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History and Anatomy of Terrorism (From Terrorism: Defensive Strategies for Individuals, Companies and Governments, P 203-238, 2001, Lawrence J. Hogan, ed., -- See NCJ-192066)

NCJ Number
Peter H. B. Lejeune
Date Published
36 pages
This chapter provides a history of terrorism, as well as some factors contributing to terrorism.
Terrorism has been used for centuries by individuals, groups, and even states to alter the course of events through coercion and fear. In the United States the definition of terrorism is “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.” Early terrorists include the Zealots who were a Jewish religious-political faction during the 1st century A.D., the Molly Maguires in the 1860's, and labor violence in 1886. The heyday of terrorism in the United States took place in the 1960's and 1970's. Past terrorist organizations and acts have some common characteristics. The first is that the group evolved from a parent political or religious organization to form a faction composed of those who felt that more militant, or violent, action was required. In the group psychology of terrorism there is a drive for action. Acts of terrorism did not necessarily succeed in helping the group achieve their goals. Domestic terrorist groups in the United States include a militia movement whose supposed goal is to defend and protect the constitutional rights of Americans. This movement has grown over the last decade due to the right to bear arms issue, State laws forbidding paramilitary training, a mistrust of Federal law enforcement, tax issues, and a perception that the United Nations will someday take over the world and form a one-world government. Another category of terrorists is special or single-issue groups, who advocate violence and/or criminal activity with the goal of affecting change in policy vis-à-vis one specific aspect of society. The most recognizable single issue terrorists at the present time are those involved in the violent animal rights, anti-abortion, and environmental protection movements. The international terrorist threat can be divided into three general categories: state-sponsored terrorism, formal terrorist organizations, and, possibly the most dangerous, loosely affiliated extremists and rogue terrorists. 16 endnotes