Definition, History, and Types of Terrorism

Hello everyone and welcome to week 3. This week we will discuss the foundations of terrorism and the nature and geography of terrorist groups. It is important to note that terrorism is not new, it has a quite long history, and as we mentioned in week one, still remains difficult to define. Terrorism is more of socially constructed term with multiple definitions and originates from a variety of sources and directions. On the other hand it is necessary to develop an operational definition.

Definition of Terrorism

Agencies such as the FBI, the US DOD and the US DOS realize the need to define terrorism. While each definition is a bit different, they do have constant themes. These themes include involving premeditation terrorist acts which are motivated by some political or social agenda, terrorists generally target non-combatants or civilians and are generally sub-national or clandestine groups. The configuration of terrorist groups is generally dependent on one's environment, relationship with the state, motivation and/or goals.

History of Terrorism

The history of modern terrorism began with the French revolution and has evolved ever since. The most common causes or roots of terrorism include civilizations or culture clashes, globalization, religion, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. More personal or individual-based reasons for terrorism are frustration, deprivation, negative identity, narcissistic rage, and/or moral disengagement.

Five Types of Terrorism

You will need to be familiar with the five types of terrorism.

  • State-Sponsored terrorism, which consists of terrorist acts on a state or government by a state or government.
  • Dissent terrorism, which are terrorist groups which have rebelled against their government.
  • Terrorists and the Left and Right, which are groups rooted in political ideology.
  • Religious terrorism, which are terrorist groups which are extremely religiously motivated and
  • Criminal Terrorism, which are terrorists acts used to aid in crime and criminal profit.

I encourage you to review the figures on page 126-127 in your textbook: Incidence of Terrorism Worldwide and Methods of Terrorist Attacks. Feel free to share your thoughts in the discussion board this week.