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The Debate over "New" vs. "Old" Terrorism


Since 9/11, many policy makers, journalists, consultants, and scholars have become convinced that the world confronts a “new” terrorism unlike the terrorism of the past. Thus the government and policy elites have been blamed for not recognizing the danger of the “new” terrorism in the 1990s and therefore failing to prevent the disaster of 9/11. Knowledge of the “old” or traditional terrorism is sometimes considered irrelevant at best, and obsolete and anachronistic, even harmful, at worst. Some of those who argue for the appearance of a “new” terrorism think that the old paradigms should be discarded entirely and replaced with a new understanding. Other analysts, primarily from the academic community, have challenged this interpretation. This paper examines the logical and empirical foundations of the “new terrorism” argument and concludes that it is weak on both grounds.

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Crenshaw, Martha. 2007. "The Debate over 'New' vs. 'Old' Terrorism." Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Chicago. 

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