Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, November 15th, 2019

Journey of Terrorism from Birth to Maturity

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Journey of Terrorism from Birth to Maturity

Basically, the concept of ‘Terrorism’ is as old as the civilization of mankind itself and has existed in all ages in some form or other which might be known anarchists, revolutionaries, fundamentalist or dissents against the established authority or even ruling tyrants having no tolerance or dissent. However, terrorism was not as widespread phenomenon as it is today in contemporary political system of the world. Terrorism has, in fact, become a global phenomenon with increasing and rather well identifiable links between different terrorist group and organisation. They use each other’s areas for recruitment and training, exchange of illegal weapons, engage in joint planning and ventures and also provide administrative and other logistic support. This type of terrorist activities show a new dimension due to circumstances characterised by the advancement of science, technology and diverse social, economic, political and historical reasons conditioning it. It will remain a menace as long as there are people who are driven by fanaticism, paranoia and extremism. So long as there exists in the world poverty, strife, injustice and oppression, conditions will exist which terrorists can turn to their advantage.
Origin of the term and initial phase
The term terrorism comes from the French word terrorisme, which is based on the Latin verb terrere (to cause to tremble). It dates back to 1795 when it was used to describe the actions of the Jacobin Club in their rule of post-Revolutionary France, the so-called ‘Reign of Terror’. Jacobins are rumored to have coined the term ‘terrorists’ to refer to themselves. Terrorism refers to a strategy of using violence, social threats, coordinated attacks, in order to generate fear, cause disruption, and ultimately, brings about compliance with specified political, religious, or ideological demands. Traditionally, terrorism is a highly organised enterprise that fits into a clear political strategy. It has been filling the news for most of our lives and will doubtless go on demanding the attention of our children and grand-children as well. What is new is how it achieves its goals these days.
Until today the world under UN has failed to come to an agreement about what is an acceptable definition for terrorism. It is still under debate despite attempts made by many experts. The effort to approach terrorism from a definitional perspective has thus become a never – ending  effort. ‘Terrorism is a term used to describe the method or the theory behind the method whereby an organised group or party seeks to achieve its avowed aims chiefly through the systematic use of violence. Terroristic acts are directed against persons who as individuals, agents or representatives of authority interfere with the consummation of the objectives of such a group. In the sense it differs in several important aspects from such phenomena as mob violence, mass insurrection and governmental terror. Terror practised by a government in office appears as law enforcement and is directed against the opposition, while terrorism in its proper sense implies upon defiance of law and is the means whereby an opposition aims to demoralise a governmental authority, to undermine its power and to initiate a revolution or counter-revolution.
Started as a revolutionary technique
Terrorism as a revolutionary technique was for many years an accepted tenet of anarchism. The writings of Bakunin with their emphasis upon violence as a method of achieving social change were the inspiration, if not the actual source of this doctrine. The idea of the propaganda of the deed was developed in the years following Bakunin’s death by Kropotkin, Brousse and others, who stressed the failure of generally accepted methods and the educative and publicity value of acts of terrorism. This theory was translated into action principally in the last two decades of the nineteenth century. It was almost always part of the strategy of an armed national liberation movement, and in the colonial context it usually worked in the end. The reason terrorism worked so well in anti-colonial struggles was that you did not have to defeat the imperial powers superior military forces in order to win. They were a long way from home and there was a limit to how many lives and how much money the imperial government would spend to hang into its possessions. But the early, easy successes of terror tactics in the anti-imperial context left everybody with a greatly inflated notion of what the technique could achieve against an established national government with local roots.
With its initial success in several spheres, the concept of terrorism also gained other valuable characters such as mass realisation and publicity. Even today terrorism as a method is always characterised by the fact that it seeks to arouse not only the ringing government or the nation in control but also the mass of the people to a realisation that constituted authority is no longer safely intrenched and unchallenged. The publicity of the terroristic act is a cardinal point in the strategy of terrorism. If terror fails to elicit a wide response in circles outside of those at whom it is directly aimed, it is futile as a weapon in a social conflict. In this phase and type of terrorism violence and death are not intended to produce revenue or to terrorise the persons attacked but to cause society or government to take notice of the imminence of large scale struggles. The terroristic act committed in secrecy by one person or several is conceived as the advance notice of what may be expected from mass action.
First detail planning in Soviet Union
The fullest expression of the theory and practice of this terrorism is to be found in the functioning of the famous Russian revolutionary organisation Narodnaya Volya, formed in 1879. In the same year it made an unsuccessful attempt to shoot the Czar and in the following year a revolutionary workman, Khalturin, succeeded in dynamiting the Czar’s dinning room at the Winter Palace, where the royal family was to entertain a large official assemblage. But in 1881 Alexander II was killed by a bomb. Such an effective start encouraged the Narodnaya Volya and its activity spread despite the efforts of the government to exterminate the organisation at all costs. The newly formed Party explained its method of action in paragraph 2, section D, of its programme, which defined destructive and terroristic activity as follows: ‘Terroristic activity, consisting in destroying the most harmful person in government, in defending the party against espionage, in punishing the perpetrators of the notable cases of violence and arbitrariness on the part of the government and the administration, aims to undermine the prestige of the government’s power, to demonstrate steadily the possibility of struggle against the government, to arouse in this manner the revolutionary spirit of the people and their confidence in the success of the cause, and finally, to give shape and direction to the forces fit and trained to carry on the fight.’
Apart from this terroristic commitment, the organisation was crystal clear in matters of motivation and end. The motivation of the party was frequently stated in paragraph 1, section V, of the same programme which reads, ‘By this overturn, in the first place, the development of the people will be to proceed independently and in line with its disposition, and, in the second place, many purely socialist principles common to us and the people will gain recognition and be supported in our Russian life. It also stressed that the use of terror was not an end in itself but only a means to effect the transference of power from the government to the people; that the party proposed to seize and retain power only until a form of popular government could be determined upon by a Constituent Assembly; and that it would not decree revolutionary reforms and impose its desires upon the people but on the contrary would aid the latter to express its own will, to which the party would submit. In later years, although it was revived in 1901 when the Socialist Revolutionary Party came into existence and in 1917, upon the cessation of the temporary political alliance of the Socialist Revolutionary party with the Bolsheviks, it however, never attained real success as a method of revolution.

Dr.Rajkumar Singh is Professor and Head of P.G.Department of Political Science in BNMU, West Campus at Bihar, India. He can be reached at Email-rajkumarsinghpg@yahoo.com

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