An Insight of Terrorism in South Asia and Steps Taken by International Organisation to Curb the Menace

73 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2010

Date Written: September 28, 2010


The history of terrorism is as much European as Middle Eastern, and as much secular as religious. More than 2,000 years ago the first known acts of what we call now terrorism were perpetrated by a radical offshoot of Zealots, a Jewish sect active in Judea during the first century AD. The Zealots resisted the Roman Empire’s rule of what is today Israel through a determined campaign primarily involving assassination. Zealot fighters used the sica, a primitive dagger, to attack their enemies in broad daylight, often in crowded places or on feast days; essentially wherever there were people to witness the violence. Thus, like modern terrorist, the Zealots intended their actions to communicate a message to a wider target audience: in this instance, the Roman occupation forces and any Jews who sympathized or collaborated with the invaders. Between 1090 and 1272 an Islamic movement known as the Assassins used similar tactics in their struggle against the Christian Crusaders who had invaded what, is today part of Syria. The Assassins embraced the same notions of self-sacrifice and suicidal martyrdom evident in some Islamic terrorist groups today. Until the French Revolution (1789-1799), religion provided the main justification for the use of terrorism. This situation changed, however, as nationalism, anarchism, Marxism, and other secular political movements emerged during the 1800s to challenge the divine rule by monarchs. Modern terrorism was initially antimonarchical, embraced by rebels and constitutionalists during the last stage of French Revolution and in Russia by the People’s Will Organization. The people will was active between 1878 and 1881. Its revolutionary, antigovernment orientation became the model for future terrorist. The group selected targets that represented the state oppressive instruments of power, and it embraced “propaganda by the deed,” using the terrorist act to instruct. Tsar Alexander II was assassinated by a member of the People’s Will in March 1881. Terrorism continued for many decades to be associated primarily with the assassination of political leaders and the heads of state. This was symbolized by the killing of Austrian Archduke Ferdinand by a 19-year-old Bosnian Serb student, Gavril Principia, in Sarajevo on 28th June 1914. During the 1920s and 1930s, terrorism became associated more with repressive practices employed by dictatorial states than with the violence of non-state groups like the anarchist. The word terrorism was used to describe a wanton violence and intimidation inflicted by the Nazi, fascist, and totalitarian regimes that respectively came to power in Germany, Italy and Soviet Union. The repressive means these governments employed against their citizens involved beatings, unlawful detentions, torture, so-called death squads (often consisting of off-duty or plain-cloths security or police officers), and other forms of intimidation. Such practices by governments against their citizens even continue today.

Suggested Citation

Inam, Syed Tazkir, An Insight of Terrorism in South Asia and Steps Taken by International Organisation to Curb the Menace (September 28, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Syed Tazkir Inam (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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