THE HISTORY OF TERRORISM: MORE THAN 200 YEARS OF DEVELOPMENT The history of terrorism dates back at least 1500 years when Jewish resistance groups (66 - 72 A.D.) known as Zealots killed Roman soldiers and destroyed Roman property. The term assassin comes from a 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 modern development of terrorism began during the French Revolution's Reign of Terror (1793 - 1794). During this period the term terrorism was first coined. 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. This essay is designed to provide an overview of the development of terrorism over the past 200 years.
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
Religious 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...
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