History of Terrorism

Terrorist acts or the threat of such action have been in existence for centuries. Historical examples of terrorist events can be traced, in writing, to biblical times; the Romans were known to have both practiced and been the recipients of terrorist activities. (Carr, 2003).

The earliest known organizations that exhibited aspects of modern terrorism were the Zealots of Judea, and the Sicarri, theand Jewish groups active during the Roman occupation of the first century Middle East. The preferential weapon of the Sicarri (literally, Dagger Men) was the sica, a short dagger which they used it for murdering those those (mainly Jews) they believed to be traitorsy deemed apostate and, thus, selected for execution.The Zealots, who generally targeted Romans and Greeks, gave the modern term Zealot, one translation of which is “a fanatical partisan.”. (Merriam-Webster, 1984).

Such killings usually took place in daylight and in front of witnesses, with the perpetrators using such acts to send a message to the Roman authorities and the Jews who collaborated with them. This tactic was adopted by subsequent generation of groups which are now known as terrorists.

The Assassins, also deemed as a terrorist organization, were an eleventh century offshoot of a Shia Muslim sect known as the Ismailis.They also perhaps also recognized the significance of high publicity as do contemporary terrorists.

Like the Zealots-Sicarri, the Assassins were also given to stabbing their victims (generally politicians or clerics who refused to adopt the ‘purified version of Islam’ they were forcibly spreading) (Bugress, 2003; Rapaport, 1965). The term Assassin (from where the modern term assassination is derived) literally meant ‘hashish eater’- , -which is in reference to the ritualistic drug-taking, they were perhaps falsely rumored to indulge in prior to undertaking their murderous missions. (Bugress, 2003; Rapaport, 1965). Often, the Assassins’ deeds were carried out at religious sites on holy days – a tactic intended to publicize their cause and incite others to it.Similar to the numerous religiously motivated terrorists nowadays, they also looked at their deaths on such actions as sacrificial. Even though both the Zealots and the Assassins operated in the past, they are relevant today: First as forerunners of modern terrorists in aspects of motivation, organization, targeting, and goals. Secondly, although both were eventual failures, the fact that they are remembered hundreds of years later, demonstrates the deep psychological impact they caused.

Sacrifice was also a central element of the killings carried out by the Thugees (from which the word ‘thug’ is derived). They were the followers of an Indian religious cult which ritually strangled their victims (usually travelers chosen at random) as an offering to the Hindu goddess of terror and destruction, Kali. In this case, the intent was to terrify the victim (a vital consideration in the Thugee ritual) rather than influencing any external audience.

The Thugees were active from the seventh until the mid-nineteenth centuries. They were known to have committed as many as one million murders. Perhaps they were the last example of religiously-inspired terrorism until the phenomenon re-emerged a little over 20 years ago. According to David Rapport, ‘Before the 19th century, religion provided the only acceptable justifications for terror.’ (Robespierre, 2009).

Probably all holy texts (not just the Qur’an) have been conveniently interpreted to justify violence against others. Robiespierre described terror as the ’emanation of virtue’.

An additional tendency at the end of 19th century was the ever-increasing wave of nationalism throughout the world, which incorporated the nation (the identity of the citizens) and the political state. Simultaneously, the states began to stress upon the national identities of the citizens who were conquered or colonized, much like the Jews during the period of Zealots who either chose to integrate or fight back. Over the last several decades, the most well-known, Irish nationalistic struggle has still been unresolved. Nationalism, similar to Communism was the most ideological force of the 20th century. (Burgess, 2003).


The English word ‘terrorism’ comes from the regime ‘de la terreur’ that prevailed in France from 1793-94. In the beginning it was a device of the state, and was intended to strengthen the authority of the new-found radical government, shielding it from elements thought to be ‘subversive’. Always value-laden, terrorism was, initially, a positive term. The French revolutionary leader, Maximilien Robespierre, viewed it as vital if the new French Republic was to survive its infancy, and proclaimed in 1794 that:

Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible; it is therefore an emanation of virtue; it is not so much a special principle as it is a consequence of the general principle of democracy applied to our country’s most urgent needs.(Hoffman, 1988).

Under such rationalization, some 40,000 people were executed by guillotine, a fate Robespierre and his top lieutenants would themselves suffered. In the meantime terrorism started to take negative undertones which it carries today. (AltThough the terrorists themselves do not consider themselves to be unconstructive or harmful to society). Edmund Burk, who demonized the French revolutionary practitioners, made the term popular in English writings.

As a result of the French Revolution,new distinct concepts of nationalism and citizenship were evolved, which also led to the development of a new form of primary secular terrorism. The Italian revolutionary Carlo Pisacane’s theory of the ‘propaganda of the deed’, which recognized the utility of terrorism to deliver a message to an audience other than the target, and draw attention and support to a cause was a hallmark to this new form of terrorism. (Laqueur, 1999).

Pisacane’s thesis was first put into practice by the Narodnaya Volya (NV), which was not in itself new and would probably have been recognizable to the Zealots-Sicarri and the Assassins. In 1878, a Russian populist group, (which was described as to Peoples Will) was formed to be in opposition to the Tzar’s regime. The group’s most famous decisive action was the assassination of Alexander II inon 1 March 1881, which also effectively sealed their fate by incurring bringing upon themselves, the full wrath of the Tsarist regime. Unlike most other terrorist groups, the Volya went to great lengths to avoid innocent deaths, carefully choosing their targets; usually state officials who symbolized the regime. Often compromising operations rather than causing what would today be termed collateral damage. It is also called ‘bluecalled ‘blue on blue’ by the military.

Volya actions inspired radicals in different places. Anarchist terrorist groups were particularly enamored by the example set by the Russian populist Volya. Nationalist groupslike the ones in the Balkans and Ireland decided to resort to terrorism to meet their goals. As the 19th century gave way to the 20th century, terrorists’ attacks were carried out as far as India, Japan, and the Ottoman Empire. Two US presidents and a succession of other world leaders were victims of assassination by various radical elements often affiliated to groups but operating without their explicit knowledge or support. 9 (Stern, 2001).

As in Europe , terrorism arrived on American shoresalso arrived in America before the twentieth century Not only were Anarchists active in America throughoutall through the 1880s, but during the American Civil War;, had seen acts deserving of the name, committed on both sidesAnarchists as were also instrumental in the formation of the Ku Klux Klan to fight the reconstruction effort which followed. (Hoffman, 1988).


Long before the outbreak of World War I in Europe in 1914, what would later be termed as state-sponsored terrorism had already started to manifest itself in Europe. For instance, many officials in the Serbian government and military were involved in supporting, training and providing arms to the various Balkan groups which were active prior to the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand inon 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo; an act carried out by an activist from one such group, the ‘Young Bosnians’ credited with setting in progress the chain of events which led to the war itself. (Guelke, 1998). Similarly, the Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (MRO) survived largely ‘because it became for all intents and purposes a tool of the Bulgarian government, and was used mainly against Yugoslavia as well as against domestic enemies.’ ( Walter Laqueur )that it became for all intents and purposes a tool of the Bulgarian government, and was used mainly against Yugoslavia as well as against domestic enemies.’ Such examples clearly illustrate that state-sponsored terrorism is not a new phenomenon.

The events in 1930s led to a fresh wave of political assassinations which justified the word ‘terrorism’. This led to proposals at the League of Nations for conventions to prevent and punish terrorism as well as to the establishment of an international criminal court (neither of which came to being as they were overshadowed by the events which eventually led to World War II).12 (Volkan, 1997). Simultaneously, in between years of war, state terrorism increased; a reference to the oppressive measures imposed by various totalitarian regimes, particularly in Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Stalinist Russia.

While terror from above, from the state’s ruling elite, was the predominant form of terror from Roman times through the French Revolution up to the present, even in the twentieth century, terror from above, such as the Hitler’s Holocaust, Stalin’s purges, Pol Pot’s Killing Fields, the Rwandan massacres, and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, has clearly claimed many more lives than the terror exerted from below. (Volkan, 1997).

In the beginning of twentieth century, the term terrorism started to become synonymous with terror acts from below that ‘attempt to disrupt, overthrow, or simply express rage against the existing political order’. 14(Reich, 1990).Generally, academics agree that modern terrorism from below first surfaced as an identifiably notable entity with the emergence of the Narodnaya Volya (the People’s Will) in Russia, at the close of the nineteenth century. This particular group harboured intellectual ideologies, and they believed that by creating an institution of the state, they could ferment a revolution to completely cleanse the existing system. They tried to accomplish this by terrorist acts such as assassinating numerous Tsarist officials, including, in 1881, the Tsar Alexander II himself. (Parry, 1976).Even though they possessed an enduring hatred for their victims, this group showed remorse and regret for their actions, inflicting self-torture and beatings as punishment for taking the lives of their victims. In fact, they were so concerned, selective and meticulous about only killing their intended victim that if their target was accompanied by a family member, or if there was a danger that innocents might be killed, they would call off the attack and wait for a better situation to present itself. (Laqueur, 2001). But they continued their actions because they comprehended that, ‘political terror is unavoidable, moral and effective and that organized terror movements are the preferred alternative to a blind, witless insurrection of “dumb people”.’ (Ivianski, 1987).

More recently, other governments, such as those of military dictatorships which ruled some South American countries in recent years, or the regimes in Zimbabwe, have also been open to charges of using such methods as instruments of state. Some commentators, such as Bruce Hoffman, argue that, ‘such usages are generally termed “terror” in order to distinguish that phenomenon from “terrorism”, which is understood to be violence committed by non-state entities.’ (Hoffman, 1988). However not everyone agrees that terrorism should be considered a non-governmental undertaking.

For instance, Jessica Stern insists that states in deliberately bombarding civilians as a means of demoralizing enemy, states have indeed resorted to terrorism. According to Stern, such instances include not only the Allied strategic bombing campaigns of World War II, andbut the American dropping of atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended the Pacific phase of that conflict. (Stern, 2003). This issue remains controversial, with individuals such as the World War II British Air Chief ‘Bomber’ Harris was simultaneously defended and despised for his belief in the utility and morality of strategic bombing. It bears similarity to the modern-day concept of collateral damage.


In By contrast, the predominanceprevalence of non-state groups active in the terrorism that emerged in the wake of World War II is less arguable. The immediate focus onfor such activitiesty primarily mainly shifted from Europe itself to various colonies in the continents.Across the Middle East Asia and Africa, emerging nationalist movements resisted European attempts to resume colonial business as usual after the defeat of the coalition Axis powers.As the colonialists had been recently expelled from or subjugated in their overseas empires by the Japanese, it provided psychological support to such indigenous uprisings by dispelling the myth of European invincibility.

Often, these nationalist and anti-colonial groups conducted guerilla warfare, which differed from terrorism mainly in that it tended towards larger bodies of ‘irregulars’ operating along more along towards military lines than their terrorist partners in the other regions.Similarly in China and Indochina, such forces conducted insurgencies against the Kuomintang regime and the French colonial government respectively. In other places, like the Algeria, campaigns were fought, in both rural and urban areas, using guerilla warfare, for independence from French rule

Struggle for independence against British and French rule also took place in Kenya, Malaysia, Cyprus and Palestine. (Both the French and the British bore the brunt of this new wave of terrorism, a consequence of their large pre-war empires). These struggles were conducted by groups who can more readily be described now as terrorist. These groups quickly learned to exploit the mushrooming globalization of the world’s media. According to Hoffman:

They were first to recognize the publicity value inherent in terrorism and to choreograph their violence for an audience far beyond the immediate geographical loci of their respective struggles. (Hoffman, 1988).

Furthermore, in some cases (such as in Algeria, Cyprus, Kenya and Israel) terrorism perhaps helped such organizations in the successful realization of their goals. As such these nationalist and anti-colonial groups are notable for any wider understanding of terrorism.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, terrorist numbers swelledincreased to include not only nationalists, but also those motivated by ethnic and ideological considerations. Nationalists groupslike the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), and its several affiliates came into existence. Moreover, other groups mushroomed such as the Basque ETA and the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The IRA also comprised of organizations such as the Italian Red Brigade, and the Red Army faction in Germany (then West Germany). With As with the emergence of modern terrorism almost a century earlier, the United States couldwas not remain immune from this latest wave of terrorism, although there the identity-crisis-driven motivations of the white middle-class Weathermen starkly contrasted with the ghetto-bred malcontent of the Black Panther Movement. (Lacqueur, 2001).

Many of the terrorist groups of this period readily adopted methods that would allow them to publicize their goals and accomplishments internationally.The Palestinians were among one of the well-known groups who pioneered the hijacking of a jet airliner as a mode of operation and publicity. One such group, Black September, staged what was (until the terrorist attack of 9/11, 2001) perhaps the greatest terrorist publicity coup then seen, with the seizure and murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games.Such incidents resulted in the Palestinian groups providing the inspiration, in some cases, mentorship and training, for many of the new generation of terrorist’s organizations.

Most of these organizations today have reduced their operations or ceased to exist altogether, whileothers, such as the Palestinian, Northern Irish and Spanish Basque groups, motivated by more enduring causes, remain active today, although some of them now have made moves towards political rather than terrorist methods.Meanwhile, by the mid-1980s, state-sponsored terrorism re-emerged, the catalyst for the series of attacks against American and other Western targets in the Middle East. Countries such as Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria came to the forefront came to be supposedly believed to be the main sponsors of terrorism as a popular belief. Falling into a related category were those countries, such as North Korea, who directly participated in covert acts of what could be described as terrorism.[xviii] (Guelke, 1998).

In the recent years the re-emergence of the religiously inspired terrorist attacks are common. But the state-sponsored terrorism remains a concern of the international community today (especially its Western constituents), although it has been somewhat overshadowed.

The latest manifestation of this trend began in 1979, when the revolution that transformed Iran into an Islamic republic; the West blamed Iran to use and support terrorism as a means of propagating its ideals beyond its own borders. (Hoffman, 1988). Very soon the trend had spread to places as far as Japan and the United States, and to other major world religions as well as many minor cults.

Sarin gas used in Tokyo subway attack in 1995 may not have been the first breach of the psychological barrier in the use of toxic/chemical agents becausesmallpox-infected clothing was used by the Pilgrim Fathers against the indigenous tribes of North America. Also, plague-infected bodies were launched into besieged cities and used to pollute water supplies in the fourteenth century. The same year Oklahoma bombing took place in USA. At this stage, the complex mix of motivations included religion. But it was the 9/11 al Qaeda attack which made the world realize, particularly the United States, just how risky this latest transformation had become.


At present, terrorism influences events on the international level to a degree which was not previously achieved. This was primarily the outcome of the 9/11 attacks in 2001 on the World Trade Center, which destroyed the symbolic Twin Towers; and threatened the Pentagon. It thus dented the stronghold of America. Most Americans came to believe that an unmatched era of terrorism had erupted and the world had changed forever. Some observers of the event even believed that the daring, yet tragic, events of this particular day should be considered as an epochal moment in the history of the world. (24) (Carr, 2002). Soon after 9/11, US President George Bush declared the start of a Global War on Terrorists: an open-ended war with an undefined terminal objective. In a speech to the Congress, he committed all resources at his disposal, ‘every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, and every necessary weapon of war’ (Bertrand, S, 2003) to defeating America’s newest adversary in that nation’s ‘first war of the twenty-first century’. (26)(Mandelbaum, 2001).However, for most people in the world, terrorism was not new and these events, while spectacular and disturbing, did not constitute the dawn of a new era in terrorist activities. On the contrary, the attack became a continuous and developing reality for the world, which was present in different forms for centuries. Hence, for most of the world, terrorism was familiar and acceptable as an additional form of traditional warfare. (Henrichon, 2003). Still, for most North Americans and many other Western observers, the radical novelty of the 9/11 terrorist attacks ‘represented a new form of terrorism for the 21st century”. (Deschenes, 2003).

Since then, in the United States at least, terrorism has largely been equated to the threat posed by al Qaeda, a threat inflamed not only by the spectacular and deadly nature of the 9/11 attacks themselves, but by the fear that future strikes might be even more deadly and perhaps employ weapons of mass destruction.

The worldwide threat of terrorism by al Qaeda and its franchises, to a large extent remained egocentric, and were seen as the rhetoric of the US administration concerning a so-called ‘Global War against Terrorism’. This was far from unique, considering the implications that al Qaeda in fact intended to start a global revolution. For instance the general public of countries such as Colombia or Northern Ireland that had long faced terrorism was more preoccupied with when and where the next FARC REVOLUTIONARY ARMED FORCES OF COLOMBIA ( FARC or FARC-EP, is a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary guerrilla organization based in Colombia. They have fought in the ongoing Colombian Civil War for more than 40 years)or Real Irish Republican Army attacks would occur rather than where the next al Qaeda hit will descend.

Thus, the above reflections indicate, terrorism goes beyond al Qaeda, which it not only predates but will also outlive. Hence if terrorism is to be tackled efficiently, any consideration of handling it must be seen beyond the threat which is presently posed by this particular organization. Consequently, without a broad-based approach, this threat of terrorism will not only be difficult to resolve, but may become uncontrollable.


Terrorism is continuously changing. While at the surface it remains ‘the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear…’it is fast becoming a major strategic tool of the opposing forces. In the twenty-first century, it has become the most predominant irregular warfare strategy. It is easily adaptable to changes in facilities available to the terrorists, in order to operate, acquire finances, and evolve new capabilities; thereby developing a different relationship with the world at large.

Two major events in the first half of the twentieth century predisposed the nature of present-day conflicts. The effects of two World Wars inflamed passions and hopes of nationalists throughout the world, and severely damaged the legitimacy of the international order and governments. During the earlier decades of the twentieth century nationalism and radical political ideologies were the major developmental forces acting upon terrorism. After World War I the Treaty of Versailles redrew the map of Europe by breaking up the Austro-Hungarian Empire and thus created new nations. It recognized the rule of self-determination for nationalities and ethnic groups. The minorities and ethnicities not receiving recognition to campaign for independence or autonomy were thus encouraged. Nevertheless, in most cases self-determination was limited to European nations and ethnic groups and deprived the others, especially the colonial assets of the major European powers, creating bitterness and setting the stage for the long conflicts of the anti-colonial period.
The Arab nationalists particularly felt that they were betrayed. Believing they were promised post-war independence, they were doubly disappointed: first when the French and British were given authority over their lands; and then especially when the British allowed Zionist immigration into Palestine in keeping with a promise contained in the Balfour Declaration. In the last two decades, terrorists have committed tremendously violent acts for so-called political or religious reasons. Their political ideologies range from the extreme left to the extreme right. For example, the far left can consist of groups such as Marxists and Leninists who propose a revolution of workers led by revolutionary elite. On the distant right, one finds dictatorships which typically believe in an amalgamation of state and business leadership. Consequently, all Arabs have been united in their opposition to the State of Israel and to the Western Powers, particularly the United States. The Western world feel feels equally a sense of guilt and remorse for the treatment of the Jews during the Second World War. (Berman, 2003). Consequently, the Western powers, under the patronage of the United Nations, have championed the Israeli right to a homeland at the expense of the Palestinians. (Hoffman, 1988). On the other hand, equally important has been the growth of Wahhabism in the Arab World. The indignation of the Wahhabis was initially directed, not against Western and colonial sources, but against those practitioners of Islam whom they believed were degrading and betraying the religion from within. The Wahhabi sect became true Islamic zealots who sought to eliminate anything or anyone who failed to meet the strict standards of their belief of purity and Islamic authenticity. (Hoffman, 1988). Even though initially a creation of eighteenth century Arabian Islam, Wahhabism has flourished because of its association with the ruling parties in most Arab countries. These particular regimes were installed by the Western powers when the various countries were created, because these particular Arab leaders had either granted the European powers with legitimacy during their colonial rule of the region; or had supported the Allied armies during the two World Wars. Under the old Arab system, social injustice and power were limited. However, with the new structure of states, the oil wealth, and the prevalence of modern communications, the inequality gap has been widened and the discrepancies have become much more obvious.Hence, ‘lacking any other outlet, new and growing discontents find expression in religious extremist movements’ (Hoffman, 1988), like the so called Islamic Fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood and terrorist groups like Al Qaeda. In contrast, for the Palestinian movements, which had concentrated and limited their efforts in the Middle East against Israel and for the repossession and recreation of an independent Palestinian state, these new organizations have a worldwide reach. Their supporter’s believe that the remedy for all of the ills of modernization is to return to true Islam. This thought process, included the abolition of all laws and social borrowings from the West and the restoration of the Islamic Holy Law, the Shari’a (Berman, 2003). Their aim was not only to remove the Western intruders from their homelands; they also wanted to transport their message through violent means into the heart of the Western nations, especially the hegemonic United States, ‘their most dangerous enemies, as they see it, are the false and renegade Muslims who rule the countries of the Islamic world and who have imported and imposed infidel ways on Muslim peoples’. (Lewis, 2003). In addition to the traditional terrorist groups, the nationalists, and the religious, the 1980s and 1990s also saw a growth of terrorist groups with a variety of motivations, such as narco-terrorists, eco-terrorists, anti-abortionists, and animal liberationists. Some terrorists were simply motivated by common criminal activities. (Laqueur, 1999). Religious inspired terrorism has a universal theoretical basis. The patterns of religious violence of the Sikhs could be exactly that of Irish Catholics; or Shiite Muslims in Palestine; or a fundamentalist Christian bomber of abortion clinics in the United States. (Juergensmeyer, 2001).

Special interest groups include people on the radical fringe of many legitimate causes; e.g., people who use terrorism to uphold antiabortion views, animal rights, and radical environmentalism. These groups consider that violence is morally justified to achieve their objectives.

With the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the end of Cold War in the early 1990s, the features of international terrorism took on a new face. The changing geopolitical situation, following the end of the East-West conflicts, a third radical concept has evolved in the form of twentieth century terrorism. There was no Soviet Union, no Warsaw Pact, no Cold War, and no consensus on what came next. (Lacqueur, 1999). However, it was now clear that the Soviets were no longer available to provide financial support or ammunitions to terrorist organizations or to their sponsoring states. (Bell, 1999).However, instead of retreating into their own nationalistic or religious cocoons, some of these terrorist groups adapted and evolved into truly global transnational organizations.

As a result, counter terrorist organizations are not confronting a specific state, nor are they confined to their old norms of understanding and operations. In addition, today’s terrorist groups are very well-financed. (Kushner, 1998). Such transnational groups no longer rely on handouts from sponsoring states, but, instead, have developed exceptional methods of gaining and handling their financial resources. Today robbery and ransom are replaced by high-tech criminal businesses, such as growing drugs; fine processing and distribution operations; and, finally, money laundering through legitimate businesses. (Combs, 2003). The modern terrorist is also very well-trained and well-educated. They have not only learnt from their past experiences, but also from military and criminal training methods, and integrated them into their own training programs. The former independence and isolation of many terrorist groups has given way to complex, multilayered, transnational organizational structures, resembling the corporate hierarchy of a multinational corporation. Lastly and most significantly, today’s terrorist groups are said to have access to the knowledge of highly sensitive destructive weapons; and have the ability to use Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), such as chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weaponry, although use of this type of armaments is still abhorrent to many terrorists. (Schweitzer, 1998).

The use of terror has, throughout history, been known as an effective technique to achieve political, criminal, religious and ideological aims. The underlying objective to use the terror was aptly captured by the fourth century BC Chinese strategist, Sun Tzu, ‘…kill one, frighten ten thousand’.

‘The Anatomy of Terror’ (Sinclair, 2003) indicates that history is replete with examples of the use of terror in the pursuit of religious aims (e.g. the massacres by the Crusaders); material aims (e.g. the ‘Stranglers’ of Southern India who terrorized road travellers, and the Mafia); quasi-moral, and ideological aims (e.g. General Bedford’s supremacist Ku Klux Klan and the ‘Shining Path’); state and political aims (e.g. the Tzarist Okrhana and the Nazi Geheime Staatspolizei); and in the current context, religio-political aims (e.g. Al Qaeda and Hamas).

‘Terror’ is easier to define than ‘terrorism’. Over 100 definitions of terrorism have been evolved. Sinclair gave interesting examples of the early use of biological and chemical agents as means of inducing fear and terror. These include the use of poison gas by the Spartans during the siege of Plataea in 428 BC; the use of smallpox infected materials by the Pilgrim Fathers from England to conquer the indigenous populations of North America; and bubonic plague-infected corpses that were launched by cannon against the Genoese in the mid-14th century.

The recent examples of the military use of toxic and infectious agents are: dissemination of pulmonary agents, vesicants during the First World War; and the distribution of containers of anthrax, typhus and cholera by the Japanese against the Chinese in the Second World War.

Biochemical terrorist attacks on civilians include the use of chemical weapons by Saddam Hussein against the Kurds; and recently the deliberate contamination of salad bars in the US state of Oregon with Salmonella typhimurium by the Rajneeshee cult; the anthrax ‘scares’ through the US postal services, which followed the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon; and the sarin gas attack by the radical Japanese cult, Aum Shinrikyo, on the Tokyo underground rail system. The Sarin nerve gas attack was the first case of the breaching of the psychological barrier against the use of non-conventional terrorist weapons such as WMDs. This event represented the last of the four revolutionary incidents which deeply influenced the evolution of terrorism in the twentieth century. Fortunately, to date, no other group has chosen to follow their action.As the psychological barrier has been crossed, the possibility that the WMDs might be used again some day in the near future is soaring high. (Alexander & Klien, 2006).This possibility of use of the new WMD terrorism has been termed as ‘Super-Terrorism’. It is described ‘as the committing of violent acts using advanced technological tools to cause massive damage to populations and/or to the public and private support networks’. (Howard, 2003). A variety of WMD weapon choices are available such as cyber-terrorism Schweitzer, 1998); chemo-terrorism; or bioterrorism, and may be one of the choices adopted by religious or right-wing terrorist groups.

The members of terrorist organizations believe that their mission is divinely ordained. They consider their struggle between good and evil; believers and non-believers; justice and injustice; and order and chaos.In secular terrorism, the rewards of victory are finite; but in religious terrorism, (also included are freedom fighters) they are infinite, national determination is often believed to lead to paradise. (Kushner 1998).Acquisition of this form of reward is highly motivating and might encourage them to go for the nuclear weapons.On the other hand, the non-religious groups are not as motivated as their rewards are not holy. This group of terrorists usually view themselves as being anti-nuclear, environmentalists and nationalists. As a result, they realize that such massive destruction would not only go against their cherished beliefs and value systems, but it would also be counterproductive to winning over the people to their cause. (Laqueur, 1996).

The IRA and Sinn Fein are now able to merge legitimate politics with the threat of terrorist coercion and intimidation. The international community is presently unsuccessful to face up to its responsibility to cooperate to combat terrorism. The threatened use of WMDs could result in large-scale losses (Cameron, 1999); consequently, counterterrorist measures must be evolved to adequately respond to this ever-growing terrorist threat. (Cameron, 1999). In South-Asia, nationalism is considered to be the devotion and dedication to the interests or culture of a group of people or a nation. The nationalists prominently share a common ethnic background and hope to establish or regain a homeland. The authorities of secular governments are often rejected by the religious groups, as they consider their legal systems based on their religious beliefs as illegitimate. They often view modernization efforts as corrupting influences on their traditional culture for example in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Balochistan, a province of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan which has been infiltrated over the years by non-Pakistani religious extremists groups. Consequently, the unrest in Northern Areas of Pakistan has had a destabilizing influence on the political governments. Similar uprisings of religious extremists have been observed in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and China.

Terrorism is not novel to mankind. It is an ancient phenomenon, which has become a common feature of the 21st century, raising a host of complex moral and practical issues. Sadly, But it is athe fact remains that todaytoday, that it has prejudiced the world towards Islam as a religion and Muslims as individuals. This wave of mass paranoia, hatred and fear is affecting not only the Muslims but it is bound to engulf the mental health and well-being of all the citizens of the world.


The concept of ‘Revival of Islam’ generally refers to the rising of practices and interests for religion in Islamic countries led by political parties, social and cultural organizations or states. I don’t think that this could be termed as ‘Revival of Islam’. Revival of Islam is linked to the reformist movements in the beginning of twentieth century with the awareness of some leaders and ulama when they became aware of their backwardness regarding the western development and the colonisation of their countries.[1]

Those scholars, leaders and militants aimed to reform Islam which was in stagnation for centuries. They wanted to allow Islamic countries to have access to development and modernity. Among them we can cite Mohamad Abdou, Rachid Reda and the famous Jamal Eddine el Afghani. These ulamas wanted to shake up the lethargy of Islamic governments and people and urge them to develop so that they are able to resist colonialism. They were faced with resistance from both, the colonialists, as well as the Salafists which were dominating at that time. (Salafismis characterized by the respect for the sacred texts in their most literal form without any interpretations. Salafists may or may not be jihadists (Sayyid Qotb).[2]

Islam is not only a religion, but a historic movement which took human civilization to the highest zenith at the time. In the history of Islam, struggles for succession to power began immediately after Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) death, and each party sought to legitimize its position by the sacred texts and their interpretations. This gave birth roughly to two trends: the conservative and dogmatic trend which preach the strict application of the sacred texts; and the trend which favoured ijtihad (rational interpretation of sacred texts).[3] It was the latter trend which gave Islam its glory and enhanced human civilization. The Prophet himself made revolutionary changes in the life of Arabs of the djahilia (times of ignorance). The trend continued with the muûtazila[4] who translated Greek philosophy and heritage and enriched it. They assimilated knowledge from Persia, India and China, and carried and defended the principleof the free will in Islam. Their writings were so free that one can’t even imagine it nowadays. They were the ones who introduced Rationalism in Islam. We can citethe examples of El-djahidh, Ibrahim ennazam, Abd eldjabbar and several other rationalist-philosophers like Al Kindi, Ibn Rushd , Al Farabi….

Other trends in Islam as the concept of free will were evolved by the Sufis like El Ghazali, Jalal Eddine Errumi. They raised spirituality to its summits. They struggled and many of them were persecuted. Their writings were banned by Salafists and dogmatic fundamentalists influenced by Ibn Taymiyya,,[5] which isthe major resource of the present-day fundamentalists.

In the beginning of the twentieth century fundamentalists made an alliance with colonialists to tackle the reformists and nationalists. An example of this is the alliance made by the Wahabis of Saudia Arabia with Great Britain and America later. In Maghreb, colonialists relied on some religious leaders but persecuted reformists and modernists leaders like Ibn Badis of Jamiaat el Muslimin.

This strategic alliance lasted until the present times and was strengthened by the East/West conflict. It was a masterpiece of West in their conflict against the socialist block and against national independence movements. Great Britain and America helped the rising of Islamist parties especially the ‘Muslim Brothers’ in Egypt. In the beginning of the eighteenth century and after two defeats at the hands of Israel, modern Arab and Muslim countries were in a critical and fragile situation. America allied to Saudi Arabia started to substitute the leadership in Arab and Muslim country from nationalists to fundamentalists. Saudia Arabia with its rich oil resources financed the Jihadis in the Afghan conflict and thus became the centre of the Muslim World, thereby spreading Wahabism in the rest of the Muslim World..[6]

What is happening now is not a revival of Islam, but the continuation of decline of Islam because Islamic world is now dominated by conservatives and fundamentalists. Muslim (groups or states) in the world are attacking the freedom of thinking, behaviour and creating doubts in the concepts of Islam in their countries. They display to others their inability to discuss, exchange, or accept different points of view. Last week in Algeria the superior Islamic council claimed to forbid a book about Islam history written by a Muslim researcher! In Yemen a female journalist was sentenced to be whipped because of the way she dressed, and so on… These are just little examples of how narrow-minded Muslim have become in their daily lives. One can write a treatise about such serious events.

This narrow-mindedness (I’d say retardation) is found even in principle Islamic institutions and universities like the El Azhar in Egypt or Qom in Iran. For revival, Islam needs to revitalize the humanitarian and free-thinking approach which will lead to its true radiance..[7] The current situation is actually the result of a long-term war between civilized, humanists and modern Muslims against fundamentalists supported by America.

This is not a struggle between two major civilizations but a struggle for freedom, development, equality and justice, and this struggle should go through Muslims and Western countries and other parts of the world. We need to highlight the fact that the leaders of western countries such as America, Great Britain and France are greatly responsible for the present instability prevailing in the Muslim countries. They were the ones who helped and supported the fundamentalists ( they still support and deal with them) to come into power and become dominant in Islamic countries, and now they point towards the same countries and call them ‘barbarians’ which they can justify by terming it as ‘clash of civilizations’. America and Israel did all they could to break down the nationalist liberation movement of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), which led the struggle of Palestinian people and helped at the same time, through the mediation of Saudi Arabia, the rising of the religious movement Hamas in Gaza with radical and unrealistic goals of the struggle ‘to put out all Jews from all Palestine’. This was a symmetrical reaction to Israeli leadersleader’s vision of a religious state (Jew state) without recognition of Palestinians rights. This changed the complexion of a national liberation war into a religious one. Most Muslims now (at least in Maghreb and Middle East) believe that they fight Israelis not only for what they do (occupy a country and drive out and persecute its population), but for what they are (Jews)! It is in some ways a ‘war of civilizations’.

The dilemma is very complicated because these movements (Hamas and Hezbollah) are fighting to liberate their country and their people from ‘savage’ occupation and no one dare contest this claim and the struggle must be supported. In my opinion this is another success of the western leaders’ strategy to substitute the former enemy (socialism) by a new enemy (Islam) and they are doing all they can to portray the dark side of this enemy.

Great Britain in the 18th/19th centuries sheltered and protected the worst individuals of Islam and gave them access to international media to vocalize horrible insanities in the name of Islam. Muslims were put in a paradoxical situation, in a ‘bateson’ (double bind) like the situation that is found in schizophrenia and we must extricate ourselves from it.

In Chapter 4 of this book, the citation of Sedan is mentioned: “

Most of youth in North Africa were left detached from their traditions…they tried to reconnect and identify themselves with their traditions.

This does not correspond to the reality of the countries in the Maghreb. He speaks about youth as if their identity is naturally fundamentalist. Which traditions is he talking about? The Wahabi traditions or Maghreb traditions? Second, the changes didn’t occur spontaneously or not only in reaction to events; but were a result of simultaneous actions by powers in Islamic countries (which failed in development and helped the rising of Islamic movements to tackle democratic and liberal movements), and the effort of USA to replace Saudi Arabia as a leader in the Islamic world.


To conclude, terrorism is not new to humanity; its history dates back to several millennia and includes all kind of groups, states and motivations. Each era, in the past and present has taken its colour from the existing deprivation, inequities and injustice in different scenarios to build its own case for legitimacy. Of course the terrorist groups have borrowed knowledge from their past experiences, and the present technologies like WMDs etc.

Clearly, there cannot be just one method of dealing with these different groups. In the Muslim World, the terrorist attack, wars and insurgencies have varied from region to region. For instance in Palestine the conflict has its own background; while in Afghanistan it has a different history and sequence of events following the ousting of the Russian invasion. Pakistan being in a strategic geopolitical situation is caught up in the crossfire between the world powers and their hegemonic conflicts. It has borne the burden of four million Afghan refugees; the drug mafia; and the ‘Klashinkoff culture’. The Mujahidins were the products of the United States. Unfortunately, these well-trained tribals in Afghanistan and Pakistan were left high-and-dry after the war. Mujahiddins included volunteers from different Muslim countries to fight the jihad (holy war) to liberate their brother country Afghanistan. Most of these foreign Mujahiddins remained in the Federally Administered TribalTribla Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. They integrated through marriages and other means with the local tribal clans. Understandably, their anger and resentment for having being abandoned by the US led to hatred and revenge towards them. Consequently, this resentment spilled over to the Pakistani government, which seemed to be collaborating with the US.

The only way they could establish their domains was to implement their version of the Sharia. Most of these mullahs (clergy) were minimally educated and certainly did not possess any depth of religious knowledge. They are now threatening the writ of the government of Pakistan. The present insurgencies in the Northern Areas of Pakistan are resulting in high toll of destruction and casualties. Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan and Punjab are threatened by the fear of at least three terrorist attacks a week. There is an urgent need for the Pakistan government to address the legitimate needs and grievances of the tribal areas and Balochistan province, and weed out the foreign criminal anti-state elements manufacturing suicidal human bombers. These anti-state terrorists in Pakistan are fully equipped and well-trained and well-known to be supported by the neighboring enemy country. International support both technical and financial is due to Pakistan from USA and other friendly countries to annihilate the recurring menace of terrorism in the region.

All terrorists cannot be dealt in the same manner. Each group has to be taken into consideration keeping in mind their historical background; present circumstances; the deprivations and degradation suffered by them. Particularly, this is relevant to the terrorist groups who are also called the freedom fighters with a legitimate cause, for example, the Palestinian and Kashmiri groups. Solutions must be evolved by the United Nations and forums like the international Court of Justice at Hague.

The fact of the matter is that Muslims believe and respect both Judaism and Christianity and Islam is the last of the Theistic religion which is liberal, modern and practical way of life. All human rights and civilized world’s doctrines are the basis of the teachings of Islam.


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