The Globalization of Heartland Terror: International Dimensions of the Oklahoma City Bombing (1995)

Mathieu Deflem
www.mathieudeflem.net

This paper was presented at the annual meeting of the Law & Society Association, Toronto, June 1995.

Cite as: Deflem, Mathieu. 1995. "The Globalization of Heartland Terror: International Dimensions of the Oklahoma City Bombing." Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Law & Society Association, Toronto, June 1995. Available online via www.mathieudeflem.net.



This paper offers a discussion of selected aspects of the Oklahoma City bombing, specifically the immediate response following the bombing when suspicions were raised that the perpetrators were members of foreign terrorist organizations. This paper reviews the dynamics of these initial reactions. Additional notes are offered on the role of the media in the world of terrorism.

The Geography of Terror

On Wednesday, April 19, 1995, at 9.02 am, a bomb devastated the nine-stories Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City. The death-toll initially stood at 21, with hundreds of people missing. Late April, 110 people were confirmed dead, and on May 5 the search for bodies was halted with the death-toll at 164. After the building was demolished late May, three more corpses were found, bringing the total death-toll to 168, including a nurse who had died during the rescue operation, with over 500 people injured.

The most striking response following the bombing, even more conspicuous than the loud and angry cries to bring the perpetrators to justice, was the utter outrage that such a ferocious act had taken place in America, and not in one of its political and economic centers but in a Middle-American town. "We're just a little old cowtown," said Bill Finn, one of the fire-fighters involved in the rescue operation. "You can't get no more Middle America than Oklahoma City. You don't have terrorism in Middle America" (New York Times, hereafter NYT, April 20, 1995, pp. A1, A13).

The possibility of a terrorist attack striking America was unheard of in the minds of American citizens who are more accustomed, as one report claimed, to viewing major disasters in "places like Somalia, Rwanda, Chechnya and Bosnia." For most Americans, the report continued, terrorist-related disasters remain distant, black and white images, "like the grainy films of Nazi death camp corpses being bulldozed into mass graves. Long ago. Far away. Would never happen here" (Chicago Tribune, hereafter CT, 1995i).

One by one people across the country said the same thing, "this does not happen here." A rescue worker observed, "It happens in countries so far away, so different they might as well be on the dark side of the moon. It happens in New York. It happens in Europe" (NYT, April 20, 1995, p. A1). Newsreports reiterated the theme that terrorism "doesn't happen here. It looked like Beirut" (Newsweek, May 1, 1995, p. 26).

But the bombing did take place in the United States, in the very center of the country, "deep in America's heartland" (Newsweek, May 1, 1995, p. 26). "It's not Jerusalem, It's not Baghdad. It's not Bolivia. It's Oklahoma", a survivor declared (Ibid., p. 23). Headlines emphasized the shocking recognition: "Terror at Home" (Ibid., p. 3), "Home Grown Terror" (U.S. News, May 1, 1995, p. 1), "This Is America" (NYT 1995r).

The incidental location of Oklahoma City in the geographic mid-point of America inspired the most frequently used metaphor to describe the bombing, "Terror in the Heartland." Other media headlines likewise stated, "A Blow to the Heart" (Time, May 1, 1995, p. 36), "Terror Visits America's Heartland" (CT 1995b), "A Strike at the Very Heart of America" (U.S. News, May 1, 1995, p. 51). The choice of metaphor clearly expressed the theme that the terror of Oklahoma City was felt all over America, that the "Heartland city" had turned into "our town" (Lyfestyles, 1995, pp. 4-5).

That such a tragic event had taken place in America disrupted feelings of taken for granted safety and had to imply that terrorism could strike anybody, anywhere, any time. "It could happen anywhere," said the director of a child-care center. "It happens all over, and now it's hitting home... You think, it could happen any day. Anywhere," a parent complained (CT, April 21, 1995, p. 16). "If any statement was made," political scientist Douglas Simon said, "it's that any place can be targeted" (NYT 1995j). And a journalist remarked, "Yes, there is no place in this country, let alone in the ever-shrinking world, that is absolutely safe from violence" (CT 1995j). William Studeman, acting head of the CIA, confirmed that the Oklahoma bombing indicated "the true globalization of the terrorist threat" (CT 1995d).

Amplifying the unsettling emotions of terrorism hitting home was the chilling fact that the bombing had children among its casualties. Hours after the bombing, when hundreds of people were still reported missing, 17 of the 21 people confirmed dead were children from the building's day-care center. The father of a surviving child remarked, "I've seen soldiers...cut in half, heads cut off. That was war. These are children. This is not a war. This is a crime" (Time, May 1, 1995, p. 62).

The fact that children had died in the bombing heightened the sense of vulnerability and awareness of the horror, but the children also served to share grief and unite against the terrorist act. The day after the bombing, President and Mrs. Clinton held their weekly radio address before 26 children in the Oval Office. They urged the children to express their fears about the blast. Through Oklahoma City, all of America was struck, and through the children, all Americans were hurt.

A World of Suspects

The recognition that terror had hit America was so devastating that to bridge the severe clash between expectation and reality, the guilty were readily presumed to come from abroad. Terrorism in America did not make sense if it had not originated from outside America's borders. Following the first reports of the bombing, various sources hinted at the involvement of international terrorists. Several news organizations reported that investigators were looking for several Middle-Eastern men who had driven away from the building shortly before the blast (NYT 1995a). Soon after TV cameras had arrived at the scene, former Oklahoma Congressman Dave McCurdy was talking to CBS reporters about "very clear evidence" of the involvement of "fundamentalist Islamic terrorist groups" (NYT, April 20, 1995, p. A12). McCurdy reminded viewers that not long ago a PBS documentary, Jihad in America, had reported on Islamic militants meeting in Oklahoma City. Few hours later on CNN, Senator James M. Inhofe, a Republican who cursorily noted that he had beaten Mr. McCurdy for the Senate seat last year, called Mr. McCurdy's remarks a disservice. Then came a CNN report of suspects of Middle-Eastern appearance being pursued. Then came a CNN denial. But then came a CNN report that two or three such men were being sought. Then it was reported that three Arab men had been arrested (NYT, April 20, 1995, p. A12; Newsweek1995a). Later in the evening, on the TV show Larry King Live, McCurdy repeated that an Islamic conference full of "fire-breathing rhetoric" was held in Oklahoma City in 1992. That was one reason he said he knew terrorism "could happen here" (Time, May 1, 1995, p. 70).

The first list of suspects was long, including possibly anybody but surely foreign suspects. An early newsreport announced that "Middle Eastern groups have held meetings in Oklahoma City, and the city has a number of Arab-American residents" but also added that "far larger Arab-American populations exist in other cities like Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles" (NYT1995a). Even McCurdy did not rule out domestic terrorists. "It could be a right-wing, anti-government militant group", he said (CT 1995a).

In the absence of a claim of responsibility for the bombing, the first days were full of speculations. The date of the bombing, April 19, was linked to the Branch Davidian tragedy in Waco, Texas, which had taken place two years earlier to the day. The accusation was denied by surviving Davidians. Vague connections to tensions in the Middle East, retribution for American interventions, and lingering Persian Gulf war bitterness were added to the list. The Nation of Islam was quick to deny unverified rumors (CT, April 20, 1995, p. 18). Another report called the connection with the anniversary of the Branch Davidian assault a "more far-reaching" theory than the fact that American planes had "bombed Libya nine years ago this month" (CT 1995a).

During his first public address on the bombing, President Clinton stated that the terrorist act was an "attack on the United States, our way of life and everything we believe in" (Lyfestyles, 1995, p. 15). This expressed and confirmed the anti-American character of the bombing and it at least implicitly insinuated that guilt lay outside America's borders. Clinton added that searching and convicting the perpetrators was "not a question of anybody's country of origin,... not a question of anybody's religion" (Lyfestyles, 1995, p. 15). The disclaimer, of course, only made sense in view of a suspicion towards Middle-Eastern Muslims.

The many suggestions that international terrorists were involved had some remarkable implications. In the press, speculations of foreign involvement on occasion turned into straightforward accusations. "Ending forgiveness," a commentary headlined, stating that "although the West will not deliberately bomb civilians, it will attack terrorists and their encampments wherever found" (NYT 1995d). One of the harshest responses came from Mike Royko, a writer for theChicago Tribune, known well for his invariably insensitive and racist editorials. He not only accused foreigners for the bombing, but also proposed that U.S. authorities should immediately retaliate by bombarding "a country that is a likely suspect." If it happens to be the wrong country, he added, "well, too bad, but it's likely it did something to deserve it anyway" (CT 1995c). The statement sustained the view that terrorism divides nations, good and evil, splits the world apart between savagery and civilization. Nations that "help terrorism with weapons and money, or paint other people as Satans whose murder is a gift to God" were put opposite from and at war with the "target nations" (NYT, April 25, 1995, p. A15).

The day after the bombing, defense lawyers in the terrorism trial of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and 10 other men in New York took advantage of the presumed foreign element in the Oklahoma City bombing. The lawyers made requests for a mistrial and for jury sequestration because their clients' right to a fair trial would be imperiled by news reports about the Oklahoma City bombing. The judge denied the requests but instructed jurors to avoid news accounts of the Oklahoma City bombing, emphasizing that the Oklahoma attack "is not part of this case" (NYT 1995c).

The early accusations of Arab-American suspects prompted Islamic leaders across the U.S., who obviously feared a backlash against Muslims, to immediately condemn the bombing and offer assistance in bringing the perpetrators to justice. The Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee condemned the bombing as "a cowardly act" and warned against premature speculation about the identity of those behind it (CT 1995a). The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago issued a statement denouncing the bombing and noting "the tragic state of affairs that Muslims feel special pressure to express this condemnation" (NYT 1995b). Muslim organizations abroad, such as the Hezbollah and the Lebanese Shiite party in Lebanon, also condemned the act (NYT 1995e). And Arab-American organizations stressed that radical Jews are as much tied to the United States as are radical Muslims and that certain Islamic fundamentalists had received training from the CIA during the fight against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan (NYT 1995i).

The urgency Arab-Americans felt to condemn the bombing betrayed how much they too were pondering the possibility of foreign involvement or at least fully realized the presumptions others would make. Moreover, the fact that Muslim organizations denounced the act of terror, raised money for the victims, offered blood and provided care to survivors, did not halt abuse against Muslim Americans. Several mosques across the country received telephone threats. "We have your address and we are going to do what you did, killing our children", a caller said on a message recorded at a mosque in Richardson, Texas (CT 1995e). Sparked by anti-Muslim messages on some of Oklahoma City's talk radio shows, several Arab-American citizens were harassed. A few hours after the bombing, Imad Enchasi, a restaurant manager, offered to shake a friend's hand but heard him proclaim, "Your people had better not have done this" (CT 1995e). Several children of Arab descent were reported to have been abused by classmates urging them to "go back to where you came from" (NYT1995h). In Chicago, the windshield of a car belonging to a Palestinian person was smashed while the local Mosque Foundation held a blood drive and a fundraiser for the Oklahoma bombing victims (CT 1995g).

Suhair Al Mosawi is a 26-year-old Shiite Muslim and refugee from Iraq (NYT 1995h). The day of the bombing, someone threw a rock through a window of her home in Oklahoma City. Frightened by the event, Mrs. Al Mosawi, who was 7 months pregnant, felt terrible pains in her abdomen, began bleeding uncontrollably, and few hours later gave birth to a stillborn boy. "His name will not be listed among the victims of the bombing," a newsreport stated (CT, April 25, 1995, p. 20).

Racism and the prevailing conception of terrorism as a foreign phenomenon do not fully explain what is involved here. A more basic phenomenon is revealed: the human inclination to attribute all that is evil to forces far away, beyond one's familiar surroundings. As a journalist expressed, "From what universe beyond the one that most of us inhabit does this kind of evil arise?... For what reason [were children killed]? Because there are wackos roaming the earth?" (NYT, April 22, 1995, op-ed page). The initial solution, to blame foreigners in general and Muslim fundamentalist in particular, made sense in view of Americans' general ignorance on international affairs, our collective conscience about terrorism, and long-standing xenophobic strains in American culture related to slavery, anti-Semitism, segregation and enduring racial antagonisms. But, more fundamentally, it also revealed, as one commentator aptly remarked, "how important it is for us to place the blame somehow outside what we conceive of as 'our' culture, and in so doing to declare the soundness of that culture" (CT 1995j). Moreover, although the realization that terrorism could and had hit America was difficult to acknowledge, at least the goals of international terrorism seemed familiar, and the proper American response seemed clear, namely putting pressure against foreign governments that sponsor terrorists and striving towards more and better surveillance of known and suspected terrorist groups (NYT, April 24, 1995, p. A16). The anger against foreign terrorists, moreover, could have been channeled against a fixed enemy, "uniting the country as only an external enemy can do" (Newsweek 1995a, p. 55). But the suspects were "actually fellow Americans" (CT 1995j).

The Enemy Within

On April 20, one day after the bombing, the FBI issued warrants for the arrest of two suspects described as white males. The "sickening evidence" indicated that the enemy was not some foreign power "but one within ourselves" (NYT, April 23, 1995, p. E1). The horror was "homegrown" (Newsweek, May 1, 1995, p. 28).

Terrorism, at first tightly intertwined with an evil taking place only abroad and then at least originating from afar, was now differentiated and qualified. The distinction between international and domestic terrorism was introduced. But the switch was not easily made. After all, explosives similar to the ones that were reported to have destroyed the federal building in Oklahoma had been used in a terrorist attack on the U.S. embassy in Beirut in 1983, and a Ryder truck like the one that was reported to have driven its deadly load to Oklahoma City had also been used in the World Trade Center bombing (U.S. News 1995b, pp. 37-38). On the day authorities released news of the white-male suspects, one could still read that the two white males did not "appear" to be foreigners (NYT, April 21, 1995, p. A9).

With the warrants for white-males made public, Muslim organizations in the U.S. and across the globe were seeking for apologies for the early finger-pointing. Some newsreports did offer apologies to the foreign-born Americans who had been harassed and abused (CT 1995h; Newsweek 1995a), but others reminded that few days before the Oklahoma City bombing, Ramzi Ahmad Yousef, the alleged mastermind of the New York Trade Center explosion, issued a statement from jail claiming that because the United States supports Israel, it is a partner in all the crimes committed against Palestine and Palestinians. Because taxes from American citizens are used to support Israel, the statement asserted, it is "logical and legal" to hold the American people responsible for all these crimes and Palestinians "have a right to hit at American targets" (CT, April 23, 1995, sec. 4, p. 3). Five days after the bombing, an editorial discussed the domestic nature of the bombing and the early suspicions of foreign involvement but still remained cautious: "investigators have increasingly come to believe that this was a domestic act of terrorism against the Government... The early theory that the bombing might be the work of terrorists from abroad...is fading. That should give pause to all those who jumped to air-trigger accusations. Now the nation will be forced to look more closely at what is happening within its own borders, where the evil is more difficult to acknowledge... The presumed perpetrators in Oklahoma are not, it seems, foreign terrorists" (NYT, April 24, 1995, p. A16).

Before the suspects were caught, Weldon Kennedy, the FBI agent in charge at the bombing site, did not rule out possible connections to Muslim fundamentalists. Asked at a news conference if the description of the suspects as 'white males' precluded them from being of Middle-Eastern origin, he replied, "Certainly not" (NYT, April 21, 1995, p. A10). The suspects, it was reported, did not have accents and did not have appearances that suggested Middle-Eastern origins, so that the early speculations that the bombers might be Middle-Eastern were "apparently squashed, at least for now" (NYT, April 21, 1995, p. A10). Two days after the bombing, Attorney General Reno stated for the first time that the terror "seemed to be a domestic case." Other officials said they remained "open to all possible motives, including international terrorist links" (NYT, April 22, 1995, p. 10). But, still, the warrants for the suspects went not by Arab names but were described as John Doe #1 and John Doe #2, like in the Frank Capra movie title, "resonant of everything American" (Newsweek 1995a, p. 55).

The initial shock that terrorism could hit home was doubled when the first person arrested in connection with the horrendous crime was "not a swarthy foreigner who plotted his villainy in a nerve center in Tripoli, Libya, or Brooklyn, N.Y., but a crew-cut native son with good cheekbones and a firm jaw whom we ourselves had trusted and trained to defend our country" (CT1995j). Robert Coles, a Harvard University psychiatrist and social historian, said, "We know this country can handle external enemies, but for one of our own to strike a blow against the Federal Government, against our own family, is very unnerving, very frightening" (NYT, April 23, 1995, p. E1).

The search for the enemy within had detailed investigations mixed with pure luck (NYT, April 22, 1995, pp. 1, 8; Newsweek1995b). At the bombing site, an FBI agent found a piece of metal with a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) belonging to a rented truck. Also available was a videotape from a bank's automatic teller machine with the image of a Ryder truck. Using a national computerized information system, the VIN informed investigators that the truck came from Elliott's Body Shop in Junction City, Kansas. The truck had been registered under false names, but witnesses were able to provide the images of John Does #1 and #2. At the Dreamland Motel in Junction City, a woman recognized in one of the sketches a former guest who had registered under the name Tim McVeigh. In the meantime, less than two hours after the bombing, McVeigh had been arrested by Oklahoma Highway Patrolman Charlie Hanger for driving without a license plate and concealed-weapons charges. McVeigh's car had a sticker on the bumper that read "American and Proud" (NYT, April 22, 1995, p. 10).

Timothy J. McVeigh, alias John Doe #1, was brought to the Noble County jail in Perry, Oklahoma. A telephone tip from a former co-worker confirmed McVeigh's name and identity. Through a national computer search, federal authorities discovered the arrest of McVeigh, who was handed over to the FBI and charged with malicious damage and destruction of a federal building. He faces the death penalty.

McVeigh's license bore the address of a farm in Decker, Michigan, owned by the brothers James and Terry Nichols. Terry Nichols surrendered to police in Herington, Kansas, and James Nichols was detained. The three men were linked to the Michigan Militia, an anti-government paramilitary group, and described as sympathizers of the Branch Davidian cult. The Oklahoma City federal building housed offices of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms which took part in the Waco raid exactly two years before the Oklahoma bombing.

On April 25, a new sketch of John Doe #2 was released, but investigators came to believe the sketch could be based on erroneous witness accounts or refer to Joshua Nichols, Terry Nichols' 12-year old son. Later, a third sketch was released and investigators claimed the hunt for John Doe #2 was still on. By mid-June, several former Army enlisted men, look-alikes and drifters had been investigated by police officials, but John Doe #2 was not found. Terry Nichols was charged for aiding and abetting the bombing. His brother James has been released although he faces unrelated explosives charges. Beyond the two arrests, investigations on the bombing remain unclear as to the perpetrators' intent and planning (NYT1995u).

The suspects police caught were not foreign or foreign-born. "They're from America", a resident from Decker said. "What had seemed so far removed from us has indeed shown up in our backyard", a local priest echoed (CT, April 24, 1995, p. 1). Following the news that the Oklahoma terror had its roots in America, citizens struggled to comprehend that the bombers could be some of their own.

By the time Americans had been arrested, earlier reports on foreign involvement had to be retracted. But journalist Mike Royko, who had earlier suggested bombing a foreign nation, on May 10 still responded inconsiderately, "I apologize for having been the only person in America with the far-fetched notion that Middle Eastern terrorists could have been involved. Next time, I'll know better. If it isn't the Norwegians, it is surely the Swiss" (CT, May 10, 1995, p. 3). Misplaced cynicism aside, little has been said about the fact that the arrested suspects are white. That should not come as a surprise were it not for the fact that, as one commentator rightly feared, the color of the perpetrators could have mattered had they not been white, testified by the sense of relief among African-Americans that "at least the culprits were not black" (NYT 1995m).

A Global Dragnet

Police actions with a distinctly international character had taken place before and during the time the search turned to the John Doe suspects. "There is no place to hide. Nobody can hide anyplace in this country, nobody can hide anyplace in this world", President Clinton had warned during his first public address on the bombing (Lyfestyles, 1995, p. 15). After the President was informed of the bombing, he asked advisors if the airport at Oklahoma City could be closed to keep the bombers from fleeing abroad. But Leon Panetta, Clinton's chief of staff, advised against the idea because it would pose civil-liberties issues (Time, May 1, 1995, p. 65). On the day of the bombing, Israel's President Yitzhak Rabin called to offer his country's "antiterror expertise." But the President's advisors warned that enlisting Israel "might look anti-Arab" (Newsweek 1995b, p. 30). When Attorney General Janet Reno was asked at a press conference whether authorities were accepting help from the Israel government "because it has a vast experience with this sort of thing," she replied, "We will, of course, rely on any additional resource that can possibly be involved and be utilized appropriately in bringing these people to justice" (NYT, April 20, 1995, p. A14).

Early newsreports that an international police search was being conducted did not specify much of the actual operations. It was said that "U.S. authorities launched a worldwide search for suspects," that "Federal authorities consulted with other governments in a search for any foreign terrorists who might be involved in the bombing", that "International police agencies were enlisted in the search" (CT, April 21, 1995, p. 1), and that the "authorities scrambled round the world all last night and all of today for solid tips" (NYT, April 21, 1995, p. A12).

The day of the bombing, authorities discounted news accounts alleging that the FBI was searching for three suspects described as Middle-Eastern in appearance. But it was also reported that officials focused on the possibility that the attack had been the work of Islamic militants (NYT 1995a) and that some officials were focusing on Iranian student groups in Oklahoma (CT, April 20, 1995, p. 16). In the hours after the bombing, Secretary of State Warren Christopher told reporters that he had sent Arabic interpreters to aid the police investigations (NYT 1995h).

The next day, when warrants for the white-male suspects were already released, vague reports were still discussing that three "Middle Eastern-looking men" had been arrested in Oklahoma and Texas (CT, April 21, 1995, p. 14). Although the FBI denied any arrest, rumors persisted that three Middle-Eastern men had been picked up Wednesday night and held on immigration charges after they stopped to ask directions of an Oklahoma state trooper. The trooper supposedly checked out the car's license plates and found they should have been on a rental car, which was found at a motel in Oklahoma City (CT, April 21, 1995, p. 14).

The case of a fourth Middle-Eastern man was less covered in veil. The history of his case clearly evinces the international character of the police actions following the bombing and the effectiveness of "the dragnet that spread throughout the world after the bombing" (NYT, April 21, 1995, p. A12; see NYT, April 21, 1995, pp. A10, A12; CT, April 21, 1995, p. 14).

In the evening of Wednesday, April 19, a man was singled out for attention by Customs officials at O'Hare International Airport, Chicago. His appearance matched a profile of possible suspects, which included "young men traveling alone to destinations like the Middle East," issued by the FBI to "police agencies and airport authorities throughout the world" (NYT, April 21, 1995, p. A12). The man, it was reported, was "dressed in a jogging suit familiar to one that a witness in Oklahoma City reported seeing worn by a man at the scene of the explosion" (NYT, April 21, 1995, p. A12). Customs officials said the man, a young Arab-American whose name was not released, had checked onto a Chicago-bound American Airlines flight Wednesday in Oklahoma City. The plane was to continue from Chicago to Rome and eventually to Amman, Jordan, aboard an Alitalia jetliner. Federal officials said he was "looked at" by Customs agents and FBI and immigration officials before departing (NYT, April 21, 1995, p. A10). Questioning led the agents to discount the possibility of the man's involvement. But customs officials in Chicago talked to the man so long that he missed his flight to Rome. He changed to a flight to London, but his luggage was aboard the plane to Italy.

The luggage arrived at Leonardo da Vinci Airport, Rome. The Italian news agency AANS confirmed the bags were checked in at Oklahoma City, with final destination to Aman, Jordan. Three bags were seized by Italian authorities at the request of, or, as some reports stated, in direct collaboration with, American investigators (NYT, April 21, 1995, p. A10). The bags were found to contain "what the authorities called non-explosive materials, including needle-nosed pliers and silicon, that could be used to make explosives,... three gym suits, evidently similar to those said by witnesses to have been warned by person seen near the site of the bombing" (NYT, April 21, 1995, p. A10), in addition to "kitchen knives, aluminum foil, spools of electric wire,... photographic materials, a video recorder and a photograph album with pictures of military weapons, including missiles and armored vehicles" (NYT, April 21, 1995, p. A12) as well as "electrical tape" (CT, April 21, 1995, p. 14).

At London's Heathrow Airport, early Thursday morning, the man, described as a Jordanian-American who lives in Oklahoma, was detained by British immigration authorities. Law-enforcement authorities in Washington said they wanted to interview the man (NYT, April 21, 1995, p. A10). The British Home Office announced that a man was returning to the U.S. after landing at Heathrow Airport Thursday morning on a flight from Chicago. He was returned by plane under armed escort to the United States. Televised news accounts portrayed the British detention of the man as a major break in the case. Chief of staff Panetta received a Reuters dispatch about the detention and return back to the United States of the Jordanian-American passenger.

A hint that Britain was involved in the search for the bombing perpetrators had come earlier from Prime Minister John Major who said he had been in touch with President Clinton to offer condolences. Major added, "I have told him that we are ready to help in any way we can, and, as events will show, we are assisting." Mr. Clinton thanked Major for British help in the swift detention of the man. Attorney General Reno confirmed that the man was being accompanied back to the U.S. and was viewed as a "possible witness". After arriving at Dulles International Airport Thursday night, the man was held for further questioning by the FBI in Washington.

On April 22, a brief article in The New York Times reported that the man was released (NYT 1995f). The detainee was identified as Ibrahim Abdullah Hassan Ahmad, a volunteer teacher of Arabic at an Oklahoma mosque and a naturalized American of Palestinian descent. Mr. Ahmad said he had been mistreated by British authorities and that people had dumped trash on his lawn and spit on his wife (NYT 1995h). It was also confirmed that three other men had been questioned and were now released. In Dallas, Texas, Anis Siddiqy and Mohammed Chafi were released on Thursday, April 20, after Mr. Siddiqy had been questioned for 16 hours by FBI and ATF agents and the apartment of Chafi, where Siddiqy stayed, had been searched. Siddiqy's brother Asad R. Siddiqy was released in Oklahoma City. In the meantime, the international manhunt had made way for a localization of the enemy within.

Nations United In Terror

The recognition that terrorism could hit America was not easily made. But the bombing had occurred and comparisons with incidents of terrorism in other countries were made because the pictures of the shattered building in Oklahoma "evoked images of Beirut" (NYT, April 23, 1995, p. E1). The Oklahoma City explosion demonstrated that "the terrorism that has become part of life in Ulster and Jerusalem and a collection of other Middle Eastern and European datelines most commonly noted for long-running tragedy can visit the United States too" (CT, April 20, 1995, p. 18). "Beirut, Okla.," one headline summarized (NYT 1995g). "Throughout Europe and the Middle East," it was argued, "fear of terrorism long ago invaded the daily routine" (CT 1995d). President Clinton, incidentally, first heard of the bombing when talking to Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller, who explained that Turkish attacks on Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq were a retaliation against terrorism (Time, May 1, 1995, p. 65).

Newsreports overseas almost triumphantly proclaimed America's loss of innocence. The U.S. now must recognize it is "no longer impervious" to terrorism, the French paper Le Monde asserted. The U.S. can no longer "reprimand small countries" for terrorism, a Cairo newspaper said. And newspapers in England and Germany warned against American responses to beef up the FBI and a return to McCarthyism (NYT 1995o).

In turn, American reports repeatedly stated that the United States could and should learn from foreign nations' experiences. "Even a top-security democracy like Israel cannot halt the suicide bomber," one reporter commented. And while "Americans have become blase about airport metal detectors," perhaps they should "get used to police with flak jackets and armored water cannons standing guard outside public buildings." That, after all, has already become "a regular part of the sometimes-grim urban landscape in Britain, Germany, Greece and Spain" (CT, April 21, 1995, p. 18). Americans by now are getting used to metal detectors in airports, but, a reporter remarked, such measures are "tame" compared to those that people have learned to accept "in countries where terrorism is a fact of life." In Israel, for instance, citizens accept them "as protective rather than invasive" (NYT, April 23, 1995, p. E1).

The renowned American philosopher Richard Rorty concurred that "Britain has been coping with terrorist bombs for generations without much retrenchment of civil liberties. If they can do it, we can too" (Time 1995a, p. 71). A columnist confirmed that "other democracies - Britain, France, Germany and Israel - have found it possible to strike a balance between safety and fairness. So can we" (NYT, April 22, 1995, op-ed page). Can we? In the wake of escalating IRA violence, Britain in 1974 introduced the Prevention of Terrorism Act which gave police broad search powers and the possibility to detain suspects for 7 days without charge (Time 1995a, p. 71-72). It remains to be seen whether such measures could pass the test of constitutionality in the United States.

Immediately transcending the comparisons with other nations was the distinctly Anti-American character attributed to the attack. The bombing was "a continuation of war by handier means", a manifestation of "spasms of anti-American warfare that defy the understanding of rational people" (CT, April 21, 1995, p. 18). This interpretation concurred with President Clinton's description of the bombing as an attack against America. And because of the anti-American nature of the bombing, America herself should respond in a distinctly American way. Most clearly, patriotic pride in the aftermath of the bombing was revealed in the rescue operation, with fire-fighters, law-enforcement officials, Red Cross volunteers, engineers and medical experts coming to the rescue from all across America. The "Heroes of the Heartland" brought out in exemplary manner "The Soul and Character of America" (Lyfestyles 1995; U.S. News, May 8, 1995, p. 10). No doubt the rescue operation mobilized many Americans in a united effort to heal the injured nation. Dr. Clyde Collins Snow, a forensic expert working at the bombing site, had previously identified victims of government massacres in Argentine, Chile and Kurdistan. He was one of the experts who identified the skull of Nazi doctor Joseph Mengele in Brazil, and he had recently participated in an unsuccessful attempt in Bolivia to trace the remains of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (NYT1995e).

The New World Order

A distinctly international component is also revealed with respect to a distinctly intra-American phenomenon related to the bombing. It concerns aspects of the strategies and philosophies of the militia movements the suspects of the bombing have been linked to. While the precise connection between the charged suspects and the militia movements is unclear, the issue is worthy of discussion in the Oklahoma case if only because public discourse in press and politics has established the link and drawn this peculiar phenomenon to the center of debate.

The militia movements encompass a variety of groups, including the Aryan Nation, the Ku Klux Klan, the Holocaust-denying Liberty Lobby, survivalists, tax protesters and right-wing radicals defending family values, Christian beliefs, property rights and the right to bear arms. A first cross-border theme is revealed by the fact that they use the electronic internet to spread their ideas and tactics. On the internet, a newsreport stated, "extremists spread hate with every keystroke" (CT 1995f). 'Cyberhate,' for instance, is an electronic site transmitting the messages of a white-supremacist group (NYT 1995s). 'A Movement in Arms' is the name of an internationally disseminated computer program with information on building bombs and waging war against democratic governments (NYT 1995k). Other on-line messages generally contain anti-government rhetoric and have specifically contemplated whether the Oklahoma City bombing was the work of the U.S. government. These postings were listed under a category called "Oklahoma Reichstag," a reference to the 1933 burning of the German Parliament for which Adolf Hitler falsely blamed communists. Callers and hosts on the World Wide Christian Radio, a Nashville-based radio station, confirmed that the federal building in Oklahoma was destroyed by U.S. authorities "on behalf of a secret international cabal, the New World Order" (NYT 1995q). Certain militias confirmed this theory, asserting that the person accused for the bombing, Timothy McVeigh, is thought to be a federal agent, just like Lee Harvey Oswald (NYT 1995t).

On May 11, the Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information held a debate on the use of the internet by groups advocating terrorist activities. It discussed ways to curb violence-inciting speech on the internet and reported that a week after the Oklahoma bombing an on-line message read, "I want to make bombs and kill evil Zionist people in the government. Teach me" (NYT 1995s). The Simon Wiesenthal Center tracked down 50 hate groups on the internet over the past year (U.S. News 1995b, pp. 37-44).

But right-wing militias do not only cross physical borders through high-tech communications within the United States, they also organize on a global scale. In The New York Times, Ingo Hasselbach, a self-professed former neo-Nazi from the former East-Germany, confessed to having been in contact with "a flourishing international network of neo-Nazis and racist movements" (NYT 1995k). He claimed the groups united in their hatred towards government authority, Jews and the multicultural society. Most of their instruction materials, the former neo-Nazi conceded, came from extremist groups in Nebraska and California where, unlike in Germany, the printing of such material is constitutionally protected.

Another cross-border theme of the militia movements concerns their philosophies (NYT 1995p, 1995q, 1995t; U.S. News, May 8, pp. 37-44). Next to a general resentment against federal government, blamed for the 1993 Waco tragedy, the 1992 shooting of the wife and son of white-separatist Randall Weaver in Idaho, and the 1993 Brady Law, militia groups also count among their targets non-white ethnic groups, specifically blacks and Asians, referred to as "mud" people, and Jews, described as the "children of Satan." Evoking the ominous prospect of one-world government and millennium doom, their enemies further include the so-called Zionist Occupation Government (ZOG), the United Nations, the Russians, the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations, Interpol and the Red Cross. The United Nations is seen as a force designed to take control of the United States in order to create a one-world government. Foreign U.N. troops, it is claimed, are training in America, using Los Angeles gangs to serve global government. To undermine America's sovereignty, Jews control international banking and have taken over the currency as demonstrated by the all-seeing Freemasons' eye and the slogan Novus Ordo Seculorum (wrongly translated as 'New World Order') on the back of the one-dollar bill. Black helicopters are spying on Americans, while road signs contain secret codes to direct foreign invaders. The zebra-stripped Universal Product Code will eventually be tattooed on everybody by laser to ease surveillance by the big panoptic eye. One of the early suspects of the bombing, James Nichols, renounced all formal identifications and in a letter to the Sanilac County clerk he characteristically called himself "a nonresident alien, non-foreigner, stranger."

The label with which all evil originating abroad is described is "The New World Order." Apparently, the usage of the term can be traced to the secret society, Yale's Skull and Bones social club. President George Bush, a Skull and Bones member, first used the term in 1990 when he was rallying the world against President Saddam Hussein of Iraq. A month later President Bush used the term again, now calling on the United Nations to ban certain chemical weapons. For many members of the militia movements, that was proof of an evil world-wide plot against the United States (NYT 1995p). The New World Order also featured as a favored target in Pat Robertson's book of the same title, noting that "a single thread runs from the White House to the State Department to the Council on Foreign Relations to the Trilateral Commission" (NYT1995l). Although much has been said about President Clinton's rush to condemn right-wing radio hosts as "promoters of paranoia," it can be noted that Mark Koernke, leader of the Militia at Large and a short-wave broadcasting favorite of the militias, regularly signs off with the decree "Death to the new world order!" (NYT 1995l).

The Laws of Terrorism

Asked about the proper legislative response to the Oklahoma City bombing, famed sociologist Amitai Etzioni stated it would be "disingenuous and ignorant to argue that if we introduce a few carefully crafted limitations on what individuals may do, we will slide down a slippery slope into a police state" (Time 1995a, p. 71). Etzioni did not provide details on this careful crafting, but declared communitarian aspirations should certainly involve public debate on the matter. For better or for worse, the reawakened Omnibus Counterterrorism Act has meanwhile provided the most discussed forum for the legislative and police responses needed to thwart terrorism.

The Counterterrorism Bill was originally introduced by Representative Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) in 1993 in response to the World Trade Center incident. It provides for anti-terrorism measures that allow government to use evidence from secret sources in deportation proceedings for aliens suspected of terrorist involvement. Under the measure, authorities would not have to disclose the source of the information and if classified information would be used to charge an alien with terrorist involvement, the person would only get access to a summary of the government's case (NYT, April 21, 1995, p. A12). The Bill would also include new sanctions for legal migrants who overstay their visas and less liberal terms for granting political asylum to foreign refugees (CT, April 21, 1995, p. 12).

The Counterterrorism Bill increasingly received support because concerns with terrorist threats, domestic as well as foreign, have loomed large after the Oklahoma City bombing. The universality of terrorism, in the sense of the sameness attributed to terrorists with respect to motivations and actions, provided the key justification in this respect. For as Gregory Cooper, acting chief of the FBI's Investigative Support Unit in Quantico, Virginia, remarked about terrorist activity, "Whether it's domestic or international, you're talking about the same kind of mind-set" (CT, April 21, 1995, p. 14). Likewise indicating the generic nature of terrorism, a journalist commented that the decisive law-enforcement response against the "terrorism threat, domestic and foreign," should come from "penetrating suspect organizations with spies recruited at home and abroad" (NYT, April 22, 1995, op-ed page). President Clinton urged Congress to pass the Bill along with promises of 1,000 new law-enforcement personnel and broader FBI police powers, including access to phone bills, credit reports and transportation records of suspected plotters (NYT, April 24, 1995, pp. A1, A10; U.S. News 1995a).

Although debate on the Bill has flared in the aftermath of a bombing whose suspects are American citizens, the proposed measures affect mostly foreign suspects of terrorism. Representative Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.) complained the Bill did not go far enough. He wants it expanded to keep potentially dangerous foreigners from entering the United States. "We should keep them from getting into the country in the first place," Hyde said. "Remember," he added, "no foreign national has a right to enter the United States" (NYT, April 21, 1995, p. A12). Moreover, Hyde commented, "We've always been the freest country in the world. Our country is like a giant hotel lobby. But the first duty of government is to protect its citizens" (U.S. News 1995a, p. 29). Asked about domestic terrorism, Hyde suggested the issue would have to be taken up separately, perhaps in the context of anti-crime legislation (CT, April 21, 1995, p. 12).

But others, including Arab-American organizations (unlike some Jewish advocacy groups), the A.C.L.U. and civil libertarians, have denounced the Bill because, in the words of James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute, it would "seriously erode civil liberties" (Time 1995b). The Bill has also been condemned as misguided because it would allow government authorities to deport aliens who have committed no crime but made contributions to organizations branded 'terrorist' by the Government. The Oklahoma terrorists can still win, it has been said, when they manage to have legislation passed that would erode the "freedom that comes from a democracy" (NYT 1995g, 1995r).

The enduring concentration on the foreign element in the terrorism debate is among the most striking results of the Oklahoma City bombing. An amended version of the anti-terrorist Bill has recently been introduced in the Senate by Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). After considerable debate, the Comprehensive Terrorism Prevention Act of 1995, as it is called, could count on bipartisan support, particularly since certain provisions no longer include some of the President's original suggestions on the tagging of bomb ingredients and the broadening of wire-tapping authority (NYT 1995v). The Senate approved the Bill on June 7, 1995, on a vote of 91 to 8 (NYT 1995x). To fight domestic terrorism, the Act includes increased penalties for federal crimes related to terrorist activities, greater powers of access for the FBI to certain personal records, and the creation of a domestic anti-terrorism agency headed by the FBI. To curb international terrorism, the Act incorporates provisions that increase financial rewards for information on international terrorism, add 1,000 federal police to fight terrorism, treat international terrorism as a federal crime, ease the deportation of suspected aliens, prohibit citizens to give money to groups the President designated as terrorist, and allow the State Department to deny visas to suspected members of terrorist groups or to people who come from countries that are deemed to sponsor terrorism (NYT 1995w).

The amended Act, then, does include measures against domestic terrorism, as Rep. Schumer had announced it would (NYT 1995n). Strikingly, during Senate hearings on the Act, early June of 1995, the provisions affecting domestic suspects of terrorism received most attention, while the provisions affecting foreign involvement quietly slipped through the maze of congressional scrutiny. The legislative proposal comes in the wake of a Congress-mandated annual report issued by the State Department, Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1994, stating that the number of international-terrorist acts have declined to a 23-year low last year (NYT, April 29, 1995). The Oklahoma City bombing has proven far more powerful than any statistics on worldwide terrorism.

Despite the fact that the arrested suspects of the Oklahoma City bombing are Americans, reminders that terrorism is first and foremost a threat from abroad have remained manifold. A commentator stated, "The Oklahoma massacre apparently was the work of American terrorists. Most other attacks against Americans came from the Middle East. Action against foreign terrorism remains at least as important as against American" (NYT, April 25, 1995, p. A15). Another report claimed that while "Americans apparently died at the hands of other Americans" in Oklahoma City, "we should not let ourselves be diverted from the other menace to America's civil society - Muslim extremists. They come from virtually every country and organization involved in terrorism in the Middle East... We are a target of outside forces" (U.S. News 1995c). Another article asserted, "Millions of undocumented people from all over the world have found their way to stay in recent years. For well-financed, determined terrorists, it's almost as easy as buying a plane ticket... Congress, in recent years, has made it easier for people with terrorist connections to enter the country and harder to deport them. This can be changed - and must be, immediately... Dealing with dangerous domestic cults and violent individuals is trickier" (CT, April 23, 1995, sec. 4, p. 3).

The policing of domestic terrorist threats is 'trickier' apparently because it poses civil-liberty concerns. The control of foreign suspects of terrorism, it seems, does not. The initial suspicions towards foreign involvement in the Oklahoma City bombing made little notice of civil liberties or rights of the suspects. A presumption of innocence was never mentioned and issues of human rights have never been linked to the debate. The critical issue is not only that early accusations of foreign involvement have proven wrong. Rather, one should wonder what would have happened if foreign terrorists had been involved. Would the need for protection from terrorist threats then have interfered with a continued commitment to liberty and justice? Would it then have proven true that, as J. Edgar Hoover once remarked, justice is merely incidental to law and order?

Concerns over civil rights have rightly been raised against certain provisions of the proposed anti-terrorist Act. But it is striking that they have been discussed only since the suspected perpetrators of the Oklahoma City bombing were known to be American citizens. With concerns on security raging high and the debate on anti-terrorist legislation reactivated, the ironic conclusion may well be that precisely because of the domestic nature of the Oklahoma City bombing, calls for boosting international law enforcement against foreign suspects, possibly reaching beyond the boundaries of human rights, have never fared better.


References 

Chicago Tribune (1995a) "Foreign or Domestic, List of Suspects Is Long" (by Linnet Myers and Timothy J. McNulty), April 20, p. 16.

____ (1995b) "Terror Visits America's Heartland" (editorial), April 20.

____ (1995c) "Time to up the Ante Against Terrorism" (by Mike Royko), April 21, p. 3.

____ (1995d) "Trading Privacy for 'Security'" (by Timothy J. McNulty), April 21, p. 15.

____ (1995e) "Muslim, Middle Eastern Communities Fear Backlash" (by Stephen Franklin), April 21, p. 15.

____ (1995f) "A Dark Labyrinth of Terrorist Logic" (editorial), April 21, p. 18.

____ (1995g) "U.S. Muslims Are Looking for Apology" (by Bonnie Miller Rubin), April 22, p. 6.

____ (1995h) "Shattered by Home-Grown Terror?" (editorial), April 22.

____ (1995i) "Manny Jarred at Finding Suspect Is an American" (by Howard Witt and Lisa Anderson), April 23, pp. 1, 15.

____ (1995j) "The Day After" (by Carl Smith), April 25.

Lyfestyles (1995) "Heroes of the Heartland," Special Issue of Lyfestyles Magazine.

The New York Times (1995a) "Intensive International Hunt Is On, But for Whom" (by David Johnston), April 20, p. A10.

____ (1995b) "Fear About Retaliation Among Muslim Groups" (by Emily M. Bernstein), April 21, p. A9.

____ (1995c) "Defense Denied Mistrial Request Over Oklahoma Blast Publicity" (by Joseph P. Freid), April 21, p. A9.

____ (1995d) "Ending Forgiveness" (by A.M. Rosenthal), April 21, p. A15.

____ (1995e) "Forensic Experts Face Great Problems" (by Malcolm W. Browne), April 22, p. A11.

____ (1995f) "Authorities Release Detainee in Bombing", April 22, p. A11.

____ (1995g) "Beirut, Okla." (by Thomas L. Friedman), April 23, p. E17.

____ (1995h) "Muslims Continue to Feel Apprehensive" (by Melinda Henneberger), April 24, p. A9.

____ (1995i) "In Arab World, Bitterness and Anger Over Early Finger-Pointing" (by Yossef M. Ibrahim), April 24, p. A9.

____ (1995j) "New Images of Terror: Extremists in the Heartland" (by Serge Schmemann), April 24, p. A12.

____ (1995k) "Extremism: A Global Network" (by Ingo Hasselbach), April 26, p. A19.

____ (1995l) "New World Terror" (by Frank Rich), April 27, p. A17.

____ (1995m) "The Racial Undertones of the Oklahoma Bombing" (by Adonis Hoffman), April 28, p. 23.

____ (1995n) "Life and Liberty" (by Charles E. Schumer), April 28.

____ (1995o) "Overseas, Oklahoma City Bombing Is Seen Through Prism of Experience" (by Serge Schmemann), April 30, p. A18.

____ (1995p) "Inside the World of the Paranoid" (by Timothy Egan), April 30, sec. 4, pp. 1, 5.

____ (1995q) "The Conspiracy That Never Ends" (by George Johnson), April 30.

____ (1995r) "This Is America" (by Anthony Lewis), May 1.

____ (1995s) "Panel Focuses on Internet as Tool for Terror" (by Michael Janofski), May 12, p. A14.

____ (1995t) "World of the Patriots Movement is Haunted by Demons and Conspiracies" (by Michael Janofski), May 31, p. A12.

____ (1995u) "Bomb Inquiry Continues Its Hunt for Conspirators" (by David Johnston), June 1.

____ (1995v) "Senate Votes to Aid Tracing of Some Bomb Ingredients" (by Jerry Gray), June 6, p. A9.

____ (1995w) "Debate Over Handguns Ties Up Terrorism Bill" (by Jerry Gray), June 7, p. A14.

____ (1995x) "Senate Approves Anti-Terror Bill by a 91-to-8 Vote" (by Jerry Gray), June 8, pp. A1, A12.

Newsweek (1995a) "Jumping to Conclusions" (by Jonathan Alter), May 1, p. 55.

____ (1995b) "Cleverness - And Luck" (by Evan Thomas), May 1, pp. 30-35.

Time (1995a) "How Safe Is Safe?" (by Richard Lacayo), May 1, pp. 68-72.

____ (1995b) "Rushing to Bash Outsiders" (by Richard Lacayo), May 1, p. 70.

U.S. News & World Report (1995a) "After the Heartbreak" (by Steven V. Roberts), May 8, pp. 27-29.

____ (1995b) "An Epidemic of Fear and Loathing" (by Joseph P. Shapiro), May 8, pp. 37-44.

____ (1995c) "The Inside-Outside Wars" (by Mortimer B. Zuckerman), May 8, p. 68.


A Note on Crime and the Media: Media, Terrorism, and Muslims
(April 1996)

1) Terrorism and the media, as a topic of social-scientific inquiry, has moved to the foreground since the mid 1970s, i.e. the era of first highly publicized terrorist activities. A recently published bibliography (Alali and Byrd 1994) lists over 700 sources pblished since then.

2) In media and terrorism research, the most recurring theme is of terrorists using the media as a tool to further their goals (granting of air-time to get sympathy and support). Terrorism wants to make it to the evening news, seeks its message to be broadcasted, (ab)uses the mass media (Nacos 1994). Terrorism and the media have a symbiotic reltionship (Rada 1985) because both have the objective of commanding attention, delivering a message, and influencing opinion. This corresponds to terrorism as a specifically goal-directed activity (Gibbs 1989): the political objectives of terrorism are prominent. Also, the visual effects of terrorist acts are well suited for television.

3) Consequence:
Most discussed from a socio-legal perspective is the tension between First Amendment rights, on the one hand, and security concerns with respect to media coverage of terrorist events, on the other. Typically, this leads to discussion of how to look for a proper balance between these conflicting interests and objectives (Finn 1990), particularly in the case of live events of ongoing terrorist activities. Also, the news media have guidelines for terrorist coverage, e.g. the CBS News Standards includes avoidance of "inflamatory catchwords or phrases, the reporting of rumors" (Alexander and Latter 1990, p. 140).

4) International Terrorism:
In the media coverage of terrorism, Paletz and Boiney (1992) argue on the basis of a review of extant research, all terrorism is considered very newsworthy, but the emphasis is on international terrorism. In regional terms, there is an emphasis is on the Midle East and Western Europe. Domestic terrorism, state terrorism, and terrorism in Africa, the Far East and Latin America are under-reported. And, not all terrorist acts are (as much) reported.

5) Nationalistic media coverage:
Media coverage of terrorism is nationalistic, an extension of a country's foreign policy (Wittebols 1992) and therefore offered are narrow interpretations of world affairs and biased, one-sided accounts.
This kind of media reporting serves, as Durkheim argued with respect to punishment, to maintain social cohesion, to provide an affirmation of shared moral sentiment (Schattenberg 1981). Indeed, media have social control functions like punishment (they appeared at the same time as public spectacles disappeared).

6) The Islam World:
Walker (1993) observed biased reporting on terrorism because of a lack of familiarity with the religion of Islam, even though it has about 950 million followers. In terorism, an "Islamic Connection" is easily assumed, while non-Islamic terrorist activities are often not defined as such (e.g. Israeli attacks are not called terrorism, but seen as isolated criminal events).
All of this, in fact, is reinforced by a (real) history of Islamic involvement in terrorist activities: the Black September attacks at the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, in 1972; the Iran hostage crisis in November 1979-January 1981; the TWA Flight 847 hijacking in 1985; the hijacking of the Achille Lauro, an Italian cruise ship, in 1985; the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing in Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988; the Persian Gulf War in 1990; and the World Trade Center bombing on February 26, 1993.
Also, the best known terrorist groups are Islamic, e.g. Abu Nidal, Black September, Hamas, Hizbollah, Islamic Jihad, Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

7) Society - Media:
The Canadian criminologist Richard Ericson (1991) suggest that the connection between edia, crime, and law should not be seen in terms of an action-reaction model. He argues, against effects and dominant ideology models (that particularly address the distorted information problem and/or view the media as a factor in a state's maintenance of power and class constellation), that there should not be drawn a split between media and context. The media are not merely reporters, they actually participate in social reality (are part of society). As such, the media also send out multiple influences and messages. The viewer or reader negotiates the media's messages with existing structures, personal experiences and immediate contexts to form an extra-situational, not a face-to-face, interaction.

Additional References

Alali, A. Odasua and Gary W. Byrd. 1994. Terrorism and the News Media: A Selected, Annotated Bibliography. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

Alexander, Yonah and Richard Latter. 1990. Terrorism and the Media: Dilemmas for Government, Journalists & the Public. Washington, DC: Brassey's.

Ericson, Richard V. 1991. "Mass Media, Crime, Law, and Justice." British Journal of Criminology 31(3):219-249.

Finn, John E. 1990. "Media Coverage of Political Terrorism and the First Amendment." In Alexander and Latter 1990, pp. 47-60.

Gibbs, Jack P. 1989. "Conceptualization of Terrorism." American Sociological Review 54(3):329-338.

Nacos, Brigitte L. 1994. Terrorism and the Media: From the Iran Hostage Crisis to the World Trade Center Bombing. New York: Columbia University Press.

Paletz, David L. and John Boiney. 1992. "Researchers' Perspectives." In Paletz and Schmid 1992, pp. 6-28.

Paletz, David L. and Alex P. Schmid. 1992. Terrorism and the Media. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Rada, S.E. 1985. "Trans-National Terrorism as Public Relations." Public Relations Review 11(3):26-33.

Schattenberg, Gus. 1981. "Social Control Functions of Mass Media Depictions of Crime." Sociological Inquiry 51(1):71-77.

Walker, Robert. 1993. "Most Muslims Aren't Terrorists But Do We Make That Clear?" The Gazette (Montreal) April 5, p. B3.

Wittebols, James H. 1992. "Media and the Institutional Perspective: U.S. and Canadian Coverage Terrorism." Political Communication 9(4):267-278.


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