Trends in Modern International Terrorism

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  • Topic: Terrorism, Definition of terrorism, Counter-terrorism
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Trends in Modern International Terrorism
Boaz Ganor

Abstract This chapter examines some of the most widely researched trends and developments within the phenomenon of modern international terrorism, providing policy recommendations on how to counter its emerging threats – particularly that of the Global Jihad movement and “homegrown” terrorism. The magnitude of the modern terrorist threat was demonstrated by the attacks of September 11, and ever since, the field has experienced a renewal of sorts, attracting unprecedented attention by both scholars and the mainstream public. This chapter will introduce readers to the main schools of thoughts within the academic field that explain terrorism. It will also present the many disciplines applicable to the study of terrorism, demonstrating that the phenomenon is multifaceted in nature, requiring a cohesive international and broad-based response. In covering a number of dilemmas facing terrorism experts, the chapter explores the debate over a definition of terrorism, providing a proposed definition that distinguishes acts of terrorism from criminal acts. The chapter continues on to explore the phenomenon of modern terrorism, the role of traditional crime within the terror sphere, and the growing threat of Global Jihadi terrorism – including terror networks and homegrown cells and activists who have emerged as a result of the spread of radical Islamic ideology. The role of terrorism in democratic states and the economic ramifications of terrorism are also explored. Finally, the chapter ends with recommendations on how governments should effectively respond to terrorism and discuses room for further research.

Trends in Modern International Terrorism
In recent years, the academic world has witnessed a surge of research and academic programs in the field of homeland security and counterterrorism. After the attacks of 9/11, the threat of global terrorism immediately topped the international agenda.

B. Ganor Lauder School of Government, International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT), Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya, Israel e-mail: ganor@idc.ac.il

D. Weisburd et al. (eds.), To Protect and To Serve: Policing in an Age of Terrorism, DOI 10.1007/978-0-387-73685-3_2, © Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009

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B. Ganor

Growing recognition of the threat, combined with an increase in government spending, spurred the development of academic research institutions, think tanks, and new higher education programs in the study of homeland security and counterterrorism. The trend was particularly prominent in the United States, as researchers sought a basic understanding of the characteristics of terrorism and agencies sought ways to effectively cope with the phenomenon. This trend was accompanied by a significant increase in the number of researchers focusing on the phenomenon of terrorism. These researchers came from a wide array of academic disciplines, applying varied quantitative and qualitative research tools and methods in their analysis of the threat. In understanding the phenomenon and preventing future terrorist attacks, researchers have focused primarily on understanding the rationale of terrorist organizations in general and Global Jihad organizations in particular – their cost-benefit calculations and their decision-making processes. “Trends” in terrorism have also been explored – often focusing on the introduction, transition, or prominence of a specific modus operandi or a method, such as suicide bombings, the Global Jihad movement, or the use of unconventional weapons. Reviewing these trends and themes in terrorism – and the academic research that has accompanied them – is crucial in determining how far we have come and how far we have to go, both in terms of the governments designing and deciding on counterterrorism policy and the academics informing such decisions. In exploring the phenomenon of modern international terrorism, this...
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