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TA-ANALYSIS: Terrorism: Brief Historical Perspective. (Part 2 of4)

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posted on Mar, 16 2004 @ 08:09 PM
An exclusive, ongoing, multipart series, whose sole quest is to find a universally acceptable definition of Terrorism.

As mentioned in the opening article to this multipart series, Can You Decide, most experts will agree that terrorism is the deliberate use of violence against civilians for political or religious ends. One question, of many, that does comes to mind is if the basic, agreed assertion that terrorism is a deliberate act of violence perpetuated against civilians for political or religious ends, wouldn’t history bear witness to this also? Before we proceed, we must bear in mind that a word, as well as the meaning, can evolve over time. In such, the word “terrorism,” as is currently being utilized and defined, is almost Orwellian in nature. Mr. George Orwell, in his novel 1984, suggests that words, as applied to language, do not naturally change. That it is the words of that language that ultimately become used as a political instrument, changing in order to advance political objectives or purposes.
George Orwell’s 1984

Also, Thomas Hobbes, during the mid-17th century, in his book Leviathan, subjectively concluded that there was a distinct importance to controlling the meaning of words in public language by the or those controlling powers (state or government).
On Hobbes’ Leviathan

With the above in mind, the word “terrorism,” as with terrorism itself, has undoubtedly been around as long as recorded history. When looking at terrorism at and from a purely historical context, many will affirm that the practice and use of threatening, as applied to injuring and killing, of innocent people for political and religious or many other ideological reasons goes back as far as pre-Biblical times. Without going into detail yet on distinctions and characteristics of terrorism, pre-modern to modern, the two mainly used in ancient times were state terrorism and insurgency terrorism. Many of the pre-Biblical and subsequent Biblical civilizations were militaristic and religious regimes, maintaining their imperial power on complete subjugation and fear tactics. These would include the Ninevites, Hittites, Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Assyrians, Indus, Hindu, and many more.

During the Biblical period, the Hebrew Bible, the Torah, seemingly advocated the use of terror, annihilation, assassination, and subjugation in several instances (see the Book of Numbers and the Book of Joshua). The Roman’s utilized and established regicide: the indiscriminate killing of kings by political rivals, and then followed by the subsequent suppression of the kings loyalists afterwards. The Greek word for “jealous” was zeal. This word became the root base for the name used by a Jewish religious sect, the Zealots, which led a number of fierce and bloody uprisings against Roman occupation roughly 2,000 +/- years ago. They utilized hit-and-run tactics within public places. Moving beyond the Biblical time period, Hindu society used a Sanskrit based literary language. The word “thug” was Hindu for thief and translated to sthagati, meaning “concealed person.” Thug or thuggees was referenced to a member of a group of religious killers, who ambushed and strangled travelers as part of their religious rituals. In some cases the thuggees did not kill the travelers, they were kidnapped and used as sacrifices to their god, Kali, the Goddess of Terror.

The practice and use of terrorism continues with further examples: the Assassins, a religious group in Iraq in the early 1100’s, who fought the Christian Crusaders, often utilizing suicide tactics. Between the mid-1400’s to the early 1600’s, the Spanish Inquisition dealt torture and death to all that were considered and defined as heretics. The word “terrorism” takes real root in the English language during the periods within the French Revolution, better known and coined as the “Reign of Terror”. Maximilien Robespierre utilizes the term: enemies of the state, and subsequently hundred’s of thousands are imprisoned, hundred’s of thousand deported, and tens of thousands executed. Numbers will undoubtedly vary with historical sources, but it is also thought that hundred’s of thousands died of starvation and torture. In the early1800’s, the Luddites vandalized and destroyed any type machinery that symbolized modern technology. It has been asserted that Lenin, in the early 1900’s, invented modern state-sponsored terrorism: “We cannot reject terror, as it is the one form of military action which may be perfectly suitable or even essential at a definite juncture in battle.” In 1914, it is believed that the actions of a Serbian terrorist (Nationalist), Black Hand agent, Gavrilo Princip, started World War I. In the early 1930’s, Adolf Hitler comes to power with the use of statewide fear tactics and state sponsored terrorism, to later culminate in mass eradication programs and genocide. The Cold War then ensues with two major world powers: the United States and Russia (USSR). Both nations adopted a form of foreign policy known as “dirty wars,” which meant fighting or engaging in “wars” that were not on American or Russian soil (Korea and Vietnam). Russian Stalinism and ensuing regimes practice the art of purges and a vast gulag of concentration camps. The United States, in fear of Communism, institutes a policy of “Red Scare” (transpiring on more than one occasion), where suspected anarchists and believers in communism are persecuted and roundup.

The above was just a brief historical overview, but easily indicates that terrorism, whether international or restricted to state sponsored, has overwhelmingly influenced and shaped world history. Countries such as Israel, Cyprus, Tunisia, and Ireland would not have become separate states if not for revolutionary terrorism. Some may feel, though debatable, that the United States would fall into this category.

The next phase in exploring and then eventually finding a universal definition for terrorism, will be to explore how the modern states view and define terrorism and how religion, specifically Islam, defines terrorism. There is no doubt that terrorism is apart of our modern recorded history as there is no doubt that it was apart of our past recorded history.

Related Sources of Interest
Terrorist and Freedom Fighters
Reign of Terror
Lenin Collected Works
Instruments of Statecraft
The Coils of Cold War
Dealing With Terrorism and Insurgency
Terrorism: History

[Edited on 19-3-2004 by Seekerof]

posted on Mar, 25 2004 @ 09:06 PM
As I watch grow and mature (which it is doing very well and very rapidly), I am seeing what a wholly great site it really is.

The best aspect of it in my opinion is that it is devoid of bias and strong on objectivity. A trait that this piece clearly exemplifies.

Dude, you are a credit to yourself, ATS and it's members, and the United States of America. No kidding.

Your medal's also in the mail!

Maintain the standard of excellence.

posted on Apr, 1 2004 @ 07:57 AM
Further developments to this piece...
A friend of mine mentioned an article to me that he had read and I just got the chance to follow-up on trying to find it....and did.
The article is also a multi-part series, but what I found interesting about it is that it mentioned a 'group' that seemingly, no one had payed much mind of: the Assassins.
The article:
Curse of the Assassins

The evil that is terrorism is not new.
Today’s killers have their roots in an ancient plague that has long bedevilled the Middle East, epitomized in the deadly cult of Hassan-i Sabbah.

A pretty good historical analysis on the background of the Assassins, quite interesting.


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