Terrorism in the Middle East

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Terrorism in the Middle East

On September 11, 2001, members of the terrorist organization Al Qaeda took control of four American airliners filled with passengers and directed them at targets in the United States. Two of the planes directly hit the World Trade Center towers in New York City, killing more than two thousand people. Both towers collapsed within hours of being struck. The third plane flew into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the American military located outside the nation's capital of Washington, D.C., creating a large hole in the side of the building and killing more than one hundred of its occupants. The fourth plane crashed into the ground in Pennsylvania, apparently after passengers fought with the terrorists who had taken over the plane. All passengers aboard the four planes were killed. These attacks shocked the United States and the international community. For many Americans, the events of September 11 created a new awareness of terrorism and drew attention to the deep hatred that some people in the world feel for the United States.

The majority of the members of the Al Qaeda terrorist group come from the Middle East. They are only among the most recent of individuals and groups to use terrorism to gain attention for their goals. Prior to Al Qaeda's actions, the most well-known, modern-day examples of terrorism were centered around the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. Since the 1970s Palestinian conservative groups had adopted terrorism as a strategy for pressuring Israel to return land taken from Palestinians who had lived there for centuries. Israel had seized the land during the Arab-Israeli War of 1948. During that conflict Israel claimed its independence as a state and forced more than seven hundred thousand Palestinians from their homes.

Even before the 1970s, acts of terrorism were committed by Jews and Palestinians in their long struggle for dominance in the region. Since the late 1980s, terrorism in the Middle East took on a new dimension, as many of the most prominent groups who use terrorist tactics, including Al Qaeda, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah, declared their desire to eliminate Western influences from the Middle East. (Western influences are cultures and political systems from countries such as Britain, France, Germany, Canada, and the United States.) This chapter will try to explain the ways in which terrorism has been used by groups pursuing political goals in the complicated conflicts in the Middle East.

Defining terrorism

Though the acts of the group Al Qaeda on September 11, 2001, were immediately identified as terrorism, it is not always easy for politicians and scholars to agree on exactly what terrorism is. Most agree that when there is open warfare between countries, as there has been during the Arab-Israeli wars of 1948, 1967, and 1973, the actions of soldiers generally are not classified as terrorism. However, certain actions must be examined more closely, as they often seem as if they would fall under some definitions of terrorism. When soldiers harass or murder the civilian inhabitants of a country, the action is sometimes called an atrocity or war crime because such acts are committed by powerful military forces against civilians. When civilians use bombs and rocket launchers to attack soldiers, the act is often called guerrilla warfare or insurgency, indicating that loosely organized groups are fighting against an organized army or government. Neither of these actions is usually defined as terrorism. In conflicts in which direct war has not been declared, however, it can be difficult to distinguish between terrorist acts and other uses of violence, such as those seen in Middle Eastern conflicts.

One of the most commonly used definitions of the term terrorism is provided by the United States Department of State in its annual reports on global terrorism, published since 1983. Its definition holds that terrorism is deliberate, politically motivated violence committed against noncombatant targets (usually civilians and sites such as buildings, but can also be soldiers who are not on duty or are not armed) by groups that do not directly represent the government of a nation, though they may be supported by a government. Using this definition, it is clear that a great deal of the violence that has characterized the enduring conflicts in the Middle East has been terrorist violence.

Terrorist beginnings in Palestine

Contemporary terrorism in the Middle East began early in the twentieth century in the region of Palestine. Beginning in the late nineteenth century Jewish Zionists—people who wanted to create an independent Jewish national homeland in Palestine—began to immigrate, or relocate, to Palestine to escape the persecution they faced in Europe and elsewhere because of their religious practices and stereotypical images of Jews. (Stereotypes are sweeping, usually unfavorable generalizations of a people or place.) Palestine was the site of Jewish kingdoms in ancient times, but had been inhabited by Arabs for more than one thousand years. As increasing numbers of Jews immigrated to Palestine, Jews and Palestinians (Arab inhabitants of Palestine) began to clash over access to land, as well as access to religious holy sites in the city of Jerusalem. When Britain took control of Palestine following World War I (1914–18; war in which Great Britain, France, the United States, and their allies defeated Germany, Austria-Hungary, and their allies), it tried to create a balance of power between Jews and Palestinians, but continued Zionist pressure to increase Jewish immigration, and Palestinian pressure to limit Jewish immigration, put all three groups at odds.

Riots between Jews and Palestinians broke out periodically, and both groups appealed to Britain for help. In 1929 Jews and Arabs clashed over access to the Wailing Wall (also called the Western Wall), the remnants of a Jerusalem temple sacred to both Jews and Muslims. Arab groups attacked Jewish villages, and Jews fought back by attacking Arab settlements. By the time the riots were over, 116 Arabs and 133 Jews were dead. Most observers do not classify these riots as terrorism, since civilians fought against civilians in pursuit of political goals. As power shifted in the region, however, Jewish-Arab violence would increasingly be riddled with terrorist acts.

Jewish terrorism

Zionist organizers in Palestine were determined to reach their political goal—the creation of a Jewish state. Some Zionists used legitimate means to pursue their goal: they lobbied British officials, organized political parties, and prepared to defend themselves. But other Zionists felt that extreme strategies were necessary. These Zionists formed what many consider to be one of the first contemporary terrorist groups in the region: the Irgun Zvai Leumi, or National Military Organization, better known as Irgun. The group was founded in 1931 by those who felt that the mainstream Zionist defense organization, Haganah, was less effective because it did not strike directly against Arab targets.

From 1931 through 1948, Irgun conducted many attacks against Arab civilians and against British officials who wanted to limit Jewish immigration. One of its most famous attacks was the July 22, 1946, bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, which targeted British officials. The head of Irgun at that time was Menachem Begin (1913–1992), who went on to serve as prime minister of the Jewish nation of Israel in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Irgun's most notorious act came during Israel's fight for independence in the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, when Irgun forces attacked the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin and killed as many as 250 Arab civilians, including women and children. Palestinians point to this massacre as key evidence of Israeli brutality and terrorism.

Once Israel became a nation in 1948, these extremist, or radical, forces were absorbed into the Israeli military, called the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Many of their views continued to influence military actions in Israel. Israeli policymakers, including Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion (1886–1973), believed that Israel was surrounded by hostile Arab nations, many of which had vowed to destroy Israel. They felt that they could not overlook even minor attacks on Israeli borders, believing that to do so would give the impression that the country was weak and unstable. They crafted a policy, called "Ben-Gurionism," that declared that any attack on Israel would be met with an overwhelming display of force. This policy created the belief in Israel that the IDF was justified in using extreme force to respond to minor conflicts. As Israel became established as a recognized, stable country in the international community, other nations began to accuse the IDF of using excessive force against its enemies regardless of the situation. From an international standpoint, this was unacceptable.

Israeli military occupation

On June 5, 1967, Israel, afraid of an impending war with neighboring Arab countries, attacked Egypt, Jordan, and Syria in what would become known as the Six-Day War. Israeli forces destroyed Egyptian and Syrian airfields and Israeli ground troops moved across the borders into Arab land, taking over large territories. When a peace was reached on June 10, 1967, Israel found itself in possession of several large tracts of Palestinian territory, called the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights. Since there was debate in the Israeli government with what to do with these territories and the people who lived there, Israeli military forces were sent in to occupy these territories and keep them peaceful. Many of the tactics they used to keep the peace in what came to be known as the Occupied Territories, however, were often considered cruel or extreme. The Israeli army issued curfews, forcing all Palestinians into their homes at defined hours regardless of work or education schedules. They also used roadblocks and travel bans to limit Palestinian travel; even travel to work or to visit family members was often denied. At times, Palestinians who worked in areas outside of the Occupied Territories were not allowed back to their homes once they had left. Any Palestinian resistance to or failure to comply with these restrictions of military occupation were punished by military force. The Israeli military detained and imprisoned thousands of Palestinians in the 1970s and 1980s, and often beat and harassed those Palestinians who did not obey their orders.

In late 1987, the Palestinian people rose up against the Israeli military occupation in a movement called the First Intifada, or uprising (1987–1991). Palestinians in the Occupied Territories rioted and threw rocks at Israeli soldiers. The IDF responded with tanks and rifle fire. Soon, television images that showed stick-and-stone throwing youths facing a powerful military force were broadcast to countries around the world. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the body representing the Palestinian people, stated that the IDF forces had been terrorizing Palestinians in the Occupied Territories since 1967 and that a country such as Israel had no right to conduct terrorist activities against Palestinians. Israel replied by saying that it was ensuring its own security and that the measures taken by the military were not of a terrorist nature since the IDF represented the wishes of the government of Israel, which had determined that such force was necessary to protect Israel. Yet many believed the actions of the IDF against the Palestinians crossed the line of acceptable behavior, and that many of the actions taken by the IDF were indeed terrorism.

Palestinian terrorism

Israel's 1967 conquest of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights in the Six-Day War marked a turning point in the history of the Middle East. In the years after the Six-Day War the Palestinians, who had relied on Arab nations to help them achieve their goal of a Palestinian state by military force, took matters into their own hands. They could not, however, hope to match the strength of the Israeli army. Facing a powerful, well-armed foe, and with political (but not military) support from Arab nations, several Palestinian groups adopted new methods to advance their goals. In the late 1960s small groups of Palestinians attacked Israeli settlements and military targets using basic weaponry and covert, or secret, tactics. By the early 1970s better-organized militant groups had formed, including Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). These groups used their operational bases in neighboring Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria to increase attacks on Israeli villages, using stronger weapons such as handheld rockets. This kind of attack, using a variety of rocket types with varying ranges, occurred on a regular basis throughout the end of the twentieth century and into the early years of the twenty-first century. Israel viewed these attacks as acts of terrorism, but to the Palestinians and their Arab supporters, these were legitimate acts of warfare designed to reclaim territory Israel had taken from the Palestinians in the Arab-Israeli War of 1948 and the Six-Day War.

PFLP hijackings

Some Palestinian militant groups, however, felt that even more dramatic tactics were necessary to fight Israel. In 1968 three members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine took control of an Israeli jetliner and diverted it to Algeria, an African nation sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. By their actions the PFLP hoped to draw attention to the plight of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and in refugee camps in Arab countries, where many Palestinians had fled after being evicted from their homes by various wars with Israel. For forty days the hijackers negotiated with Israeli officials and made their demands known to the international media. Eventually both the hijackers and the hostages went free. While no deaths resulted from this hijacking, the international attention that resulted from the attention-grabbing act encouraged the PFLP and similar groups to continue to stage terrorist acts.

After the 1968 hijacking the PFLP became infamous for its activities that most governments in the world considered to be terrorism. Its members blew up a supermarket in Jerusalem, set off bombs at Israeli embassies in several European cities, and in 1970 blew up a Swissair flight bound for Israel, killing forty-seven people. In September 1970 the PFLP hijacked four jets flying from Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and India, and diverted one to Egypt and three to Jordan. Though no one was killed, the hijackers blew up three of the jets. These terrorist attacks caught the world's attention, but it did not, as the PFLP had hoped, result in greater support for the Palestinians' plight. Many nations reacted by increasing airport security and arresting and detaining potential terrorists who attempted to enter or leave the country. There was also a great outcry from countries that were not directly involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict, but whose citizens had become targets. The government of Jordan, which had allowed the PLO to operate from within its borders, wanted to avoid war with Israel over the PLO's activities, as well as the condemnation of other nations for supporting terrorism. It evicted the PLO, which had become the group most recognized as representing the Palestinians in the 1970s, from its country in a violent purge called Black September.

Black September and the Munich massacre

In 1972 some PLO members split from the organization and created an independent group that operated under the name Black September, a reference to Jordan's purge of the PLO from its borders. The group conducted one of the most publicized terrorist acts in history connected with the Arab-Israeli conflict. On September 5, 1972, members of Black September broke into apartments occupied by members of the Israeli Olympic team who were participating in the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. Eight terrorists killed two Israelis and took nine more hostage; they demanded the release of 234 Palestinians who had been jailed in Israel for reasons Black September considered to be unjust.

Israeli officials had a policy of refusing to negotiate with terrorists, and no prisoners were released. The Israeli government instead turned to the German police for help. The German police determined that, without Israel's release of the 234 Palestinians, there was little they could offer the members of Black September to gain the hostages' release. They developed a rescue plan to enter the apartments and disarm the hostage takers. All of the hostages, however, were killed during the rescue attempt.

The Munich Massacre, as it came to be known, did little to gain sympathy or support for the cause of the Palestinians within the international community. Governments around the world instead increased support for the elimination of groups that used terrorist tactics. Within Israel high-ranking politicians authorized the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad, to use any means necessary to eliminate terrorist actions against Israel. Mossad conducted a number of operations against a wide range of Palestinian groups, including Black September, the PFLP, the PLO, and Fatah. Using a variety of techniques, including letter bombs, car bombs, and sniper attacks, Mossad used terrorist-like actions to kill high-ranking members of these groups over the next several years. This, however, only served to raise the level of terrorist attacks in both Israeli and Palestinian communities.

Abu Nidal: Terrorism's Hired Gun

One of the most hunted and feared terrorists of the 1970s and 1980s was not a member of Black September, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, or Islamic Jihad, but an independent Palestinian named Abu Nidal (1937–2002). Nidal was initially associated with Fatah and with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and worked to retake land from Israel through violent means. When those groups began to take more moderate positions in the late 1970s, however, Nidal left and began to fight Israelis on his own.

To further his cause, Nidal formed a group he called the Abu Nidal Organization. It is difficult to determine how many members the group had or where it received the majority of its funding since Nidal kept the group small and secretive. The Abu Nidal Organization attacked anyone who opposed the goal of reclaiming Palestinian land and did not limit its targets to military and government sites. It attacked Jewish targets, such as a group of Jewish schoolchildren in the early 1980s, as well as Palestinians whom Abu Nidal accused of betraying the Palestinian cause. Innocent bystanders were often also killed during the group's attacks. Nidal himself tried to assassinate PLO chairman Yasser Arafat.

Nidal's most infamous attacks were a 1982 assassination attempt on an Israeli diplomat attending negotiating sessions in London (the assassination attempt influenced Israel to invade Lebanon to destroy Palestinian activist groups there), and attacks on Israel's national airline personnel and passengers at airports in Rome, Italy, and Vienna, Austria, resulting in eighteen deaths. All told, the Abu Nidal Organization was credited with more than one hundred terrorist attacks in twenty countries over twenty-five years, killing three hundred and wounding another six hundred. Nidal's terrorist activities stopped around 1990, and he died in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2002.

The rise of Islamist terrorism

The Palestinian terrorism of the late 1960s and the 1970s was intended to direct the world's attention to the Palestinian goal of ending Israel's military occupation of Palestinian territory and to win support for the creation of an independent Palestinian state. The single greatest target of this first wave of terrorism was Israel and Israeli citizens traveling abroad, as well as supporters of Israel such as members of the United Nations. However, another brand of terrorism, known as Islamist terrorism, emerged in the 1980s and became the dominant form of terrorism in the Middle East in the 1990s and into the twenty-first century.

Islamist terrorism was practiced by groups that wanted to see Islam (the religion practiced by Muslims) become a dominant force in all aspects of the Middle East. These groups wanted each country in the Middle East to have government systems, education, and foreign policies controlled by Islamic holy law, known as Sharia. Islamist terrorists also wanted all Western influences to be removed from the Middle East, including Israel, which they saw as a symbol of Western strength within a mainly Arab (and Islamic) region. Although Israel was the primary target for such terrorists, it was not the only target.

Muslim Brotherhood

The largest force in Islamist terrorism designed to foster the creation of an Islamic state was an Egyptian-based group called the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna (1906–1949). Al-Banna did not like the secular (nonreligious) tendencies in Egyptian government. He wanted Islam to be at the center of Egyptian life, and Sharia to provide the legal structure. The Brotherhood grew in size and strength by forming social institutions such as labor unions, schools, and social aid programs that would improve Egyptian society. (In this way, it was similar to the organizing activities of Zionists in Palestine.) It also established Muslim Brotherhood organizations in other countries with large Muslim populations. Eventually, however, the Muslim Brotherhood grew frustrated with the resistance it faced from those in power. After 1939, the group began to use violence as a way to make its wants known, and it became increasingly active throughout the Middle East.

In 1954 a member of the Muslim Brotherhood tried unsuccessfully to assassinate Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918–1970). Almost thirty years later, in 1981, the Muslim Brotherhood succeeded in assassinating then-Egyptian president Anwar Sadat (1918–1981), who had controversially signed a peace agreement with Israel in 1979. After Sadat's assassination the Muslim Brotherhood became a powerful political force in most Arab nations. Only Syria succeeded in eliminating the Brotherhood's presence within its borders, using the Syrian army to wipe out group members in 1982 after the attempted assassination of Syrian president Hafez Assad (1930–2000). In most countries, however, the Muslim Brotherhood was too strong to be eliminated. The Brotherhood formed political parties in many Middle Eastern nations, but also relied on independent groups to use force to promote its political goals.

Islamic Jihad and Hamas

By the late 1980s, facing pressure from Arab and Western nations, the PLO decided to renounce terrorism and try to negotiate with Israel in order to achieve its political goals. By giving up its direct support for terrorism, the PLO gained international recognition as the political representative of the Palestinians, a crucial step in finding a peaceful means to settle the conflict with Israel. But this step angered many other Palestinians, who believed that destroying Israel was the first step in ridding the Middle East of Western influences. These radicals formed into their own activist groups with the direct support of the Muslim Brotherhood. The two most prominent groups were Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

Islamic Jihad first made itself known in 1983, when a suicide bomber drove a truck containing several hundred pounds of explosives into the U.S. embassy in Lebanon. The act was in protest of U.S. support for Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982 to destroy Palestinian activist groups that were based in that country. The explosion destroyed the front of the building and killed sixty-three people. Islamic Jihad was closely allied with the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, which has been characterized as both a terrorist group and a legitimate political party in Lebanon.

In the early years of the twenty-first century the Islamic Jihad again came to the world's attention for its frequent use of suicide bombers against Israeli targets. According to the U.S. Department of State, Islamic Jihad has conducted fifteen suicide bombings since 2000, killing twenty-five Israelis and wounding more than four hundred. It is especially noted for its use of teenage boys and women as suicide bombers. Statements from the group have indicated that it is unwilling to give up its terrorist activities until Israel is destroyed.

The most powerful Palestinian Islamist group is Hamas (also known as the Islamic Resistance Movement), which was founded in 1978 and was modeled after the Muslim Brotherhood. Over the years Hamas has built itself into an important political group with widespread public support, especially in the Gaza Strip. For most of its existence, its goal was to destroy the state of Israel and create an Islamic state in the Palestinian nation that would emerge after Israel's destruction. Hamas became especially active during the First Intifada and continued its terrorist attacks during the Second or Al Aqsa Intifada (2000–2005).

Amid its countless attacks Hamas was most notorious for placing suicide bombers on buses in Israeli towns, and for its attacks with rocket launchers on Israeli settlements. In 2004 Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin (1937–2004) was assassinated in an Israeli missile attack. Many hoped that Yassin's death, as well as that of longtime PLO and Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat (1929–2004) and the election of a new Palestinian Authority leader, Mahmoud Abbas (1935–), would lessen support for Hamas's violent actions and encourage it to modify its position. (The Palestinian Authority is the governing body of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Territories.)

Al Qaeda and the future of terrorism

The terrorist group Al Qaeda, which is most well known for operations outside of the Middle East, did not originate from the same conflicts that produced the PLO, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad. The founder of Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden (1957–), came from a wealthy family in Saudi Arabia, where the royal family's adherence to Wahhabism (a conservative branch of Islam) is widely considered to make Saudi Arabia one of the most conservative religious states in the Middle East. Bin Laden, however, was deeply critical of his nation's close ties to some nations in the West, including the United States. He wanted Muslim nations to obey the strictest forms of Islamic holy law, and he wanted to rid the Muslim nations of all traces of Western influence, which he considered to be corrupt.

To bin Laden, Israel was a creation of the West that would eventually destroy the culture of Arab countries, and the United States was the leader of the Western world. Not only did bin Laden publicly declare his desire to destroy Israel, he also stated that it was the duty of every Muslim "to kill the Americans and their allies—civilians and military ... in any country in which it is possible to do it." This statement was made in a fatwa (an order given by a religious leader, though bin Laden himself is not a religious leader) issued by bin Laden in 1998. By that time he was already considered one of the most wanted terrorists in the world.

Bin Laden's terrorist activities began in the early 1990s, when, as the leader of Al Qaeda, he ordered the bombing of hotels housing American soldiers in Yemen. Al Qaeda recruited widely in countries with large Muslim populations, and it trained its fighters on secret bases. On February 26, 1993, Al Qaeda agents exploded a powerful bomb in the underground parking garage of New York City's World Trade Center, two buildings considered by many to be the economic center of the city. The explosion killed six people and injured more than one thousand. On June 25, 1996, the group engineered a huge truck bomb that blasted the Khobar military complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing nineteen U.S. soldiers and injuring hundreds. On October 12, 2000, Al Qaeda operatives pulled a small boat alongside the USS Cole, a navy destroyer based in Yemen, and detonated a bomb that ripped a large hole in the ship, killing seventeen and injuring thirty-nine. The group's most dramatic attack occurred on September 11, 2001, when Al Qaeda agents used passenger airliners to destroy the World Trade Center in New York City and damage the Pentagon outside of Washington, D.C.

Al Qaeda's attacks on September 11, 2001, prompted dramatic action by the United States. President George W. Bush (1946–; served 2001–) declared a "war on terror" that began almost immediately after the attacks of September 11. The United States sent troops in 2002 to rid Afghanistan of the Islamist Taliban government, which had provided shelter for Al Qaeda training camps and to Osama bin Laden, who was in the country at the time the United States attacked. The U.S. military targeted bin Laden for capture, but as of mid-2005, he continued to elude his searchers.

Having succeeded in removing the Taliban from Afghanistan and capturing many Al Qaeda members, including some of the group's top leaders, the United States continued to hunt down Al Qaeda members and to confront other threats of terrorism in the world. In early 2003 the United States presented information (later proved faulty) to the United Nations that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was producing weapons of mass destruction, an activity from which it had been banned since the 1990s. Weapons of mass destruction are chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. Iraq was a nation known to support terrorism, and the United States believed that Hussein was a threat. It sought United Nations support to take military action.

Most member states within the United Nations favored military action only as a last resort, but on March 19, 2003, the United States and a small coalition of countries invaded Iraq, removed Hussein's government from power, and established a large number of U.S. and coalition troops in the region. By mid-2005 Iraq had created a new government after democratic elections, but this government was unstable. U.S. troops remained in the country to bolster the new Iraqi government, to combat insurgency, and to help rebuild the nation's weakened infrastructure.

Terrorism continued to be a major issue in the Middle East in the early years of the twenty-first century. Groups that felt they had been prevented from participating in the normal political process or that hoped to achieve their goals outside of that process used terrorist tactics to try to achieve their ends. In Iraq, insurgents (people who revolted against U.S. authority in Iraq) fought against the continued presence of U.S. troops and the inability of the new Iraqi government to rule effectively. In Israel and the Occupied Territories, Palestinian militants of Islamic Jihad and Hamas continued to attack Jewish settlements in the hopes of forcing a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops and the creation of an independent Palestinian nation (promises that were made to them during the 1993 Oslo Accords and carried out only in part through the establishment of the Palestinian Authority). In other Muslim countries, such as Turkey and Egypt, Islamist political parties promoted a greater role for Islam in government laws, but also continued to use violence through radical groups outside of the political process.

Across the world the heads of state of some of the most powerful Western nations dedicated their armies and other considerable resources to fighting a war against terrorism. The battlefield of this war was recognized to be any place in the world, as terrorism is not restricted to a particular region or people. Yet secretive and well-funded organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Al Qaeda, and others continued to operate. Terrorism has rarely been effective in generating political change in the Middle East or elsewhere, but it continues to be a tactic used by many groups to try to force change and achieve their goals.

For More Information


Anderson, Sean, and Stephen Sloan. Historical Dictionary of Terrorism. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2002.

Burke, Jason. Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror. New York and London: I.B. Tauris, 2003.

Cleveland, William L. A History of the Modern Middle East. 3rd ed. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2004.

Currie, Stephen. Terrorists and Terrorist Groups. San Diego, CA: Lucent Books, 2002.

Katz, Samuel M. Jerusalem or Death: Palestinian Terrorism. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner, 2004.

Loehfelm, Bill. Osama bin Laden. Farmington Hills, MI: Lucent Books, 2003.

Melman, Yossi. The Master Terrorist: The True Story of Abu Nidal. New York: Adama Books, 1986.

Randal, Jonathan. Osama: The Making of a Terrorist. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004.

World Book Focus on Terrorism. Chicago: World Book, 2003.


Ripley, Amanda. "Assisted Suicide? In Baghdad, Notorious Extremist Abu Nidal Meets a Violent, Mysterious End—One Worthy of His Life." Time (September 2, 2002): p. 35.

Russell, George. "Master of Mystery and Murder: For the Shadowy Abu Nidal, Terror Is a Way of Life." Time (January 13, 1986): p. 31.

Web Sites

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Beinin, Joel. "Is Terrorism a Useful Term in Understanding the Middle East and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict?" (originally published in Radical History Review no. 85 [Winter 2003]: 12–23), Why War?http://www.why-war.com/files/85.1beinin.pdf (accessed on July 8, 2005).

Burke, Jason. "The Making of Osama bin Laden." Salon.http://dir.salon.com/news/feature/2001/11/01/osama_profile/index.html (accessed July 8, 2005).

"Hunting Bin Laden." PBS Frontline.http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/binladen/ (accessed on July 8, 2005).

Jewish Virtual Library.http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/ (accessed on July 8, 2005).

MEMRI The Middle East Research Institute.http://memri.org/index.html (accessed on July 8, 2005).

MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base.http://www.tkb.org/Home.jsp (accessed on July 8, 2005).

U.S. Department of State. "Country Reports on Terrorism." U.S. Department of State.http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/c14812.htm (accessed on July 8, 2005).

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