4978 terrorism

beheading, the first of many modern examples
of state terrorism.
Over the past two centuries, terrorism has
been a highly contested and volatile category.
Those accused of terrorism are vilified as ene
mies of the state and social order, but many
labeled terrorists insist that they are free
dom fighters, strugglers for national libera
tion, or mujaheddin (holy warrior) or fedayeen
(prepared for martyrdom), ready to die for
righteous causes. Many decry terrorists indis
criminate violence against civilians, while other
critics like Chomsky (1988) and Herman (1982)
document state use of violence and terror against
its perceived enemies.
During the nineteenth century, terrorism was
frequently associated with anarchism. Russian
anarchists and Narodniks (populists) advocated
political terror and were responsible for assassi
nating Czar Alexander II, a frenzied milieu
depicted by Fyodor Dostoevsky in his novel
The Possessed (1913). Nationalist movements
also began to use terrorism in anti colonial
movements, such as the Irish Republican Broth
erhood which carried out attacks in England in
the name of Irish nationalism, or groups like the
Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organiza
tion which was driven by Slavic nationalism
(Laquer 1998).
Sociologically, terrorist groups often recruit
disaffected and alienated individuals, often
motivated by strong ideologies like nationalism
or religion to commit terrorist acts. These in
turn generate societal fear and exacerbate con
flicts and hatred within the social fabric.
During the twentieth century, oppositional
political groups ranging from anarchists and
nationalists on the left to fascists and the ultra
right used political terror to promote their agen
das, engaging in bombing, destroying property,
political assassination, and other destructive
action to attack the established order. Colonial
national liberation movements spread through
out the globe, such as the Mau Mau group in
Africa, the Palestinians in the Middle East, the
Irish Republican Army in Britain, and the Bas
que liberation group ETA in Spain.
The term has also been associated in the
twentieth century with indiscriminate or exces
sive use of state violence and has been leveled
against actions of Nazi Germany, the Soviet
Union, the United States, Israel, and other
countries. For instance, Chomsky (1988) and
Herman (1982) document a wide range of US
state terrorist actions in Southeast Asia, Africa,
South America, and elsewhere, with Chomsky
pointing out that the US is the only country
that has ever been convicted of an international
act of terrorism by the World Court, which
condemned US acts against Nicaragua during
the 1980s.
From the 1980s to the present, terrorists have
constructed spectacles of terror to promote their
causes, attack their adversaries, and gain world
wide publicity and attention. Terror spectacle
has become an increasingly significant part of
contemporary terrorism and various groups
systematically use spectacles of terror to pro
mote their agenda. Extravagant terrorist acts are
thus orchestrated in part as media spectacles to
gain worldwide attention, dramatize the issues
of the terrorist groups involved, and achieve
specific political objectives (Kellner 2003).
The hijacking of airplanes had been a stan
dard terrorist activity, but the ante was signifi
cantly upped when, in 1970, the Popular Front
for the Liberation of Palestine hijacked three
western jetliners. The group forced the planes
to land in the Jordanian desert, and then blew
up the planes in an incident known as Black
September, which was the topic of a Holly
wood film. In 1972, Palestinian gunmen from
the same movement stunned the world when
they took Israeli athletes hostage at the Munich
Olympic Games, producing another media
spectacle turned into an academy award
winning documentary film.
In 1975, an OPEC (Organization for Petro
leum Exporting Countries) meeting was dis
rupted in Vienna, Austria when a terrorist
group led by the notorious Carlos the Jackal
entered, killing three people and wounding sev
eral in a chaotic shootout. Americans were tar
geted in a 1983 bombing in Beirut, Lebanon, in
which 243 US servicemen were killed in a truck
bombing orchestrated by a Shiite Muslim sui
cide bomber, which led the US to withdraw its
troops from Lebanon. US tourists were victims
in 1985 of Palestinians who seized the cruise
ship Achille Lauro, when Leon Klinghoffer,
69, a disabled Jewish American, was killed and
his body and wheelchair were thrown over
board. In June 1985, a double bombing of Air
India jets originating from Canada attracted