On Terrorism and Combating Terrorism

On Terrorism and Combating Terrorism

On Terrorism and Combating Terrorism

On Terrorism and Combating Terrorism

Excerpt

The 1979 International Seminar on Political Terrorism brought together top academic experts on the subject of terrorism and key public officials from several countries who are involved in combating it. This book contains lectures and discussions that took place during that conference, held in Tel-Aviv. Publication has been delayed for several reasons, in themselves unimportant. Yet, it is astonishing to realize that the material in this book remains so highly relevant several years after it was written. The very same questions which occupied the participants' attention then remain at the center of public interest and decision makers' concerns today.

Consider, for instance, the problem of the impact of the media on terrorists, their supporters, and the public at large, addressed by Hillel Nossek; the problem of state support for terrorism and the possibility of combating terrorism by retaliating against such states, broached by M. Asa; or problems involved in hostage incidents, which were the subject of papers by Frank Ochberg and myself. Not only basic issues have remained relevant. Even area-specific topics, such as terrorism in the Federal Republic of Germany, have not disappeared from news headlines: a new generation of the Red Army Faction has recently started a new wave of terrorism, similar to this organization's activity in the mid-1970s.

The book's continued relevancy is a good reason for contributor satisfaction. However, anyone with a responsible outlook must find it worrisome that the same issues remain on the public agenda five years later. For during this period, the problem of political terrorism has not diminished. On the contrary, the incidence of terrorism has increased not only numerically, but in lethality and severity as well, making the threat terrorism poses to world security greater now than five years ago. A recent Rand Corporation report shows that compared to terrorist violence in 1979, a larger proportion of today's terrorism is directed against people rather than property, and the average terrorist act claims more lives. Terrorists have become more sophisticated technologically and use more powerful bombs. The use of terrorism by states as a tool of foreign policy has become a common occurrence. Yet, despite some impressive declarations and . . .

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