Cowlix Wearing my mind on my sleeve

Wednesday, February 06, 2002
Types of terrorism

Reflections on Modern Terrorism: George Holton on the history, future, and types of terrorism.

There has been an historic transition in which Type I terrorism and Type II terrorism are being combined. Type I terrorism consists of acts by individuals or small groups that aim to impose terror on other individuals and groups, and through them indirectly on their governments. Type II terrorism is the imposition by a government on groups of local or foreign populations. The new type of terrorism -- Type III -- is carried out by a substantially larger group of individuals, is aimed directly at a national population, and has all the components for success. The article deals with how this new terrorism, at very little psychic cost on the perpetrators, disrupts personal and historic memory through large-scale catastrophe organized for that purpose. Type III terrorism is made easier by the ready availability of high-level technology. Target nations will not have open to them the conventional responses, and will have to devise new, preventive measures.

This classification of the types of terrorism is not something I think I've seen until recently, in particular the distinction of government action against populations. That was also discussed in an NPR interview with Caleb Carr, discussing his book The Lessons of Terror: A History of Warfare Against Civilians. Why It Has Always Failed And Why It Will Fail Again, on Saturday. One thing that caught my ear in that interview was Carr's mention that the atomic bombing of Japan in World War II met the definition of state conducted terror.

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