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Potential Risks of Politically Motivated Violence - A Comparative Analysis Old and New Terrorism

NCJ Number
.Siak-Journal for Police Science and Practice, International Edition Volume: 1 Dated: 2011 Pages: 79-87
Armin Pfahl-Traughber
Date Published
9 pages
In examining the belief of many observers that current terrorist threats constitute a "new" terrorism that differs markedly from previous ("old") terrorist ideologies and tactics, this article uses the so-called "IOS model" to identify ideologies, organizations, and strategies of "old" and "new" terrorism.
When considering the overall historical development of terrorism throughout the 20th century, two dominant forms of underlying ideology are evident, i.e., autonomist and social-revolutionary terrorism. The first category includes groups that aspire to change the political status of a particular geographical region. In most cases, their aim is complete secession or a higher degree of independence from an existing nation-state. Regarding social-revolutionary terrorism, this tended to involve political objectives typically related to anarchism or communism. Their political objectives were to overthrow the existing political and economic order so as to create a classless society or a society without any government. A third form of the "old" terrorism was rooted in nationalism. This type of terrorism involved extreme right-wing terrorism that aspired to create a dictatorship with absolute authority over a country. These "old" terrorism groups adopted violent acts as a strategy for change because they were too weak in number, political influence, and military strength to mount a peaceful transition or an all-out military offensive against existing authorities. The main characteristics of the "new" terrorism, on the other hand, are religious motives, decentralized organization, and a transnational orientation. This combination of these features result in an especially high level of risk, in that there is no restraint on the scale of violence used in an effort to kill large numbers of victims perceived as representative of the "enemy." In addition, decentralized and independent structures allow for autonomous attacks by terrorist cells in many countries; thus, the "new" terrorism poses a global threat. 28 references