I first became interested in the theme of terrorism during my time at George Mason University when I studied under the wonderful professor James Feldkamp*. James had this infectious way of teaching and although I originally wasn’t massively looking forward to studying the module on terrorism history, he was able to show me a new way of looking at this subject.
I carried out my final thesis on how terrorism has changed through the years and thanks to James Feldkamp I did very well. I wanted to condense that thesis for this article, to give a fascinating look at whether or not terrorism actually has changed.
For me, the biggest thing that has changed in terms of terrorism is in the way that attacks are carried out and this has changed as a result of modern technology. Let’s take the attempted attack on parliament in the UK by Guy Fawkes, he looked to blow up parliament using gunpowder, a primitive way of making an explosive device.
These days we have highly powerful bombs which have caused great damage in roadside attacks and building destruction, as well as those used on transport links in places like London and Madrid. Here we can see that an explosive device is still favored, although they are far more sophisticated in the modern world.
Cyberterrorism is most certainly evidence that the tactics which terrorists use have changed radically. These groups want to cause as much damage to their enemies as possible and they are now learning that one way in which they can do that is to attack computer systems rather than violently attacking individuals. This is a new form of terrorism which governments are working around the clock to prevent and it is still very much a weapon which we need to learn more about.
Terrorism is about instilling fear in the opponent as much as it is about causing death and destruction. This is something which has not changed as the years have gone on and whether it be hanging corpses and skeletons of the deceased to prove strength, or taking credit for attacks around the world such as ISIL do at the moment, the end result remains the same.
With the exception of ISIL, although to an extent they still fall under this category, the cause behind most terrorist groups are the same, ownership of territory or defending a religious belief. Whether we are talking about the IRA, Hezbolah, ETTA or Boko Haram, these groups believe that they are defending something. They militarize themselves and seek to instill fear and act on the hatred which they have.
In this respect, these groups have always believed that they are seeking some form of justice over oppression and this looks to be a key characteristic of terrorism which will never change.
* James Feldkamp – A lifelong learner, James Feldkamp studied at The Catholic University of America, where he received his master’s in International Affairs. He was also a student of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Academy prior to becoming a special agent focusing on International Terrorism and Foreign Counterintelligence.
Author – Boris Dzhingarov graduated UNWE with major Marketing. He is the founder of ESBO ltd leading online marketing agency.