Between Freedom and Security: How Can We Deal With Terrorism?

Apparently, this is the new normal: two terrorist attacks on one day (London and Brussels), the day before another attack in London and a week earlier – London again. In between such events, and not long before them, the world also witnessed attacks in France, Germany, and Russia, not to mention the frequent attacks occurring in Afghanistan and other MENA countries.

Western societies were exposed to domestic terrorism in the 1970s. But since that time, terror attacks seemed to be something that happened in faraway places — until 9/11 sent home a clear message: it can (and will) happen any place, any time. And after the carnage in Charlie Hebdo’s office in Paris, in January of 2015, it looks as if terrorist attacks, mostly committed by Muslim-related perpetrators, have become routine. Citizens have developed new ways of screening their environments, knowing that this can produce little more than a symbolic action.

While governments started to increase funding for police and intelligence operations, and CCTV cameras have proliferated, citizens seem to have become more fatalistic, continuing with their usual liberal lifestyles under the pressure ofincreased nervousness.

Is there anything liberal societies can do about this except adapt to new threat levels?

– Klaus Segbers

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Between Freedom and Security: How Can We Deal With Terrorism?
Article Name
Between Freedom and Security: How Can We Deal With Terrorism?
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In the post-9/11 world, the threat of terrorism has become an everyday feature of urban life across the globe. The increasing number of terrorist attacks has prompted rapid growth of security concerns and fear among the public at large. Amid the ongoing ‘war on terror’, the question remains how liberal societies understand terrorism and what responses are deemed to be acceptable.
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  1. Justas Paleckis 3 months ago

    The number of people killed by the hands of terrorists is ridiculously small compared to the number of road crash deaths. Today we accept the risk of death on roads as inevitable. Tomorrow, probably, we will similarly assess the risk of being killed due to explosion on the ground, in the air or in the water, due to gunshots or due to a car which is driven into crowd. These are the wages for our civilization’s generosity to the “golden billion”, while forgetting other seven billions, for the inability of mankind to eliminate wars and bloody conflicts. So, we will live in the routine atmosphere of increased nervousness. So, increased funding for police and intelligence will delay the time when the victims killed by terrorist attacks will outnumber the road crash deaths.

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  2. Alexei Voskressenski 3 months ago

    Do we really believe that the state, even with a liberal society, cannot do anything against international terrorism? If the answer is yes, than societies need only to adapt to a new reality with new threat levels. However, if the state’s special mechanism is dead to the extent of not being able to rebuff terrorism than what to do in case of war? Did states dismantle their war machines? No. And we are explained that the state’s war machines are ready to rebuff any threat. However, if states are ready to rebuff external threats, than why another militarized part of the state is not ready to answer the threat of terrorism? Police and special forces have no money for that? They are not prepared? If they are asked, they disagree to that. Terrorism strikes because societies are liberal? I do not believe that. States are unable to rebuff international terrorism because there is no coordination and no trust between special services, and because there is not enough political will to coordinate their efforts. The world is in a disbalance and discoordination and states are unable to coordinate their efforts because of that. Before the attack in Boston, Russian FSB notified American FBI of such a possibility, but no one believed and listened. And there are other examples. It is worth thinking about it.

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16 Comments

  1. Zoltan Eperjesi 3 months ago

    It is probable that there is no terrorism beyond the discourse of terrorism as this “dialog” also has its rules and settings. Although hundreds of scholarly books and studies have been published during the decades that means a millstone concerning the events of 9/11 on the topic field of terrorism, I think that there is no direct link between the power of today’s international terrorism and the fact that certain societies have developed into more liberal directions as conservative (or other) ones. However, nowadays there are several liberal/ constitutional frameworks, as well as various forms of terrorism and both main categories are generated by certain groups having strong leaders in the backgrounds. The states` discourse of terrorism, as any other serious issue, transmits remarkable influence on society. It is the explicit context to create the main theme, (thus terrorist) and its present characters in order to differentiate from the others. Accordingly, it is an ongoing process in managing the current political order, which is in continuous need of such reorganization. As a main component of the international terrorism “dispositif ” (Foucault) it consequently purposefully applies a wide-ranging package of tools – imposing measures as surveilling, disciplining, legal consequences (penology) – that rest on individual human bodies, populations and states. Therefore, it makes sense to historicize terrorism, which is a critical review avoiding to create a new theory on the concept. In this way the observer brings to mind the hidden understanding, elements and processes of power that constitute it by testing its principal objectifications. Terrorism studies, jurisprudence and media etc. are a base concerning the facts about terrorism. However, they are inclined to be unsensitized or sensitized, but by using such methods one can come to a distorted image of the considered object and to the contemporary practices of those in power who are making this kind of pragmatism possible and as a result these are also reflecting a public anesthesia condition toward adopted administrative, legal and political practices. By reading scientific works on terrorism, I was wondering about the high number of lamentations concerning the studied issue, which are included in the introductions, as there are accounts of how extremely problematic is to define the object, – especially because its politically disputed condition. Conversely, this “ritual actions” have no direct influences on the study itself. Ultimately, such accounts are a kind of experiment to gather firm statements and unbiased definitions about terrorism. In fact, it can be observed that the studied object is often fitted in the frame of reflexivity processes that is more or less stirred up by certain current events (reflections). These are often standing close to current power centers as it strengthens the logic of unity of terrorism, directing the interpretations to categorize the terrorist in plural as a united group. Thus, they are often presented as a wide group of key-actors with different political goals in various locations of the globe and they are exhausting a wide range of tools and practices of political violence to contest the current political order. One encounters concepts as “new terrorism” with its specific and ever-present dangerousness, having the potential to destabilize our current “modus vivendi” and certain terms are tied to our basic fears; and sometimes to certain irrational concepts picked out from Orientalist studies. In that respect, the latent omnipresence of the “modern” terrorism is often coming to the fore. By this kind of conceptualization and contextualization, the field of terrorism study is integrated in the international terrorism “dispositif” (Foucault), because it is connected to statements related to terrorism, also based on official affirmations issued by politicians, which are no standards approaches of scientific investigation to which it claims to stick to, while giving itself a scientific design by being analogous with the construction of reliable information, because it tends to openly or indirectly authorize the presented knowledge. The current concept of terrorism is uninterruptedly rewritten from many official sides. The very few textbook histories of terrorism do little to historicize the really determined concepts of terrorism and subsequently the existent ones are frequently inclined to backward projections of the nowadays notion of terrorism (that is frequently in limbo) to certain events that happened in the past, thus they are trying to frame the message within a certain continuity and to give relevant and perpetual meaning to its substance. This kind of ambiguity allows for a big volatility of only the accidental properties of the concept. If there is any doubt about what terrorism is, it only happens because of the many sided polarization within politics of the notion. Similarly, even the media is responsible for certain distortions (hunting bad headlines or spreading propaganda) of the concept of terrorism, despite the fact that a historical revision can illuminate without anger and zeal its exact characteristics. Nevertheless, it is to stress the difference between histories that naturalize facts and characters, rather than historicize. In such cases, terrorism is projected so backwards in time as possible, even in the antiquity; or the beginnings of civilization; or of written history with the start of modern terrorism usually dated to the late eighteenth century and connected to the French Revolution by presenting horrifying matches within this wide-ranging historical timescale. Works of authors as Law (2009), Blin/Chaliand (2006), Rapoport (1984, 2005), Hoffman (2006), Martin (2003), Gray (2003) or Laqueur (1977, 2001) are certain illustrative examples in this respect. Authors of this textbooks are also claiming that the present situations are surely unique and simultaneously they are openly legitimizing the procedures or extraordinary responses of the politicians of the period when these works were issued in their statements.
    To put it simply: such developments can be reduced to the vicious circle of how to represent certain interests/believes against the others or the outside world. The escrow issue concerning the topic can be described in the inability of mankind to eliminate wars and bloody conflicts as a main root of the problems. The globalized world is in a disbalance and discoordination. Accordingly, the potentials of growing insecurity circumstances also implies new political and other dimensions to the catchword of “security”. Although it may seem absurd, but history shows that is nothing new to address the fears of certain people or certain groups. Moreover, if somebody is keen to develop critical understanding about the concept of terrorism and political violence within the context of a multidisciplinary approach to security studies; – in that case it is also possible to better comprehend from specific perspectives the contexts, origins and development of such kind of violent conflicts. It is relevant to point out that terrorist acts do not only come from Islamists, Muslims, as it is often claimed. Terrorism is transnational and does not emerges only in Islamic countries. In the Koran it is written for all Muslims that all people of all states should behave peacefully. People who are committing suicide bombings (shootings, kidnappings, suicide bombing, and hijacking of ships, aircraft or other vehicles) or other kind of similar attacks in peaceful societies because of their beliefs are incited and manipulated persons who are condemned in the Islamic world as well. In the countries of the Third World, where people are often uneducated, are used by the terrorist organizations for their purposes. Human rights violations are on the daily agenda. Terrorists usually work in the underground and are often discovered too late by security services. Notwithstanding the above, it is a contemporary task for every citizen to be watchful towards particular groups, where it is believed that they are preparing terrorist attacks. This task, respectively the prevention of such attacks is a quite complex issue and cannot be only managed by the police and the security services of a certain country as it mostly happens beyond our daily views and the main targets are often civilians, high officials or all those objectives which can cause huge losses in order to hit the headlines. This concerns the unit of society in its entirety, meaning that there must be a good relationship with people of other cultures, races and religions. I am fully agreeing with the opinion of Alexei Voskressenski in his comment: “states are unable to rebuff international terrorism because there is no coordination and no trust between special services, and because there is not enough political will to coordinate their efforts.” It is fact that the attacks of September 11 on Washington, New York and further worldwide terrorist acts, committed by Islamic terrorists have had crucial multifaceted effects on all countries of the world. From that moment on, it is more than certain that no country can in principle be fully protected against such complex challenges. Since then, many states were caught up in a conflict of objectives between how to guarantee freedom and guarantee the security of citizens as a particular task of the government. I think that we need more in-depth and independent studies on terrorism in collaboration with experts coming from the region. Accounts should not be used for propaganda reasons or the legitimization of current legal and political measures. This account is no relativization on the concept of terrorism. It is based on the thoughts of Ondrej Ditrych. ‘Tracing the discourses of terrorism: identity, genealogy and the state by Ondrej Ditrych’, Critical Studies on Terrorism. 2014).

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  2. Anne-Sophie Rink 3 months ago

    As mentioned above, it looks as if terrorist attacks in Europe “have become routine”. At the same time, it has already been underlined above that the risk of dying in a terrorist attack is extremely small to lets say dying in a traffic accident. I understand that the felt terrorism threat cannot necessarily be explained in rational terms. However, we should try to live with growing insecurities and try to continue our everyday lives without letting such fears restrict our liberal lifestyles and our freedom – because this is what many of the attacks are aiming at.

    By the same token, I do not at all believe that more surveillance helps liberal societies to deal with terrorism. I do not think that increased restriction of personal liberties leads to more security. Examples from Germany have shown that terrorists were actually known to the police before and were still able to commit attacks.

    It may be true that the new terrorist attacks were “mostly committed by Muslim-related perpetrators”. However, instead of focusing on their identification as “Muslim” I would suggest to call those terrorist at the most related to “Islamic fundamentalism”. While this might sound like hair-splitting to some, I do believe one should be cautious not to contribute to reinforcing the image of Islam as a religion being directly related to terrorism. In my opinion, potential strategies to counter terrorist attacks committed by fundamental Islamists should focus on prevention and work against (religious) violent extremism. The INSIDE OUT project for instance seeks to prevent the radicalisation of young people in Germany (http://insideoutnow.de/inside-out-englisch/). This is a just a small starting-point but I do believe that such approaches can prove more fruitful in the long-term.

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  3. ALi pasha GHAFFARI 2 months ago

    Terrorist attacks in Europe has become a routine and gradually less people would pay attention to the true causes of Terrorism. IN my opinion Europe needs to deal with the issue not by security measures but mostly it is important to find its psychological and economic roots whith in dissatisfied groups inside EU countries. pointing to “Muslilms” or any other group does not solve the problem but makes it worse

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  4. Sivash Cavoshi 2 months ago

    Picking up on the notion of Terrorism as a social act constructed since 9/11 as an internationally supported crisis, we can deeply ruminate on how international organizations like UNSC permanent members including the USA and the UK brought their domestic security issues on international level to contain myriads of countries in the Middle East for political purposes. Given the fact terrorism is a political label that can dramatically change according to the context. I believe, even the concept of migrants are classified by states in different ways to manage flows of people where migration has become classified hinged upon their individual implications.

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  5. Reza Khabook 2 months ago

    First of all we should make difference between “freedom” and “security”. We should mean these two notions under the “Rights” and “Public Interest” or as Fernando Teson says “Social Policies of group”. In fact since rights are for individual person we cannot accept third generation of rights and we should mean them as public interest. Therefore, security is one of those public interests. According to this stand point when security and freedom face to conflict with each other we should do the Doctrine of Balance.
    At the end, by considering the situation that the number of terroristic attacks are increasing some people going to accept the new version of the idea of “Exceptionalism” but we have to be conscious about it.

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  6. Shiva Sharifzad 2 months ago

    Terrorism is highly discussed these days not only in political sphere but also in everyday life of the people affected by it or in fear of it. States are having special measures in order to prevent these actions which mostly are security-driven approaches. But we should scrutinize its real threat and possibilities before going into any reaction. This is necessary not only because our liberties are going to be limited by these measures, but also because it can be a guidance for recognizing the best response. Limiting the liberties for the sake of exceptional situation in a given society can be a threat for people’s liberties in overall and a potential for emergence of non-democratic regime. On the other hand the fuel for these terrorism groups is fear and the attention given to them. Fear can be utilized to get to one’s intention better than the action (the fear coming true) itself. Looking at United States approach after 9/11, all the fear of terrorism and the exaggeration was an excuse for states to ask for more budget for counter-terrorism measures which mostly had no real base. So the budget which could be used in more needed fields was spent for a fear, a threat which was worse than the situation it may come true.

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  7. Behzad Zerehdaran 2 months ago

    Even a simple survey would reveal that the majority of the persons who have committed terrorist attacks in Europe were born there and were actually the second or third generation immigrants. It is a clear indication that Europe fails to integrate these people with European society. These terrorists usually do not think that they have no significant bond with European society and even conceive “West” as the Evil.
    In my point, the most important factor that contributes to this perception about Europe is hidden bias and discrimination against Muslims and refugees. I believe States should adopt a policy in which an immigrant feels that he or she is welcomed into the host society, his or her dignity is respected, and his or her rights will not be violated while increasing the security standards.

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  8. Keyumars Ahmadi Tabar 2 months ago

    In my view the most important issue is security and maintaining the secure social condition. Because terrorist attacks will have its own negative externalities in social life and economy. But we should consider the opportunity costs of improving the security. Improving security means more control on citizens which is in paradoxical contrast with fundamentals of Liberalism and free will. In this condition and economic malfunctions within member states of EU, the main issue which is required for changing status quo is enhancing security for absorbing foreign capitals in this market.

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  9. Hamid Alamdar 2 months ago

    First, we should consider that this circumstance is exceptional and temporarily. Terrorism or populism flows emerge accidentally and affects mostly on the every event. So we should not create permanent limits for these exceptional circumstances. We conclude that every limit on the freedom will be temporary.
    The next point we consider is that the first goal of terrorism is the creation of terror. Terrorists confront with Liberalism, Pluralism, and tolerance and they itself Absolute goodness. So any combat with them should not destroy the principle of liberalism and pluralism.
    The third point is that combating terrorism should not lead to securitize the society. Macron’s plan for imposing the permanent emergency status is bound to transfer the suggestion of how to deal with terrorists and suspicious from judicial system to security organizations. As a consequence, it can decrease the power of judicial system. Another concerns is about the forbidding the activities of civil societies and oppositions which may be in contrast with the content of the constitution.

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  10. Mohammad Mahdi Dehdar 2 months ago

    I Think, one important point is to consider the terrorists who participate in these terror attacks. Some scholars claim that some of these terrorist are the second or third generation of immigrants that have not merged with society. So I think we should consider this social aspect of this issue. In fact we should answer to this question why these people participate in these attacks? One answer may be the point that I mentioned. So afterwards we should find a solution on this issue. Thus Liberal sociologist and liberal governments should try to find a way merge this people with the society in order to prevent such attacks.

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  11. Fadi Al Twal 2 months ago

    Hello everyone,
    dealing with this Terrorism is not an easy thing many reasons has helped in creating such groups, the main resource of these people is the middle east, and since I am from Jordan which is basically in middle east I fully understand the culture here.
    I believe long term plan can cure this issue, first the love of the country, I have lived and studied in Europe, in Germany to be precise and I have seen how are kids are being taught in schools how to love their country in indirect way, by teaching them hard work, support their talents, keep their country clean, teach them how to be productive this thing is missing from our countries, because they teach you to love certain people not country, they always teach you to defend your country and its symbols without understanding why ? they teach you to be emotional and feel your country, isntead of being responsible, they don’t teach you how to work for your country, how to accept other cultures and so on .
    poverty which plays a huge role in driving youth to this groups, clearly that ISIS financed logistically support by certain countries, so the fighters get money for this at the same time the use religion to support their ideas, so they think they will gain money and at the same time they will satisfy god, what can be better for Arabs ???

    Marketing and Propaganda ? who the hell is ISIS marketing manager ? because he is really good, further more who is the director of these movies ???? I am positive that they are not Arabs, Arabs aren’t that smart to produce such movies and do such marketing plans, who is running their website??? don’t they have server ?? is the CIA unable to hack their website ???
    thousands of air strikes have been on Reqa and still they live, I wonder if the air force has been striking their enemies with Potato or real weapons ?? according to the Number of airstrikes on ISIS and these planes if they have been dropping potatoes instead of missiles and bombs, they would have terminated ISIS long time ago, but there is something wrong with these airstrikes from personal point of view

    and there are many ways to deal with this ideology but the first step and I believe it is the responsibility of the western world, help improving the education in our countries to create a generation who believe in humanity, love life, stop being emotional and think better, so they can help our economy, I work three different jobs a day so I can live less than normal life in Jordan, even though I German Jordanian graduate, and worked really hard on my personal development so I can get decent Job, and still I didn’t get, because the good positions and salaries are for the son of the officials.
    we are evaluated for our connections and families in Jordan not according to our achievement in Jordan

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  12. Mohammad Mahdi 1 month ago

    I do believe that we can not separate Muslims from others neither in committing terror attacks nor in being victims. A fundamentalist bigot uses everything to spread terror and Islam is itself a victim in ISIS territories as Judaism is a victim in Israel.

    About the question, I think first of all its time for superpowers and their close partners to stop militarism and its crazy ascending trends! Saudi Arabia have spent more than 800billion dollars in its military program since 2000. So is Israel with more than 250billion dollars! in 2015 both spent more than 2000 dollars per capita in military fields! So if a typical liberal person believes that “Money Works” in most of situations, these statistics simply means “WAR” and there is no excuse to spend near 10% of GDP in such a way! From a superpower point of view, its time to ask that how could one gain billions of dollars from selling means of war and looking for more peace?! There is almost no boundary in 21st Century so if one sells a huge amount of weapons and harms peace somewhere in the world, today its more probable to face its results in the homeland. Unfortunately unrests and terrorist attacks is supposed to increase and nothing can reduce it except a global decision.

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  13. ZHENG Yingjia 4 weeks ago

    My question would be like, why can not Freedom and Security be compatible with each other, are they antagonisms? Freedom is something that we can not make a concession, even in the name of security. Everyone even should have the right to escape from being secured automatically or arbitarlity. We have the freedom to be unsafe, security could not be achieved through CCTVs only, but we seem to believe that CCTVs and supervisions are the sufficient answer. As we passed laws to gave governments secure our lives as they want, they will achieve their own Freedom in the name of anti-Terror. Maybe it is now to take a step backward and to reconsider the whole concept. We see CCTVs everywhere in China, in deed, we have lower Terror attacks in cities, but is that the society which the western also want to have? Terrorism must and only be defeated with light, transparent and more freedom, more freedom for discussion, more freedom for releasing the social fear. Here I would like to quote Franklin Delano Roosevelt, ”So,first of all, let me assert my firm belief: that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.“

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  14. Anni Zhang 4 weeks ago

    In China, we have a good saying is “if you were mean to die in a specific time,no matter what effort you try ,you can not avoid your death ” it sounds really rather fatalistic about what’s going to happen. But, it offer us a good ideas toward the terrorism. We should not be afraid of them. What gonna happen is gonna happen. if you are the one who be chosen to die, even a water choke could send you to heaven. What the terrorist aimed to achieve is making us ordinary people have fear. They making the single wolf type accidents makes the tragedy become unpredictable give you the feeling that you are no longer safe anymore. Increasing funds for polices can not solve the problem. EU should also focus on it,s loosely border control. Speeding up it,s integration on borden control, promoting sharing information system around EU and the world.

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  15. CHEN Si (GPSS) 4 weeks ago

    Debates on liberty and security are always existing, especially after the threat of terrorism in recent years, violations of civil liberties and optional arraigned for citizens are extremely sensitive. However, it cannot be ignored.
    As we know, “liberty” and “security” are two opposing values that are accompanied by the emphasis on excessive openness and liberty. As a result, many security policies in Europe and the United States have hidden dangers, such as the lack of many public transportation security, Schengen visa protocol is easy to cause the unidentified people into the border and so on.
    The first example: terrorist attacks of November 13, 2015 in Paris was a nightmare for people. Subsequently, Tusk, the President of the European council, pledged to “fight terrorism with all the methods and determination”. The second example: Americans have widely supported the installation of public surveillance videos over the past few decades, but they are now very worried about the government’s monitoring of private phones and mail, and 59% of them objected.
    To be sure, there will be more lawsuits in the process of our free exchange for security. But how do you make sense of personal privacy? What is reasonable? What is unreasonable? The laws on this field that should be clear are very vague. Perhaps the most important thing about the constitution is that people should be protected by the law. If government reduces social openness to respond to terrorism, which is to yield.
    Actually, terrorist incidents may be preventable, but it is inevitable. And the struggle for balance between liberty and security will not stop. The most important thing is that the price of safety is too great to be sacrificed to liberty.

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  16. Haiyu WANG 4 weeks ago

    Both Freedom and Security are the basic elements of our modern society. Facing the increasing threat of global terrorist attacks, some people may argue that the enhancement of government’s surveillance on terrorism would undermine people’s privacy and the freedom of expression. However, what we need to know is that there is no absolute freedom in the world. Given the fact that terrorism has gradually evolved into a global problem as it has developed and spread nearly all parts of the world over the past decades, some actions need to, and has to be taken by governments as well as international organizations (such as UN and INTERPOL) at both domestic and international level. There is no freedom without security, the only way to solve this problem is to search for a delicate balance between civil liberties and national security, and this would require the cooperation between citizens and government. People in our society should be aware of the fact that the government is protecting us from the threat of terrorism, accordingly, the government’s actions against terrorism also need to be complied with domestic and international law.

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