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date: 26 June 2022

Waves of Political Terrorismfree

Waves of Political Terrorismfree

  • Jeffrey KaplanJeffrey KaplanJilin University, Changchun, PRC

Summary

Wave theory refers to the “Four Waves of Modern Terrorism,” which was published in 2004 by David C. Rapoport, professor emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a founding editor of the journal Terrorism and Political Violence. Wave theory made a unique contribution to the study of terrorism by positing a generational model that linked contemporaneous global terrorist groups based on their shared characteristics of ideology/theology, strategy/tactics, and visions for the future. Although wave theory is focused on the modern period, from the late 19th century to the present day, it is built on a thorough grounding of the history of terrorism, which dates from the 1st century ce.

Subjects

  • Contentious Politics and Political Violence

Updated in this version

References and text updated. Section added on theories of the fifth wave. Conclusion revised.

Precursors

David C. Rapoport’s approach to the study of terrorism appeared in the 1970s. It offered unique insights into the religious implications of terrorist campaigns. Whereas the first generation of terrorism scholars—Walter Lacquer, Alex Schmid, Martha Crenshaw, and others—largely approached the subject as a purely political phenomenon, Rapoport argued that religion was a vital component of terrorist violence. In this, his was a voice in the wilderness. Remarkably, even in the wake of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the rise of al-Qaeda, and the War on Terror, many of the most influential scholars in the field continued to argue that terrorism was ineluctably political and that the leaders of religiously motivated terrorist groups were undoubtedly clever political operators who manipulated religion for political ends (Hoffman, 2018).

Rapoport’s unique approach, which gave birth to wave theory, began with a course at the University of California, Los Angeles, that focused on the Hebrew Bible and resulted in an early article, “Moses, Charisma, and Covenant” (Rapoport, 1979).1 Although the article is largely forgotten today, it challenged political scientists to take the Bible seriously as a source for political action. It was followed by his seminal 1980s articles, which focused on terrorism in the ancient world and from which many of the tropes of modern terrorism can be traced.

What followed laid the groundwork for the study of religiously motivated terrorism and, in the process, inspired a handful of future terrorism scholars to pursue the study of religion and terrorist violence.2 Rapoport’s trilogy of articles comprising “Fear and Trembling: Terrorism in Three Religious Traditions” (1984), “Terror and the Messiah: An Ancient Experience and Some Modern Parallels” (1982), and “Messianic Sanctions for Terror” (1988) marks the beginning of the contemporary study of religiously motivated terrorism. All three brought home the vital importance of religious zeal in maintaining a prolonged campaign of terrorism. They stressed the primacy of sacred texts in the ancient world as the key factor in motivating and sustaining terrorist violence. Moreover, they conclusively demonstrated the fact that terrorism, heretofore believed to be a purely modern phenomenon, was a timeless reaction to existential threats that were beyond the faithful’s capacity to survive without compromising or abandoning their faith. Salvation must therefore be metahistorical in nature. Only divine intervention could save the faithful while punishing both the guilty and those whose inaction or simple indifference was deemed as tacit support for the oppressors.3 In a terrorist campaign, there are no innocents and no bystanders.

Of the three articles, “Fear and Trembling” (1984) was both groundbreaking and the true precursor to the four waves. It was the first published article to explore on a comparative basis religious terrorism that, by including the Indian Thugs, demonstrated the global impact of terrorism beyond the three Abrahamic traditions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The three articles (Rapaport, 1982, 1984, 1988) were published at a time when terrorism was being downplayed by academics and the U.S. government alike, drying up funding for terrorism research.4 In “Fear and Trembling,” Rapoport detailed the similarities in tactics, weapons, and communications—all tied to extant technologies—which he views as the threads that bind movements of different times, religions, and geographic regions together. In his words:

The cases [the Sicarri, the Assassins, and the Thugs] are inherently interesting and peculiarly instructive. Each group was much more durable and much more destructive than any modern one has been; operating on an international stage, they had great social effects too. Yet the noose, the dagger, and the sword were the principal weapons they employed, travel was by horse or foot, and the most effective means of communication was by word of mouth. Although a relatively simple and common technology prevailed, each example displayed strikingly different characteristics. The critical variable, therefore, cannot be technology: rather, the purpose and organization of particular groups and the vulnerabilities of particular societies to them are decisive factors. Although the point may be more easily seen in these cases, it must be relevant, I shall argue, in our world too.

(Rapoport, 1984, p. 659)

This introduction, with its emphasis on technology and the signature weapons of each group, begins to lay the groundwork for what would become wave theory. Its conclusion explicitly states the cyclical character of terrorism, which is the foundation of wave theory:

This conclusion should shape our treatment of the dynamics of modern terrorism. There is no authoritative history of modern terrorism that traces its development from its inception more than a century ago. When that history is written, the cyclical character of modern terror will be conspicuous, and those cycles will be related not so much to technological changes as to significant political watersheds, which excited the hopes of potential terrorists and increased the vulnerability of society to their claims. The upsurge in the 1960s, for example, would be related to Vietnam just as the activities immediately after World War II would appear as an aspect of the decline in the legitimacy of Western colonial empires. Since doctrine, rather than technology, is the ultimate source of terror, the analysis of modern forms must begin with the French, rather than the Industrial Revolution.

(Rapoport, 1984, p. 672)

The publication of these articles in the 1970s and 1980s, alongside a separate study on the particular affinity of messianic and millenarian movements with terrorist violence, would culminate a quarter-century later in Rapoport’s wave theory (Rapoport, 1987, pp. 72–88).5

The waves idea ultimately came together in the wake of 9/11 in David C. Rapoport’s article “The Four Waves of Rebel Terror and September 11” (Rapoport, 2002). In the opening paragraphs of that article, Rapoport stated:

September 11, 2001 is the most destructive day in the long bloody history of rebel terrorism. The casualties and the economic damage were unprecedented. It could be the most important day too. President Bush declared a “war” to eliminate terror, galvanizing a response that could reshape the international world. Exactly 100 years ago, we heard a similar appeal. An Anarchist assassinated President William McKinley in September 1901, moving the new president Theodore Roosevelt to summon a worldwide crusade to exterminate terrorism everywhere. Will we succeed this time? No one knows, but even a brief acquaintance with the history of terrorism should make us more sensitive to the difficulties ahead. To this end, I will briefly describe rebel terrorism in the last 135 years to show how deeply implanted it has become in modern culture. The discussion is divided into two sections. The first describes the four waves of modern terror, and the other focuses on the international ingredients in each. I will discuss the political events triggering each wave, but lack space to enumerate the great and persistent domestic impacts.

(Rapoport, 2002)

The Four Waves of Modern Terrorism

“The Four Waves of Modern Terrorism” defines a wave as a cycle that takes place over a 40-year time period. Each cycle is dynamic in that it expands and contracts. Groups within a particular wave adapt to the exigencies of their time, are aware of the actions of other contemporary terrorist groups in other countries, and are driven by a relentless energy that propels them into violent action. They share a common technological facility, including communications, weaponry, and logistics. Most important, they share a vision that perceives in the ills and abuses of the world the seeds of a revolutionary future.

Although Rapoport was unaware of it at the time, wave theory corresponds strongly with Arthur Schlesinger’s theory of political generations. Schlesinger posited 40-year generational cycles, which he found to be decisive in American presidential elections. His generational theory identified successive waves of social activism that are invariably followed by a period of retrenchment in which a political generation, frustrated by the seeming impossibility of bringing about meaningful change, falls back into a generation-long focus on material acquisition and economic well-being, centered on self and family (Schlesinger, 1986). That Rapoport was unaware of Schlesinger’s work demonstrates the gulf between the fields of history and political science, which wave theory would come to bridge.

Rapoport posits four terrorist waves. Each has a precipitating event, signature tactics and weapons, and an inevitable gradual decline that culminates in the birth of another wave. The death of one wave and the birth of the next overlap, although a few dinosaurs of the previous wave find ways to adapt and survive in the wave that follows. The four waves are, successively, the Anarchist wave (1878–1919), the Anti-Colonial wave (1920s–early 1960s), the New Left wave (mid-1960s–1990s), and the Religious wave (1979–?). All save the fourth wave are posited to last a single Schlesingerian political generation, although some movements manage to survive their compatriots.

The Anarchist Wave

The opening salvo that touched off the first wave of modern terrorism took place on January 24, 1878, when Vera Zasulich, a little-known anarchist figure, shot and wounded a police commander in St. Petersburg, Russia. The offending officer had been accused of flogging political prisoners. Zasulich was tried but not convicted. During the trial she uttered the memorable line: “I am a terrorist, not a killer” (Rapoport, 2002, p. 50.)6 Zasulich’s relative obscurity compared to such anarchist superstars as Kropotkin or Nachaev testifies to the power of the propaganda of the deed in catalyzing a terrorist wave.7

The anarchist wave emerged in Russia and quickly spread throughout the world. Western Europe, the United States, and even Japan and China, where anarchist involvement in the May 4th Movement is remembered today, were soon awash with anarchist groups.8 Rapoport notes that the early phase of the anarchist wave (from the 1880s to the 1890s) came to be known as the “Golden Age of Assassination,” as government leaders, senior politicians, including President William McKinley, and military officers died at the hands of committed anarchists (Rapoport, 2013, p. 52).9 Rapoport does not specifically note a signature weapon characteristic of the Anarchist wave, although bullets and bombs certainly predominated. He did however note a factor that distinguished the Anarchist wave from ancient terrorism: international communications technology. This made it possible for Russian anarchists to disseminate their doctrine of revolution throughout the world. Unique, too, was the willingness and ability of Russian anarchists to train other revolutionary groups even if these groups did not share their own anarchist beliefs (Rapoport, 2013, pp. 50–52). Clearly it is the international character of terrorist violence that has most distinguished modern terrorism from its ancient precursors. A global terrorist milieu marked each subsequent terrorist wave.

The Anti-Colonial Wave

The Anarchist wave died away with the onset of World War I, which was the first instance of a conflict that involved the entire population of each contending nation.10 In the context of such a conflict, anarchism soon faded from the public stage. With the conclusion of hostilities, European colonies, as well as a number of European ethnicities, particularly in the Balkans,11 felt that political independence was within reach. Their hopes were further strengthened by American President Woodrow Wilson’s stated support.12 In the end, these hopes were dashed by the Treaty of Versailles. The Treaty transformed Europe into national states by breaking up the Austro-Hungarian Empire, while the mandates that followed were created on the assumption that, in time, self-determination would occur. The new states were not meant to become permanent territories, although their creation had the effect of maintaining colonial control. The Treaty triggered the second wave.

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) was one of the first national liberation terrorist movements, but their lack of success forced them to outlive most other second-wave groups (Rapoport, 2013, pp. 52–53).13 The IRA aside, there was a nearly quarter-century lag between the Treaty of Versailles and the onset of the full force of the second wave. Rapoport attributes this delay to two primary factors: the impact of World War II, which dissolved the mandates once and for all, and the primacy of the United States, whose stated opposition to colonialism could no longer be resisted. Self-determination was now possible for African, Asian, and the Middle Eastern peoples.

The terrorist/freedom-fighter analogy came to prominence in the second wave (Rapoport, 2013, p. 53). Put simply, those who engage in terrorist tactics are terrorists, however laudable their goals. A case in point is Menachem Begin, whose Irgun remains a model of successful terrorism. The Irgun were responsible for considerable carnage in their efforts to establish a Jewish state in Palestine. Their bombing of the King David Hotel in 1946 was particularly egregious (Clarke, 1981). Begin and Anwar Sadat were awarded a Nobel Prize for Peace in 1978. The Irgun described themselves as freedom fighters who were locked in a struggle to the death against “government terror” (Rapoport, 2013, p. 54 and n. 37. The discussion of the terrorist/freedom-fighter issue is from Begin, 1977).14 Begin and the Irgun demonstrated that terrorism must be analyzed in a detached manner and that under given circumstances terrorism can succeed, albeit seldom through terrorism alone.

The terrorist/freedom-fighter analogy is itself a product of the second wave. Whereas Vera Zasulich had proudly proclaimed herself to be a terrorist, by the 1940s the term “terrorist” had come to take on too many negative connotations to be of utility in gathering public support. Once again Jewish terrorism took the lead in recognizing and diagnosing the problem. The freedom-fighter tag stuck and would be of considerable benefit to the succeeding New Left wave, whose adherents were often described in fawning newspaper articles as freedom fighters regardless of their bloody deeds (Hoffman & Rand Corporation, 2003, p. 16).

Rapoport notes several important innovations that took place in the second wave. For the first time, Diaspora support became vital to terrorist success. Similarly, foreign governments began to offer support. Police became primary targets, and guerrilla tactics gained increasing importance. Whereas anarchist violence had been primarily urban, the increasing primacy of Maoist thought gave greater emphasis to peasants and the countryside (Brown, 2015). Perhaps most striking is that, while honoring the revolutionary zeal of the first wave, the second wave idealized national histories and cultures as it turned increasingly inward, focusing on local struggles against colonial control (Rapoport, 2013, pp. 54–56).

By the mid-1960s, the second wave had all but faded away. National liberation had largely been achieved, making second-wave terrorism superfluous. In those few areas where statehood or political change had not been achieved, such as Northern Ireland or the Basque region of Spain, groups like the IRA and ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, the Basque separatist group) soldiered on, adapting to the exigencies of the third or New Left waves, often quite well. Elements of both the IRA and ETA engaged in fusion terrorism—fusing their political goals with criminality—to survive and thrive.

Rapoport’s second wave focused primarily on political aspirations; the elimination of colonial control and the formation of new nation-states. In 2015, the U.S. State Department listed 196 independent states, most of which had been recognized since 1920 (Bureau of Intelligence and Research, 2015). The persistence of ethnonational terrorism in regions such as South America and Africa, as well as in the Balkans and the Former Soviet Union (FSU) suggests that perhaps the emergence of nation-states did not effectively bring the anticolonial wave to a neat ending in the 1960s. This question will be more closely examined later, in concert with other criticisms of wave theory.

The New Left Wave

The New Left wave emerged in the mid-1960s in response to the Vietnam War. Powered by the revolution in communications technology and opposition to the war and to the much-maligned country that pursued it, hostility to the United States and popular anti-Americanism became global phenomena. In the context of the Cold War, the Soviet disinformation campaign which they called “active measures” seemed to succeed for a time in painting the United States as rampant warmongers and associating the communist world with the word “peace,” in this way drawing a clear distinction between the two powers, which would allow the Soviets to funnel aid, resources, and intelligence to terrorist groups in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.15 Thus, in the context of the Cold War, state sponsorship of terrorism was inevitable.16 Moreover, the rapid developments in communications technology made the third wave more internationalist in scope than earlier waves. Globalization as we understand it today would have to wait the end of the Cold War, but the elements were there as the grievances and exploits of the third wave of modern terrorism took such tangible forms as a movie, a rock album, an underground journal, or the ubiquitous image of Che Guevara affixed to a lamppost.17

If a terrorist wave has a nostalgia factor, it would be the third wave. A generation of Europeans and Americans who were in college in the 1960s recall the time in remarkably romantic terms. Anyone in possession of a Che Guevara or a Leila Khaled poster would attest to this. Carlos the Jackal and Leila Khaled, with her signature keffiyeh and Kalashnikov look, were youth heartthrobs. In the third wave, terrorist acts were multimedia productions rather than mass-casualty events. For third-wave terrorists, good television was of prime importance. The simultaneous landing of seven hijacked aircraft in Jordan without causing harm to any of the passengers, and the kidnapping of a heretofore anonymous newspaper heiress who would go on to join her ragtag band of captors, were ideal operations.18 More violent groups, like the German Red Army Faction in Germany, could find shelter from the government storm on university campuses, while the strange Maoist cult of personality built around the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) leader Abimael Guzmán was protected by peasants in the mountains of Peru.19

Airplane hijackings became the signature operation of the third wave, although they were of declining utility once tighter security regulations were put into effect at Western airports.20 Leila Khaled would become the face of hijacking operations, and her Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine were the most important purveyors of hijack terror.21 Kidnappings, however, continued apace, with Italy, Spain, and Latin America at the top of the table in a comprehensive global list that contains no less than 73 countries. Assassination, too, was revived from the anarchist wave (Rapoport, 2013, p. 57).

Rapoport notes the importance of borrowed tropes from previous waves, particularly the second wave’s emphasis on nationalism. This may strike many as odd, given the anti-Vietnam nature of the early years of the wave. The Vietnam War ended officially in 1975, with the North Vietnamese conquest of the South, but as a catalyst for terrorism the war officially expired with the American withdrawal of 1973—an action that set the bar for the United States’ run of failed foreign conflicts, which continues to this day with its withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan (Rapoport, 2013, p. 57).22 This allowed the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), a nationalist movement par excellence, to come to the fore as the face of third-wave terrorism.

The PLO is a case in point about the limits of the utility of wave theory in the real world. Not all cases fit neatly into any theoretical basket. The PLO is a third-wave actor chronologically, but its nationalist aspirations would fit as comfortably into the second wave. The 1948 Arab–Israeli War and the 1949 Armistice Agreements resulted in the Palestinian diaspora, but the PLO National Charter was not created until 1964 and was not completed with all constituent resolutions until July 1968 (Brand, 1988).23 However, in contrast to the nationalist struggles of the second wave, the PLO was composed of a number of fully or partially autonomous groups and was fully international in scope, serving as a training ground for European terrorists and playing an important role in Soviet policy in the Middle East (Khalidi, 2006, 2010). Thus, while nationalist in aspiration, it was international in practice and an important part of the third or New Left wave. It was also secular in orientation and socialist in aspiration, yet it would ironically emerge as the Western-oriented counter to Hamas in the post 9/11 world. Terrorism, like politics, makes strange bedfellows indeed.

The third wave invariably receded, much as Schlesinger had predicted, within a generation. A closer look at this social milieu, however, is instructive. An unanticipated result of the Vietnam War was the opening of the gates of American immigration to Asians,24 who came in droves and brought with them the gurus and teachers who would found a generation of new religious movements, the roots of which would sink deep into the United States and later in Europe and even the Soviet Union itself (see for example Kaplan, 2000a). The American counterculture, however, ended badly. Experimentation with sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll burned out as the costs of indulgence over industry came due. Out of the morass came such phenomena as the American Jesus movement and the Ronald Reagan presidency.

If social change could not produce happiness and inner peace, certainly religion could, and the newly religious appeared throughout the world. The Moral Majority group, led by Pastor Jerry Falwell, brought fundamentalism into the American body politic for the first time since their Pyrrhic victory in the 1928 Scopes trial.25 Similarly, in the Middle East, the failure of Arab nationalism in both the Nasserite and Ba’athist varieties, coupled with the disaster of the Six-Day War in 1967, brought the Muslim masses back to the madrassas and the mosques, where a headier brew of political Islam had been quietly percolating.26 The first fruits of the Islamic revival would shock the world and usher in the fourth wave of modern terrorism.

The Religious Wave

Three seminal revolutions, and three dominant personalities, shaped the history of the 20th century: Lenin and the Russian Revolution, Mao and the Chinese Revolution, and Imam Khomeini and the Iranian Revolution, which touched off the fourth wave of modern terrorism. In retrospect, the remarkable time lag between the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the recognition of the event’s importance by scholars and governments alike seems remarkable. It was not lost on the Shi’ite Iranians however, nor was it ignored by the overwhelmingly Sunni Arab masses.27 For a brief moment, as the American embassy in Islamabad was torched by Iranian-inspired Sunnis in 1979, and 300 marines and the U.S. embassy were lost to the Shi’ite Hezbollah in Lebanon in 1982, Tehran took on the mantle of the fourth-wave “Terror Central” a position that a generation ago had, in the view of many, been occupied by Moscow.

Rapoport’s discussion of the religious wave is brilliant, but in some ways problematic. His vital early scholarship virtually invented the study of religious terrorism as a sui generis category of terrorism rather than as the manipulative confidence game perpetrated by politically astute leaders which was the analysis of most terrorism scholars.28 Yet he is in the end a political scientist, understanding well the impact of religion, but somewhat at a loss to explain the nature of modern radical Islam with the facility that he demonstrates with ancient Judaism. The blood and sinews of the topic were, in fairness, even less clear to the handful of established terrorism scholars at the time, making comprehension of the global impact of the Iranian Revolution and the mysterious figure of Ayatollah Khomeini chimeric for the better part of a decade after the event.29

While recognizing the emergence of religious violence in other parts of the world, Rapoport asserts that Islam is at the heart of the wave (Rapoport, 2013, p. 61). Yet some of the deadliest terrorist strikes as the wave was still rising in the 1980s and early 1990s involved attacks as varied as Aum Shinrikyo’s use of nerve gas in the Tokyo subway; the killing of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by Yigal Amir an extremist yeshiva student, and the Hebron Mosque massacre by Dr. Baruch Goldman, both of which took place in Israel; the Tamil Tiger violence in Sri Lanka; and the bloody actions of such African groups as the Lord’s Resistance Army and Boko Haram.30 The American radical right, in contrast to their European counterparts, are almost entirely driven by religion, as was the deadly confrontation between Sikh militants and the Indian army in 1984 in India that involved the Sikhs or the 1984 destruction of the Ayodhya Mosque by Hindu militants (Reader, 2000).31

With the global nature of the fourth wave firmly established, the victory of the Iranian Revolution was surely the catalyzing event; its ripples soon engulfed the Middle East. One of the least noticed of these ripples from a Western perspective, but of seismic import to the Islamic ummah (community), was the seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca by a self-styled messianic savior named al-Juhaima. It took a special fatwa to allow French Special Forces to enter the Holy City to finally root him and his group out (Trofimov, 2008). The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1997 hardly went unnoticed, and its defeat and humiliating withdrawal both put the final nail in the Soviet Union’s coffin and unleashed a jihadist force that would, in 1993, give birth to Mullah Omar’s Taliban (Rashid, 2000). That defeat emboldened many, including Osama Bin Laden, to believe that just as lightly armed simple believers could defeat one superpower, surely “al-Shaitan al-Kabir” (the Great Satan, aka the United States) would be just as vulnerable; a perception that would ultimately lead to the 9/11 strikes and the interminable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 1998, Bin Laden stated this belief clearly to John Miller.

Bin Laden believed that the United States, which had been so heavily involved in supporting the Afghan rebels, had missed the profound point of that exercise: Through sheer will, even superpowers can be defeated.

“There is a lesson to learn from this for he who wishes to learn,” Bin Laden said. “The Soviet Union entered Afghanistan in the last week of 1979, and with Allah’s help their flag was folded a few years later and thrown in the trash, and there was nothing left to call the Soviet Union.”

The war changed Bin Laden. “It cleared from Muslim minds the myth of superpowers,” he said (Miller, 1999).

The Taliban soon took power in Afghanistan and gestated an eponymous movement that continues to threaten Pakistan (Rashid, 2000; Strick van Linschoten & Kuehn, 2012). Osama Bin Laden offered his baya (oath of allegiance) to Mullah Omar, and Ayman al-Zawahiri renewed that pledge to his successor in 2015 (Rajan, 2015; cf. “Al-Qaeda’s Zawahiri Pledges Allegiance,” 2015). Then there was the al-Qaeda attack on New York and the Pentagon, which continues to shape American policy, and thus the world, 20 years later.32

The fourth wave, which began in 1979, seems likely to transcend the generation which gave it birth. Indeed, the religious wave of modern terrorism shows no signs of cresting, much less receding, which threw into question the 40-year generational cycle posited by Rapoport’s wave theory.

The reasons for this now appear clear. The previous waves, anarchism, national liberation and the New Left, were ideological in nature. Anarchism and the New Left appealed primarily to elites and intellectuals, who comprised the majority of the cadres. National liberation had a broader appeal, but its leaders, with the exception of Mao, were intellectuals, and often foreign-educated intellectuals at that.

The religious wave by contrast, had far deeper roots. The appeal of fourth-wave terrorism draws on millennia of history, texts, and experience. It was thus sustained by a far deeper cross-section of social strata; religious virtuosi, townsmen and women, and those from villages. The religious wave appeals to faith over learning and is able to combine elements of the tradition with elements of the modern world. Whereas a generation of intellectual activists will, as Schlesinger sagely noted, eventually become frustrated and will seek if they can to return to the societies they had rejected in their youth, the religious faithful are sustained by the perception that they fight for tradition—a return to a golden age that historians would assure them is largely imaginary, and that leaders of a more secular bent will claim is chimerical. It is a dream to which people will cling long after the appeal of a secular ideology fades from the headlines.

Moreover, with the foundation of the Islamic State, the fourth wave entered a new phase in which, rather than trying to gain control of established states a la al-Qaeda and its numerous offshoots, sought to establish a millennial state in the heart of the Islamic world (Kaplan & Costa, 2015, pp. 926–969).33 The fall of Raqqa in 2017 ended the dream of Islamic State statehood, but the group, much diminished, remains a threat as a network which does retain considerable appeal to Islamists around the world.

Appraisals of Wave Theory

Wave theory has come to be widely accepted in the field as a useful historical model. The insights it provides into both the international character of terrorism and its transnational commonalities and modalities are undeniable. That said, every theory must be a constant work in progress if it is to have continuing utility in a rapidly evolving field. Some of the difficulties with wave theory have already been pointed out in this article. Problems of classification, as with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), are not of great import. The generational nature of wave theory is one of its major strengths, although the religious wave seems to defy the single-generation lifespan allotted to each wave. Therefore, it would be useful to examine some of the difficulties and objections that have been expressed about wave theory.

We will begin with a reexamination of the second wave and a consideration of what might be termed ethnonationalist violence. This will be followed with a consideration of the literature of the four waves. Terrorism, Identity and Legitimacy: The Four Waves Theory and Political Violence, an anthology edited by Jean Rosenfeld, is a Festschrift that is well disposed to wave theory (Rosenfeld, 2011). This is followed by a very different view in a critical article, “The Four Horsemen of Terrorism—It’s Not Waves, It’s Strains,” (Parker & Sitter, 2016, pp. 197–216), which was accompanied by a rebuttal piece from David C. Rapoport and commentary from Charles Townsend and Jeffrey Kaplan (Kaplan, 2016a, pp. 228–235; Rapoport, 2016a, pp. 217–224; Townsend, 2016, pp. 225–227).

The second wave focuses on anticolonialist violence. As we have seen, the explosion of newly independent and newly established nations in the runup to the early 1960s is a testament to the global triumph of nationalism. Whereas nationalist aspirations were repressed in Northern Ireland, the Turkish zone in Cyprus, former Yugoslavia, and throughout the Soviet empire, terrorist groups survived and flourished when most second-wave groups were matters of historic debate. Ethnic terror marked the Yugoslavian wars in the 1990s, with Serbia and Croatia leading the way in the application and historic importance of ethnically based terror. Croatia’s Nazi past attracted young National Socialists from Germany and Scandinavia to fight on the Croatian side during the conflict.34 Of far greater current concern is terrorism in the former Soviet Union (FSU), with Chechen terror constituting a global threat.35

Rapoport was certainly aware of the importance of ethnic violence and the emergence of ethnonationalist terrorism. He wrote important articles on the topic, both from historical and contemporary perspectives (Rapoport, 1996, pp. 258–285). Much of this work, however, was not fully reflected in his discussion of the second wave.

There are numerous examples of ethnoterrorism to consider, but it is clear that there are some questions about the efficacy of wave theory to be derived from the topic. Rather than delve into so vast a corpus, it would be useful to rethink the problem in another way. If, as Rapoport suggests, the fourth wave will recede by 2019, will the fifth wave focus on ethnonationalist terror? This possibility will be considered at greater length in the discussion of speculations about the emergence of a fifth wave of modern terrorism.

Leonard Weinberg suggests the possibility that the fourth wave will end as scheduled, while Eubank and Weinberg’s “An End to the Fourth Wave of Terrorism?” is a brief account of a monograph that would appear two years later as the broader An End to Terrorism? (Weinberg, 2012; Weinberg & Eubank, 2010). The article argues that the radical right does not easily fit into any of the four waves (Weinberg & Eubank, 2010, p. 596). Historically, however, religiosity has been deep in the heart of the radical right, be it every stage of the Ku Klux Klan, the Turkish Grey Wolves, Christian Identity, or any of the many varieties of postwar National Socialism.36 Using a statistical approach, the rest of the article makes the cautious argument that:

What can be suggested is that some evidence indicates the Fourth Wave of modern terrorism may be on a downward trajectory … The Egyptian groups Jihad and al-Gamma al-Islamyya, responsible for major terrorist attacks, have declared their abandonment of violence. Next, domestic and international authorities have strengthened their ability to monitor, detect, and prevent terrorist attacks. There is evidence that Al Qaeda and its affiliates have induced disaffection among the very people they want to take up the cause of jihad. Public opinion in the Muslim world may be shifting, a result of terrorists staging indiscriminate or insufficiently discriminating attacks on fellow Muslims.

(Weinberg & Eubank, 2010, p. 600)

The rise of the Islamic State, the resultant flood of refugees into Western Europe, and the numbing series of high-casualty terrorist attacks from 2013 to the present makes this appear to be somewhat overly optimistic. The case is further complicated by the rise of Islamist violence toward Jews in a developing fusion between radical Islam and the radical right. France is at the epicenter of this wave of religious terrorism, but it has impacted many places in Western Europe (Celso, 2020; Easat-Daas, 2020, pp. 197–248; Michael, 2006).

Weinberg and Eubank’s article was clearly written in support of the generational aspect of wave theory, but it only muddles the case. The first phase of the Ku Klux Klan, for example, began during the American Reconstruction period after the Civil War in the 1870s, yet the organization was religious in concept and symbolism, and that religiosity would characterize the group throughout its history. Even its sacred book—ironic, given the current Islamophobic climate—is called The Kloran!37

David C. Rapoport is aware of the difficulty of classifying the radical right and other forms of popular violence in the context of wave theory. In 2008, he published a fascinating article (Rapoport, 2008a) that sweeps through American history and finds a history of mob violence. That article, “Before the Bombs There Were the Mobs: American Experiences with Terror” is a fascinating subtext to wave theory.

Leonard Weinberg would examine the problem of what might follow the fourth wave in The End of Terrorism? (2012). After suggesting and dismissing a number of fifth-wave suspects, he again expresses admirable if possibly misplaced optimism in stating that perhaps terrorism will disappear altogether; or less grandly, that it will return to the margins of political violence from whence it came in the 20th century (Weinberg, 2012, pp. 125–127).

Finally, as we have noted, Terrorism and Political Violence in 2016 published a forum on wave theory in response to Tom Parker and Nick Sitter’s criticism of wave theory, “The Four Horsemen of Terrorism—It’s Not Waves, It’s Strains” (2016). Parker and Sitter begin badly for most terrorism scholars by proposing a disease model, viewing terrorism as an infection whose unfortunate sufferers are caught up in a disease vector or strain. They are ultimately the victims of an infection that can be traced to a putative patient zero, making terrorism a particularly virulent malady much akin to a zombie outbreak aka The Walking Dead. Medicalizing terrorism is a bane for terrorism scholars, but it makes a kind of sense given Parker’s background: “Tom Parker was formerly Policy Director for Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism, and Human Rights at Amnesty International USA, and Adviser on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism to the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF)” (Parker & Sitter, 2016, p. 197). It is far easier to appeal for humane treatment of terrorists in the age of ISIS with a medical appeal than it would be with a national security approach.

That said, Parker and Sitter’s view of terrorism is strikingly pessimistic, and indeed, apocalyptic. The title of the piece reflects an effort throughout the article to use the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as a metaphor for global terrorism. The authors state:

The four strains we have identified all date from the same period, and although they have mostly developed separately since, they do occasionally combine and mutate. These four strains—these four horsemen of terrorism—are Nationalism, Socialism, Religious Extremism, and Social Exclusion. Using Boaz Ganor’s definition of terrorism—“the intentional use of or threat to use violence against civilians or against civilian targets, in order to attain political aims”—as our criteria, we have compared both theories against the historical record to determine which ultimately offers the greater theoretical leverage over recorded events.

(Parker & Sitter, 2016, p. 199)

While the strains and horsemen are not, in essence, significantly different from Rapoport’s waves, the article does make some valid points about the difficulty of classifying some groups in particular waves. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (Ikkwan), for example, was born in 1929 in the second or nationalist wave. Yet the Ikkwan’s members were not primarily nationalist in orientation. Rather, they were religious and from the beginning saw national independence in profoundly ambivalent terms, stating that “political independence was worthless unless accompanied by intellectual, social, and cultural independence” (Mitchell, 1993, p. 230). Further complicating the issue is a factor that is often overlooked, and completely missed by Parker and Sitter; the Brotherhood was a complex political organization that only occasionally indulged in terrorism. Waves or strains, the theory of terrorist violence does not address anything but terrorism and thus needs to focus primarily on that, rather than deviant politics. Rapoport’s wave theory does exactly this. Parker’s “The Four Horsemen” does not. This factor alone would support the utility of Rapoport’s wave theory.

But there is more. As Robert Townsend states:

One doubtful aspect of their proposal might be that the idea of “strains,” especially when accompanied by a search for a “patient zero” for each strain, seems to echo the notion of terrorism as a kind of disease—an idea that seems to belong to an earlier epoch in the study of terrorism. But whether or not one chooses to call them “strains,” chains, or indeed “horsemen,” it is clearly the case that there are a limited number of key objectives that can mobilise activists prepared to use violence. Parker and Sitter’s article is designed to adjust Rapoport’s four categories along with his metaphor. Do their four “horsemen = strains = chains” cover the spectrum of terrorist motivation better than his Four Waves? Essentially, by fusing two of Rapoport’s categories, the Old and New Lefts, they create a vacant seat for their fourth horseman. (Is it unfair to suspect that they stick to four categories to tally with the apocalyptic metaphor?) … As ever, framing is key here, and the “four horsemen” are in essence a re-framing of Rapoport’s categories. Whether one thinks Parker and Sitter’s frame works better than Rapoport’s depends on such issues as whether one places the Ku Klux Klan in the terrorist mainstream as they do, or outside it as Rapoport does. Both make sense. In the end, it may not really be an issue of choosing between waves and strains; the analytical frames of Rapoport and Parker and Sitter possess convincing explanatory and ordering power. The kinetic effect of the wave and the continuity of the strain, both correspond to a useful degree with messy reality. Maybe there is here a case for defying Fowler and deliberately mixing metaphors—producing a wavy strain, perhaps? What we do not need is to add a third metaphor: the horsemen would be better riding off into the sunset.

(Townsend, 2016, pp. 226–227)

The Fifth Wave

The 40-year generational cycle of religious terrorism came and went in 2019 without a significant waning of terrorist violence—indeed, the rise and fall of the Islamic State from 2004 to 2017 and its continued vitality as a terrorist network and the return to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2021 would argue that there is plenty of life left in the wave of religious terrorism (“Timeline: The Rise, Spread, and Fall of the Islamic State,” 2019). That al-Qaeda survived the death of Osama Bin Laden in 2011 is further evidence that religion remains a powerful motivator for terrorist violence.

That said, the quest for a fifth wave goes on. Jeffrey Kaplan and others have suggested that the next wave will be focused on ethnicity, which he and Christopher Costa have dubbed the “New Tribalism” (Kaplan & Costa, 2014). Others, particularly after the dramatic demise of the Trump presidency, agree with Weinberg et al. that the radical right will constitute the next wave. Indeed, David Rapoport himself, in his forthcoming monograph (as of this writing in 2021) weighs in with his belief that the radical right will indeed constitute the next wave of terrorism (Rapoport, forthcoming). A closer look at both theories is thus in order.

Jeffrey Kaplan’s speculations on a possible fifth wave focus almost entirely on ethnic terrorism, which as Alex Schmid points out in his brilliant The Routledge Handbook of Terrorism Research, is not a crowded field (Schmid, 2011, pp. 234–236).38 Kaplan’s fifth-wave monograph followed several journal articles to make the case that the next wave of terrorism would be ethnic in character. All focused primarily on Africa, and all described unique aspects of contemporary ethnic and ethnonational terrorism. Kaplan offers a checklist of the characteristics of fifth-wave ethnoterrorism:

An ideal case of fifth-wave terrorism would have all of the following characteristics:

1.

Radicalize and break away from established terrorist wave

2.

Born of hope expressed at the extremes: some emerge after all hope has been lost, others because the dream has been realized

3.

Physical withdrawal into wilderness areas

4.

Claim to establish some form of a new calendar (“the Year Zero”)

5.

Radical quest for purity—racial, tribal, ecological, etc.

6.

Internal compromise impossible resulting in deadly schisms and constant internal violence

7.

Belief in human perfectibility and chiliastic utopia in this lifetime

8.

Emphasis on creating new men and women makes old models expendable; thus the logic of genocidal violence

9.

Obsession with creating new race places tremendous emphasis on women, who are both subject and object of fifth-wave violence

10.

Children are the vanguard of the fifth wave as they are the least contaminated by the old society (not to mention the old STDs, HIV, and other remnants of the old societies)

11.

Rape is the signature tactic of the fifth wave

12.

Violence is so pervasive in the fifth wave that it loses its message content beyond the simple assertion that “we exist”

13.

The effects of rituals of rape and killing, especially for newly abducted “recruits,” has the liminal effect of binding the killers to the group while closingthe doors for all group members to a return to family, the old society, and previous ways of life

14.

Fifth wave groups are localistic and particularistic, having turned their backs on the international waves from which they emerged

15.

Nonetheless, if needed for survival, foreign allies will be cultivated and fifth wave groups will often live in exile in neighboring states

16.

Authoritarian in nature with charismatic leadership patterns

17.

Chiliastic in nature, deeply religious with eclectic or syncretic religious tropes assembled and interpreted by the leaders in support of a millenarian dream to be realized through a campaign of apocalyptic violence[.]

(Kaplan, 2007, p. 548)

The checklist outlined an ideal case of millennialist ethnic terror, and well describes cases ranging from Serbia in the Balkan wars to the Lord’s Resistance Army and Boko Haram in Africa. Anthony Celso later expanded the theory to include the Middle East, with special emphasis on the Islmic State (also known as Daesh or ISIS) and al-Qaeda (Celso, 2015). Kaplan’s fifth-wave theory has become fashionable among younger scholars, but it fails to be a global model covering both the Western and developing world. The fifth-wave material led, however, to the New Tribalism, an intricate model that, through Colonel Christopher Costa, has made its way into the American national security and military command structure as a route to a deeper understanding of global terrorist movements, as well as into the process of radicalization and mobilization.39

Following the 2021 insurrection in Washington that sought to prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 U.S. Presidential election, the far right became the ubiquitous choice as the source of the fifth wave of global terrorism. At the crest of this scholarly wave will surely be the concluding chapter to David Rapoport’s The History and Future of Terrorism which posits the far right as the next wave (Rapoport, forthcoming).

The chapter, somewhat surprisingly, does not make explicit reference to the key integers of wave theory, but it does include all the requisite ingredients. For Rapoport, the wave is a response in particular to immigration in Western Europe and the United States. Immigration fears have given new life to right-wing populist parties, some of which have explicitly neo-Nazi roots but which, with a change of leadership and tone, have moved increasingly into the mainstream. These parties have gained seats in national and European parliamentary elections, moving anti-immigrant rhetoric from the margins into the mainstream. Some, as in Trump’s unlikely election in 2016 and, beyond the EU, in parties like the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India, have actually formed governments and taken power.

The greatest impact of the populist wave has been in Eastern and Central Europe, but the Western states have been impacted as well, often in direct proportion to the number of immigrants who have entered the country in recent years. The rise of the Sweden Democrats in Sweden and of the AfD (Alternativ für Deutschland) in Germany are prime examples. Parliamentary politics is of course not a form of terrorism, but it has two significant impacts on domestic terrorism. First, terrorist groups grow and thrive with the perception that they are supported, at least tacitly, by the national government or government leaders. Second, the availability of a target population, suitably demonized and poorly protected, offers both a rallying cry and a call to action to terrorist groups. Islamophobia serves this role for Rapoport’s view of the fifth wave.

Legislation too plays a role, as it again demonstrates the mainstream view that there is an enemy within the community that needs to be dealt with. The antihijab legislation adopted by several European states serves this function, and the proposed “antiseparatism” legislation in France goes much further (Bourget, 2019). The wave is also greatly facilitated by foreign support, which has been provided in abundance by Vladimir Putin’s Russia, and briefly and on a far lesser scale by Trump’s America (Butt & Byman, 2020).

In the United States, Trump’s 2016 ban on Muslim immigrants served this function. However, he went much further in 2020 as well as in January 2021. In 2020, sensing the election was being lost (due, as much as to anything, to his flailing and increasingly bizarre handling of the coronavirus pandemic), during a presidential debate with Joe Biden he called for the Proud Boys, a Trumpist-oriented militia group, to “stand by and stand ready.” On January 6, 2021, he called for a march on Washington to stop the U.S. Congress from certifying that Joe Biden had indeed won the election. A portion of the mob attacked the Congress, resulting in over 400 arrests and, it is a safe bet, an array of charges that will be filed against Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., and his attorney Rudy Giuliani (on this bizarre tale, see Kaplan, 2021).

January 6, however, was largely a mob action that terrorist actors like the Proud Boys and the Three Percenters, tried, with some success, to direct. But it was not what might be called the triggering incident that had catalyzed each previous wave. That, Rapoport suggests (though does not really explicitly say) was the 2011 attack in Utøya, Norway, by Anders Behring Breivik (Borchgrevink, 2013).

Breivik’s attack was on a youth group affiliated with a political party and was carried out at a resort island. It was immensely influential among would-be right-wing terrorists and presaged a number of armed attacks around the world. But subsequent attacks by the far right would take on a different character.

Far-right attacks in recent years have focused largely on places of worship, black churches, mosques, and synagogues, or gathering places like public malls. For example, in 2015 Dylann Roof opened fire in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine people (Zapotosky, 2017). In 2018, Robert Gregory Bowers attacked the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, killing 11 (Kissileff & Lidji, 2020). And in 2019, in perhaps the most influential of these attacks, Brenton Tarrant livecast his attack on a New Zealand mosque, in which he killed 51 people. Beyond the scale of the carnage, what made the event a touchstone for the far right was Tarrant’s manifesto, “The Great Replacement,” which has become as ubiquitous in the radical right of today as were David Lane’s 14 words (“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”) a generation ago (Ware, 2020; on Lane’s 14 words, Gardell, 2003). These attacks show no sign of abating, giving some credence to Rapoport’s belief that the far right will eventually prove to be the source of the fifth wave of modern terrorism.

Conclusion

For good reason, David C. Rapoport’s four waves of terrorism theory has become increasingly ubiquitous in the academic study of terrorism. Whereas terrorism in the ancient world was religious in nature and focused on specific locales, the emergence of modern communications technology, from the printed page to the encrypted Internet message, has made terrorism transnational in scope. It is no longer centered on a particular people, a narrow localistic set of religiopolitical circumstances, or even a particular language.

No academic theory is able to capture the full scope of any issue in the social sciences. There remain cases where a terrorist group defies easy classification and where groups outlive their wave and are able to adapt to the changed circumstances of the world around them. These, however, are the exceptions, and they serve to prove the rule. Wave theory’s ability to grow and adapt demonstrates the organic nature of the idea, as well as its academic appeal. It will be a cornerstone in the academic study of terrorism for some time to come.

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Notes

  • 1. For a more in-depth discussion of this article and the body of Rapoport’s published work, see Kaplan (2011, pp. 66–84).

  • 2. See for example, the work of Barkun (1986, 1996, 1997); Kaplan (2002); Juergensmeyer (2003, 2008); and Juergensmeyer et al. (2013).

  • 3. From this perception springs the bloody history of millenarianism and messianism. For Jewish examples, see Sprinzak (1999). For a global approach, see Wessinger (2000). For the best available historical synthesis, see Law (2015).

  • 4. Rapoport (pp. 658–659). He would return to this theme often, noting that the study of terrorism itself was once seen as too marginal for serious study, as evidenced by the first two editions of the Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, which covered terrorism in its 1931 inaugural edition and ignored the topic in the second edition in 1968. See Rapoport (2016, pp. 217–218).

  • 5. The article was based on an eponymous paper presented to the American Political Science Association in 1985.

  • 6. Cf. Sageman (2008, p. 34). On Zasulich, see Bergman (1983). On the importance of the trial, Graaf and Schmid (2016).

  • 7. The term “propaganda of the deed” was coined in the 1870s and adopted by subsequent waves (Schmid, 2011, p. 677).

  • 8. Global anarchism is well documented. However, anarchism in China is much lesser known (Scalapino & Yu, 1961), The Chinese Anarchist Movement. For a wonderful picture of how the Soviet-supported movement blended with the revolutionary milieu in China, see Dirlik (1991) and Terrill (1999). On Japan, see Libertaire Group (Japan) (1979).

  • 9. One of Rapoport’s earliest publications, Rapoport and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (1971), which was originally written for radio, provides an in-depth discussion of assassination and terrorism.

  • 10. Brodie (1973). Innumerable books on the topic have been published since 1973, but none so acute as this work from the first generation of American Defense intellectuals. Highly recommended.

  • 11. Slavic aspirations for statehood and independence were achieved in stages but were retarded by Soviet control during the Cold War. Only with the conclusion of the war in the former Yugoslavia would the process be completed. The literature of pan-Slavism was a vital wellspring from which generations of intellectuals found succor. See Makowski and Hadler (2013).

  • 12. President Wilson is lauded today for his international vision. Often forgotten in this lionization, however, was Wilson’s support of the Ku Klux Klan domestically. See Cooper (2009, p. 272).

  • 13. The IRA survived the 20th century, and its splinter groups fight on. For a good discussion of the integration of the IRA into parliamentary politics, see Benedetta Berti (2013), chapter 5. For a closer view, see Sanders (2011).

  • 14. Rappaport notes that Lehi (Stern Gang), another Jewish terrorist group in mandatory Palestine, continued to proclaim that they were terrorists. Not only did Begin attain the office of Israeli prime minister, but Yitzhak Shamir, who later also held that office, was a Lehi leader. Either Israel has a fondness for electing terrorists, or the terrorist/freedom-fighter analogy has little analytical value. For a more recent discussion, read Gordis (2014).

  • 15. The “active measures” Soviet campaign involved the centralization of government, military, and intelligence resources around a simple message, tirelessly repeated. It is a method that the contemporary United States could profit from emulating in the information age (Shultz & Godson, 1984; cf. Romerstein, 1989).

  • 16. This observation produced a cottage industry of books purporting to prove that terrorism was a communist plot and Moscow was at the center of it all. The most successful, and perhaps least factual of these was Sterling (1981). More nuanced were the papers emerging from a Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy conference: Ra’anan and Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (1986).

  • 17. The West tends to downplay the importance of these countercultural artifacts outside of the North American/Western European sphere. Having spent a good chunk of the 1970s in communist Eastern Europe, I can attest to the power of the music, ideas, and symbols of third-wave personalities. Terrorism was out of the purview of Eastern European youth, given the presence of security forces and the expected presence of informers everywhere, as in Stasi East Germany, as well as the bizarre cults of personality in Romania and Albania. Hungary had the most open scene—1970s-era bands as Omega and Locomotiv GT are still playing today—while Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria were perhaps the most repressive, as exemplified by the unhappy experiences of the Czech band Plastic People of the Universe. Regardless of the country however, the countercultural symbols of the third wave were truly global. Interestingly, Cuba had been distinctly negative about rock music, but in the wake of President Obama’s historic visit to Havana in March 2016, the Rolling Stones announced an outdoor free concert that drew 400,000 fans. On the Stones and Cuba, see Daniel (2016). On the history from the perspective of Russia and Eastern Europe, see Ramet (1994). And on all things Czech, see the widely panned Bolton (2012).

  • 18. The stories of Leila Khaled and the notorious 1970 hijackings are closely intertwined (see Irving, 2012; cf. Sjoberg & Gentry, 2011). Khaled is currently serving in the Palestinian Parliament and continues to fight for the rights of her people. Patty Hearst, the heiress in question in relation to the hijackings, is less fondly remembered. The group that kidnapped her, the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), is better remembered (Payne et al., 1976). Rodopi, the Dutch publisher, provided an invaluable—though now hard-to-find—collection of SLA primary sources in Pearsall (1974). Che is, of course, ubiquitous, but for the curious, see Anderson (2010). Carlos was arrested, tried, and sentenced to life in prison in France, in 2011. Though he was fat, bald, and bloated, his female trial attorney nonetheless fell in love with him. Some terrorists, it seems, just have charisma, while others do not. On Carlos’s life, see Follain (2011). On the issue of charisma and terror, consult Hoffman (2015, pp. 710–733).

  • 19. A great deal of new literature about the Red Army Faction (RAF) and the Baader–Meinhof Gang has appeared in recent years (Melzer, 2015; Passmore, 2011; Smith & Moncourt, 2009; Vague, 1994). Since the arrest of Guzmán, much more has been made known about the secretive Shining Path (Gorriti, 1999; Koppel, 1993; Palmer, 1994; Stern, 1995; and Strong, 1992). On Guzmán, one of the most interesting figures of the time, see Degregori et al. (2012).

  • 20. In 2009, Terrorism and Political Violence, the journal coedited by David Rapoport, produced a special issue edited by John Harrison on the topic: International Aviation and Terrorism: Evolving Threats, Evolving Security. It included no less than two articles on al-Qaeda, which, if they had been heeded, could have done much to prevent 9/11. The book is now available as Harrison (2009). Rapoport also notes the key importance of hijacking to the third wave (Rapoport, 2004, p. 57. For a wonderful recent monograph, see Koerner (2013).

  • 21. For a hagiography, see Irving (2012). On Leila Khaled’s own contemporaneous thoughts, Khaled and Hajjar (1973).

  • 22. The observation of the American losing streak is my own, not David Rapoport’s.

  • 23. The full text of the Charter can be found at The Avalon Project (n.d.). Cf. for broader context, Maddy-Weitzman (2015). And on the role of Arafat, Sharīf (2009).

  • 24. In its quest for allies and states willing to join SEATO (the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization), the United States revised its immigration regulations in 1965. The flowering of new religious movements soon followed. See Ellwood (1994); and Zablocki and Robbins (2001).

  • 25. The best source for the global fundamentalist phenomenon of the 1980s and 1990s remains the five volumes published by the Fundamentalism Project at the University of Chicago under Prof. Martin J. Marty. See Marty et al. (1991, 1993a, 1994, 1995).

  • 26. For the earliest stirrings, see Mitchell (1993); and Calvert (2013); on Arab nationalism, Jankowski (2001); on the Ba’ath, Devlin (1991, pp. 1396–1407).

  • 27. Having had the life-changing privilege of being in Iran during the Revolution’s formative stages, I saw clearly that the Iranians were not blind to its import. The Shah seemed to be so firmly in power, with SAVAK at his back and the ever-generous Americans to the fore, that his position was thought to be utterly secure. One could not sit on a public commode without the Shah’s noble features gazing down at you! The United States was then pursuing its Twin Pillars security policy in the region pairing Saudi Arabia and Iran as the defenders of American interests, which made supplying Iran with the most advanced weapons systems, and importing the army of trainers needed to keep them up and running, of key importance. The success of the Revolution seemed, to even the most secular Iranians, to have been literally heaven-sent. See Ramazani (1979).

  • 28. Bruce Hoffman is most identified with this position (Hoffman, 2006).

  • 29. The best insight into Ayatollah Khomeini is offered by the Imam himself: Khomeini and Algar (2002). More recent secondary sources can be quite illuminating as well. See Coughlin (2009), and Hovsepian-Bearce (2016).

  • 30. From a theoretical perspective, see Kaplan (2010). On the LRA itself, the literature is vast. For varying perspectives, Allen and Vlassenroot (2010), Axe and Hamilton (2013), Cline (2013), and Eichstaedt (2013). On Boko Haram, see Whitlock (2014).

  • 31. From the participants’ point of view, see Segal (1988). From a scholarly view, Barkun (1997); Brar (1993); Goraya (2013); Kaplan (2000a); Pokharel and Beckett (2012); and Sprinzak (1999). There is a massive literature on the Tamil Tigers, including Hashim (2013); Moorcraft (2012); and Weiss (2012).

  • 32. The amount of literature on al-Qaeda and 9/11 is staggering. For a tiny but perhaps representative sampling, Gerges (2011); Gunaratna (2003); Hoffman and Rand Corporation (2003); Holbrook (2014); Juergensmeyer (2008); Laqueur (2004); Ronfeldt (2007); Strick van Linschoten and Kuehn (2012); and Trofimov (2008).

  • 33. For a reprise of this article in context, see Routledge’s “greatest hits” anthology: Kaplan (2016b), part IV, pp. 343–416. The topic of the Islamic State has unleashed a veritable flood of academic literature that also shows no sign of cresting, much less receding. One of the first monographs on the subject is Filiu (2015). Filiu is an accomplished scholar of Islamic millenarianism; see Filiu (2011); McCants (2015); and Stern and Berger (2015).

  • 34. Perica (2002). On NS involvement, see Anderson (1995, pp. 39–46). One of the best available sources on neo-Nazi involvement, in former Yugoslavia, is from the Czech Republic and is available in translation. See Miroslav Mareš (2009).

  • 35. For a general introduction looking at the FSU as a whole, read Yemelianova (2010). The literature of Chechen terrorism is vast, but a useful start would be Pokalova (2015).

  • 36. For a one-size-fits-all approach, Kaplan (2000b); for greater depth, Juergensmeyer (2000).

  • 37. The KKK “Kloran” can be downloaded in its entirety from the Internet Archive.

  • 38. In addition to Kaplan’s work, Schmid notes only Dan Byman’s 1998 article as making a significant contribution, although several other key texts have emerged since the Handbook’s publication (Byman, 1998).

  • 39. Kaplan, Terrorist Groups and the New Tribalism (2010); The Fifth Wave (2007); Terrorism and Political Violence (2007, pp. 545–570); and Terrorism’s Fifth Wave (2008).