The Whys and Hows of the Modern Terrorist

By Grenier, Richard | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 27, 1996 | Go to article overview

The Whys and Hows of the Modern Terrorist


Grenier, Richard, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Are you ready for the new terrorism? An American intelligence official, who chose to remain nameless, has boasted that with $1 billion and 20 capable hackers he could shut down America. America? Shut down America? Could a postmodern terrorist do it then? Writing in the lead article of the new Foreign Affairs entitled "Postmodern Terrorism," Walter Laqueur finds the claim utterly reasonable.

Teenage hackers have penetrated highly secret systems in every field, he points out. And why assassinate a politician or indiscriminately kill a few dozen people when an attack on electronic switching would produce far larger and more lasting results? If the new terrorism directs its energy toward information warfare, its destructive power will be exponentially greater than it has ever wielded in the past. Of 100 attempts at superviolence made by this or other new techniques, predicts Mr. Laqueur, 99 would fail. But if even a single one is successful it could claim more victims, do more material damage, and unleash far greater panic "then anything the world has yet experienced." So get ready.

Up to now much of the modern terrorism that has caught the public's fancy has been penny ante stuff, the sort described on the front page of the New York Times under the headline: "Terrorism Now Going Homespun As Bombings in the U.S. Spread." Pipe bombs stashed in barbecues, transported by bicycle: this form of domestic terrorism is unquestionably rising, bombings and attempted bombings almost tripling in the last decade.

Some are motivated by grievances, commonly against the IRS, but a great many of these incidents might be called "recreational bombing." Seemingly ordinary people, typically lower middle class, learn how to make a pipe bomb through the Internet. Then, having made their fun bomb, they get the urge to blow something up. In a bombing, says an official of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, you don't have to face your victim. It's the coward's way.

But historically terrorists have not been cowardly at all. The notion that the "suicide bomber" is a modern novelty is quite false. Willingness to die with the victims, in fact, has traditionally brought a dark glamour to terrorism. In the past terrorist groups have almost always contained strong fanatical elements, often religious, for only total certainty of belief justifies the taking of human lives.

With full-scale wars of aggression having become so expensive and risky these days, state-sponsored terrorism is flourishing, replacing, thinks Mr. Laqueur, the great wars of the 19th and early 20th centuries. At the other end of the scale, we have dangerous terrorists working alone or in very small groups, and these are both more difficult to detect and generally more fanatic.

As humankind approaches the end of the second millennium of the Christian era, apocalyptic movements are also on the rise again. For reasons that have always baffled me, such movements have always gained strength toward the end of a century, and even more so at the close of a millennium, as if the heavens also operated on the decimal system.

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 ...
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

The Whys and Hows of the Modern Terrorist
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
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.