New Versus Old Terrorism

Authored by: Alexander Spencer

Routledge Handbook of Critical Terrorism Studies

Print publication date:  April  2016
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415743761
eBook ISBN: 9781315813462
Adobe ISBN: 9781317801627


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Since the early 1990s, a number of prominent scholars in traditional terrorism research have gone to great efforts to argue that “old terrorism” in the form of, for example, the Irish Republican Army (IRA), Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), or the Red Army Faction (RAF), is fundamentally different to the “new terrorism” predominantly perpetrated by radical Islamist groups such as al Qaeda (see Hoffman 1998; Laqueur 1999; Simon and Benjamin 2000; Neumann 2009; Kurtulus 2011). While scholars previously considered the difference between various types of “old terrorists”, such as ethno-nationalist, separatist, as well as right- and left-wing groups, to be of importance, the trend in traditional terrorism research went in the direction of saying that these different old terrorist groups had some general common characteristics which were fundamentally different to the phenomenon of “new terrorism”. In particular, this was said to involve very distinct motivations, behaviour, and organization.

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