History of terrorism
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The history of terrorism is a history of well-known and historically significant individuals, entities, and incidents associated, whether rightly or wrongly, with terrorism. Scholars agree that terrorism is a disputed term, and very few of those labeled terrorists describe themselves as such. It is common for opponents in a violent conflict to describe the other side as terrorists or as practicing terrorism.
Depending on how broadly the term is defined, the roots and practice of terrorism can be traced at least to the 1st-century AD Sicarii Zealots, though some dispute whether the group, which assassinated collaborators with Roman rule in the province of Judea, was in fact terrorist. The first use in English of the term 'terrorism' occurred during the French Revolution's Reign of Terror, when the Jacobins, who ruled the revolutionary state, employed violence, including mass executions by guillotine, to compel obedience to the state and intimidate regime enemies. The association of the term only with state violence and intimidation lasted until the mid-19th century, when it began to be associated with non-governmental groups. Anarchism, often in league with rising nationalism and anti-monarchism, was the most prominent ideology linked with terrorism. Near the end of the 19th century, anarchist groups or individuals committed assassinations of a Russian Tsar and a U.S. President.
In the 20th century, terrorism continued to be associated with a vast array of anarchist, socialist, fascist and nationalist groups, many of them engaged in 'third world' anti-colonial struggles. Some scholars also labeled as terrorist the systematic internal violence and intimidation practiced by states such as the Stalinist Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.
- 1 Definition
- 2 Early terrorism
- 3 Reign of Terror (1793–1794)
- 4 Emergence of modern terrorism
- 5 Early 20th century
- 6 Anti-colonial struggles (Cold War)
- 7 Late 20th century
- 8 21st century
- 9 List of non-state groups accused of terrorism
- 10 Notes
- 11 References
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Though many have been proposed, there is no consensus definition of the term "terrorism." This in part derives from the fact that the term is politically and emotionally charged, "a word with intrinsically negative connotations that is generally applied to one's enemies and opponents." Listed below are some of the historically important understandings of terror and terrorism, and enacted but non-universal definitions of the term:
- 1795. "Government intimidation during the Reign of Terror in France." The general sense of "systematic use of terror as a policy" was first recorded in English in 1798.
- 1916. Gustave LeBon: "Terrorization has always been employed by revolutionaries no less than by kings, as a means of impressing their enemies, and as an example to those who were doubtful about submitting to them...."
- 1937. League of Nations convention language: "All criminal acts directed against a State and intended or calculated to create a state of terror in the minds of particular persons or a group of persons or the general public."
- 1987. A definition proposed by Iran at an international Islamic conference on terrorism: "Terrorism is an act carried out to achieve an inhuman and corrupt (mufsid) objective, and involving [a] threat to security of any kind, and violation of rights acknowledged by religion and mankind."
- 1988. A proposed academic consensus definition: "Terrorism is an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi-) clandestine individual, group or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reasons, whereby - in contrast to assassination - the direct targets of violence are not the main targets. The immediate human victims of violence are generally chosen randomly (targets of opportunity) or selectively (representative or symbolic targets) from a target population, and serve as message generators."
- 1989. United States: premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents.
- 1992. A definition proposed by Alex P. Schmid to the United Nations Crime Branch: "Act of Terrorism = Peacetime Equivalent of War Crime."
- 2002. European Union: ". . . given their nature or context, [acts which] may seriously damage a country or an international organisation where committed with the aim of seriously intimidating a population."
- 2003. India: Referencing Schmid's 1992 proposal, the Supreme Court of India described terrorist acts as the "peacetime equivalents of war crimes."
- 2005. United Nations General Assembly's statement with relation to terrorism: "Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them."
- 2008. Carsten Bockstette, a German military officer serving at the George C. Marshall Center for European Security Studies, proposed the following definition: "political violence in an asymmetrical conflict that is designed to induce terror and psychic fear (sometimes indiscriminate) through the violent victimization and destruction of noncombatant targets (sometimes iconic symbols)."
- 2014. Contained in a Saudi Arabia terrorism law taking effect 1 February 2014, the following definition has been criticized by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for being overly broad: "Any act carried out by an offender in furtherance of an individual or collective project, directly or indirectly, intended to disturb the public order of the state, or to shake the security of society, or the stability of the state, or to expose its national unity to danger, or to suspend the basic law of governance or some of its articles, or to insult the reputation of the state or its position, or to inflict damage upon one of its public utilities or its natural resources, or to attempt to force a governmental authority to carry out or prevent it from carrying out an action, or to threaten to carry out acts that lead to the named purposes or incite [these acts]."
Scholars dispute whether the roots of terrorism date back to the 1st century and the Sicarii Zealots, to the 11th century and the Al-Hashshashin, to the 19th century and the Fenian Brotherhood and Narodnaya Volya, or to other eras. The Sicarii and the Hashshashin are described below, while the Fenian Brotherhood and Narodnaya Volya are discussed in the 19th Century sub-section. Other pre-Reign of Terror historical events sometimes associated with terrorism are the Gunpowder Plot, an attempt to destroy the English Parliament in 1605, and the Boston Tea Party, an attack on British property by the Sons of Liberty in 1773, three years prior to the American Revolution.[dubious ]
There has been recent debate following the release of the film Exodus: Gods and Kings on whether the actions of Moses depicted in the Bible and the plagues visited on the Egyptian people including the mass murder of children could be considered terrorism.
During the 1st century CE, the Jewish Zealots in Judaea Province rebelled, killing prominent collaborators with Roman rule. In 6 CE, according to contemporary historian Josephus, Judas of Galilee formed a small and more extreme offshoot of the Zealots, the Sicarii ("dagger men"). Their efforts were also directed against Jewish "collaborators," including temple priests, Sadducees, Herodians, and other wealthy elites. According to Josephus, the Sicarii would hide short daggers under their cloaks, mingle with crowds at large festivals, murder their victims, and then disappear into the panicked crowds. Their most successful assassination was of the high priest Jonathan.
In the late 11th century, the Hashshashin (a.k.a. the Assassins) arose, an offshoot of the Isma'ili sect of Shia Muslims. Led by Hassan-i Sabbah and opposed to Fatimid rule, the Hashshashin militia seized Alamut and other fortress strongholds across Persia. Hashshashin forces were too small to challenge enemies militarily, so they assassinated city governors and military commanders in order to create alliances with militarily powerful neighbors. For example, they killed Janah al-Dawla, ruler of Homs, to please Ridwan of Aleppo, and assassinated Mawdud, Seljuk emir of Mosul, as a favor to the regent of Damascus. The Hashshashin also carried out assassinations as retribution. Under some definitions of terrorism, such assassinations do not qualify as terrorism, since killing a political leader does not intimidate political enemies or inspire revolt. This organization inspired the popular games franchise Assassin's Creed and also featured in one episode of Netflix's Marco Polo.
Reign of Terror (1793–1794)
The Reign of Terror (September 5, 1793 – July 28, 1794) or simply The Terror (French: la Terreur) was a period of eleven months during the French Revolution when the ruling Jacobins employed violence, including mass executions by guillotine, in order to intimidate the regime's enemies and compel obedience to the state. The number killed totaled approximately 40,000, and among the guillotined were Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Putting an end to the Terror, on July 28, 1794 its most well known leader, Maximilien Robespierre, was guillotined by other members of France's ruling National Convention.
The Jacobins, most famously Robespierre, sometimes referred to themselves as "terrorists," and the word originated at that time. Some modern scholars, however, do not consider the Reign of Terror a form of terrorism, in part because it was carried out by the French state.
Emergence of modern terrorism
Terrorism was associated with state terror and the Reign of Terror in France, until the mid-19th century when the term also began to be associated with non-governmental groups. Anarchism, often in league with rising nationalism, was the most prominent ideology linked with terrorism. Attacks by various anarchist groups led to the assassination of a Russian Tsar and a U.S. President.
In the 19th century, powerful, stable, and affordable explosives were developed, global integration reached unprecedented levels and often radical political movements became widely influential. The use of dynamite, in particular, inspired anarchists and was central to their strategic thinking.
One of the earliest groups to utilize modern terrorist techniques was arguably the Fenian Brotherhood and its offshoot the Irish Republican Brotherhood. They were both founded in 1858 as revolutionary and militant nationalist groups, both in Ireland and amongst the emigre community in the United States.
After centuries of continued British rule, and influenced most recently from the devastating effects of the 1840s Irish potato famine, these revolutionary fraternal organisations were founded with the aim of establishing an independent republic in Ireland, and began carrying out frequent acts of violence in metropolitan Britain to achieve their aims through intimidation.
In 1867, members of the movement's leadership were arrested and convicted for organizing an armed uprising. While being transferred to prison, the police van in which they were being transported was intercepted and a police sergeant was shot in the rescue. A bolder rescue attempt of another Irish radical incarcerated in Clerkenwell Prison, was made in the same year: an explosion to demolish the prison wall killed 12 people and caused many injuries. The bombing enraged the British public, causing a panic over the Fenian threat.
Although the Irish Republican Brotherhood condemned the Clerkenwell Outrage as a "dreadful and deplorable event", the organisation returned to bombings in Britain in 1881 to 1885, with the Fenian dynamite campaign, beginning one of the first modern terror campaigns. Instead of earlier forms of terrorism based on political assassination, this campaign used modern, timed explosives with the express aim of sowing fear in the very heart of metropolitan Britain, in order to achieve political gains - (Prime minister William Ewart Gladstone was partly influenced to disestablish the Anglican Church in Ireland as a gesture by the Clerkenwell bombing). The campaign also took advantage of the greater global integration of the times, and the bombing was largely funded and organised by the Fenian Brotherhood in the United States.
The first police unit to combat terrorism was established in 1883 by the Metropolitan Police, initially as a small section of the Criminal Investigation Department. It was known as the Special Irish Branch, and was trained in counter terrorism techniques to combat the Irish Republican Brotherhood. The unit's name was changed to Special Branch as the unit's remit steadily widened over the years.
Anarchism and "propaganda of the deed"
The concept of "propaganda of the deed" (or "propaganda by the deed", from the French propagande par le fait) advocated physical violence or other provocative public acts against political enemies in order to inspire mass rebellion or revolution. One of the first individuals associated with this concept, the Italian revolutionary Carlo Pisacane (1818–1857), wrote in his "Political Testament" (1857) that "ideas spring from deeds and not the other way around". Anarchist Mikhail Bakunin (1814–1876), in his "Letters to a Frenchman on the Present Crisis" (1870) stated that "we must spread our principles, not with words but with deeds, for this is the most popular, the most potent, and the most irresistible form of propaganda". The French anarchist Paul Brousse (1844–1912) popularized the phrase "propaganda of the deed"; in 1877 he cited as examples the 1871 Paris Commune and a workers' demonstration in Berne provocatively using the socialist red flag. By the 1880s, the slogan had begun to be used[by whom?] to refer to bombings, regicides and tyrannicides. Reflecting this new understanding of the term, in 1895 Italian anarchist Errico Malatesta described "propaganda by the deed" (which he opposed the use of) as violent communal insurrections meant to ignite an imminent revolution.
Founded in Russia in 1878, Narodnaya Volya (Народная Воля in Russian; People's Will in English) was a revolutionary anarchist group inspired by Sergei Nechayev and by "propaganda by the deed" theorist Pisacane. The group developed ideas—such as targeted killing of the "leaders of oppression"—that would become the hallmark of subsequent violence by small non-state groups, and they were convinced that the developing technologies of the age—such as the invention of dynamite, which they were the first anarchist group to make widespread use of—enabled them to strike directly and with discrimination. Attempting to spark a popular revolt against Russian Tsardom, the group killed prominent political figures by gun and bomb, and on March 13, 1881, assassinated Russia's Tsar Alexander II. The assassination, by a bomb that also killed the Tsar's attacker, Ignacy Hryniewiecki, failed to spark the expected revolution, and an ensuing crackdown brought the group to an end.
Individual Europeans also engaged in politically motivated violence. For example, in 1893, Auguste Vaillant, a French anarchist, threw a bomb in the French Chamber of Deputies in which one person was injured. In reaction to Vaillant's bombing and other bombings and assassination attempts, the French government restricted freedom of the press by passing a set of laws that became pejoratively known as the lois scélérates ("villainous laws"). In the years 1894 to 1896 anarchists killed President of France Marie Francois Carnot, Prime Minister of Spain Antonio Cánovas del Castillo, and the Empress of Austria-Hungary, Elisabeth of Bavaria.
The United States
Prior to the U.S. Civil War, abolitionist John Brown (1800–1859) advocated and practiced armed opposition to slavery, leading several attacks between 1856 and 1859, the most famous attack was launched in 1859 against the armory at Harpers Ferry. Local forces soon recaptured the fort and Brown was tried and executed for treason. A biographer of Brown has written that Brown's purpose was "to force the nation into a new political pattern by creating terror." In 2009, the 150th anniversary of Brown's death, prominent news publications debated over whether or not Brown should be considered a terrorist.
After the Civil War, on December 24, 1865, six Confederate veterans created the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). The KKK used violence, lynching, murder and acts of intimidation such as cross burning to oppress African Americans in particular , and it created a sensation with its masked forays' dramatic nature.
The group's politics are generally perceived as white supremacist, anti-Semitic, racist, anti-Catholic, and nativist. A KKK founder boasted that it was a nationwide organization of 550,000 men and that it could muster 40,000 Klansmen within five days' notice, but as a secret or "invisible" group with no membership rosters, it was difficult to judge the Klan's actual size. The KKK has at times been politically powerful, and at various times it controlled the governments of Tennessee, Oklahoma, and South Carolina, as well as several legislatures in the South.
The Ottoman Empire
Several nationalist groups used violence against an Ottoman Empire in apparent decline. One was the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (in Armenian Dashnaktsuthium, or "The Federation"), a revolutionary movement founded in Tiflis (Russian Transcaucasia) in 1890 by Christapor Mikaelian. Many members had been part of Narodnaya Volya or the Hunchakian Revolutionary Party. The group published newsletters, smuggled arms, and hijacked buildings as it sought to bring in European intervention that would force the Ottoman Empire to surrender control of its Armenian territories. On August 24, 1896, 17-year-old Babken Suni led twenty-six members in capturing the Imperial Ottoman Bank in Constantinople. The group demanded European intervention in order to stop the Hamidian massacres and the creation of an Armenian state, but backed down on a threat to blow up the bank. An ensuing security crackdown destroyed the group.
Also inspired by Narodnaya Volya, the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) was a revolutionary movement founded in 1893 by Hristo Tatarchev in the Ottoman-controlled Macedonian territories. Through assassinations and by provoking uprisings, the group sought to coerce the Ottoman government into creating a Macedonian nation. On July 20, 1903, the group incited the Ilinden uprising in the Ottoman villayet of Monastir. The IMRO declared the town's independence and sent demands to the European Powers that all of Macedonia be freed. The demands were ignored and Turkish troops crushed the 27,000 rebels in the town two months later.
Early 20th century
Revolutionary nationalism continued to motivate political violence in the 20th century, much of it directed against western colonial powers. The Irish Republican Army campaigned against the British in the 1910s and inspired the Zionist groups Hagannah, Irgun and Lehi to fight the British throughout the 1930s in the Palestine mandate. Like the IRA and the Zionist groups, the Muslim Brotherhood used bombings and assassinations to try to free Egypt from British control.
The women's suffrage movement in the UK also committed terrorist attacks prior to the First World War. There were 3 phases of WSPU militancy in 1905, 1908, 1913 this included Civil Disobedience, Destruction of Public Property and Arson/Bombings. Most notably David Lloyd George's house was burned down by WSPU (despite his support for women's suffrage).
Political assassinations continued into the 20th century, its first victim Umberto I of Italy, killed in July 1900. Political violence became especially widespread in Imperial Russia, and several ministers were killed in the opening years of the century. The highest-ranking was prime minister Pyotr Stolypin, killed in 1911 by a leftist radical.
On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were shot and killed in Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, by Gavrilo Princip, one of a group of six assassins. The assassinations produced widespread shock across Europe, setting in motion a series of events which led to World War I.
In an action called the Easter Rising or Easter Rebellion, on April 24, 1916, members of the Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army seized the Dublin General Post Office and several other buildings, proclaiming an independent Irish Republic. The rebellion failed militarily but was a success for physical force Irish republicanism, leaders of the uprising becoming Irish heroes after their eventual execution by the British government.
Shortly after the rebellion, Michael Collins and others founded the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which from 1916 to 1923 carried out numerous attacks against symbols of British power. For example, it attacked over 300 police stations simultaneously just before Easter 1920, and, in November 1920, publicly killed a dozen police officers and burned down the Liverpool docks and warehouses, an action that came to be known as Bloody Sunday.
After years of warfare, London agreed to the 1921 Anglo-Irish treaty creating a free Irish state encompassing 26 of the island's 32 counties. IRA tactics were an inspiration to other groups, including the Palestine Mandate's Zionists, and to British special operations during World War II.
The IRA are considered by some the innovators of modern terrorism as the British would replicate and build upon the tactics used against by the IRA in World War 2. Tony Geraghty in The Irish War: The Hidden Conflict Between the IRA and British Intelligence.
The Irish [thanks to the example set by Collins and followed by the SOE] can thus claim that their resistance provide the originating impulse for resistance to tyrannies worse than any they had to endure themselves. And the Irish resistance as Collins led it, showed the rest of the world an economical way to fight wars the only sane way they can be fought in the age of the Nuclear bomb.— M. R. D. Foot, who wrote several official histories of SOE
Following the 1929 Hebron massacre of 67 Jews in the British Mandate of Palestine, the Zionist militia Haganah transformed itself into a paramilitary force. In 1931, however, the more militant Irgun broke away from Haganah, objecting to Haganah's policy of restraint. Founded by Avraham Tehomi, Irgun sought to aggressively defend Jews from Arab attacks. Its tactic of attacking Arab communities, including the bombing a crowded Arab market, is considered among the first examples of terrorism directed against civilians. After the British, in the White Paper of 1939, placed severe restrictions on Jewish immigration into Palestine and set forth a vision of a single state with an Arab majority, the Irgun began a campaign against British rule by assassinating police, capturing British government buildings and arms, and sabotaging British railways. Irgun's best known attack was the 1946 bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, parts of which housed the headquarters of the British civil and military administrations. Ninety-one people were killed and forty-six injured in what was the most deadly attack during the Mandate era. This attack was sharply condemned by the organized leadership of the Yishuv, and further widened the gulf between David Ben-Gurion's Hagana and Begin's Irgun. Following the bombing, Ben-Gurion called Irgun an "enemy of the Jewish people". After the creation of Israel in 1948, Menachem Begin (Irgun leader from 1943 to 1948) transformed the group into the political party Herut, which later became part of Likud in an alliance with the center-right Gahal, Liberal Party, Free Centre, National List, and Movement for Greater Israel.
Operating in the British Mandate of Palestine in the 1930s, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam organized and established the Black Hand, a Palestinian nationalist militia. He recruited and arranged military training for peasants, and by 1935 had enlisted between 200 and 800 men. Al-Qassam obtained a fatwa from Shaykh Badr al-Din al-Taji al-Hasani, the Mufti of Damascus, authorizing armed resistance against the British and Jews of Palestine. Black Hand cells were equipped with bombs and firearms, which they used to kill Jews. Although al-Qassam's revolt was unsuccessful in his lifetime, many organizations gained inspiration from his example. He became a popular hero and an inspiration to subsequent Arab militants, who in the 1936–39 Arab revolt, called themselves Qassamiyun, followers of al-Qassam. The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, as well as the rockets they developed, are named after Qassam.
Lehi (Lohamei Herut Yisrael, a.k.a. "Freedom Fighters for Israel", a.k.a. Stern Gang) was a revisionist Zionist group that splintered off from Irgun in 1940. Abraham Stern formed Lehi from disaffected Irgun members after Irgun agreed to a truce with Britain in 1940. Lehi assassinated prominent politicians as a strategy. For example, on November 6, 1944, Lord Moyne, the British Minister of State for the Middle East, was assassinated. The act was controversial among Zionist militant groups, Hagannah sympathizing with the British and launching a massive man-hunt against members of Lehi and Irgun. After Israel's 1948 founding, Lehi was formally dissolved and its members integrated into the Israeli Defense Forces.
Resistance during WWII
Some of the tactics of the guerrilla, partisan, and resistance movements organised and supplied by the Allies during World War II, according to historian M. R. D. Foot, can be considered terrorist. Colin Gubbins, a key leader within the British Special Operations Executive (SOE), made sure the organization drew much of its inspiration from the IRA.
On the eve of D-Day, the SOE organised with the French Resistance the complete destruction of the rail and communication infrastructure of western France the largest coordinated attack of its kind in history Allied supreme commander Dwight Eisenhower later wrote that "the disruption of enemy rail communications, the harassing of German road moves and the continual and increasing strain placed on German security services throughout occupied Europe by the organised forces of Resistance, played a very considerable part in our complete and final victory".
The SOE also conducted operations in Africa, the Middle East and the Far East.
Th work of the SOE received recognition in 2009 with a memorial in London, however there are countering views on the morality of the SOE's actions; the British military historian John Keegan wrote:
We must recognise that our response to the scourge of terrorism is compromised by what we did through SOE. The justification ... That we had no other means of striking back at the enemy ... is exactly the argument used by the Red Brigades, the Baader-Meinhoff gang, the PFLP, the IRA and every other half-articulate terrorist organisation on Earth. Futile to argue that we were a democracy and Hitler a tyrant. Means besmirch ends. SOE besmirched Britain.
Anti-colonial struggles (Cold War)
After World War II, largely successful anti-colonial campaigns were launched against the collapsing European empires, as many World War II resistance groups became militantly anti-colonial. The Viet Minh, for example, which had fought against the Japanese, now fought against the returning French colonists. In the Middle East, the Muslim Brotherhood used bombings and assassinations against British rule in Egypt. Also during the 1950s, the National Liberation Front (FLN) in French-controlled Algeria and the EOKA in British-controlled Cyprus waged guerrilla and open war against colonial powers.
In the 1960s, inspired by Mao's Chinese revolution of 1949 and Castro's Cuban revolution of 1959, national independence movements often fused nationalist and socialist impulses. This was the case with Spain's ETA, the Front de libération du Québec, and the Palestine Liberation Organization[clarification needed].
In the late 1960s and 1970s violent leftist groups were on the rise, sympathizing with Third World guerrilla movements and seeking to spark anti-capitalist revolts. Such groups included the PKK in Turkey, Armenia's ASALA, the Japanese Red Army, the German Red Army Faction, the Italian Red Brigades, and, in the United States, the Weather Underground. Nationalist groups such as the Provisional IRA and the Tamil tigers also began operations at this time.
Throughout the Cold War, both the United States and the Soviet Union made extensive use of violent nationalist organizations to carry on a war by proxy. For example, Soviet and Chinese military advisers provided training and support to the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. The Soviet Union also provided military support to the PLO during the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, and Fidel Castro during the Cuban Revolution. The United States funded groups such as the Contras in Nicaragua. Many violent Islamic militants of the late 20th and early 21st century had been funded in the 1980s by the United States and the UK because they were fighting the USSR in Afghanistan.
Founded in 1928 as a nationalist social-welfare and political movement in British-controlled Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood began to attack British soldiers and police stations in the late 1940s . Founded and led by Hassan al-Banna, it also assassinated politicians seen as collaborating with British rule, most prominently Egyptian Prime Minister Nuqrashi in 1948. British rule was overthrown in a 1952 military coup, and shortly thereafter the Muslim Brotherhood went underground in the face of a massive crackdown. Though sometimes banned or otherwise oppressed, the group continues to exist in present-day Egypt.
The National Liberation Front (FLN) was a nationalist group founded in French-controlled Algeria in 1954. The group was a large-scale resistance movement against French rule, with terrorism only part of its operations. The FLN leadership was inspired by the Viet Minh rebels who had made French troops withdraw from Vietnam. The FLN was one of the first anti-colonial groups to use large scale compliance violence. The FLN would establish control over a rural village and coerce its peasants to execute any French loyalists among them. On the night of October 31, 1954, in a coordinated wave of seventy bombings and shootings known as the Toussaint attacks, the FLN attacked French military installations and the homes of Algerian loyalists. In the following year, the group gained significant support for an uprising against loyalists in Philippeville. This uprising, and the heavy-handed response by the French, convinced many Algerians to support the FLN and the independence movement. The FLN eventually secured Algerian independence from France in 1962, and transformed itself into Algeria's ruling party.
Fatah was organized as a Palestinian nationalist group in 1954, and exists today as a political party in Palestine. In 1967 it joined the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), an umbrella organization for secular Palestinian nationalist groups formed in 1964. The PLO began its own armed operations in 1965. The PLO's membership is made up of separate and possibly contending paramilitary and political factions, the largest of which are Fatah, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). Factions of the PLO have advocated or carried out acts of terrorism. Abu Iyad organized the Fatah splinter group Black September in 1970; the group is best known for seizing eleven Israeli athletes as hostages at the September 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. All the athletes and five Black September operatives died during a gun battle with the West German police, in what was later known as the Munich massacre. The PFLP was founded in 1967 by George Habash,[year missing] and on September 6, 1970, the group hijacked three international passenger planes, landing two of them in Jordan and blowing up the third. Fatah leader and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat publicly renounced terrorism in December 1988 on behalf of the PLO, but Israel has stated it has proof that Arafat continued to sponsor terrorism until his death in 2004.
In the 1974 Ma'alot massacre 22 Israeli high school students, aged 14–16, from Safed were killed by three members of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Before reaching the school, the trio shot and killed two Arab women, a Jewish man, his pregnant wife, and their 4-year-old son, and wounded several others.
The People's Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI) or Mujahedin-e Khalq, is a socialist Islamic group that has fought Iran's government since the Khomeini revolution. The group was originally founded to oppose capitalism and what it perceived as western exploitation of Iran under the Shah. The group would go on to play an important role in the Shah's overthrow but was unable to capitalize on this in the following power vacuum. The group is suspected of having a membership of between 10,000 and 30,000. The group renounced violence in 2001 but remains a proscribed terror organization in Iran and the United States. The EU, however, has removed the group from its terror list. The PMOI is accused of supporting other groups such as the Jundallah.
The Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) was founded in 1975 in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War by Hagop Tarakchian and Hagop Hagopian with the help of sympathetic Palestinians. At the time, Turkey was in political turmoil, and Hagopian believed that the time was right to avenge the Armenians who died during the Armenian Genocide and to force the Turkish government to cede the territory of Wilsonian Armenia to establish a nation state also incorporating the Armenian SSR. In its Esenboga airport attack, on 7 August 1982, two ASALA rebels opened fire on civilians in a waiting room at the Esenboga International Airport in Ankara. Nine people died and 82 were injured. By 1986, the ASALA had virtually ceased all attacks.
The "Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan" (Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK) was established in Turkey in 1978 as a Kurdish nationalist party. Founder Abdullah Ocalan was inspired by the Maoist theory of people's war, and like Algeria's FLN he advocated the use of compliance terror. The group seeks to create an independent Kurdish state consisting of parts of south-eastern Turkey, north-eastern Iraq, north-eastern Syria and north-western Iran. In 1984, the PKK transformed itself into a paramilitary organisation and launched conventional attacks as well as bombings against Turkish governmental installations. In 1999, Turkish authorities captured Öcalan. He was tried in Turkey and sentenced to life imprisonment. The PKK has since gone through a series of name changes.
Founded in 1959 and still active, the Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (or ETA (Basque for "Basque Homeland and Freedom", pronounced [ˈeta])) is an armed Basque nationalist separatist organization. Formed in response to General Francisco Franco's suppression of the Basque language and culture, ETA evolved from an advocacy group for traditional Basque culture into an armed Marxist group demanding Basque independence. Many ETA victims are government officials, the group's first known victim a police chief killed in 1968. In 1973 ETA operatives killed Franco's apparent successor, Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco, by planting an underground bomb under his habitual parking spot outside a Madrid church. In 1995, an ETA car bomb nearly killed Jose Maria Aznar, then the leader of the conservative Popular Party, and the same year investigators disrupted a plot to assassinate King Juan Carlos. Efforts by Spanish governments to negotiate with the ETA have failed, and in 2003 the Spanish Supreme Court banned the Batasuna political party, which was determined to be the political arm of ETA.
The Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) was an Irish nationalist movement founded in December 1969 when several militants including Seán Mac Stíofáin broke off from the Official IRA and formed a new organization. Led by Mac Stíofáin in the early 1970s and by a group around Gerry Adams since the late 1970s, the Provisional IRA sought to create an all-island Irish state. Between 1969 and 1997, during a period known as the Troubles, the group conducted an armed campaign, including bombings, gun attacks, assassinations and even a mortar attack on 10 Downing Street. On July 21, 1972, in an attack later known as Bloody Friday, the group set off twenty-two bombs, killing nine and injuring 130. On July 28, 2005, the Provisional IRA Army Council announced an end to its armed campaign. The IRA is believed to have been a major exporter of arms to and provided military training to groups such as the FARC in Colombia and the PLO. In the case of the latter there has been a long held solidarity movement, which is evident by the many murals around Belfast.
The Red Army Faction (RAF) was a New Leftist group founded in 1968 by Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof in West Germany. Inspired by Che Guevara, Maoist socialism, and the Vietcong, the group sought to raise awareness of the Vietnamese and Palestinian independence movements through kidnappings, taking embassies hostage, bank robberies, assassinations, bombings, and attacks on U.S. air bases. The group is best known for 1977's "German Autumn". The buildup leading to German Autumn began on April 7, when the RAF shot Federal Prosecutor Siegfried Buback. On July 30, it shot Jurgen Ponto, then head of the Dresdner Bank, in a failed kidnapping attempt; on September 5, the group kidnapped Hanns Martin Schleyer (a former SS officer and an important West German industrialist), executing him on October 19. The hijacking of the Lufthansa jetliner "Landshut" by the PFLP, a Palestinian group, is also considered to be part of German Autumn.
The Red Brigades were a New Leftist group founded by Renato Curcio and Alberto Franceschini in 1970 that sought to create a revolutionary state. The group carried out a series of bombings and kidnappings until Curcio and Franceschini were arrested in the mid-1970s. Their successor as leader, Mario Moretti, led the group toward more militarized and violent actions, including the kidnapping of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro on March 16, 1978. Moro was killed 56 days later. This led to an all-out assault on the group by Italian law enforcement and security forces and condemnation from Italian left-wing radicals and even imprisoned ex-leaders of the Brigades. The group lost most of its social support and public opinion turned strongly against it. In 1984, the group split, the majority faction becoming the Communist Combatant Party (Red Brigades-PCC) and the minority faction reconstituting itself as the Union of Combatant Communists (Red Brigades-UCC). Members of these groups carried out a handful of assassinations before almost all were arrested in 1989.
The Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) was a Marxist nationalist group that sought to create an independent, socialist Quebec. Georges Schoeters founded the group in 1963 and was inspired by Che Guevara and Algeria's FLN. The group was accused of bombings, kidnappings, and assassinations of politicians, soldiers, and civilians. On October 5, 1970, the FLQ kidnapped James Richard Cross, the British Trade Commissioner, and on October 10, the Minister of Labor and Vice-Premier of Quebec, Pierre Laporte. Laporte was killed a week later. After these events support for violence in order to attain Quebec's independence declined, and support increased for the Parti Québécois, which took power in Quebec in 1976.
In Colombia several paramilitary and guerrilla groups formed during the 1960s and afterwards. In 1983, President Fernando Belaúnde Terry of Peru described armed attacks on his nation's anti-narcotics police as "narcoterrorism", i.e., which refers to "violence waged by drug producers to extract political concessions from the government." Pablo Escobar's ruthless violence in his dealings with the Colombian and Peruvian governments has been probably two of the best known and best documented examples of narcoterrorism. Paramilitary groups associated with narcoterrorism include the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN), the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), and the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC). While the ELN and FARC were originally leftist revolutionary groups and the AUC was originally a right-wing paramilitary, all have conducted numerous attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, and the U.S. and some European governments consider them terrorist organizations.
The Jewish Defense League (JDL) was founded in 1969 by Rabbi Meir Kahane in New York City, with its declared purpose being the protection of Jews from harassment and antisemitism. Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics state that, from 1980 to 1985, 15 attacks which the FBI classified as acts of terrorism were attempted in the U.S. by members of the JDL. The National Consortium for the Study of Terror and Responses to Terrorism states that, during the JDL's first two decades of activity, it was an "active terrorist organization.". Kahane later founded the far-right Israeli political party Kach, which was banned from elections in Israel on the ground of racism. The JDL's present-day website condemns all forms of terrorism.
The Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN, "Armed Forces of National Liberation") is a nationalist group founded in Puerto Rico in 1974. Over the decade that followed the group used bombings and targeted killings of civilians and police in pursuit of an independent Puerto Rico. The FALN in 1975 took responsibility for four nearly simultaneous bombings in New York City. The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has classified the FALN as a terrorist organization.
The Weather Underground (a.k.a. the Weathermen) began as a militant faction of the leftist Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) organization, and in 1969 took over the organization. Weathermen leaders, inspired by China's Maoists, the Black Panthers, and the 1968 student revolts in France, sought to raise awareness of its revolutionary anti-capitalist and anti-Vietnam War platform by destroying symbols of government power. From 1969 to 1974 the Weathermen bombed corporate offices, police stations, and Washington government sites such as the Pentagon. After the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, most of the group disbanded.
The Japanese Red Army was founded by Fusako Shigenobu in Japan in 1971 and attempted to overthrow the Japanese government and start a world revolution. Allied with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the group committed assassinations, hijacked a commercial Japanese aircraft, and sabotaged a Shell oil refinery in Singapore. On May 30, 1972, Kōzō Okamoto and other group members launched a machine gun and grenade attack at Israel's Lod Airport in Tel Aviv, killing 26 people and injuring 80 others. Two of the three attackers then killed themselves with grenades.
Founded in 1976, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, (also called "LTTE" or Tamil Tigers) was a militant Tamil nationalist political and paramilitary organization based in northern Sri Lanka. From its founding by Velupillai Prabhakaran, it waged a secessionist resistance campaign that sought to create an independent Tamil state in the northern and eastern regions of Sri Lanka. The conflict originated in measures the majority Sinhalese took that were perceived as attempts to marginalize the Tamil minority. The resistance campaign evolved into the Sri Lankan Civil War, one of the longest-running armed conflicts in Asia. The group carried out many bombings, including an April 21, 1987, car bomb attack at a Colombo bus terminal that killed 110 people. In 2009 the Sri Lankan military launched a major military offensive against the secessionist movement and claimed that it had effectively destroyed the LTTE.
In Kenya, because of the seeming ongoing failure of the Kenyan African Union to obtain political reforms from the British through peaceful means, radical activists within the KAU set up a splinter group and organised a more militant kind of nationalism. By 1952 The Mau Mau consisted of Kikuyu fighters, along with some Embu and Meru recruits. The Mau Mau carried out attacks on political opponents, loyalist villages, raiding white settler farms and destroying livestock. The British colonial administration declared a state of emergency and British forces were sent to Kenya. The majority of fighting was between loyalist and Mau Mau Kikuyu, so many scholars today now consider it a Kikuyu civil war. The Kenyan Government considers the Mau Mau Uprising a key step towards Kenya's independence from British Imperial rule. The British were accused of using torture and mass executions as part of their efforts to suppress the Mau Mau, though the British forces did have strict orders not to mistreat Mau Mau terrorists.
Founded in 1961, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) was the military wing of the African National Congress; it waged a guerrilla campaign against the South African apartheid regime and was responsible for many bombings. MK launched its first guerrilla attacks against government installations on 16 December 1961. The South African government subsequently banned the group after classifying it as a terrorist organization. MK's first leader was Nelson Mandela, who was tried and imprisoned for the group's acts. With the end of apartheid in South Africa, Umkhonto we Sizwe was incorporated into the South African armed forces.
Late 20th century
In the 1980s and 1990s, Islamic militancy in pursuit of religious and political goals increased, many militants drawing inspiration from Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution. In the 1990s, well-known violent acts that targeted civilians were the World Trade Center bombing by Islamic terrorists on February 27, 1993, the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway by Aum Shinrikyo on March 20, 1995, and the bombing of Oklahoma City's Murrah Federal Building by Timothy McVeigh a month later that same year. This period also saw the rise of what is sometimes categorized as Single issue terrorism. If terrorism is the extension of domestic politics by other means, just as war is for diplomacy, then this represents the extension of pressure groups into violent action. Notable examples that grow in this period are Anti-abortion terrorism and Environmental terrorism.
The Contras were a counter-revolutionary militia formed in 1979 to oppose Nicaragua's Sandinista government. The Catholic Institute for International Relations asserted the following about contra operating procedures in 1987: "The record of the contras in the field... is one of consistent and bloody abuse of human rights, of murder, torture, mutilation, rape, arson, destruction and kidnapping." Americas Watch—subsequently folded into Human Rights Watch—accused the Contras of targeting health care clinics and health care workers for assassination; kidnapping civilians, torturing civilians; executing civilians, including children, who were captured in combat; raping women; indiscriminately attacking civilians and civilian houses; seizing civilian property; and burning civilian houses in captured towns. The contras disbanded after the election of Violetta Chamorro in 1990.
The April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City bombing was directed at the U.S. government, according to the prosecutor at the murder trial of Timothy McVeigh, who was convicted of carrying out the crime. The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City claimed 168 lives and left over 800 people injured. McVeigh, who was convicted of first degree murder and executed, said his motivation was revenge for U.S. government actions at Waco and Ruby Ridge.
659 people died in Lebanon between 1982 and 1986 in 36 suicide attacks directed against American, French and Israeli forces, by 41 individuals with predominantly leftist political beliefs who were adherents of both the Christian and Muslim religions. The 1983 Beirut barracks bombing (by the Islamic Jihad Organization), which killed 241 U.S. and 58 French peacekeepers and six civilians at the peacekeeping barracks in Beirut, was particularly deadly. Hezbollah ("Party of God") is an Islamist movement and political party officially founded in Lebanon in 1985, ten years after the outbreak of that country's civil war. Inspired by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and the Iranian revolution, the group originally sought an Islamic revolution in Lebanon and has long fought for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon. Led by Sheikh Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah since 1992, the group has captured Israeli soldiers and carried out missile attacks and suicide bombings against Israeli targets.
Egyptian Islamic Jihad (a.k.a. Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiyya) is a militant Egyptian Islamist movement dedicated to the establishment of an Islamic state in Egypt. The group was formed in 1980 as an umbrella organization for militant student groups which were formed after the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood renounced violence. It is led by Omar Abdel-Rahman, who has been accused of participation in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. In 1981, the group assassinated Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. On November 17, 1997, in what became known as the Luxor massacre, it attacked tourists at the Temple of Hatshepsut (Deir el-Bahri); six men dressed as police officers machine-gunned 58 Japanese and European vacationers and four Egyptians.
On December 21, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103, a Pan American World Airways flight from London's Heathrow International Airport to New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport, was destroyed mid flight over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, killing 270 people, including 11 on the ground. On January 31, 2001, Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was convicted by a panel of three Scottish judges of bombing the flight, and was sentenced to 27 years imprisonment. In 2002, Libya offered financial compensation to victims' families in exchange for lifting of UN and U.S. sanctions. In 2007 Megrahi was granted leave to appeal against his conviction, and in August 2009 was released on compassionate grounds by the Scottish executive due to his terminal cancer.
The first Palestinian suicide attack took place in 1989 when a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad ignited a bomb onboard Tel Aviv bus, killing 16 people. In the early 1990s another group, Hamas, also became well known for suicide bombings. Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi and Mohammad Taha of the Palestinian wing of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood had created Hamas in 1987, at the beginning of the First Intifada, an uprising against Israeli rule in the Palestinian Territories which mostly consisted of civil disobedience but sometimes escalated into violence. Hamas's militia, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, began its own suicide bombings against Israel in 1993, eventually accounting for about 40% of them. Palestinian militant organizations have been responsible for rocket attacks on Israel, IED attacks, shootings, and stabbings. After winning legislative elections, Hamas since June 2007 has governed the Gaza portion of the Palestinian Territories. Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by the European Union, Canada, Israel, Japan, and the United States. Australia and the United Kingdom have designated the military wing of Hamas, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, as a terrorist organization. The organization is banned in Jordan. It is not regarded as a terrorist organization by Iran, Russia, Norway, Switzerland, Brazil, Turkey, China, and Qatar. As well as Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Palestine Liberation Front, PFLP-General Command, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade were all listed as terrorist organizations by the US State Department in the 1990s.
On February 25, 1994, Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Israeli physician, perpetrated the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in the city of Hebron, Goldstein shot and killed between 30 and 54 Muslim worshippers inside the Ibrahimi Mosque (within the Cave of the Patriarchs), and wounded another 125 to 150. Goldstein, who was lynched and killed in the mosque, was a supporter of Kach, an Israeli political party founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane that advocated the expulsion of Arabs from Israel and the Palestinian Territories. In the aftermath of the Goldstein attack and Kach statements praising it, Kach was outlawed in Israel. Today, Kach and a breakaway group, Kahane Chai, are considered terrorist organisations by Israel, Canada, the European Union, and the United States. The far-right anti-miscegenation group Lehava, headed by former Kach member Bentzi Gopstein, is politically active inside Israel and its occupied territories.
Aum Shinrikyo, now known as Aleph, was a Japanese religious group founded by Shoko Asahara in 1984 as a yogic meditation group. Later, in 1990, Asahara and 24 other members campaigned for election to the House of Representatives under the banner of Shinri-tō (Supreme Truth Party). None were voted in, and the group began to militarize. Between 1990 and 1995, the group attempted several apparently unsuccessful violent attacks using the methods of biological warfare, using botulin toxin and anthrax spores. On June 28, 1994, Aum Shinrikyo members released sarin gas from several sites in the Kaichi Heights neighborhood of Matsumoto, Japan, killing eight and injuring 200 in what became known as the Matsumoto incident. Seven months later, on March 20, 1995, Aum Shinrikyo members released sarin gas in a coordinated attack on five trains in the Tokyo subway system, killing 12 commuters and damaging the health of about 5,000 others in what became known as the subway sarin incident (地下鉄サリン事件, chikatetsu sarin jiken). In May 1995, Asahara and other senior leaders were arrested and the group's membership rapidly decreased.
In 1985, Air India Flight 182 flying from Canada was blown up by a bomb while in Irish airspace, killing 329 people, including 280 Canadian citizens, mostly of Indian birth or descent, and 22 Indians. The incident was the deadliest act of air terrorism before 9/11, and the first bombing of a 747 Jumbo Jet which would set a pattern for future air terrorism plots. The crash occurred within an hour of the fatal Narita Airport Bombing which also originated from Canada without the passenger for the bag that exploded on the ground. Evidence from the explosions, witnesses and wiretaps of militants pointed to an attempt to actually blow up two airliners simultaneously by members of the Babbar Khalsa Khalistan movement militant group based in Canada to punish India for attacking the Golden Temple.
Chechnyan separatists, led by Shamil Basayev, carried out several attacks on Russian targets between 1994 and 2006. In the June 1995 Budyonnovsk hospital hostage crisis, Basayev-led separatists took over 1,000 civilians hostage in a hospital in the southern Russian city of Budyonnovsk. When Russian special forces attempted to free the hostages, 105 civilians and 25 Russian troops were killed.
Major events after the September 11 attacks in 2001 include the Moscow Theatre Siege, the 2003 Istanbul bombings, the Madrid train bombings, the Beslan school hostage crisis, the 2005 London bombings, the October 2005 New Delhi bombings, the 2008 Mumbai Hotel Siege, and the 2011 Norway attacks.
The Moscow theatre hostage crisis was the seizure of a crowded Moscow theatre on 23 October 2002 by some 40 to 50 armed Chechens who claimed allegiance to the Islamist militant separatist movement in Chechnya. They took 850 hostages and demanded the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya and an end to the Second Chechen War. The siege was officially led by Movsar Barayev. After a two-and-a-half-day siege, Russian Spetsnaz forces pumped an unknown chemical agent (thought to be fentanyl, 3-methylfentanyl), into the building's ventilation system and raided it. Officially, 39 of the attackers were killed by Russian forces, along with at least 129 and possibly many more of the hostages (including nine foreigners). All but a few of the hostages who died were killed by the gas pumped into the theatre, and many condemned the use of the gas as heavy handed. Roughly, 170 people died in all.
On September 1, 2004, in what became known as the Beslan school hostage crisis, 32 Chechen separatists took 1,300 children and adults hostage at Beslan's School Number One. When Russian authorities did not comply with the rebel demands that Russian forces withdraw from Chechnya, 20 adult male hostages were shot. After two days of stalled negotiations, Russian special forces stormed the building. In the ensuing melee, over 300 hostages died, along with 19 Russian servicemen and all but perhaps one of the rebels. Basayev is believed to have participated in organizing the attack.[clarification needed].
The 2004 Madrid train bombings (also known in Spain as 11-M) were nearly simultaneous, coordinated bombings against the Cercanías commuter train system of Madrid, Spain, on the morning of 11 March 2004—three days before Spain's general elections and two and a half years after the September 11 attacks in the United States. The explosions killed 191 people and wounded 1,800. It was concluded that the bombs were carried on the trains hidden in backpacks, While many went off three were found later that did not detonate. The official investigation by the Spanish judiciary found that the attacks were directed by an al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist cell. ETA and al Qaeda were the original suspects cited by the Spanish government.
The 7 July 2005 London bombings (often referred to as 7/7) were a series of coordinated suicide bomb attacks in central London which targeted civilians using the public transport system during the morning rush hour. On the morning of Thursday, 7 July 2005, four Islamist extremists separately detonated three bombs in quick succession aboard London Underground trains across the city and, later, a fourth on a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square. Fifty-two civilians were killed and over 700 more were injured in the attacks. Later a dozen unexploded bombs were found in a car located in North London. 3 out of the 4 suspects were identified Mohammed Silique Khan, Germaine Morris Lindsay, Shahzad Tawnier where they are found to be in cohorts with Osama Bin Laden and eventually documents are leaked showing that Osama bin laden and Rashid Ruff planned the London bombings.
In Norway in 2011 two sequential lone wolf terrorist attacks by right wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik were carried out against the government, the civilian population, and a Workers' Youth League (AUF)-run summer camp in Norway on 22 July 2011. The attacks claimed a total of 77 lives. The first part of the attack was a van bomb in Oslo. The van was placed in front of the office block housing the office of Prime Minister and other government buildings. The explosion killed eight people and injured at least 209 people, twelve of them seriously. He followed this attack by impersonating a police officer to access the island on which the AUF summer camp was being held and proceeded to go on a shooting spree that killed 69 people.
In 2013 the British government branded the killing of a serviceman in a Woolwich street, a terrorist attack. One of his attackers made political statements which were later broadcast with blood still on his hands from the attack. The two men responsible for the attack remained on the scene until incapacitated by armed police. They were later tried and found guilty of murder.
From 7 January to 9 January 2015, a series of five terrorist attacks occurred across the Île-de-France region, particularly in Paris. The attacks killed a total of 17 people, in addition to the three perpetrators of the attack, and wounded 22 others, some of whom are in critical condition as of 16 January 2015[update]. A fifth shooting attack did not result in any fatalities. Numerous other smaller incidents of attacks on mosques have been reported, but have not yet been directly linked to the attacks. The group that claims responsibility for the attacks, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, claimed that the attack had been planned for years ahead.
On 7 January 2015, two Islamist gunmen forced their way into and opened fire in the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo shooting, killing twelve: staff cartoonists Charb, Cabu, Honoré, Tignous and Wolinski, economist Bernard Maris, editors Elsa Cayat and Mustapha Ourrad, guest Michel Renaud, maintenance worker Frédéric Boisseau and police officers Brinsolaro and Merabet, and wounding eleven, four of them seriously.
During the attack, the gunmen shouted "Allahu akbar" ("God is great" in Arabic) and also "the Prophet is avenged". President François Hollande described it as a "terrorist attack of the most extreme barbarity". The two gunmen were identified as Saïd Kouachi and Chérif Kouachi, French Muslim brothers of Algerian descent.
On 9 January, police tracked the assailants to an industrial estate in Dammartin-en-Goële, where they took a hostage. Another gunman also shot a police officer on 8 January and took hostages the next day, at a kosher supermarket near the Porte de Vincennes. GIGN (a special operations unit of the French Armed Forces), combined with RAID and BRI (special operations units of the French Police), conducted simultaneous raids in Dammartin and at Porte de Vincennes. Three terrorists were killed, along with four hostages who died in the Vincennes supermarket before the intervention; some other hostages were injured.
On 13 November, 28 hours after the Beirut attack, three groups of ISIS terrorists performed mass killings in various places in Paris' Xe and XIe arrondissements. They killed a total of more than 130 citizens. Hostages were taken in the concert hall "Le Bataclan" for three hours, and ninety were killed before the special police entered. The president immediately started the emergency threat procedure, for the first time on the entire French territory since the Algeria events in 1960.
On March 22, 2016 yet another terrorist attack happened within the confines of Europe. Three nail bombs went off at the same time in Belgium, two happened at Brussels Airport in Zaventem approximately 40 seconds apart. The other nail bomb was at Maalbeck metro station also in Brussels about an hour after the airport attacks The act was carried out by 3 suicide bombers, killing 31 people and injuring 300 people in the process. The three men were claimed as members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria known as ISIS. The third nail bomb at the metro station failed to explode during the terrorist act that Tuesday and was safely deactivated. The two men who his the Brussels Airport were brothers Ibrahim El Bakraoui and Khalid El Bakraoui while a third person was with them Najim Laachraoui who was believed to be the bomb maker also died, the suspect who had the bomb at the metro station has not yet been identified. The Brothers were both killed during the explosions along with the bomb maker, while the unidentified terrorist fled for he had the bomb that did not explode in the metro station.
Brussels responded to this attack with a level 4 alert the highest it had had since the Paris attacks mentioned above. World leaders responded by unifying and offering their aid along with sorrows for the tragedy that happened there on March 22, 2016. 28 heads of state in the European union agreed to fight the War on Terror to better and protect the Union. The attacks on Brussels had no forewarning nor did officials think an attack on that scale could ever be perpetuated.
Osama bin Laden, closely advised by Egyptian Islamic Jihad leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, in 1988 founded Al-Qaeda (Arabic: القاعدة, meaning "The Base"), an Islamic jihadist movement to replace Western-controlled or dominated Muslim countries with Islamic fundamentalist regimes. In pursuit of that goal, bin Laden issued a 1996 manifesto that vowed violent jihad against U.S. military forces based in Saudi Arabia. On August 7, 1998, individuals associated with Al Qaeda and Egyptian Islamic Jihad carried out simultaneous bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa which resulted in 224 deaths. On October 12, 2000, Al-Qaeda carried out the USS Cole bombing, a suicide bombing of the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole harbored in the Yemeni port of Aden. The bombing killed seventeen U.S. sailors.
On September 11, 2001, nineteen men affiliated with al-Qaeda hijacked four commercial passenger jets all bound for California, crashing two of them into the World Trade Center in New York City, the third into the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, and the fourth (originally intended to target Washington, D.C., either the White House or the U.S. Capitol) into an open field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after a revolt by the plane's passengers. As a result of the attacks, 2,996 people (including the 19 hijackers) perished and more than 6,000 others were injured.
The United States responded to the attacks by launching the War on Terror. Specifically, on October 7, 2001, it invaded Afghanistan to depose the Taliban, which had harbored al-Qaeda terrorists. On October 26, 2001, the U.S. enacted the Patriot Act that expanded the powers of U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Many countries followed with similar legislation. Under the Obama administration, the U.S. changed tactics moving away from ground combat with large numbers of troops, to the use of drones and special forces. This campaign eliminated much of al-Qaeda's most senior members, including a strike by Seal Team Six that resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden in 2011.
On Israel's northern border, after its unilateral withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000, Hezbollah launched numerous Katyusha rocket attacks against non-civilian and civilian areas within northern Israel. Within Israel, the 1993–2008 Second Intifada involved in part a series of suicide bombings against civilian and non-civilian targets. 1100 Israelis were killed in the Second Intifada, the majority being civilians. A 2007 study of Palestinian suicide bombings from September 2000 through August 2005 found that 40% percent were carried out by Hamas's Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and roughly 26% by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Fatah militias. Also, between 2001 and January 2009, over 8,600 rocket attacks were launched from the Gaza Strip were launched into civilian areas and non-civilian areas inside Israel, causing deaths, injuries, and psychological trauma. Formed in 2003, Jundallah is a Sunni insurgent group from the Baloch region of Iran and neighboring Pakistan. It has committed numerous attacks within Iran, stating that it is fighting for the rights of the Sunni minority there. In 2005 the group attempted to assassinate Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The group takes credit for other bombings, including the 2007 Zahedan bombings. Iran and other sources accuse the group of being a front for or supported by other nations, in particular the U.S. and Pakistan.
As the Islamic state of Syria and Iraq increases in size and power their attacks are affecting all parts of the world even in their own back yard of Turkey. Taking place in Istanbul a suicide bomber once again detonated a car bomb killing 4 people and injuring 31. No extremist group took responsibility for the attack but the attacker Mehmet Ozturk was linked to have ties with ISIS. This was just days after the car bomb attack in Turkeys capital of Ankara killing 37 people. The U.S. security council asked for the repeated terror attacks on Turkey to stop, and that the War on Terror will just become stronger due actions like these killing innocent people. Since the attacks Israel has requested that its citizens not travel to Turkey unless its necessary.
On December 27, 2007 two time elected Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated during a gathering she was having with her supporters. A suicide bomber detonated a bomb along with other extremists against her shooting off guns killing the prime minister and 14 other people. She was immediately rushed to the hospital and was pronounced dead. She was believed to be target because she was warning Pakistan along with the world of the uprising Jihadist groups and extremist groups gaining power. The responsibility of her death falls on the president of the time Pervez Musharraf who also was the ex- military chief, She had several conversations with Musharraf about upping her security due to the increase of death threats she was receiving and he denied her request. Although AL-Qaeda took responsibility for her death it is seen in the eye of the people as former President's Pervez Musharraf's fault for not taking her concerns seriously. However, during his trial he denies that no conversation happened between him and Benzair Bhutto about the security of her life.
The 2008 Mumbai attacks were more than ten coordinated shooting and bombing attacks across Mumbai, India's largest city, by Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani Islamic terrorist organization with ties to ISI, Pakistan's secret service. The six main targets were
- Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus – formerly known as Victoria Station
- The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel – six explosions were reported in the hotel,200 hostages were rescued from the burning building. A group of European Parliament committee members were staying at the hotel at the time but none were injured. Two attackers held hostages in the hotel.
- Leopold Café – a popular cafe and bar on the Causeway that was one of the first places to be attacked resulting in the death of 10 people
- The Trident-Oberoi Hotel – one explosion was heard here where the President of Madrid was eating, he was not injured
- Nariman House, a Jewish community center – had a hostage situation by two attackers eventually the hostages became freed when an aerial view of the building was displayed and NSG's stormed the building eventually killing the two attackers.
- Cama Hospital – the attacks were carried out by 10 gunman that arrived on speed boats boat from Pakistan, separating going building to building grabbing hostages, setting bombs up and mass murdering with guns. Eventually 9 out of the 10 gunman were killed. Pakistan denied that the men were a part of their country but eventually released documents that 3 of the men were from Pakistan and that cases would be opened against them
 The attacks, which drew widespread condemnation across the world, began on 26 November 2008 and lasted until 29 November, killing at least 173 people and wounding at least 308.
On January 14, 2016 a series of terrorist attacks took place in Jakarta, Indonesia resulting in 8 dead. The responsibility of these attacks were claimed by ISIS Counter terrorism has named this type of attack 'Marauding Terrorist Firearms Attack' because of the fast reaction needed by local policemen to stop the gunfire attack from the terrorists. The attack on Jakarta is linked to a bigger picture of terror in the Indonesian country for those of ISIS. Indonesia is home of the "largest regional terror groups" housing seven Islamist extremist groups. Leaving the thoughts that ISIS is trying to establish a satellite city in Indonesia, due to the fact that it has the largest Muslim population. Although ISIS branches have not yet reached the land of Southeast Asia in big masses, there is the fear that it is only a matter of time until Indonesias small extremist groups grow in masses once direct contact with ISIS is made. Once contact is established local terror groups will quickly mobilize to carry out the tasks that ISIS asks of them. ISIS will turn to Southeast Asia because it is only evident that they will lose control of the middle east.
2001 also saw the second acknowledged act of bioterrorism with the 2001 anthrax attacks (the first being intentional food poisoning conducted in The Dalles, Oregon by Rajneeshee followers in 1984), when letters carrying anthrax spores were posted to several major American media outlets and two Democratic Party politicians. This resulted in several of the first fatalities attributed to a bioterror attack.
The most recent terrorist attack in the United States was the San Bernardino shooter Tashfeen Malik on December 8, 2015. She shot and killed 14 people at a holiday party. After openly agreeing to join the ISIS caliphate group on Facebook. Her Husband Syed Rizwan Farook also pledged his allegiance to Islamic leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. Her posts claiming her loyalty was found on Facebook under another name but the information was located on her computer. It took place at an Inland Regional Center were 21 were also injured.
List of non-state groups accused of terrorism
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This would end the argument that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter...
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