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Discuss the similarities and differences between ?new terrorism? and the more traditional model of ?old terrorism?

Powerful Essays
Pantha rei – as it was stated by the Greek philosopher, Heraclites of Ephesus (sixth and fifth centuries B.C.) – everything flows, everything changes. Change in the contemporary world is an extremely fast process. Nothing remains the same as it was in the past. In political science especially, some notions (e.g. sovereignty) demand redefinition. The changing nature of all things also includes the political concept of terrorism.
The official approach to this changing terrorism is rather complicated. The terrorist of yesterday is the hero of today, and the hero of yesterday becomes the terrorist of today . There is then a great need to know what contemporary terrorism is and what it is not. Terrorism is a calculated use of power to achieve a political change, thus violence – or equally important, the threat of violence – is used and directed in pursuit of, or in service of a political aim . Terrorism is an expression of political strategy, a willful choice made by an organization for political and strategic reasons (efficacy) rather than as the unintended outcome of psychological or social factors .
However, terrorism is difficult to define because the meaning of the term has changed so frequently over the past 200 years. It has morphed from positive connotation during the French Revolution (closely associated with the ideals of virtue and democracy ), through the revolutionary movement and finally to a religiously motivated act as it is mainly perceived today. Nevertheless, we have to ask ourselves whether “old” and “new” terrorism really exists, or maybe the phenomenon we are facing today reminds us an old wine in a new bottle.
Two questions frame the discussed issue:
1. What is the nature of “new” terrorism?
2. What is the magnitude of threat of “new” terrorism?
“Old” and “new” terrorism are distinguishable in five points, as the table below shows .
Old Terrorism New Terrorism
Ideological Vague or religious motivations
Hierarchical Unorganized (lone wolf, ad hoc) therefore more difficult to penetrate
Propaganda by deed
(bringing issue to the table) More violent
(killing for the sake of killing)
Sub-national Transnational and International (global...

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...uld be considered more dangerous. The new rules of an old game make it more lethal and unpredictable. Let us examine only one example: Nearly every terrorist group in Iraq has recently captured a foreigner but additionally, they have produced an accompanying video, where a list of demands is outlined, a deadline is set, hostages plea for their lives, and in several instances, they are killed by beheading. Then these kidnappings merge a technique of “old” terrorism in service of “new” style terrorism. Furthermore, now more than ever, the media are a tool of war. These dramas were broadcasted by the media all over the world. This is how the media helps to evolve terrorism – they send the terrorist a clear although unspoken message: to maintain access to the airwaves, you need to devise even more outrageous tactics. Thus, the new “global” terrorist, caught into the trap of globalization, will have to break more rules, cross more psychological borders, and crack more taboos in order to exist.
This can be considered the most dangerous feature of the “new” terrorism – not only do we not know when the next attack will strike, we either have no idea what actually is going to happen .
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