The Post-colonial Era: Ethno-nationalist/Separatist Terrorism
Although terrorism motivated by ethno-nationalist/separatist aspirations had emerged from within the moribund Ottoman and Habsburg Empires during the three decades immediately preceding the First World War, it was only after 1945 that this phenomenon became a more pervasive global force. Two separate, highly symbolic events that had occurred early in the Second World War abetted its subsequent development. At the time, the repercussions for post-war anti-colonial struggles of the fall of Singapore and the proclamation of the Atlantic Charter could not possibly have been anticipated. Yet both, in different ways, exerted a strong influence on indigenous nationalist movements, demonstrating as they did the vulnerability of once-mighty empires and the hypocrisy of wartime pledges of support for self-determination.
On 15 February 1942 the British Empire suffered the worst defeat in its history when Singapore fell to the invading Japanese forces. Whatever its strategic value, Singapore's real significance -- according to the foremost military strategist of his day, Basil Liddell Hart -- was as the
outstanding symbol of Western Power in the Far East . . . Its easy capture in February 1942 was shattering to British, and European, prestige in Asia. No belated re-entry could efface the impression. The white man had lost his ascendancy with the disproof of his magic. The realisation of his vulnerability fostered and encouraged the post-war spread of Asiatic revolt against European domination or intrusion. 1