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How New Is the New Terrorism?

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This article aims to challenge the dominant view that the expressions of terrorism since the last decade of the twentieth century are fundamentally new. It questions the new aspects of terrorism, such as the transnational nature of the perpetrators and their organizations, their religious inspiration and fanaticism, their use of weapons of mass destruction, and their indiscriminate targeting. It points out essential continuities with previous expressions of terrorist violence, such as the national and territorial focus of the new terrorists, their political motivations, their use of conventional weaponry, and the symbolic targeting that is still aimed at achieving a surprise effect. The article calls for more thorough historical investigations in order to appreciate truly new aspects of terrorism.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Institute of History, Department of History of International Relations, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Publication date: September 1, 2004

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