“Terrorism” is a broad term that has traditionally been defined as “a mode of governing, or opposing government, by intimidation” (Webster’s Dictionary). Throughout history America and the world has seen its fair share of terrorists attacks. Possibly the most notable attack in our nation’s recent history is the attack that transpired on Sep. 11, 2001. This was a large scale attack, killing hundreds and leaving the survivors with physical and emotional scars that would last a life time. Since then, security measures doubled across the nation as we became a more wary America.
The attacks on 9/11 are known as “wholesale terrorism”, meaning they dealt in massive, indiscriminate deaths. Lately, retail terrorism has become a global trend. Retail terrorism involves the small-scale use of terror to achieve its goals. While these small acts may seem massive to the people involved, retail terrorism has a much smaller death rate and happens much more frequently.
Recently, the news has been buzzing with the phrase ‘Je suis Charlie’, which is french for “I am Charlie.” This phrase came about after two masked gunmen forced their way into the offices of a French satirical newspaper titled Charlie Hebdo. On Jan. 7 these two men fired about 50 shots in the office while shouting "Allahu Akbar" (Arabic for "God is [the] greatest"), and killed 11 people. After exiting the building, five others were killed with 22 people injured in all. A man hunt began and ended two days later when the attackers, who were brothers, were both shot and killed, exiting a building full of hostages. This horrific scene created a domino effect of retail terrorism when the following issue of Charlie Hebdo created unrest in Niger, resulting in the deaths of 10 people, dozens injured and at least nine churches burned to the ground.
Another, not so publicized, act of retail terrorism happened last month in the “land down under,” Australia. After a 16-hour hostage standoff, heavily armed police stormed a cafe in the heart of Australia's financial district. According to authorities, the gunman and two hostages were killed. The gunman had adorned the Sydney coffee shop with Islamic propaganda and forced the hostages to make videos where they stated the demands of the gunman. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the dead gunman, a self-styled Islamic cleric, "was well known to state and commonwealth authorities'' and had "a long history of violent crime, infatuation with extremism and mental instability.'' This act goes to show that even in a country as under the radar as Australia, retail terrorism has made it’s mark.These two instances demonstrate how attacks do not have to be marked by a national holiday to be prevalent in todays world. Shocking acts of retail terrorism happen daily across the globe but you don’t have to be scared, be aware.