History of Terrorism
|Excerpt from "Merchants of Terror Volume 1", published by CIPRA Books (re 2007).|
Terrorism is not a new thing. Indeed, in some respects, it predates by millennia
. But the act of terrorism has remained static. Rather, as the difficulties
involved in defining it reflect, terrorism has evolved considerably over the
years, retaining some of the same characteristics that have historically
typified it. Terrorism is not as difficult a concept as some claim. It is a
political ideology (-ism) on the use of terror, which is arbitrary, unrestricted
and unspecified fear. This excludes traditional warfare against regular armies
and police forces, and individual assassinations of public figures.
Neither separatism nor criminal violence as such is necessarily terrorism. To call an act terrorism, we should always ask: Does this really spread blind terror among the general populace? A bomb blown in a market place, or in a civilian airplane, intends to create common fear among customers and bystanders alike, because just about anybody could become a victim. The victims are typically anonymous, and the very idea of the act was to cause damage or a credible threat. The assassination of a political leader, throwing stones on occupation troops, or bombing of enemy positions during a declared war or after an order to surrender has been given, may be repulsive and kill innocent people, but there is no terror, if no average "man of the street" needs to feel uneasy about his security the next day. No women or children should need to fear that they could be mistaken as presidents, soldiers, or military installations. Somebody may have bad luck and be targeted accidentally, but if it is terrorism, we will find ourselves asking: Why?
What is the object?
Terrorism is rarely the ultimate end itself, as anarchy or communism is thought to be, but merely a method to promote some politics. That is why terrorists represent a political ideology. Even when they are in fact nothing but common criminals or psychopaths, terrorists make efforts to find a political excuse for their acts.
Terrorism has been practiced throughout history and throughout the world. Can the huge variety of forms of action be categorized under the single label of 'terrorist'? The term is contentious: very few people apart from the Russian Tsar-killers have actually called themselves terrorists. Yet there are some common factors that can be detected behind the many changing faces of terrorism. First, it usually has an unofficial character, claiming to be the result of an upsurge of public feeling. (Of course many governments secretly instigate or support it.) Second, terrorism is based on a naïve belief that a few acts of violence, often against symbolic targets representing the power of the adversary, will transform the political landscape in a beneficial way. Third, terrorism has become increasingly involved in attacking innocent civilians - often with the purpose of demonstrating that the state is incapable of protecting its own people. Fourth, terrorists generally underestimate the strong revulsion of ordinary people to acts of political violence.
There is a further common factor - the tendency of terrorism to become endemic in particular countries and regions. Started by the Left, it has been continued by the Right, and vice versa. Started in a nationalist cause, it is then employed in resistance to the resulting state. Started to cleanse society of corruption and external control, it continues in support of the drug trade and prostitution. If violence becomes a habit, its net effect can be to prevent economic development, to provide a justification for official violence, and to perpetuate existing patterns of dominance and submission.
In the latter half of the 19th century, terrorism was adopted by adherents of anarchism in Western Europe, Russia, and the United States. They believed that the best way to effect revolutionary political and social change was to assassinate persons in positions of power.
While it is impossible to definitively ascertain when it was first used, terrorism traces its roots back at least some 2,000 years. It has been practiced throughout history and throughout the world. The ancient Greek historian Xenophon (c. 431–c. 350 BC) wrote of the effectiveness of psychological warfare against enemy populations.
Political murder appears in the earliest annals of mankind, including the Bible. The stories of Judith and Holofernes, of Jael and Sisara the Old Testament heroes and villains, have provided inspiration to painters as well as to theologians and moral philosophers for ages. Seneca wrote that no sacrifice was as pleasing to the gods as the blood of a tyrant, and Cicero notes that tyrants always attracted a violent end. Harmodius and Aristogeiton, who killed the tyrant Hipparchus, were executed, but a statue was erected in their honor soon after. The civic virtues of Brutus were praised by his fellow Romans, but history--and Shakespeare--was of two minds about whether the murderer of Caesar was an honorable man.
The murder of oppressive rulers continued throughout history. It played an important role in the history of the Roman Empire. Roman emperors such as Tiberius (reigned AD 14–37) and Caligula (reigned AD 37–41) used banishment, expropriation of property, and execution as means to discourage opposition to their rule. The emperors Caligula and Domitian were assassinated, as were Comodius and Elagabal, sometimes by their families, sometimes by their praetorian guards, and sometimes by their enemies (probably a few others were poisoned).
Similar events can be found in the history of Byzantium. The Spanish Inquisition used arbitrary arrest, torture, and execution to punish what it viewed as religious heresy. The use of terror was openly advocated by Robespierre as a means of encouraging revolutionary virtue during the French Revolution, leading to the period of his political dominance called the Reign of Terror (1793–94).
The assassination of individuals has its origins in the prehistory of modern terrorism, but it is of course not quite the same. Historical terrorism almost always involves more than a single assassin and the carrying out of more than one operation. An exception might be the assassination of King Henri IV by a fanatic who believed that he had carried out a mission imposed on him by God; it might have been part of a conspiracy, but this we shall never know, because his interrogators were not very eager to find out. Another famous example from the same century was certainly part of an intrigue: the murder of Wallenstein, the famous seventeenth century warlord. Historically, the favorite murder weapon has been the dagger, even though there were a few exceptions; William the Silent, Prince of Orange, was shot in Holland in 1584, when rifles and pistols were still new devices.
There were also organized groups committed to systematic terrorism early in recorded human history. From Josephus Flavius's writings, a great deal is known about the sicari, an extreme Jewish faction, who were active after the Roman occupation of Palestine (they give us the word "zealot"). They were also involved in the siege of and the collective suicide at Masada. These patriots (or ultrapatriots, as they would be called in a later age) attacked their enemies, mainly other Jews, by daylight, very often during the celebrations of holidays, using a short dagger (sica) hidden under their coats. It was reported that they killed one high priest, burned the house of another, and torched the archives and the palace of the Herodian dynasts. There seems to have been a social element as well: their attacks were also directed against moneylenders. Whereas the zealots engaged in guerrilla warfare against the Romans outside the cities, they apparently concentrated their terrorist activities in Jerusalem. When the revolt of the year 66 took place, the sicari were actively involved; one of them was the commander of the fortress Masada. Josephus called them brigands of a new type, and he considered them mainly responsible for the national catastrophe of the year 70, when the second Temple was destroyed and the Jewish state ceased to exist.
Another early example of terrorists is the Order of the Assassins in the eleventh century, an offshoot of the Ismailis, a Muslim sect. Hassan I Sabah, the founder of the order, was born in Qom, the Shiite center in northern Persia. Sabah adopted an extreme form of Ismaili doctrine that called for the seizure of several mountain fortresses; the first such fortress, Alamut, was seized in 1090. The term assassin comes from this Shi'ite Muslim sect (Nizari Isma'ilis - also known as hashashins "hashish-eaters") fighting Sunni Muslims (1090 - 1275) and during Medieval Christendom resisting occupation during the Crusades (1095-1291). The hashashins were known to spread terror in the form of murder, including women and children. The brotherhood of Assassins committed terror so as to gain paradise and seventy-two virgins if killed and to receive unlimited hashish while on earth. The Assassins were an 11th century offshoot of a Shia Muslim sect known as the Ismailis.
Like the Zealots-Sicari, they were also given to stabbing their victims (generally politicians or clerics who refused to adopt the purified version of Islam they were forcibly spreading) in broad daylight. The Assassins whose name gave us the modern term but literally meant ‘hashish-eater’ a reference to the ritualistic drug-taking they were (perhaps falsely) rumored to indulge in prior to undertaking missions – also used their actions to send a message. 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. Like many religiously inspired terrorists today, they also viewed their deaths on such operations as sacrificial and a guarantor that they would enter paradise.
Years later the Assassins decided to transfer their activities from remote mountain regions to the main urban centers. Their first urban victim was the chief minister of the Sultan of Baghdad, Nazim al Mulq, a Sunnite by religious persuasion and therefore an enemy. During the years that followed, Assassins were active in Persia, Syria, and Palestine, killing a great number of enemies, mainly Sunnis but also Christians, including Count Raymond II of Tripoli in Syria and Marquis Conrad of Montferrat, who ruled the kingdom of Jerusalem. There was a great deal of mystery about this movement and its master, owing to both the secrecy of its actions and the dissimulation used. Monferrat, for instance, was killed by a small group of emissaries who had disguised themselves as monks.
Seen in retrospect, the impact of the Assassins was small--they did not make many converts outside their mountain fortress, nor did they produce any significant changes in Muslim thought or practice. Alamut was occupied by Mongol invaders around 1270, but the Assassins had ceased to be a major force well before then. (Their main contribution was perhaps originating the strategy of the terrorist disguised--taqfir, or deception--as a devout emissary but in fact on a suicide mission, in exchange for which he was guaranteed the joys of paradise.)
Despite the considerable violence in Europe during the Middle Ages and, even worse, during the religious wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in which monarchs as well as religious leaders were killed, there were no sustained terrorist campaigns during this time.
In cultures such as China and India secret societies have flourished from time immemorial. Many of these societies practiced violence and had their "enforcers." Their motivation was usually religious more than political, even though there was a pronounced element of xenophobia in both cases, such as the attacks against "foreign devils" culminating in the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. In India, the motivation of the thuggee (from which we get the word "thug"), who strangled their victims, was apparently to make an act of sacrifice to the goddess Kali.
The Chinese gangs of three or four hundred years ago had their own subculture, which practiced alternative medicine and meditation coupled with belief in all kinds of magic formulas. But they were not ascetic millenarians, as the Assassins are believed to have been, and they had more in common with the Mafia than with modern political terrorism.
Moreover, today’s terrorism has, in some respects come full circle, with many of its contemporary practitioners motivated by religious convictions – something which drove many of their earliest predecessors. It has also, in the generally accepted usage of the word, often possessed a political dimension. This has colored much of the discourse surrounding terrorism a phenomenon which is, according to Paul R. Pillar, ‘a challenge to be managed, not solved.’
At least 1500 years when Jewish resistance groups (66 - 72 A.D.) known as Zealots killed Roman soldiers and destroyed Roman property. The Sicari and the Zealots, Jewish groups were active during the Roman occupation of the first century Middle East. The favored weapon of the Sicari was the sica (the short dagger which gave them their name, which literally means ‘dagger men’), which they used these to murder those (mainly Jews) they deemed apostate and thus selected for execution The Zealots, who generally targeted Romans and Greeks, give us the modern term Zealot, one translation of which is “a fanatical partisan.” 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 those Jews who collaborated with them – a tactic that would also be used by subsequent generations of what would become known as terrorists.
Sacrifice was also a central element of the killings carried out by the Thugees (who bequeathed us the word ‘thug’) – an Indian religious cult who 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 influence any external audience.
Active from the seventh until the mid-19th centuries, the Thugees are reputed to be responsible for as many as one million murders. They were perhaps the last example of religiously-inspired terrorism until the phenomenon reemerged a little over 20 years ago. As David Rapport puts it: “Before the 19th century, religion provided the only acceptable justifications for terror.”
Through the past two hundred years, terrorism has been used to achieve political ends and has developed as a tool for liberation, oppression, and international global politics. The modern development of terrorism began during the French Revolution's Reign of Terror (1793 - 1794). During this period the term terrorism was first coined.. More secularized motivations for such actions did not emerge until the French Revolution, as did the first usage of the term now used to describe them.
Nationalists and Anarchists
The word 'terrorism' entered into European languages in the wake of the French revolution of 1789. In the early revolutionary years, it was largely by violence that governments in Paris tried to impose their radical new order on a reluctant citizenry. As a result, the first meaning of the word 'terrorism', as recorded by the Académie Française in 1798, was 'system or rule of terror'. This serves as a healthy reminder that terror is often at its bloodiest when used by dictatorial governments against their own citizens.
The English word ‘terrorism’ comes from the regime de la terreur that prevailed in France from 1793-1794. Originally an instrument of the state, the regime was designed to consolidate the power of the newly-installed revolutionary government, protecting it from elements considered ‘subversive.’ Always value-Ladin, 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, proclaiming 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.” Robespierre's Jacobins executed 12,000 people deemed enemies of the Revolution, often for flimsy reasons. Since the Jacobins ran the state, we wouldn't call them terrorists today. Still, their vision of a violent purge in the name of Utopia provided a model for later insurgents.
Over the next century the Jacobin spirit infected Russia, Europe and the United States. Radical anarchists - Leon Czolgosz, who killed William McKinley in 1901; Alexander Berkman, who shot steel magnate Henry Frick in 1892; the Russians who assassinated Tsar Alexander II in 1881 - targeted powerful leaders to foment popular revolution. Alongside bombings such as the one at Chicago's Haymarket in 1886, these killings created publicity and popular panic. Yet the anarchist revolution never came. Under such justification, some 40,000 people were executed by guillotine- a fate Robespierre and his top lieutenants would themselves suffer when later that same year, his announcement of a new list of subversives led to a counter-inquisition by some in the Revolutionary government who feared their names might be on the latest roll of ‘traitors.’ Before long, the Revolution devoured itself in an orgy of paranoiac bloodletting. Meanwhile, terrorism itself began taking on the negative connotations it carries today (terrorists do not generally tend to describe themselves thus), helped initially by the writings of those like the British political philosopher Edmund Burke, who popularized the term ‘terrorism’ in English while demonizing its French revolutionary practitioners.
The newly defined notions of nationalism and citizenship, which both caused and were a result of the French Revolution, also saw the emergence of a new predominantly secular terrorism. The appearance of political ideologies such as Marxism also created a fertile sense of unrest at the existing order, with terrorism offering a means for change. 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 – typified this new form of terrorism. During the 19th century terrorism underwent a fateful transformation, coming to be associated, as it still is today, with non-governmental groups. One such group - the small band of Russian revolutionaries of 'Narodnaya Volya' (the people's will) in 1878-81 - used the word 'terrorist' proudly. They developed certain ideas that were to become the hallmark of subsequent terrorism in many countries. They believed in the targeted killing of the 'leaders of oppression'; they were convinced that the developing technologies of the age - symbolized by bombs and bullets - enabled them to strike directly and discriminately. Above all, they believed that the Tsarist system against which they were fighting was fundamentally rotten. They propagated what has remained the common terrorist delusion that violent acts would spark off revolution. Their efforts led to the assassination of Tsar Alexander II on 13 March 1881 - but that event failed completely to have the revolutionary effects of which the terrorists had dreamed.
Terrorism continued for many decades to be associated primarily with the assassination of political leaders and heads of state. This was symbolized by the killing of the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand by a 19-year-old Bosnian Serb student, Gavril Princip, in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. The huge consequences of this event were not the ones that Princip and his fellow members of 'Young Bosnia' had envisaged. Princip could not believe that the assassination had triggered the outbreak of world war in 1914. In general, the extensive practice of assassination in the 20th century seldom had the particular effects for which terrorists hoped.
In the half-century after the World War Two, terrorism broadened well beyond assassination of political leaders and heads of state. In certain European colonies, terrorist movements developed, often with two distinct purposes. The first was obvious: to put pressure on the colonial powers (such as Britain, France, and the Netherlands) to hasten their withdrawal. The second was more subtle: to intimidate the indigenous population into supporting a particular group's claims to leadership of the emerging post-colonial state. Sometimes these strategies had some success, but not always. India's achievement of independence in 1947 was mainly the result, not of terrorism, but of the movement of non-violent civil disobedience led by Gandhi. In Malaya, communist terrorists launched a major campaign in 1948, but they failed due to a mixture of determined British military opposition and a programme of political reform leading to independence.
Terrorism did not end after the winding-up of the main European overseas empires in the 1950s and 1960s. It continued in many regions in response to many circumstances. In South-East Asia, the Middle East and Latin America there were killings of policemen and local officials, hostage-takings, hijackings of aircraft, and bombings of buildings. In many actions, civilians became targets. In some cases governments became involved in supporting terrorism, almost invariably at arm's length so as to be deniable. The causes espoused by terrorists encompassed not just revolutionary socialism and nationalism, but also in a few cases religious doctrines. Law, even the modest body of rules setting some limits in armed conflict between states, could be ignored in a higher cause.
Pisacane’s thesis – which was not in itself new and would probably have been recognizable to the Zealots-Sicari and the Assassins was first put into practice by the Narodnaya Volya (NV). A Russian Populist group (whose name translates as the People’s Will) formed in 1878 to oppose the Tsarist regime. The group’s most famous deed, the assassination of Alexander II on March 1, 1881, also effectively sealed their fate by incurring the full wrath of the Tsarist regime. Unlike most other terrorist groups, the NV went to great lengths to avoid ‘innocent’ deaths, carefully choosing their targets – usually state officials who symbolized the regime – and often compromising operations rather than causing what would today be termed ‘collateral damage.’
In the latter half of the 19th century, adherents of anarchism in Western Europe, Russia, and the United States adopted terrorism. They believed that the best way to effect revolutionary political and social change was to assassinate persons in positions of power.
From 1865 to 1905 anarchists’ guns or bombs killed a number of kings, presidents, prime ministers, and other government officials.
The NV’s actions inspired radicals elsewhere. Anarchist terrorist groups were particularly enamored of the example set by the Russian Populists (although not, it must be noted, their keenness to avoid casualties among bystanders). Nationalist groups such as those in Ireland and the Balkans adopted terrorism as a means towards their desired ends. As the 19th century gave way to the 20th, terrorists attacks were carried out as far a field as India, Japan, and the Ottoman empire, with two U.S. presidents and a succession of other world leaders victims of assassination by various anarchists and other malcontents often affiliated to groups but operating without their explicit knowledge or support.
One particularly successful early case of terrorism was the 1914 assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Serb extremist, an event that helped trigger World War I. Even more familiar forms of terrorism-often custom-made for TV cameras-first appeared on July 22, 1968, when the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine undertook the first terrorist hijacking of a commercial airplane.
The nineteenth century, a time of great national tension and social ferment, witnessed the emergence of both modern--what I will call "traditional"--terrorism and guerrilla warfare. Guerrilla warfare appeared first in the framework of the Napoleonic Wars in Spain and Russia, then continued in various parts of Asia and Africa, and reached its high tide after the Second World War with the disintegration of the European empires. Terrorism as we know it grew out of the secret societies of Italian and Irish patriots, but it also manifested itself in most Balkan countries, in Turkey and Egypt, and of course among the extreme Anarchists, who believed in the strategy of propaganda by deed. The Russian terrorists were by far the most active and successful before the First World War.
Terrorism was widely discussed among the European far left, not because the use of violence as a political statement was a monopoly of the left but because the right was the political establishment, and prior to World War I the left was the agent of change, trying to overthrow the party in power. But most leaders of the left rejected terrorism for both philosophical and practical reasons. They favored collective action, such as strikes, demonstrations, perhaps even insurgency, but neither Marx nor the anti-Marxists of the left believed in the "philosophy of the bomb." They gave political support to the Irish . The present system was essentially barbaric and could be destroyed only by barbaric means.
The Philosophers of Mass Destruction
The two main exceptions to this aversion to terrorism were Karl Heinzen and Johann Most, German radicals who pioneered the philosophy of using weapons of mass destruction and a more or less systematic doctrine of terrorism. Both believed that murder was a political necessity. Both left their native country and migrated to the United States, and both were theoreticians of terrorism--but, ironically, not practitioners of the activities they recommended in their writings.
Heinzen, a radical democrat, blamed the revolutionaries of 1848 for not having shown enough resolution and ruthlessness. The key to revolution, as he saw it, was in improved technology. He anticipated weapons of mass destruction such as rockets, poison gases, and land mines, that one day would destroy whole cities with 100,000 inhabitants, and he advocated prizes for research in fields such as the poisoning of food. Heinzen was firmly convinced that the cause of freedom, in which he fervently believed, would not prevail without the use of poison and explosives. But neither in Louisville, Kentucky, nor in Boston, where he later lived and is now buried, did he practice what he preached. The Sage of Roxbury (as he was called in radical circles in later years) became a staunch fighter for women's rights and one of the extreme spokesmen of abolitionism; he was a collaborator of William Lloyd Garrison, Horace Greeley, and Wendell Philips and a supporter of Abraham Lincoln. He attacked Marx, perhaps prophetically, since he believed communism would lead only to a new form of slavery. In a communist America, he wrote, he would not be permitted to travel from Boston to New York, to make a speech in favor of communism, without having official permission to do so. On his grave, in a cemetery in the Boston suburb of Forest Hill, there are two inscriptions, one in German to the effect that "freedom inspired my spirit, truth rejuvenated my heart," and one in English: "His life work--the elevation of mankind."
Johann Most belongs to a younger generation. Having been a radical social democrat in his native country, he came to America in the early 1880s. His New York--based newspaper, Freiheit, became the most influential Anarchist organ in the world.
For the masses to be free, as Most saw it, the rulers had to be killed. Dynamite and poison, fire and the sword, were much more telling than a thousand revolutionary speeches. Most did not rule out propaganda in principle, but it had to be propaganda by deed, sowing confusion among the rulers and mobilizing the masses.
Most fully appreciated the importance of the media, which he knew could publicize a terrorist action all over the globe. He pioneered the concept of the letter bomb, even though the technical difficulties in producing such bombs were still enormous at the time, and, although then a flight of fancy, he imagined aerial terrorist attacks. He predicted that it would be possible to throw bombs from the air on military parades attended by emperors and tsars. Like Heinzen, Most believed that science would give terrorists a great advantage over their enemies through the invention of new weapons. He also was one of the first to advocate indiscriminate bombing; the terrorist could not afford to be guided by considerations of chivalry against an oppressive and powerful enemy. Bombs had to be put wherever the enemy, defined as "the upper ten thousand," meaning the aristocracy and the very rich, congregated, be it a church or a dance hall.
In later years, beginning about 1890, Most mellowed inasmuch as he favored a dual strategy, putting somewhat greater emphasis on political action and propaganda. Killing enemy leaders was important, but obtaining large sums of money was even more essential; he who could somehow obtain $100 million to be used for agitation and propaganda could do mankind a greater service by doing so than by killing ten monarchs. Terrorist acts per se meant little unless they were carried out at the right time and the right place. He accepted that there had to be a division of labor between a political movement and its terrorist arm. Not every political revolutionary was born to be a terrorist; in fact, the less political leaders knew about terrorism, the better for everyone concerned.
In his younger years Most had worked for a while in an ammunition factory in Jersey City, and, based partly on his own experience with dynamite and partly on a book published by the Austrian General Staff, he wrote a little book on revolutionary warfare. This book became the inspiration for The Anarchist Cookbook, a book that was published by a faction of the American New Left in the 1960s and that remains a standard text in terrorist circles. (There have been similar texts issued by extremists in recent years, but all of them owe a debt of gratitude to Most.)
In the mid-20th century, native peoples from Egypt to Vietnam rebelled against colonial regimes. They too used dramatic acts of destruction - called terrorism by some - to win attention. But it was Algeria's Front de Libération Nationale, seeking liberation from France that defined modern terrorism, deliberately spilling the blood of random French civilians.
After France executed two Algerian rebels in 1956, the FLN slaughtered 49 Frenchmen in three days. FLN terrorists bombed beachside cafés where they knew families would perish. They wanted to raise the price of colonialism to intolerable levels. They did.
Their success inspired others: Basque and Quebecois separatists, Palestinian and Irish nationalists, Marxist cabals in Africa and Latin America. By the 1960s, the killing of civilians to sow fear and secure political gains was rampant, even in developed nations - from the Weather Underground in the U.S. to the Marxist Baader-Meinhoff Gang in West Germany to the Red Brigades in Italy. In the late 1960s, global capitalism--that is, the US and to a lesser extent its allies--faced a combination of hostile forces joined together in a very loose coalition with roots deep in the progressive half of global civil society. The US was at war directly in Vietnam, and indirectly fighting a number of guerrilla campaigns elsewhere in South-East Asia, in Latin America and in Africa.
These various campaigns shared a common ideology, membership in the loose 'Tricontinental Congress' of Marxist movements and contacts with terrorist groups in the developed world--the Red Army Faction in Germany, the Red Brigades in Italy and, indeed, the Weathermen in the US itself. These groups were connected to nationalist movements that had adopted Marxism--such as the IRA in Ireland and the Palestine Liberation Organisation--and they had the tacit support of one of the superpowers; even though the USSR regarded the 'revolutionaries' as infantile leftists, since the latter were making a nuisance of themselves in the rest of the world not the Eastern Bloc, covert Soviet support was usually forthcoming. Moreover, these various revolutionary groups had a great deal of partial, conditional support from Western trade unionists and democratic socialists--the latter may not have approved of the tactics of the Vietcong or PLO, but they could, at least at some level, identify with their struggle.
This was a genuinely international movement--the Red Army Faction trained with the PLO in the Lebanon, Che Guevara led guerrilla foci in Angola and Bolivia, students in London and Paris marched in sympathy with the Vietcong. And, unlike the anti-globalization coalition of recent years, the differences between the various groups were largely tactical, occasionally strategic, but rarely concerned the overall goal, which was universally agreed to be some form of socialism or communism. The latter may not have been clearly defined, but still provided a kind of unity, and, of course, explained the appeal of the movement to the global underdogs of the South, as well as to marginalise groups in the North, although the relatively prosperous working class of the North was less interested. The point is that there was an ideology underlying this challenge to international order with which a great many different people in different parts of the world could identify, even though when closely cross-examined they might have meant different things by the general principles to which all subscribed. The facile and oft-repeated statement 'One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter' reflects genuine doubts about the term. In the past there have been strong disagreements about whether certain movements were or were not terrorist: for example, the Jewish extremist group Irgun in Palestine in the 1940s, the Viet Cong in South Vietnam from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s, and the Provisional IRA in Northern Ireland from the late 1960s onwards. Famously, in 1987-8 the UK and US governments labelled the African National Congress of South Africa 'terrorist': a questionable attribution even at the time not because there had been no violence, but because the ANC's use of violence had been discriminate and had constituted only a small part of the ANC's overall strategy. How did certain terrorist movements come to be associated with indiscriminate killings? When in September 1970 Palestinian terrorists hijacked several large aircraft and blew them up on the ground in Jordan but let the passengers free, these acts were viewed by many with as much fascination as horror. Then in September 1972 11 Israelis were murdered in a Palestinian attack on Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games at Munich. This event showed a determination to kill: the revulsion felt in many countries was stronger than two years earlier. '...the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza...was an exercise of violence against which counter-violence was legitimate
A justification offered by the perpetrators of these and many subsequent terrorist actions in the Middle East was that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza (which had begun in 1967) was an exercise of violence against which counter-violence was legitimate. The same was said in connection with the suicide bombings by which Palestinians attacked Israel in 2001-2. In some of the suicide bombings there was a new element which had not been evident in the Palestinian terrorism of 2 or 3 decades earlier: Islamic religious extremism.
In the 1990s, a new face of terrorism emerged. Osama Bin Laden, son of a successful construction engineer, became leader of a small fanatical Islamic movement called Al-Qaida (The Base). Its public statements were an odd mixture of religious extremism, contempt for existing Arab regimes, hostility to US dominance, and insensitivity to the effects of terrorist actions. Many of its leaders, having helped to free Afghanistan of Soviet occupation in the 1980s, now developed the broader ambition of resisting western dominance, especially in Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. In pursuit of these ambitions they killed hundreds in bombings of US embassies in Africa in August 1998. Here was a new kind of terrorist movement that had a cause, and a network, that was not confined to any one state, and whose adherents were willing to commit suicide if they could thereby inflict carnage and destruction on their adversaries, as they did on September 11. Since their aims were vague and apocalyptic, there was little scope for any kind of compromise or negotiation.
The attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon on September 11 confirmed that terrorism had acquired a new face. Terrorists were now engaged in a campaign of suicide and mass murder on a huge scale. Previously it had been possible to believe that there were limits beyond which even terrorists would not go. After the thousands of deaths on September 11, it was evident that at least one group would stop at nothing.
Terrorism was not always like this. Its history is as much European as Middle Eastern, and as much secular as religious. Far from being wilfully indiscriminate, it was often pointedly discriminate. Yet there are some common threads that can be traced through the history of terrorism. What happened on September 11 was a sinister new twist in an old story of fascination with political violence.
The challenge of the bin Ladin network is different in virtually every respect. Here we are dealing with terrorists who have no concern for the welfare or interests of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Confucians and Western secularists, and precious little for the majority of Muslims who do not follow their particular version of Islam. The 1960s revolutionaries might conceivably have attacked the Pentagon--although attempting to levitate it was more the US movement's style--but the idea of murdering several thousand office-workers in the WTC would have been anathema to them. Such callousness is the product not of a perverted progressivism, but of a set of values that are inherently anti-progressive, a point caught by very few contemporary writers of the left, although Christopher Hitchens, columnist for the Nation and Vanity Fair, and a few others deserve great credit for recognising that, unlike earlier revolutionaries, Al Qaeda hate the West for its best, not its worst, features.
In the worst-case scenario, bin Ladinism will become firmly established in the so-called 'world of Islam'. This would certainly pose a major police problem for the rest of the world, including the rest of the South, and especially those countries with a Muslim majority (or sizeable minority) who had not fallen under the Al Qaeda spell. Indeed, although the nature of radical Islam makes it a less plausible challenger to world order than the movement of the 1960s, it also means it poses a more serious police problem.
It is more difficult to incorporate religious fanatics into regular political life than it is to bring in the wilder elements of a progressive movement. Precisely because the 'movement' of the 1960s and 1970s was connected to a wide progressive coalition, it was open to being co-opted. A fringe member of the German extra-parliamentary opposition of the 1970s can find himself Foreign Minister of Germany in 2001. The 'red' element of the red-green ideology of the Provisional IRA has been one of the major factors leading elements of that group to seek peace; equally, at least in principle and for the same reason, the IRA has confined its human targets to those it regards as 'combatants' and given warnings when its bombs are placed in areas where they might kill civilians. Of course, who is a combatant is hotly contested, and the warnings often go astray, but still the contrast with the events of September 11 is striking: there were no coded phone calls that morning.
In what ways is the ideology of Al Qaeda comparable to guerrilla organisations, such as the IRA and the PLO, that were particularly active in the 1960s and 1970s?
The politics of Arab-Israeli relations provides the starkest contrast here. Partly because of its links with Western progressivists, the PLO has been obliged to cast its aims in acceptably secular terms--the commitment to a single secular state for Jews and Arabs in Palestine may not be realistic politics, but it provides the basis for a dialogue and has now turned into the more realisable project of a two-state solution. This, in principle at least, is negotiable. For Al Qaeda and its local allies, on the other hand, the destruction of Israel and the removal of all Jews from Palestine is still the goal. It may be difficult to find common ground with the PLO on a secular solution to the problems of the region (partly because the obdurate Sharon government in Israel does not seem to be interested in genuine negotiations), but it is difficult to see how any Israeli politician could even begin to find a point of contact with Hamas, an organisation whose Covenant states that 'Zionism' and its Freemason allies fomented the French and Russian Revolutions, as well as both World Wars (World War II in the interest of Zionist arms manufacturers, apparently, which suggests that attempts to distinguish anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism still have a long way to go in that organisation). Unfortunately, such nonsense is taken seriously in large parts of the Arab world, hence the widespread credence given to the absurd rumour that the WTC was attacked by Mossad, with Jewish employees being told to stay at home--here Muslim fundamentalism finds common ground with its true allies in the West: neo-fascists, white supremacists and conspiracy theorists.
But Western terrorism of the '60s and '70s (like recent right-wing variant of Timothy McVeigh) paled next to the violence in the Middle East. It need not diminish Yasser Arafat's recent peacemaking moves to recall that for years his Palestinian Liberation Organization unabashedly murdered civilians amid some of the world's most shocking deeds.
The constituent groups of Arafat's PLO pioneered hijacking and hostage-taking to win global recognition for their statehood demands. The 1972 murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics and the 1985 killing of the wheelchair-bound American Leon Klinghoffer during the commandeering of the Achille Lauro remained etched in public memory. Nonetheless, they helped highlight Palestinian grievances.
Like such contemporaneous groups as South Africa's African National Congress, the PLO's goals were political, not religious. Courting world opinion, they realized that if you live by the car bomb, you die by the car bomb; terrorism could alienate the very people whose respect its perpetrators sought. Indeed, Arafat, Nelson Mandela and others had to distance themselves from terror to prove they could lead new governments. As the PLO's terrorism abated, Islamic fundamentalism swept the Middle East. Starting in 1979--the year of the Israel-Egypt peace agreement, the Iranian revolution, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan--Mideast terrorists began hailing from overtly religious groups: Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Algeria's Islamic Armed Group.
Espousing a warped vision most Muslims emphatically reject, many believed the United States to be the symbol and stronghold of satanic Western values. Inevitably, some, such as the Saudi exile Usama bin Ladin, made the U.S. their actual target.
Unlike the violence of the 1960s and '70s, the attacks on the U.S. are not secular or Marxist. Unlike the nationalist terror of the IRA or the FLN, they aren't aimed to achieve a negotiated political settlement. They are neither part of a war of rebellion, nor a form of left-wing anarchism, nor a barbarous exercise of state power.
This new terrorism springs from an unswerving conviction that to destroy America is to do God's work. Since it doesn't play to world opinion, world opinion cannot act as a brake upon it. And since it failed to destroy America, one should expect it will strike again.
As with Europe, terrorism arrived on America’s shores before the 20th century. Not only were Anarchists active in America throughout the 1880s, after the American Civil War (1861–65) defiant Southerners formed a terrorist organization called the Ku Klux Klan to intimidate supporters of Reconstruction.
Terrorism and the State
Long before the outbreak of Word War I in Europe in 1914, what would later be termed state-sponsored terrorism had already started to manifest itself. For instance, many officials in the Serbian government and military were involved (albeit unofficially) in supporting, training and arming the various Balkan groups which were active prior to the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo – an act carried out by an activist from one such group, the ‘Young Bosnians’ and credited with setting in progress the chain of events which led to the war itself. Similarly, the IMRO (Macedonian Revolutionary Organization) survived largely “because it became for all intents and purposes a tool of the Bulgarian government, and was used mainly against Yugoslavia and well as against domestic enemies.” As such examples illustrate, state-sponsored terrorism is not a new phenomenon.
The 1930s saw a fresh wave of political assassinations deserving of the word terrorism. This led to proposals at the League of Nations for conventions to prevent and punish terrorism as well as the establishment of an international criminal court (neither of which came to aught as they were overshadowed by the events which eventually led to World War II).
Despite this, during the interwar years, terrorism increasingly referred to the oppressive measures imposed by various totalitarian regimes, most notably those in Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Stalinist Russia. More recently, other governments, such as those military dictatorships which ruled some South American countries in recent years, or the current regime in Zimbabwe, have also been open to charges of using such methods as a tool of state. Such considerations notwithstanding, 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.” However not everyone agrees that terrorism should be considered a non-governmental undertaking.
For instance, Jessica Stern insists that in deliberately bombarding civilians as a means of attacking enemy morale, states have indeed resorted to terrorism. Per Stern, such instances include not only the Allied strategic bombing campaigns of World War II, but the American dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended the Pacific phase of that conflict. This issue remains a contentious one, with individuals such as the World War II British Air Chief, ‘Bomber’ Harris alternatively defended and reviled for their belief in the utility and morality of strategic bombing.
Terrorism since World War II
By contrast, the preponderance of non-state groups in the terrorism that emerged in the wake of World War II is less debatable. The immediate focus for such activity mainly shifted from Europe itself to that continent’s various colonies. Across the Middle East Asia and Africa, nascent nationalist movements resisted European attempts to resume colonial business as usual after the defeat of the Axis powers. That the colonialists had been so recently expelled from or subjugated in their overseas empires by the Japanese provided psychological succor 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 military lines than their terrorist cousins, and often in the open from a defined geographical area over which they held sway. Such was the case in China and Indochina, where such forces conducted insurgencies against the Kuomintang regime and the French colonial government respectively. Elsewhere, such as with the fight against French rule in Algeria, these campaigns were fought in both rural and urban areas and by terrorist and guerilla means.
Still other such struggles like those in Kenya, Malaysia, Cyprus and Palestine (all involving the British who, along with the French, bore the brunt of this new wave of terrorism – a corollary of their large pre-war empires) were fought by groups who can more readily be described as terrorist. These groups quickly learned to exploit the burgeoning globalization of the world’s media. As Hoffman puts it: “They were the 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.” Moreover, in some cases (such as in Algeria, Cyprus, Kenya and Israel) terrorism arguably helped such organizations in the successful realization of their goals. As such these nationalist and anti-colonial groups are of note in any wider understanding of terrorism.
Through the 1960s and 1970s, the numbers of those groups that might be described as terrorist swelled to include not only nationalists, but those motivated by ethnic and ideological considerations. The former included groups such as the Palestinian Liberation Organization (and its many affiliates), the Basque ETA, and the Provisional Irish Republican Army, while the latter comprised organizations such as the Red Army Faction (in what was then West Germany) and the Italian Red Brigades. As with the emergence of modern terrorism almost a century earlier, the United States was not immune from this latest wave, 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.
Like their anti-colonialist predecessors of the immediate post-war era, many of the terrorist groups of this period readily appreciated and adopted methods that would allow them to publicize their goals and accomplishments internationally. Forerunners in this were the Palestinian groups who pioneered the hijacking of a chief symbol and means of the new age of globalization – the jet airliner – as a mode of operation and publicity. One such group, Black September, staged what was (until the attacks on America of Sept. 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 (and in some cases mentorship and training) for many of the new generation of terrorists organizations.
The year 1979 was a turning point in international terrorism. Throughout the Arab world and the West, the Iranian Islamic revolution sparked fears of a wave of revolutionary Shia Islam. Meanwhile, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the subsequent anti-Soviet mujahedeen war, lasting from 1979 to 1989, stimulated the rise and expansion of terrorist groups. Indeed, the growth of a post-jihad pool of well-trained, battle-hardened militants is a key trend in contemporary international terrorism and insurgency-related violence. Volunteers from various parts of the Islamic world fought in Afghanistan, supported by conservative countries such as Saudi Arabia. In Yemen, for instance, the Riyadh-backed Islamic Front was established to provide financial, logistical, and training support for Yemeni volunteers. So called "Arab-Afghans" have -- and are -- using their experience to support local insurgencies in North Africa, Kashmir, Chechnya, China, Bosnia, and the Philippines.
In the West, attention was focused on state sponsorship, specifically the Iranian-backed and Syrian-supported Hezbollah; state sponsors' use of secular Palestinian groups was also of concern. Hezbollah pioneered the use of suicide bombers in the Middle East, and was linked to the 1983 bombing and subsequent deaths of 241 U.S. marines in Beirut, Lebanon, as well as multiple kidnappings of U.S. and Western civilians and government officials. Hezbollah remains a key trainer of secular, Shia, and Sunni movements. As revealed during the investigation into the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, Libyan intelligence officers were allegedly involved with the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine -- General Command (PFLP-GC). Iraq and Syria were heavily involved in supporting various terrorist groups, with Baghdad using the Abu Nidal Organization on several occasions. State sponsors used terrorist groups to attack Israeli as well as Western interests, in addition to domestic and regional opponents. It should be noted that the American policy of listing state sponsors was heavily politicized, and did not include several countries -- both allies and opponents of Washington -- that, under U.S. government definitions, were guilty of supporting or using terrorism.
Many of these organizations have today declined or ceased to exist altogether, while others, such as the Palestinian, Northern Irish and Spanish Basque groups, motivated by more enduring causes, remain active today – although some now have made moves towards political rather than terrorist methods. Meanwhile, by the mid-1980s, state-sponsored terrorism reemerged 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 fore as the principle such sponsors of terrorism. Falling into a related category were those countries, such as North Korea, who directly participated in coverts acts of what could be described as terrorism.
Such state-sponsored terrorism remains a concern of the international community today (especially its Western constituents), although it has been somewhat overshadowed in recent times by the reemergence of the religiously inspired terrorist. The latest manifestation of this trend began in 1979, when the revolution that transformed Iran into an Islamic republic led it to use and support terrorism as a means of propagating its ideals beyond its own border.
Before long, the trend had spread beyond Iran to places as far a field as Japan and the United States, and beyond Islam to ever major world religion as well as many minor cults. From the Sarin attack on the Tokyo subway by the Aum Shinrikyo in 1995 to the Oklahoma bombing the same year, religion was again added to the complex mix of motivations that led to acts of terrorism. The al Qaeda attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, brought home to the world and most particularly the United States, just how dangerous this latest mutation of terrorism is.
The new face of terrorism as mass murder is significantly changing debates. The extremism of the September 11 attacks has led to a strong international reaction. As a result, none of the 189 member states of the UN opposed the USA's right to take military action in Afghanistan after the events of September 11, and none has offered explicit support for Al-Qaida. While there remain numerous concerns about the direction of the US and international moves against terrorism, and it is too early to say that the new face of terrorism is on the retreat, it is not too early to hazard the guess that, by engaging in crimes against humanity, the new face of terrorism may have contributed to its own eventual demise.
Since there are common factors, it ought to be possible to define terrorism. In the 1960s the UN General Assembly embarked on an attempt to do this. Initially little progress was made, partly because many states were reluctant to go far along the road of outlawing terrorism unless at the same time the 'causes of terrorism' were addressed. Other states saw this approach as implying that terrorism was a response to real grievances, and thereby insinuating that it was justified.
Thus the main emphasis at the UN was on limited practical measures. In a series of 12 international conventions drawn up between 1963 and 1999, particular terrorist actions, such as aircraft hijacking and diplomatic hostage-taking, were prohibited. As the 1990s progressed, and concern about terrorism increased, the UN General Assembly embarked on discussions about defining and outlawing terrorism generally. Its Legal Committee issued a rough draft of a convention, which:
Reiterates that criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstances unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other nature that may be used to justify them.
'Is it reliance on terror that truly distinguishes a movement from its political opponents?' There are still disagreements between states about this draft convention. Even if it is eventually agreed, there is a difference between agreement on the general principle of outlawing terrorism and its application to particular facts. The labelling of individuals and movements as 'terrorist' will remain complicated and highly political. Two key questions arise: (1) Is it reliance on terror that truly distinguishes a movement from its political opponents? (2) Even if parts of a movement have employed terrorist methods, is 'terrorist' an accurate description of the movement as a whole, made up of many different wings, and employing many different modes of action?
Today, terrorism influences events on the international stage to a degree hitherto unachieved. Largely, this is due to the attacks of September 2001. 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 Sept. 11 attacks themselves, but by the fear that future strikes might be even more deadly and employ weapons of mass destruction.
Whatever global threat may be posed by al Qaeda and its franchisees, the U.S. view of terrorism nonetheless remains, to a degree, largely ego-centric – despite the Bush administration’s rhetoric concerning a so-called “Global War Against Terrorism.” This is far from unique. Despite the implications that al Qaeda actually intends to wage a global insurgency, the citizens of countries such as Colombia or Northern Ireland (to name but two of those long faced with terrorism) are likely more preoccupied with when and where the next FARC or Real Irish Republican Army attack will occur rather than where the next al Qaeda strike will fall.
As such considerations indicate, terrorism goes beyond al Qaeda, which it not only predates but will also outlive. Given this, if terrorism is to be countered most effectively, any understanding of it must go beyond the threat currently posed by that particular organization. Without such a broad-based approach, not only be will terrorism be unsolvable (to paraphrase Pillar) but it also risks becoming unmanageable.
In summary, the development of terrorism as a tool to achieve political goals is as follows:
Late 18th Century - The French Revolution
Government Sponsored Terrorism
Goal: Eliminate opposition and consolidate power. The word terrorism was coined.
Late 19th and Early 20th Century - The Anarchists
Propaganda by deeds
Goal: Use terror to bring down a government
Early 20th Century - Russian Revolution
Government Sponsored Terrorism
Goal: Use terror to maintain power and control an entire population. Added systematic society wide use of terror to the concept of government-sponsored terrorism
Early 20th Century - Irish Rebellion
Goal: Use terror to gain independence
Middle 20th Century
Terror to End Colonialism
Goal: Use of selective terrorism on sympathizers and civilians
Between the French Revolution and the end of WWII, terrorism was local and organization of terror was confined to a specific area of conflict. The late 1960's brought a new change.
The Middle East / Cold War -Late 1960's
The Internationalization of Terrorism and State-Sponsored Terrorism
The unification of different terrorist groups as a worldwide network. Additionally, due to the Cold War different countries supporting different terrorist groups in order to destabilize rival governments. Terrorist groups allied in order to bring attention to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The Middle East / Islamism (Militant Islam) - 1979
Religion Based Terrorism
Expansion of Islam and the protection of Islam against Jews, Christians and the West formed a justification for the use of terror independent of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Over the past two centuries terrorism has been used for various reasons to achieve various goals. Terrorism has been used by religious zealots and by non-religious ideologues. The historical development of terrorism shows that it is a tool of change.
Pre-Modern Use of Terrorism
Terrorism is nothing new in the Middle East and its use is not new to Jews or Muslims. Jewish Zealots used terrorism to resist the Romans and Muslims used terrorism to resist each other (Shi'ites vs Sunni) and against the crusades. Terror during this period was used kill religious enemies. From the beginning terrorism and religion were companions. The concept of Suicide Martyrdom, dying in the service of God - dying while killing the enemies of God - dates back more than a thousand years ago. From the earliest days, terrorism encompassed the idea of dying in the service of God as a divine duty which would be rewarded in the afterlife. Terrorism against an enemy was a religious act which was considered a good and worthy act.
The French Revolution's Reign of Terror (1793 - 1794)
Modern terrorism began with the Reign of Terror by Maximilien Robespierre and the Jacobin Party. Robespierre brought to terrorism the concept that terrorism has virtue in that it can be a tool to bring about "legitimate" governmental ends. He used terror systematically to suppress opposition to the government. Robespierre introduced Government-sponsored terrorism: the use of terror to maintain power and suppress rivals. Before his reign was over hundreds of people met their end with the sound of the guillotine.
Anarchists (1890 - 1910)
Anarchists were very active during the late 19th and early 20th century. Russian anarchists sought to overthrow the Russian Czar Alexander II by assassination and eventually succeeded in 1881. The Anarchists believed that killing the Czar and other kings and nobles of Europe would bring down governments. To this end the anarchist introduced to the development of terrorism, Individual terrorism. Individual terrorism is the use of selective terror against and individual or group in order to bring down a government. The use of terror was selective because targets were selected based on their position within the governmental system. Terrorist acts were limited to ensaure that innocent bystanders were not hurt. This concept of limited collateral damage to innocents, not targeting innocents, did not survive the second half of the 20th century.
Anarchists also introduced the observation that terrorism has a communicative effect. When a bomb explodes, society asks why. The need to kbow why an act was committed provides the perpetrators of the terrorist act a stage to which an audience is ready to listen. Thus the concept of propaganda by deeds was added to the development of modern terrorism. In fact terrorism was a tool of communication.
Between 1890 and 1908 anarchists were responsible for killing the kings and queens of Russia, Austria Hungry, Italy and Portugal. Anarchists were also active in the U.S. between 1890 and 1910 setting off bombs on Wall Street. The two most famous acts by anarchists were the assassinations of President McKinley (1901) and Archduke Ferdinand (1914) which resulted in the Great War.
The Irish Rebellion (1919 - 1921)
The Irish War of 1919 brought three concepts to the development of terrorism:
(1) selective terrorism,
(2) sustained terror over time and
(3) cell operations.
The goal of the war was to gain Irish independence from England. Led by Michael Collins, terrorism was applied to representatives of England (police, soldiers, judges, government officials, etc.) in an effort to make the cost of continued occupation too high to maintain. Thus to terrorism was added the concept of selective terrorism, acts of terror against representatives of government to force their departure from an area. A tactic that has been adopted and used in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since 1967 with the loss of one key concept, the selective aspect. Today's terrorism involves attacks on civilians and non-governmental officials.
Also added to the development of the use of terrorism is the concept that to make a change in a society, the acts of terror must be sustained over a long period of time. The sustained terror will, over time, break down the will of the targeted government and they will eventually seek to an accommodation.
The Irish war also provided the concept of cell operation to terrorism. Cell operation decentralizes the implementation of terrorist acts and prevents the discovery and destruction of the terrorist organization. Each cell has a specific goal or objective. Each cell only knows its members and its specific task. Thus the capture of one cell does not provide avenues to other terrorists. Terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda operated with this decentralized design to implement the attack on September 11th. Cells in Europe, the Middle East and the U.S. had specific objectives (transfer funds, learn to fly planes, create false documents, etc.). It has been estimnated that $500,000 was spend to implement the attacks of September 11th with cells operating in Europe and the Middle East providing organization, operation and financial assistance to the main cell that carried out the attack.
After WWII terrorism continued to be used as a tool for liberation and for ending colonialism in the Third World. Selective terror changed from targeting government officials to civilians and sympathizers of occupation.
Terrorism entered a new phase of development and use during the late 1960's. The 1960's brought to terrorism an international scope and a focus on the Middle East. With the 1967 war in which Israel defeated Jordan, Egypt and Syria, taking control of the Golan Heights (from Syria), East Jerusalem, the West Bank (from Jordan), the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula (from Egypt), the use of conventional war as a means to destroy Israel ended and the use of terror with the purpose of focusing attention on Israel and the Palestinians (the occupied territories) began.
Cuba and the Tri-Continental Conference (1966)
In 1966 Cuba hosted the Tri-Continental Conference which was sponsored by the Soviet Union. This conference was the beginning of the internationalization of leftist revolutionary terrorism. Terrorist and "liberation" groups from Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America began to work together and build alliances. Financial, political, operation and intelligence cooperation connected terrorist groups across the world. It flourished over the preceding two decades. Europe suffered a decade of terrorist activity as European and Middle Eastern terrorist groups worked together to bring attention to the Palestinian cause. In Germany, the Red Army Faction (German group) allied itself with Black September (Palestinian group); in France, Action Direct (French group) allied with the Red Army Faction and the Red Army Brigade (Italian group); in Japan, the Japanese Red Army allied with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Cuba became a training ground for leftist revolutionary terrorist groups.
Terrorism, the Middle East and the Cold War
As the Cold War esculated in the 1960's and the world become polarized between the East and the West, a new dynamic was added to terrorism; State-Sponsored Terrorism: governments exporting terrorism to other parts of the world for their own political interests. Iran supported Hizballah, Libiya supported Abu Nidal, Iraq, Cuba, Sudan and Algeria provided training camps, economic and political support to other terrorist groups. The focus of terrorism moved to the Middle East, the Arab-Israeli / Israeli- Palestinian conflict with the U.S. supporting Israel and the Soviet Union supporting various Arab countries.
The 1970’s was the decade of air terrorism with more than 20 events of terrorism directed at European and American airlines involving hijackings, bombings and hostage taking. The 1970's also involved bombings, kidnappings and other types of terrorist activity throughout Europe.
The last twenty years of the 20th century brought terrorism full circle from its earliest history 1500 years prior. With the rise of the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran (1979), religion based terrorism returned. Militant Islam and the protection of Islam against Jews, Christians, and the West formed an independent justification for terrorism. Religious suicide martyrdom in which young men and women die in the service of Allah is evidenced in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and New York City.
The 1980's was the decade of hostage taking and terrorism found a target in U.S. interests around the world. Between 1979 and 1988 there were at least twelve incidents of terrorism directed at the U.S. and her interests. These incidents included the hostages in 1979, the bombing of U.S. Embassies, kidnapping of American citizens, and the bombing of airplanes.
The last decade of the 20th century made another change to the development of terrorism. Terrorism in the 1960's through the 1980's was about exposure to one's cause. A terrorist act was followed by credit taking or a warning to the U.S. that future attacks would occur if the U.S. did not change its policies or a way to gain the world’s attention to the Palestinian cause. The 1990's brought to terrorism, indiscriminate killing and high mass casualty counts for its own sake.
Between 1993 and September 11, 2001 seven terrorist attacks were committed against the U.S. in which the destruction was the point of the attack. The 1990's returned to terrorism, religious extremism and hate being enough to justify the use of terror. 1993 WTC - 6 dead, major damage to the WTC 1995 Saudi Arabia - 5 dead - bombing of the U.S. Military Headquarters 1996 Saudi Arabia - 19 dead - Khobar Towers 1997 Egypt - 58 tourist dead - terrorists open fire in the Temple of Hatshepsut 1998 Kenya and Tanzania - 224 dead - bombing of two U.S. Embassies at the same time 2000 Yemen - 17 sailors killed - U.S.S. Cole 2001 WTC / Pentagon - 3000 dead After two hundred years, terrorism has changed and has been used for a variety of different purposes to achieve various goals. Ultimately terrorism is a tool to change behavior.
Although anthrax and other biological weapons seem like 21st-century threats, they have been tools of terror for ages. Ancient armies, for instance, tainted water supplies of entire cities with herbs and fungi that gave people horrible diarrhea and hallucinations.
British troops in the French and Indian War launched a stealth smallpox attack on Indians. During World War I, German agents ran an anthrax factory in Washington, D.C. World War II anthrax bombs left a whole island uninhabitable for almost 50 years. According to Dr. Philip Brachman, an anthrax expert at Emory University in Atlanta, "the earliest reference to anthrax is found in the Fifth Plague”.
It took a series of calamities inflicted on the Egyptians to finally convince an obstinate pharaoh to liberate the ancient Hebrews, according to the Bible. The plagues probably date to about 1300 B.C. They ranged from Nile River water turned blood-red and undrinkable to the one-night destruction of all the first-born of Egypt.
The Fifth Plague (Exodus 9:3) was an infectious disease that killed all the cattle in Egypt, while sparing the Hebrews' livestock. Brachman and other experts think the biblical account actually refers to a natural epidemic of anthrax. Such epidemics periodically decimated domestic animals in the ancient Middle East. The anthrax might have spared the Israelites because their stock would have been grazing on poorer pastures where infections don't take hold as well. Anthrax actually was named from a Greek word that refers to coal and charcoal.
Medical historians see anthrax's fingerprints in manuscripts from the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Hindus in India, which contain descriptions of animal and human anthrax.
Black Bane of 1600s
They think history's most serious anthrax outbreak was "Black Bane," a terrible epidemic that swept Europe in the 1600s. It killed at least 60,000 people and many more domestic and wild animals.
People called it "Black Bane" because many cases involved the cutaneous, or skin, form of anthrax, which involves a blackish sore. Cutaneous anthrax can be quickly cured today with antibiotics. Like other infections in the pre-antibiotic era, however, it often killed.
Physician Robert Koch discovered how to grow bacteria on gelatin-like material in glass laboratory dishes, and formulated rules to prove that specific bacteria caused specific diseases. In 1876, Koch identified the anthrax bacterium. It led to development of a vaccine that was first used to immunize livestock in 1880.
Other biological agents have roots as almost as ancient as anthrax.
In 1797, Napoleon tried to infect residents of a besieged city in Italy with malaria.
During the French and Indian War, the British suspected American Indians of siding with the French. In an "act of good will," the British gave the Indians nice, warm blankets -straight from the beds of smallpox victims. The resulting epidemic killed hundreds of Indians.
Germ farmer for the Kaiser
Anton Dilger, an agent of the Imperial German government during World War I, grew anthrax and other bacteria in a corner of his Washington home. His henchmen on the docks in Baltimore used the anthrax to infect some 3,000 horses and mules destined for the Allied forces in Europe. Many of the animals died, and hundreds of soldiers on the Western Front were infected.
In 1937, Japan began a biological warfare program that included anthrax, and later tested anthrax weapons in China.
The United States, Britain and other countries developed anthrax weapons during World War II. The British military in 1942 began testing "anthrax bombs" on Gruinard Island, a 500-acre dot of land off the northwestern coast of Scotland.
The Gruinard experiments established the environmental consequences of using anthrax as a weapon of mass destruction.
British scientists thought the anthrax spores would quickly die or blow away into the ocean. But the spores lived on. Huge numbers remained infectious year after year. Finally, in 1986, after critics labeled Gruinard "Anthrax Island," the British government decided to clean up the mess.
A 1972 treaty, ratified by 143 countries, banned production, deployment, possession and use of biological weapons. Analysts think that a dozen countries still may have clandestine biological weapons programs, including Iraq.
Some bio-war incidents through history:
The master tactician Solon uses the purgative herb hellebore (skunk cabbage) to poison the water supply during his siege of Krissa.
Plague breaks out in the ranks of the Tartar army during its siege of Kaffa, and the Tartars hurl the corpses over the city walls using catapults. Some historians believe that infected Kaffans who managed to escape could have started the Black Death, which spread across Europe.
Chlorine and mustard gas are used extensively by the Germans.
Dr. Anton Dilger, a noted German-American physician, establishes a small biological agent production facility at his Washington, D.C., home. Using cultures of bacillus anthracis (anthrax) and pseudomonas mallei (glanders) supplied by the German government, Dilger produces an estimated liter or more of liquid agent. He reportedly passes the agent and a standard inoculation device to dock workers in Baltimore, who use them to infect a reported 3,000 horses, mules and cattle destined for the Allied troops. Several hundred military personnel are infected as well.
The Geneva Protocol prohibits the use, but not the production, of such agents.
Japan uses biological and chemical weapons when invading China and Manchuria.
The United States proceeds with its offensive biological weapons initiative that started during World War II. The program ends with tests in the Pacific Ocean. In 1969
President Richard Nixon orders the termination of the program and orders
all stockpiles destroyed.
The Biological Weapons Convention prohibits the research, development and proliferation of offensive biological weapons. The treaty does, however, allow defensive work to continue.
In Sverdlovsk, Russia, about 100 people are infected with anthrax, and 64 die. The Russian government blames the outbreak on contaminated meat, but the international scientific and intelligence communities suspect the accidental release of anthrax spores from a nearby bio weapons facility In 1989, Dr. Vladimir Pasechnick, the former director of the Leningrad Institute of Ultrapure Biological Preparations, defects and reveals that the Soviets had an offensive biological weapons program.
Iraq uses chemical weapons in its war against Iran. After it's defeat at the hands of the United States in 1991, Iraq is ordered by the U.N. Security Council to halt all biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programs.
The Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits the research and production of chemical agents such as sarin and VX nerve gas.
Members of the Aum Shinrikyo religious sect release sarin into the Tokyo underground rail system, killing 12 and injuring thousands. Due to the inferior quality of the sarin agent and inefficient dispersal techniques, the death toll is lower than predicted.
That was precisely the justification used after the war by a series of anticolonial movements. Some, like the Viet Minh against French rule in Vietnam, had been supplied by British and American forces to fight the Japanese. After 1945, they used the wartime tactics of resistance to attack the returning French with the classic weapons of terrorism, raiding remote plantations to kill French overseers, random shootings and bombs in crowded cafes, all designed to destroy the morale of the French civilians.
Similar tactics were used against the British in Palestine by Israeli freedom fighters (or 'terrorists') like the future prime ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir. The Irgun and Stern Gang blew up civilians in hotels, assassinated British troops, and ambushed British patrols, all in the name of the national liberation of Israel.
Learning from these examples, the National Liberation Front of Algeria fought French rule with a ruthless terror campaign, using Arab women dressed as fashionable young Frenchwomen, to place bombs in cafes, dancehalls, and cinemas. The French fought back ferociously, and in the battle of Algiers, General Jacques Massu's battalion of paratroopers broke the FLN terrorist networks in the casbah, or Arab quarter, with ruthless interrogations and the widespread use of torture.
The Battle of Algiers was a military victory, but a political defeat, horrifying public opinion in France and elsewhere, toppling French governments, and eroding the French national will to maintain the struggle against the FLN. France suffered a political collapse that returned to power wartime hero Charles de Gaulle, who eventually launched negotiations that led to Algerian independence in 1962.
These were the lessons that inspired modern terrorism, a phenomenon that emerged from the twin roots of the Arab-Israeli Six Day War of 1967 and the worldwide student movements of 1968. The devastating Arab defeat and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip inspired the Palestine Liberation Organization—too weak to fight an orthodox struggle—to adopt terrorist tactics. Other pro-Palestine groups imposed their demands on a global audience by hijacking airliners and kidnapping Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.
Young militants in Europe, Japan, and the United States turned to similar tactics for different reasons. In Northern Ireland, a Protestant backlash against the campaigns of the Roman Catholic civil rights movement revived the moribund Irish Republican Army. Ham-fisted attempts by the British Army to detain militants without trial triggered a thirty-year terrorist campaign.
West Germany's Red Army Faction, Japan's Red Army, and Italy's Red Brigades made common cause with the PLO. They used their training camps and cooperated on operations like the seizure of an OPEC summit meeting in Vienna in 1975, while also conducting their own kidnapping and killing operations against "the fascist capitalism" of their homelands.
This was largely a European phenomenon, despite the pinprick attacks of the Weathermen, a small group that broke away from the less extreme US antiwar movement to plant bombs in the Pentagon and elsewhere. One reason why Europe suffered far more terrorist attacks than the US was its proximity to cold war sponsors of terror, like the Czechoslovaks supplying Semtex plastic explosives to the IRA or the East German secret police, the Stasi, giving logistical support, including false passports and sanctuary, to German and Italian terror groups.
Through police and intelligence work and the ending of Soviet Bloc support with the end of the cold war, most of these post-1968 terrorist groups have been defeated or marginalized. The two that survived, the PLO and the IRA, were sustained by a degree of popular legitimacy that stemmed from their origins as national liberation movements. The two campaigns waged against them illustrate the two extremes of counter-terrorist strategy.
The British, despite ruthless bombings of civilians in London and elsewhere and repeated assassination attempts on British prime ministers, strove to maintain their civil liberties and the rule of law. Police and troops who had gone too far, or killed without cause, were put on trial. Miscarriages of justice were sometimes corrected, and outrages like the Bloody Sunday shootings by British soldiers in Londonderry in 1972 became belatedly the subject of public inquiries. By these means, and by working closely with the US and Irish government in Dublin, the British have been able to develop a peace process that brought much of the IRA back into the democratic and political arena.
The Israelis, by contrast, have assassinated PLO leaders, using bombs, missiles, and helicopter gunships despite the likelihood of civilian casualties. The Israelis, it must be stressed, believe they are fighting for their very existence, which the British are not.
However, the British and Israeli strategies represent the parameters of the counter-terror policies that the US along with its European allies and most of the civilized world, must now consider. One lesson that the Europeans all absorbed in the antiterrorism campaigns of the 1970s and 1980s is that it is both possible and important to retain civil liberties and the rule of law while fighting terrorism. One key goal of terrorism is to polarize society by provoking it into the kind of repression that undermines public support for government.
"You don't protect civilization by dismantling its civilizing achievements," comments Tom Arnold, a veteran British member of Parliament who was an adviser to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Arnold recalls that even after the IRA almost killed Thatcher and several cabinet colleagues by bombing her Brighton hotel during a Conservative Party conference, she rejected any new repressive measures and continued seeking a political solution with Dublin through the Anglo-Irish agreement.
Americans may question the wisdom of following the British technique when there seems to be little prospect of political negotiation with the suicidal nihilists who destroyed the World Trade Center and attacked the Pentagon. However, the ruthless Israeli tactics would not fit easily into the US political tradition and its rule of law. Possibly, the United States might adapt both strategies, echoing the British to protect civil liberties at home while being as ruthless as the Israelis abroad.
Terrorism in the 20th century
The 20th century witnessed great changes in the use and practice of terrorism. Terrorism became the hallmark of a number of political movements stretching from the extreme right to the extreme left of the political spectrum. Technological advances such as automatic weapons and compact, electrically detonated explosives gave terrorists a new mobility and lethality. Terrorism was adopted as virtually a state policy, though an unacknowledged one, by such totalitarian regimes as those of Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler and the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin. In these states arrest, imprisonment, torture, and execution were applied without legal guidance or restraints to create a climate of fear and to encourage adherence to the national ideology and the declared economic, social, and political goals of the state.
Terrorism has most commonly become identified, however, with individuals or groups attempting to destabilize or overthrow existing political institutions. Terrorism has been used by one or both sides in anticolonial conflicts (Ireland and the United Kingdom, Algeria and France, Vietnam and France/United States), in disputes between different national groups over possession of a contested homeland (Palestinians and Israel), in conflicts between different religious denominations (Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland), and in internal conflicts between revolutionary forces and established governments (Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Iran, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Argentina).
Terrorism's public impact has been greatly magnified by the use of modern communications media. Any act of violence is certain to attract television coverage, which brings the event directly into millions of homes and exposes viewers to the terrorists' demands, grievances, or political goals. Modern terrorism differs from that of the past because its victims are frequently innocent civilians who are picked at random or who merely happen into terrorist situations. Many groups of terrorists in Europe hark back to the anarchists of the 19th century in their isolation from the political mainstream and the unrealistic nature of their goals. Lacking a base of popular support, extremists substitute violent acts for legitimate political activities. Such acts include kidnappings, assassinations, skyjackings, bombings, and hijackings.
The Baader-Meinhof gang of West Germany, the Japanese Red Army, Italy's Red Brigades, the Puerto Rican FALN, al-Fatah and other Palestinian organizations, the Shining Path of Peru, and France's Direct Action were among the most prominent terrorist groups of the later 20th century.
The origin of the word Terrorism
It was coined during France's Reign of Terror in 1793-94. Originally, the leaders of this systematized attempt to weed out "traitors" among the revolutionary ranks praised terror as the best way to defend liberty, but as the French Revolution soured, the word soon took on grim echoes of state violence and guillotines. Today, most terrorists dislike the label, according to Bruce Hoffman of the RAND think tank.
The word terrorism was first used in 1795, a grim spawn of the heady period that brought the American War of Independence and the French Revolution. The word was born with the Reign of Terror, the use of the guillotine by the French revolutionaries to consolidate their regime by killing their enemies and intimidating the potential opposition.
Until well into the twentieth century, terror usually meant state terror. The tactics of the French revolutionaries were copied by the Cheka secret police founded by Vladimir Lenin in 1918 to ensure the Bolshevik grip on power and later by Nazi Germany's Gestapo in the 1930s and 40s. Incidentally, it was the Nazi occupiers of Europe during the Second World War who characterized the work of the French, Czech, Polish, and other resistance movements, supplied and fomented by Britain's Special Operations Executive, as "terrorism."
For the resistance movements, and for their British backers in SOE who had been ordered by Prime Minister Winston Churchill to "set Europe ablaze," they were not terrorists but freedom fighters. Their clandestine work of sabotage and ambush—destroying bridges and railroads and assassinating German officials and their local collaborators—was a wholly justifiable tactic of a war of national liberation.
One of the precedents in the Middle East was set in British-run Palestine in the late 1930s and early 1940s, when the Zionist terrorist groups Irgun, Stern, and Haganah attacked British and Palestinian targets. The breakthrough came with the spectacular destruction in July 1946 less than two years before Israel was declared a state of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.
This was the impenetrable fortress, the British military and civilian headquarters, wrapped in steel doors and barbed wire and constantly guarded. When milk churns packed with high explosives in the basement sheared the building in two, the message was sent around the world that a new nation was about to be born.
Seed Sowed for Modern Terrorism
Menachem Begin, who masterminded the King David attack, and later Prime Minister of Israel, described in his book The Revolt the thinking behind such acts of terrorists. There are times when everything in you cries out: your very self-respect as a human being lies in your resistance to evil, Mr. Begin wrote. Then, playing on Descartes words, he added: We fight, therefore we are.
According to Noam Chomsky ," The record of Israeli terrorism goes back to the origins of the state - indeed, long before - including the massacre of 250 civilians and brutal expulsion of seventy thousand others from Lydda and Ramle in July 1948; the massacre of hundreds of others at the undefended village of Doueimah near Hebron in October 1948;...the slaughters in Quibya, Kafr Kassem, and a string of other assassinated villages; the expulsion of thousands of Bedouins from the demilitarized zones shortly after the 1948 war and thousands more from northeastern Sinai in the early 1970's, their villages destroyed, to open the region for Jewish settlement; and on, and on.”
But the creation of Israel left a losing side too. To the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians dispossessed of their land in 1948, that event is still called al Nakbah, the Catastrophe. It sowed the seed for modern terrorism, and for future attempts at more and more spectacular attacks that seek to grab the world’s attention.
Palestinian guerrillas, who recognized the propaganda value of making their issue known through violence, learned that lesson in the late 1960s and 1970s. First gathered in 1955 for cross-border attacks into Israel as fedayeen (those who sacrifice themselves), Palestinian guerrillas made their global breakthrough in 1972 at the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany.
A handful of members of the Black September group so named after the brutal crushing and expulsion of Palestinian forces from Jordan by King Hussein in September 1970 broke into the Israeli team rooms and took Jewish athletes hostage.
King David Lesson Learned
After a drawn-out saga that included helicoptering to a waiting airplane, all but three of the guerrillas were killed along with all of the hostages. A Palestinian spokesman, quoted by British journalist David Hirst in his book The Gun and the Olive Branch (1977), claimed that a bomb in the White House, a mine in the Vatican ... could not have echoed through the consciousness of every man in the world like the operation of Munich.... It was like painting the name of Palestine on the top of a mountain that can be seen from the four corners of the earth.
The King David lesson had been learned and put into practice, and galvanized Palestinian warriors. The classic definition of Black September, as noted by Mr. Hirst, holds true of terrorists today, for whom it is more of a calling than a state of mind.
As one youth described terrorism in Mr. Hirsts book: It cannot be pinpointed, tracked down, or crushed. It has no name, no flag, no slogans, headquarters, or base. It requires only men who have the determination to fight and succeed and the courage to die.
Americans Become Targets
The 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran galvanized Islamic extremists, especially of the minority Shia sect scattered throughout the Islamic world, and in southern Lebanon, when Ayatollah Khomeini demanded the export of the revolution. The example was put forth: 52 Americans were taken hostage and held 444 days.
Americans became targets, and in 1983 the US Marines barracks in Beirut were bombed, leaving 241 dead. American troops soon pulled out. The bombers likely got what they wanted.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union at the turn of the decade, the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and the subsequent Arab-Israeli peace process, many Middle East groups that had carried out terrorist attacks either disappeared or lay low.
But as the attacks against the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania attest, the King David lesson has not been forgotten. Who did the attacks in Kenya and Tanzania? Fingers point in many directions. High on the list of backers is multimillionaire Saudi exile Usama bin Ladin, who lives in Afghanistan and earlier this year vowed to wage a Holy War against American military and civilian targets.
The Strategy of Terrorism
The grim events at the Athens airport on August 5, 1973, were in a sense symbolic. Dreadfully real to those who were involved, the occurrences of that day also transcended their own reality, somewhat as myths do, epitomizing an entire aspect of contemporary existence in one specific drama.
When the hand grenades were hurled into the departure lounge and the machine gunners simultaneously mowed down the passengers waiting to embark for New York City, it seemed incomprehensible that so harmless a group should be attacked. The merest glance at their hand luggage, filled with snorkels and cameras, would have shown that they had spent their time in such peaceful pursuits as swimming, sunbathing, and snapping photos of the Parthenon.
The raid had been undertaken on behalf of an Arab Palestine. Yet the airport passengers had done the Arabs no harm. Their journey had only been to Greece. Palestine had nothing to do with them; it was another country, across the sea, and its problems were not of their making. Moreover, Athens was a capital friendly to the Arab cause—as was Paris, the scene of more recent airline attacks.
Similar incidents have occurred with terrible frequency throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The generations that have come to maturity in Europe and America since the end of the Second World War have asked only to bask in the sunshine of a summertime world; but increasingly they have been forced instead to live in the fearful shadow of other people’s deadly quarrels. Gangs of politically motivated gunmen have disrupted everyday life, intruding and forcing their parochial feuds upon the unwilling attention of everybody else.
True, other ages have suffered from crime and outrage, but what we are experiencing today goes beyond such things. Too small to impose their will by military force, terrorist bands nonetheless are capable nowadays of causing enough damage to intimidate and blackmail the governments of the world. Only modern technology makes this possible—the bazooka, the plastic bomb, the submachine gun, and perhaps, over the horizon, the nuclear mini-bomb. The transformation has enabled terrorism to enter the political arena on a new scale, and to express ideological goals of an organized sort rather than mere crime, madness, or emotional derangement as in the past.
Political terrorism is a distinctive disorder of the modern world. It originated as a term and, arguably, as a practice, less than two centuries ago and has come into the spotlight of global conflict in our lifetime. Whereas both organized and irregular (or guerrilla) warfare began with the human race, political terrorism emerged as a concept only in 1793. As a political strategy, it is both new and original; and if I am correct, its nature has not yet fully been appreciated.
Of course nobody can remain unaware of the upsurge of global terrorism that has occurred in recent years. But the novelty of it has not been perceived. Force usually generates fear, and fear is usually an additional weapon. But terrorism employs the weapon of fear in a special and complicated sort.
In the 1940s, two Jewish undergrounds, the Irgun Zvai Leumi and the Stern gang:
* In 1946, bombed the King David Hotel and the British Embassy in Rome, although they reportedly issued warnings prior to the bombings.
* Assassinated Lord Moyne in Cairo in 1944 for his refusal to allow Jews to flee from the Holocaust into Palestine during World War II.
* Assassinated the UN mediator Count Bernadotte in September 1948 for his allegedly pro-Arabic conduct during the cease-fire negotiations.
* Are claimed to be responsible for the massacres of hundreds of Arab villagers and the forced exile of thousands. In particular, on April 9th, 1948 they carried out a military operation at Deir Yassin.
* In 1947, killed two British sergeants after the British authorities refused to cancel the death sentence of two of their comrades in Akko prison. Also killed several suspected collaborators with the Haganah and the British.
* Attacked British military airfields and railways several times in 1946.
* During the attacks that included hurting civilians, were not connected with the mainstream Jewish leadership, which condemned these undergrounds and extradicted their members.
Israeli official organizations are responsible for:
• Qibya massacre, carried out among others by Unit 101 under the command of Ariel Sharon. It leads to the death of almost 70 civilians.
* Operation Suzannah (also known as the Lavon Affair), conducted in 1954. Conducted by an Israeli intelligence agency, it was an attempt to thwart Egypt's relations with the West by bombing selected Western targets in that country.
* The Sabra and Shatila massacre occurred on September 16th to 18th, 1982, during the Lebanese civil war; it was carried out by Lebanese Christian soldiers, in a zone surrounded by Israeli army. Most Arabs claim that there was an Israeli conspiracy to carry out the massacre (although this has never been proven at all). An Israeli investigation found a number of officials (including the Defense Minister of that time, Ariel Sharon) indirectly responsible for the massacre, as they allowed the entry of Christian soldiers into the camps.
* In a handful of cases during the recent Intifada, Israel has assassinated self-declared freedom fighters that have been employed by the Palestinian Authority security forces, Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Most of these assassinated people have publicly stated that they were behind terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians. Israel has asked the Palestinian Authority numerous times to either arrest them or extradict them; the Authority never
did either. Palestinians have claimed this constitutes terrorism, due to
the many civilians killed as a result of this policy; Israel on the other
hand declares all killings were due to a specific security alert, intended
to prevent the deaths of many more civilians, Non-governmental organizations and individuals.
* In a number of cases settlers on the West Bank have attacked Palestinian civilians. In particular, the Hebron settler Dr. Baruch Goldstein associated with the Kach murdered some 30 Palestinians while they were praying on February 26, 1994. Israeli security services have arrested since a number of individuals plotting terrorist activities.
* The Jewish Defense League and the Kach movement follow Rabbi Meir Kahane (subsequently assassinated) and support the killings carried out by Dr. Baruch Goldstein.
These individuals and organizations are condemned by all mainstream Jewish
organizations. Kach has been declared illegal by Israeli authorities. Members of the JDL have been prosecuted by the U.S. government. Kahane's son was also murdered in cold blood along with his wife, both of whom were involved in any illegal act whatsoever, except being human!
On July 18, 1994 an explosion in Buenos Aires, Argentina, demolished a building housing several Jewish organizations, in which 100 people were killed and scores injured. The following day, a car bomb near the Israeli Embassy in London, England, injured 13 people. The Zionists and their American supporters accused Iran and the Hizbullah of these acts. Both had strongly denied any involvement whatsoever. On July 28, 1994, on Tehran Radio accused the Zionists themselves of masterminding these criminal acts as this would not be the first time for such covert operation.
The Zionists have a long history of targeting others as well as their own to achieve their nefarious designs. Failing to pin point or capture the perpetrators of this crime and recent hysteria to pursue the followers of Usama bin Ladin, a Pakistani citizen was arrested in California accusing him for that bombing in 1994.
Herer is a list of a few criminal acts perpetrated by the Zionists, both prior to and after the creation of the state of Israel in Palestine.
November 25, 1940. A passenger ship, S.S. Patria carrying illegal immigrants was blown up by the zionists in Haifa harbor on this day, killing 276 of them. His was perhaps the first act of terrorism perpetrated by the Zionists against fellow Jews. The explosion in the ship, S S Struma, in the Black Sea, which killed 769 illegal Jewish immigrants, followed this.
The Irgun Zwei Leumi, a Jewish terrorist gang, blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem during December 1947, killing 91 and injuring more than 200 British soldiers.
The Stern Gang, another Jewish terrorist organization resorted to throwing flames at the local population to terrorize it.
November 6, 1944: Lord Moyne, a British resident minister, was assassinated in Cairo, Egypt, by members of Stern gang, whose active members during that period were Itzhak Shamir and late Menachem Begin.
December 11, 1947: Zionist bomb attacks in Haifa to terrorize the Palestinian population. The Arab owned Semiramis hotel in Jerusalem was also bombed killing several innocent civilians including Viscount de Tapia, the Spanish Consul.
1947: Zionists launched the letter bombs campaign to British cabinet ministers to forcethe withdrawal of British troops from Palestine.
April 9, 1948: the terrorists Stern Gang committed the gruesome massacre at Deir Yassin, ruthlessly murdering 354 men, women and children. Some of the pregnant women were paraded naked before they were bayonetted to death and their bodies dumped in the village wells, according to the records of the Red Cross.
September 17, 1948: Count Folke Bernadette (nephew of King Gustav V of Sweden), a UN mediator, and his aide colonel Andre Pierre Serot, were assassinated by the Stern Gang.
1951: Mossad agents bombed a synagogue in Baghdad to force the flight of Iraqi Jews into Palestine.
1954: Israeli agents bombed the U.S. Information Center in Cairo to sabotage the normalization of relations between Nasser's Egypt and the U.S.
July 26, 1956: Israel in conjunction with Britain and France launched the tripartite aggression against Egypt in a bid to reach the Suez Canal and to overthrow Nasser.
June 5, 1967: Israel launched the Six Day war of aggression against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, occupying the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza strip reaching the Suez Canal. Other territories occupatied were the West Bank including Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights.
June 8, 1967: Israeli planes attacked the 'USS Liberty' in broad daylight killing 34 American sailors and wounding 171 others.
February 21, 1973: Israeli fighter planes shot down a Libyan civilian airliner over Sinai killing 108 passengers and crew. This was the first act of aerial terrorism by the zionists.
November 13, 1974: Karen Silkwood, employee of Kerr McGee Corporation, was killed in a bizarre accident as she was on her way to give testimony about 40 pounds of Uranium stolen by the Zionists and send to Dimona through Zalman Shapiro, a scientist who operated NUMEC in Pennsylavania.
January 29, 1979: Mossad agents assassinated Palestinian leader Husain Salameh in Beirut by detonating, through remote control, a bomb planted in his car.
June 14, 1980: Dr. Yahya al-Meshad, an Egyptian scientist working for Iraq's Atomic Energy Agency, was found brutally murdered in his hotel room in Paris.
June 1982: Israel launched a full-scale invasion of Lebanon killing more than 20,000 people, mostly civilians in a few weeks.
September 14-16, 1982: Christian Philangists, staunch allies of the zionists, carried out a gruesome massacre in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut as the Israelis provided logistic cover.
March 8, 1985: American and Israeli agents, in connivance with the Saudis, carried out a car bomb explosion outside a mosque in Beirut whose target was Shaikh Muhammad Husain Fadlallah, the respected Lebanese religious scholar. He survived but 91 other innocent people were killed and more than 200 injured.
October 1, 1985: Israel bombed the PLO headquarters in Tunis, allegedly in retaliation for the slaying of three Israeli agents in Cypress, one of them the mastermind of the assassination of Husain Salameh in January 1979 in Beirut.
April 9, 1988: Israeli commandos assassinated Khalil al-Wazir, the PLO military chief, at his residence in Tunis.
October 8, 1989: Israeli troops carried out a massacre at Alk-Aqsa Mosque in which 21 Muslims were killed and more than 50 injured.
February 25, 1994: Baruch Goldstein, with the help from Israeli soldiers, massacred 48 worshippers in Al-Khalil Mosque as they offered their early morning prayers during Ramadan.
June 1, 1994: Israeli planes bombed a school in the Bekka Valley, killing 50, mostly Lebanese children.