Terrorism: myths and facts
Lecture delivered at Parahyangan Catholic University in Bandung, Indonesia
By Sidney Jones, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Senior Adviser
Terrorism is a very difficult and emotional subject, but it is one that deserves serious study. The word suggests an extraordinary crime with massive casualties of innocent people, with the iconic image now being the attack on the World Trade Center in New York. The word “terrorist” is also loaded — it conjures up images of ruthless killers, like Anders Breivik, the Norwegian gunman who killed 77 young political activists in 2011.
But it’s much more complicated than that. Not all terrorism involves large numbers of deaths: in 2011 in Indonesia, for example, we had eight separate terrorist incidents and a total death toll of five, including two bombers who killed only themselves. Not all crimes are instantly recognizable as terrorism. Suicide bombings have become the classic terrorist crime, but what about the robbery of an ATM or the shooting of a policeman? They might be terrorism, but they can also be acts of rebellion or ordinary crimes, depending on the circumstances and who was involved. Drawing those lines is not always easy. The problem gets even more complicated when we try and understand the causes of terrorism. Why in one village is one young man tempted to join an extremist network while his neighbor, of the exact same age, education, religious training and economic background, is not?
FULL TEXT (Crisis Group)
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