Ancient history


Last updated:2022-07-25
Terrorism is among the most used violent practices in the 20th and 19th centuries for both political and ideological or religious purposes.

The terrorism can be characterized as a type of violence that is practiced against innocent victims with the aim of promoting some cause or perception of the world, whether personal or collective , that is, shared by a group, faction, etc.

We know that, throughout the 20th century and, above all, in the 21st century, terrorist actions had and are having a great impact on several regions of the world. They are practiced by the most varied agents. But before moving on to the analysis of these agents, let's see how and under what circumstances the expression “terrorism” was born.

→ Origin of the term terrorism

The word terrorism first appeared in the spelling Letters on a Regicide Peace (Letters about a regicidal peace), by the Irish philosopher Edmund Burke . In this writing, Burke criticizes the period of the Revolution French known as “Terror ”, that is, the period when the Jacobins were in power – from 1792 to 1794. Burke classifies the persecutions and death sentences by guillotine carried out by the Jacobins at this stage as “terrorist”.

However, over time, the term “terrorism” began to spread to other countries and to be used in other situations, such as guerrilla warfare , or war irregular.

→ Terrorism and irregular warfare

Guerrilla, as we know it today, originated in Spain (it was called guerrilla ), at the beginning of the 19th century, when the Iberian Peninsula was invaded by Napoleonic troops. Spanish resistance to Napoleon took place in a non-systematic way, that is, without conventional military resources and strategies. On the contrary, it was made irregularly , including ambushes, improvised weapon attacks, sabotage, kidnappings, etc.

This type of tactic would later be widely used in several other countries by groups of different ideological orientations, from communists and anarchists to nationalists and separatists. However, the difference is that these groups started to include in their actions attacks on innocent victims , that is, outside the field of irregular warfare.

→ Revolutionary terrorism and separatist nationalist terrorism

At the end of the 19th century, terrorist actions by individuals linked to anarchist ideology were common in some regions of Europe. One of the most notorious examples is the French François Claudius Köenigstein , known as Ravachol , who exploded a bomb in the house of the French public prosecutor, M. Bulot , March 27, 1892.

Similarly, many communist groups from the 19th to the 20th century, especially the Bolsheviks , which would make the Revolution in Russia , in 1917, they used guerrilla and terrorism methods. In the decades that followed, especially after the Second World War, many communist revolutionary centers that used the same methods appeared. Among them, we can mention the FARC-EP , in Colombia, the Fraction from Army Red , in Germany, and ALN (National Liberation Action), in Brazil.

In the 20th century, there was the nationalist and separatist variation of terrorism as well. An emblematic case was that of the Serbian group Hand Black , whose member Gravilo Princip assassinated the Archduke of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Francis Ferdinand, in 1914, which ended up triggering the First World War. Other groups make up this type of terrorism, such as ETA (Basque Homeland and Liberty), in Spain, and the IRA (Irish Republican Army) in Ireland.

→ The particular case of Islamic terrorism

The case of Islamic terrorism is a little more complex to address. This is because there were, and still are, groups that are closer to nationalist terrorism than to terrorism with typically religious grounds. This is the case of OLP (Palestine Liberation Organization) and its derivatives:Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and September Black, in the second half of the 20th century.

On the other hand, at the end of the 20th century and in the 21st century, terrorist groups emerged in the Middle East that really base their actions on religious premises of Islam, such as jihad (spiritual warfare, holy war) and the sharia (Islamic law derived from Koran ). These groups target all those who do not conform to their interpretation of these religious premises. The most impactful groups representing this guideline are Al-Qaeda and the Status Islamic.

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