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Global Terrorism And South Korea

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Introduction. Definition of Terrorism

The modern term “terrorism” dates back to 1795 when it was used to describe the actions of the Jacobin Club in their rule of post-Revolutionary France, the so-called “Reign of Terror”. A 1988 study by US Army found that more than one hundred definitions of the word exist and have been used. Most definitions of terrorism include only those acts which are intended to create fear, are prepared for an ideological goal, and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants. Terrorism in modern sense is violence or other harmful acts committed against civilians for political or other ideological goals.

Terrorism is used when attempting to force political change by convincing a government or population to agree to demands to avoid future harm, destabilizing an existing government, motivating a disgruntled population to join an uprising, escalating a conflict in the hopes of disrupting the status quo, expressing a grievance, or drawing attention to a cause. And it’s also often recognizable by a following statement from the perpetrators: violence, psychological impact and fear, perpetrated for a political goal, deliberate targeting of non-combatants, disguise, unlawfulness or illegitimacy.

Terrorism has been used by a broad array of political organizations: both right-wing and left-wing parties, nationalistic and religious groups, revolutionaries and ruling governments. A state can sponsor terrorism by funding a terrorist organization, harboring terrorism, and also using state resources, such as military, to directly perform acts of terrorism. There is a great variety of terrorist groups all over the world, all of them can be divided into several types: religious (Christian, Islamist, Jewish, Sikh), nationalistic (Irish nationalists, Ulster loyalists, Indonesia, Israeli, and Tamili), anarchist, leftist/communist/leninist/trotskyst/maoist/Marxist, ethnic terrorist (including neo-Nazis and white-supremacists), anti-communist, Cuban exile groups, Issue-specific (animal rights/environment; abortion), others ( Africa, France, Spain, the USA).

One of the most well known terrorist groups is Al-Qaeda, an international alliance of Islamic militant organizations founded in 1988 by Osama Bin Laden and other veteran after the Soviet War in Afghanistan. Its attacks began on December 29, 1992 when bombs at two hotels in Aden, Yemen killed two Austrian tourists. Al-Qaeda has attacked civilian and military targets in various countries, the most notable being the 911 attacks that occurred in New York City and Northern Virginia. These actions were followed by the US government launching a military and intelligence campaign against Al-Qaeda called “War on Terror”. In 2002, strong majorities supported the US- led War on Terrorism in Britain, France, Germany, Japan, India, and Russia. It is to be noted that 19% of the Chinese population supports the War on Terrorism, and less than fifth of the populations of Turkey, Egypt and Jordan support the effort. The true purpose of the war on terrorism, according to skeptics, is US control of Middle East and US domination in the world.


After several months of delay, on February 13th 2004, the South Korean Parliament approved a plan to deploy 3000 troops to Iraq. This additional contingent of 1400 combat Marines and Special Forces commandos and 1600 military engineers and medics were to be responsible for security and reconstruction in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk. This deployment, believed to cost Korea approximately $200 million, made South Korea the third-largest contributor to coalition forces after the US and the UK. Moreover this was the South Korea’s largest troops dispatch since the Vietnam War, when Korea sent more than 300,000 men over a twelve year period, forming the second largest army fighting in Vietnam.

South Korea’s decision to dispatch troops to Iraq served several Korea’s national interests. First, of all it helped boosting SK’s military alliance and bilateral relationship with the US and establishing new parameters for continued cooperation in the future. The US-ROK alliance had come under serious doubt due to perception of anti-Americanism in Korea. SK’s contribution to US- led efforts in Iraq was an important sign of support for America. Second, sending the troops to Iraq meant providing an invaluable opportunity for the ROK military to test their training and capabilities in a coalition environment. Third, SK was setting a new benchmark in Korean foreign policy by actively contributing to international security outside the Northeast Asia region in the post-Cold war era. To the forth, establishing a strong presence in Iraq and the region contributed to securing greater stability of energy supplies. South Korea relies on the Middle East for more than 70% of its crud oil supplies, which provide approximately half of its national energy requirements. By contributing to security and stability in the region, SK is actively participating in securing resources, rather than solely relying on the US to do so.

Several months later a terrorist act took place in a city of Iraq. Kim Sun-il, who worked for Gana General Trading Co., a South Korean company supplying the US military in Iraq, was kidnapped in June 22 not far from Baghdad by an Iraqi militant group believed to be linked to Al-Qaeda. Kim’s kidnapers had initially threatened to kill him at sundown unless South Korea canceled its troop’s deployment to Iraq. The government rejected the demand, standing firm with plans to dispatch 3000 soldiers in August. In a week US soldiers on a routine patrol found the body of the man, Kim Sun-il, 33, between Baghdad and Fallujah, 22 miles west of the capital, about noon. Kim’s body was booby-trapped with explosives but the explosives did not go off.

A videotape, apparently made shortly before his death and aired on Al-Jazeera, showed Kim kneeling, blindfolded and wearing an orange jumpsuit similar to those issued to prisoners at the US naval base at Guantanamo, Cuba. Five hooded men stood behind Kim, reading a statement and gesturing with his right hand. Another captor has a big knife slipped in his belt. One of the masked men said the message was intended for the Korean people: “This is what your hands have committed. Your army has not come here for the sake of Iraqis, but for cursed America.” The video did not say when Kim was killed. A spokesman for Al-Jazeera said the tape went on to show one of the men cutting off Kim’s head with a knife, which the station did not air.

South Korea convened its National Security Council



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