli-based corsairs in return for safe passage of our American ships. Similar agreements were made at the time with the rulers of Morocco, Algier, & Tunis. Then in May 1801, we decided we were not going to be coerced into the demanding increases made by the Pasha of Tripoli. The Pasha declared war on us. The only fear we had was that other Barbary powers would join Tripoli in the war. So we dispatched naval squadrons into the Mediterranean. In the years of 1801-1805, we blockaded their coast, bombarded the Pasha’s shore fortresses, & engaged in close, bitterly contested gun battles. Our Navy slogan was "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute!" One of our first Marine battles, in which we asserted our national power, was "on the shores of Tripoli" as declared on the Marine flag & in the Marine hymn. A peace treaty was eventually made with the Pasha Yusuf who was under the guns of our warships in Tripoli and William Eaton's forces at Derna (in Libya...where Marine Lieutenant Presley O'Bannon won the Mameluke sword, which is still part of the uniform today). This treaty disappointed many Americans.

The problem of Barbary pirates was forgotten about during the next decade, as Napoleon once again went on the offensive in Europe, and America went to war (all be it briefly) with Britain. After the war of 1812, American ships were once again under attack in the Mediterranean. A new Bey, Omar, had taken over the Algiers. He ordered the capture of American merchant ships because of overdue U.S. tribute. President Madison responded by getting Congress to authorize military action against Algiers in February 1815.
Two naval squadrons of nine warships, under the joint command of Commodores Decatur and Bainbridge were sent out. On June 30, 1815, under threat of heavy bombardment, the Bey of Algiers agreed to release all American prisoners without any ransom payment. He also agreed to a new treaty which protected the US from future predation by Barbary corsairs. Article II of the treaty stated, "No tribute, either as biennial presents or under any other form shall ever be required by Algiers from the United States on any pretext." Then in an unprecedented act, the Americans demanded that Dey Omar pay the United States $10,000 as compensation for property taken from its citizens. America was finally free from the treat of piracy in the Mediterranean. About a year later, Dey Omar wrote to President Madison, proposing a renewal of the tribute treaty the United States had signed with Algiers in 1796. Madison wrote back that "the United States, whilst they wish for war with no nation, will buy peace with none." He concluded that it was the "settled policy" of the United States "that as peace is better than war, war is better than tribute."
(3), (4)

Back in 1904, a Berber chieftain (Barbary pirate) named Mubu Ahmed er Raisuli decided he did not like the way the Moroccan government was being run. More particularly, he wanted to overthrow its sultan, Abdul-Aziz. (Another example of terrorists doing things and somehow dragging us into it.) Apparently, Abdul-Aziz allowed the French free reign in his country as long as they provided him with things like: an assortment of bicycles, 600 cameras, 25 grand pianos, & a gold automobile. (Morocco did not have roads.) Raisuli wanted to embarrass the sultan. So he kidnapped Ion Perdicaris - a wealthy American - and his stepson in the hopes that the United States would get involved & draw worldwide attention to the incident. (Do these tactics sound familiar?) The American consul in Tangier, Samuel Gummeré, requested a warship as a show of force. President Theodore Roosevelt sent four. Even though Raisuli had a reputation for returning messengers with their throats cut or just sending back their decapitated heads in melon baskets, President Roosevelt dispatched negotiators to the terrorist's camp. Raisuli had finally agreed to free his hostages after a month of negotiations. He agreed to certain political concessions & $70,000 in ransom from the Moroccan government. But he called off the deal the day before the scheduled release. American newspapers printed the ultimatum given to Consul Gummeré by Secretary of State John Hay, as ordered by President Roosevelt:
"Perdicarus alive or Raisuli dead."

The telegram originally said, "This Government wants Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead." And yet it had no effect on Raisuli's decision because it did not reach Morocco before he changed his mind again: the matter was settled, the ransom paid, & the hostages freed. For 40 years, it was not known that Perdicaris had registered as a Greek citizen during the Civil War in an attempt to protect his landholdings in the Confederacy, which otherwise would have been confiscated when he failed to answer a draft call. And he never reinstated his American citizenship. It was all later revealed in a biography of Hay. President Roosevelt & his troops kept this information mum in order to continue the stand rather than recall the fleet he had dispatched. This information had not been learned until after the negotiations had already begun.

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