International Terrorism

A New Kind of Warfare

by Brian Michael Jenkins


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Terrorism is defined functionally as a campaign of violence designed to inspire fear, carried out by an organization, and devoted to political ends. It is usually characterized by violence directed against civilian targets in a way to achieve maximum publicity for specific demands, often with the lives of hostages at stake. The objectives of terrorism may range from the narrow goals of payment of ransom or release of prisoners to the broad goals of worldwide publicity for a cause. The increasing technological vulnerability of our society and the increasing capacities for violence afforded by modern weaponry mean that a very small group of extremists can cause very great destruction. Although the actual amount of violence caused by international terrorism is small compared with war, it has had a destabilizing effect on international order and could become a surrogate for conventional warfare against a nation.

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