According to Crenshaw (1981), “the study of terrorism can be organized around three questions: why terrorism occurs, how the process of terrorism works, and what its social and political effects are” (379).
In this article, we will be looking at what the academic literature says in regards to the questions of why terrorism occurs, how actors commit acts of terror, and what the effects of terrorism are.
We will then have a references section at the bottom of the article.
Terrorism is one of the most contested definitions in the field of international relations.
In addition, nationalist movements also turned to the use of terrorism, such as was the case with the Palestinian Liberation Organization in the 1970s, and more recently the formation of groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, and their actions against Israel and its occupied of Lebanon (1982) or the Occupied Palestinian Territories (Viotti & Kauppi, 2013).
This is one of the major questions with regards to understanding terrorism.
As Greenwald (2012) states, “[terror experts]…generally fixate on Muslims to the exclusion of all other forms of Terror. Hoffman (2006) goes on to say that “…unlike terrorism as it is commonly understood today, to mean a .
There was a also a group called the Assassins, where were active from the 11th-13th centuries, that were also carrying out killings of rivals.
In the 1900s, we began seeing terrorism against colonialism, with local populations striking against the imperialist powers, and the colonizers, in turn, using terror against the populations they colonized.
There has also been terrorism during the Cold War, with groups operating under the Marxist-Leninist ideology.
As scholars have argued, this term terrorism has shifted meanings over the years (for a detailed discussion about the evolving nature of the definition of terrorism, see Bruce Hoffman’s writings in his book “[i]n the past, terrorism was arguably easier to define than it is today. As Richard Payne (2013) says: “Our definition of terrorism as the use of violence to coerce or intimidate and to generally create widespread fear among the population clearly covers many states, both historically and now” (107).
To qualify as terrorism, violence has to be perpetrated by an individual acting at the behest of or on the behalf of some extent organizational entity or movement with at least some conspiratorial structure and identifiable chain of command. In recent years, a variety of terror movements have adopted a strategy of “leaderless networks” in order to thwart law enforcement and intelligence agency efforts to penetrate them” (38). He goes on to say that governments use terrorism to intimidate those opposed to the state’s actions, that states have used terrorism to alter how society acts, or they have also used terrorism in the cases of genocide, a “deliberate and systematic killing of an ethnic, religious, economic, intellectual, or any other group of people” (107).