Derived from Latin language verbs terrere (to tremble) and deterrere (to frighten from)
Zealot terror campaign against the Roman occupiers of the eastern Mediterranean.
Targeting rich Jewish collaborators and others who were friendly to the Romans.
Assassins (radical Islamic sect)
Employing systematic murder for a cause they believed to be righteous.
For two centuries they resisted efforts to suppress their religious beliefs
Developed ritualized murder into a fine art taught through generations.
Political aims were achieved through the power of intimidation.
3 Terror and virtue
Coining of the term terrorism during French Revolution
Jacobin party establishing its regime de terreur (May 1793 - July 1794)
Without all the tyrants encircle you within all tyrannys friends conspire they will conspire until hope is wrestled from crime. We must smother the internal and external enemies of the Republic or perish with it now in this situation the first maxim of your policy ought to be to lead the people by reason and the peoples enemies by terror. If the spring of popular government in time of peace is virtue the springs of popular government in revolution are at once virtue and terror virtue without which terror is fatal terror without which virtue is powerless. 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 countrys most urgent needs. (Maximilien Robespierre Report upon the Principles of Political Morality Which Are to Form the Basis of the Administration of the Interior Concerns of the Republic 1794)
4 Anarchism and terrorism
Emerging from intelligentsia
Impatient with slow reform of Tsarist state
Developed the use of terror into a systematic tool to achieve specific social goals
Culminating in assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881 (involving Lenins elder brother)
Sergey Nechaev (Catechism of the Revolutionist 1869) defined 21 principles the revolutionary or terrorist must be guided by
These included full committment to the revolution no ties to civil order only goal is destruction no friendships no pity viewing the target society itself as foul and evil per se something that must be destroyed
Mikhail Bakunin (1869)
nature of Russian banditry terrorism is cruel and ruthless yet no less cruel and ruthless is that governmental might which has brought this kind of bandit terrorist into being by its wanton acts. Governmental cruelty has engendered the cruelty of the people and made it into something necessary and natural. But between these two cruelties there still remains a vast difference the first strives for the complete annihilation of the people the other endeavors to set them free.
Planted explosive devices around the city of London
Widely understood as first occurrence of republican Terrorism
5 Typology of terrorist groups
Urban Guerilla in Latin America
Red Army Faction (Baader-Meinhof Group) West Germany 1970s-80s
Red Brigades (Italy)
Militant animal rights campaigners
Before 1990s terrorist groups predominantly secular
6 Theoretical definitions
the only general characteristic generally agreed upon is that terrorism involves violence and the threat of violence.
Terrorism constitutes the illegitimate use of force to achieve a political objective when innocent people are targeted.
All terrorist acts involve violence or the threat of violence. Terrorism is specifically designed to have far-reaching psychological effects it is meant to instil fear within and thereby intimidate a wider target audience that might include a rival ethnic or religious group an entire country a national government or political party or public opinion in general. Terrorism is designed to create power where there is none or to consolidate power where there is very little. Through the publicity generated by their violence terrorists seek to obtain the leverage influence and power they otherwise lack to effect political change on either a local or an international scale. (Inside terrorism. London Indigo 1999)
purposeful coercive intimidation (What is terrorism Journal of Applied Philosophy vol. 7 (1990) pp. 129-138)
7 Political definitions
U.S. State Department
premeditated politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents usually intended to influence an audience
the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government the civilian population or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives
U.S. Defence Department
the unlawful use of or threatened use of force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies often to achieve political religious or ideological objectives
8 Terrorism as a form of political violence
Violence the unlawful use of force
Other forms of political violence include political assassination guerilla warfare also possibly war civil war ethnic cleansing race hate crimes
Can also be understood as a form of political crime a concept which would include for example treason
Important criteria that are used to define terrorism
Deliberate targeting of civilian population (non-combatants)
Violence is symbolic i.e. meant to achieve larger political social religious goals (immediate targets are functional)
To spread fear in the target population (terrorising)
To provoke disproportionate reaction from states (to generate support amongst sympathisers)
Generally no interest in controlling territory
9 Propaganda by the deed
Three Italian anarchists (Errico Malatesta Carlo Cafiero and Emilio Covelli) conceived and developed the idea of Propaganda by Deed through a series of letters to each other between July and October 1876
the Italian Federation (of the International) believes that insurrection reinforcing socialist principles through deeds is the most effective means of propaganda and is also the only means of reaching the lowest social classes and to involve these strongly alive forces of mankind in the struggle of the International (Malatesta 1876)
The propaganda of the idea is a chimera. Ideas result from deeds not the latter from the former and the people will not be free when they are educated but educated when they are free. (Pisacane Italian Anarchist)
By actions which compel general attention the new idea seeps into peoples minds and wins converts. One such act may in a few days make more propaganda than thousand pamphlets. Above all it awakens the spirit of revolt. . . (Kropotkin Russian Anarchist)
The great thing about anarchist vengeance is that it proclaims loud and clear for everyone to hear that this man or that man must die for this and this reason . Once such action has been carried out the important thing is that the world learns of it from the revolutionaries so that everyone knows what the position is . In order to achieve the desired success immediately after the action has been carried out especially in the town where it took place posters should be put up setting out the reasons for the action in such a way as to draw from them the best possible benefit. (Johann Most German Anarchist 1885)
If the question is is it possible to bring about liberation by means of terror The answer is No! If the question is do these actions help to bring liberation nearer The answer is Yes! Terror is not aimed at persons but at representatives and is therefore effective. And if it also shakes the population out of its complacency so much the better. (Lohamei Herut Yisrael (Lehi) Fighters for the Freedom of Israel 1943)
10 Terrorism and political communication
Violence propaganda and terrorism
Violence aims at behaviour modification by coercion. Propaganda aims at the same by persuasion. Terrorism can be seen as a combination of the two. Terrorism by using violence against one victim seeks to coerce and persuade others. The immediate victim is merely instrumental the skin on a drum beaten to achieve a calculated impact on a wider audience. (Schmid 2004)
Terrorist communication strategy
Not attacking the state directly
But revealing the impotence of state authorities to provide security through assassinations hostage taking hijacking suicide bombings etc.
Communicating through singular acts of violence more general feeling of insecurity
Being terrorized is embodied in the revealed potential of becoming victimized
Publicizing political social religious cause (e.g. Beslan school hostage crisis leading to increased media coverage about Chechnya)
11 Media as magnifier
This temporary presence of the terrorist then perpetuates itself through media coverage rumours and speculation and gains a longevity it could not generate by itself. (Schmid 2004)
the success of a terrorist operation depends almost entirely on the amount of publicity it receives (Walter Laqueur 1977)
Media relaying the terrorist message to target audience
Global media also serving to reinforce support amongst sympathisers
12 Media as accomplice
Terrorist attacks fit criteria of newsworthiness (negativity deviance sensationalism visuality)
Principles of terrorist propaganda strategy
Terrorist acts should be aimed at the audience the general public
Victims should be chosen for their symbolic meaning
The media are eager to cover terrorist violence
The media can be activated directed and manipulated for propagandistic effect and
Governments are at a disadvantage because their only choice is between censorship and letting terrorists make use of their media. (Carlos Marighella Manual of the Urban Guerrilla1970)
Terrorist attacks as pseudo-events (not unlike campaign stunts)
Without being noticed in fact terrorism would not exist. The sheer act of killing does not create a terrorist act murders and willful assaults occur with such frequency in most societies that they are scarcely reported in the news media. What makes an act terrorism is that it terrifies. The acts to which we assign that label are deliberate events bombings and attacks performed at such places and times that they are calculated to be observed. Terrorism without its horrified witnesses would be as pointless as a play without an audience. (M. Juergensmeyer Terror in the Mind of God. The Global Rise of Religious Violence. Berkeley University of California Press 2000)
13 Mutual interests
The advent of modern mass media is not an underlying cause of the proliferation of terrorism
Gaining publicity through providing drama
Complicity despite adversarial relationship
Mass media typically biased against terrorists
Either because associating themselves with political system almost as democratic institution
Or because of human interest reporting focusing on human suffering offering (cynical) compassion
Terrorists typically regard media as cynical typical of (Western or capitalist) moral decay
Free and competitive media systems maximize coverage of terrorism
Possible explanation for increased frequency of terrorist groups in democratic countries
By undermining (non)negotiating position of government through human interest focus on hostages
By undermining secrecy and operational security e.g. rendering rescue operations impossible because of permanent media presence
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