History of Terrorism

Terrorism: A Brief History by James Feldkamp

“Acts of terrorism is not a modern-day concept,” says international terrorism expert and former FBI agent James Feldkamp. Since the 1st century AD, terrorism or acts of terrorism have been inflicted upon specific targets. One example is the Zealots-Sicarii, known to be religious terrorists that rebelled against Greek and Roman rule in Judea. The objective of the Zealots-Sicarii was “to make oppression so intolerable that insurrection was inevitable.” The group targeted prominent figures; killing Romans and Jewish leaders with daggers as their primary weapon.

Another group with a more pronounced system and agenda that used terrorism to push their religious beliefs or ideologies to bring about political upheaval is the Assassins, shares James Feldkamp. The means to their end is purifying Islam, committing murder in public places like venerated sites and royal courts to instigate fear. These public “murders” gave witness to the martyrdom of the attacker and the murder of the victim. The Assassins were holed up in fortresses up in the mountains spread across Afghanistan and Syria. Instructions on who to murder were passed along to the fortresses from the headquarters. The murders were usually committed on holy days to ensure a large gathering of worshippers who became unwilling witnesses, says James Feldkamp.

The Thuggies of India is cult that worships the goddess Kali; “the destructive and creative mother in Hindu religion.” Murders were committed by strangling the victim with a handkerchief or a noose.

What do all these groups have in common? Instilling fear through terror to push their ideologies and political agenda. These, we can logically presume, show the roots of terrorism.

Modern-day terrorism

The French Revolution of 1789 was said to have “inspired” modern-day terrorism. Briefly, The Reign of Terror (RĂ©gime de la Terreur) or The Terror is a period during the French Revolution (some historians say it began in 1792; others, 1793, and yet others say it started in 1789) where subversives and counterrevolutionaries were considered as “enemies of the people.” The goal of the Reign was to establish order, based on the ideals of virtue and democracy, shares James Feldkamp.

The late 19th century saw the rise of the Anarchist or the Anarchist wave. This was largely believed by historians to have been brought on by the Industrial Revolution, otherwise known as globalization. To put it simply, the transfer of wealth brought on by the increase in global trading of goods and services upset established societies or the “old order.”

In the 1880’s, when Russia was ruled by tsars (who had absolute control of societies), a terrorist group known as Narodnaya Volva which translates to the “People’s Will,” emerged. They targeted key players in government and their goal was to cause an uprising to bring about social and political change.

With the modernization of infrastructures, these early terrorist groups that gave rise to modern-day terrorism to spread their ideologies, which then gave rise to sympathizers.

This is but a glimpse of the history of modern-day terrorism. In the coming days, James Feldkamp will talk about the anti-colonialism wave and the religious wave. James Feldkamp hopes you will come back for another round of history lesson.