Inside Terrorism

Inside Terrorism

Inside Terrorism

Inside Terrorism

Synopsis

Bruce Hoffman describes the changing face of terrorism, probing the new adversaries, new motivations, and new methods that have surfaced in recent years to challenge many of our most fundamental assumptions about terrorists and how they operate. Hoffman dissects terrorism past and present, charting its evolution and predicting where it might be headed in the next century. Inside Terrorism traces the history of terrorism from its roots in the Reign of Terror that followed the French Revolution, to Communist movements in Russia, Germany, and Italy, to longstanding nationalist organizations such as the PLO, which emerged on the world stage after the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Despite the ambush and murder of its own members, the PLO became a powerful and notorious terrorist group, and made the cause of a Palestinian homeland well known. Turning his attention to recent events, Hoffman argues that our notion of terrorism as a form of limited violence has been shattered by the emergence of more lethal and less predictable terrorist organizations, like the Aum sect in Japan -- responsible for the Tokyo subway nerve gas attack -- fanatical Jewish and Islamic groups in the Middle East, and radical wings of the militia movement in the United States. These fringe groups are built upon -- and react to -- a sense of isolation, and are more likely to use weapons of mass destruction than the nationalist terrorist groups with which we are familiar. Hoffman also considers the issue of media coverage and how it relates to political power. Although the media provide a platform for terrorist agendas, terrorists only occasionally achieve their ultimate political goals by exploiting the media, and are often captured as a result of news reports -- as in the Unabomber case. South Africa's African National Congress, which won sympathy for its plight and eventually obtained power in part through terrorist activities, is a rare exception to the rule. Carefully researched and filled with up-to-date information, Inside Terrorism presents a sharp and chilling portrait of a phenomenon that poses new and ever deadlier threats to peace and stability around the globe.

Excerpt

I have been studying terrorists and terrorism for more than twenty years. Yet I am still always struck by how disturbingly 'normal' most terrorists seem when one actually sits down and talks to them. Rather than the wild-eyed fanatics or crazed killers that we have been conditioned to expect, many are in fact highly articulate and extremely thoughtful individuals for whom terrorism is (or was) an entirely rational choice, often reluctantly embraced and then only after considerable reflection and debate. It is precisely this paradox, whereby otherwise apparently 'normal' persons have nonetheless deliberately chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction, that has long intrigued me and indeed prompted me to write this book.

My aim, however, is not to offer some new theoretical treatise or conceptual reinterpretation of the subject. Instead, I have focused on what I believe to be the most salient and important trends in terrorism -- both past and present -- as a means to explain why terrorists 'do what they do' as well as to shed light on likely future patterns and potentialities. This somewhat selective -- and thus perhaps idiosyncratic -- approach deliberately emphasizes key historical themes over abstract theory and relies on empirical evidence rather than explanatory models to illustrate and support its main arguments. As such, this book is also intended to address a conspicuous gap in the literature by providing a work that is as accessible to students as it is relevant to scholars and which may therefore appeal equally to general as well as more specialized audiences.

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