New Terrorism or New Perceptions? Some Observations regarding Changing Views on Terror

By Hough, Michael | Strategic Review for Southern Africa, November 2005 | Go to article overview

New Terrorism or New Perceptions? Some Observations regarding Changing Views on Terror


Hough, Michael, Strategic Review for Southern Africa


ABSTRACT

In this article, the concept of new or seemingly new perceptions regarding terrorism is analysed, with specific reference to the United Nations, the United States and recent South African anti-terror legislation. Whereas much of the recent literature has focused on the 'new' characteristics of terrorism itself, the aim here is to also investigate changed perceptions of the phenomenon. In some views, the so-called 'new terrorism' is in fact not new, but certain interpretations and perceptions regarding terrorism have in fact undergone significant changes, including the definition of terrorism itself.

1. INTRODUCTION

Since the 11 September 2001 incidents in the United States of America (US) and the escalation of terror attacks in Iraq, numerous articles and comments have addressed these issues, described by some as the 'new terrorism'. Others argue that some of the basic trends had, however, existed previously, and were now only receiving more attention or becoming more pronounced.

The aim of this article is to explore a number of these issues, particularly those pertaining to an apparently changed perception or view of the phenomenon of terror. These include changes regarding certain components of the standard definitions of terror, with specific reference to motives and certain forms and targets of terror; the continued relevance of an overall political motive; the continued relevance of the so-called 'national liberation movement' designation; the broadening of the scope of non-combatants targeted by terror attacks; and the distinction between transnational, international and domestic terror. For purposes of this article, and given the scope of issues addressed, it is obviously not intended to provide an extensive analysis of each of these issues, but rather to provide an overview of changed perceptions in each case.

2. NEW PERCEPTIONS OR NEW TRENDS?

Although this article is about seemingly new perceptions regarding terrorism, and not about new trends in terrorism, it is argued that even the latter seems to be at least partially based on perceptions and some disregard of history. In this regard, the main trends associated with the 'new terrorism' after the events of 11 September 2001, are that terrorists now operate transnationally and in loosely organised networks; that they are largely motivated by religious extremism; that they aim at mass casualties and specifically attempt to obtain weapons of mass destruction; and that targeting is indiscriminate and not selective. However, it has been pointed out that continuity between the 'old' and the 'new' terrorism exists to the degree that the distinction between the two is open to serious questioning. Terrorism can only be described as 'new' if historical research clearly shows that it has not occurred previously, or if a new historical interpretation is provided. (1)

While it is clear that the selection of targets and the increasing tendency towards political-religious motivations do represent certain changing trends in terrorism, continuities exist and caution has been expressed regarding generalisations about trends in terrorism based on particular attacks such as the World Trade Centre bombing. (2)

3. THE POLITICAL OBJECTIVE OF TERROR AND RELATED MOTIVES, AND THE STATUS OF 'NATIONAL LIBERATION MOVEMENTS'

In keeping with the standard definition of terror, Wilkinson states that terrorism is "the systematic use of coercive intimidation, usually to service political ends". Innocent civilians are often killed or injured in terror attacks. (3)

The US Code defines terrorism as meaning "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents". (4) This significantly does not include either domestic or international terror committed directly by the agents of the state itself, although certain countries continue to be designated as 'state sponsors' of terrorism by the US State Department. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

New Terrorism or New Perceptions? Some Observations regarding Changing Views on Terror
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.