The Evolution of Terrorist Groups
Terrorist groups have been in existence for thousands of years. For example, in the first century Jewish Zealots were fighting to keep Roman rule out of Judea. Today, Al Qaeda fights against perceived enemies of Islam. In some ways, modern terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda resemble their ancient ancestors in terms of their motivations and some of their tactics; in other ways, they are considerably different. In this Discussion, you consider characteristics that distinguish modern terrorist groups from those in existence prior to 1990. Then you reflect on how terrorist groups have evolved. Examining the evolution of terrorist groups is a useful tool in determining future terrorist threats, which you will do later on in the course.
To prepare for this Discussion:
Review Chapter 5 in the course text
Introduction to Homeland Security: Understanding Terrorism with an Emergency Management Perspective
and the book excerpt, “Two Thousand Years of Terror.” Reflect on the evolution of terrorism and pay particular attention to the differences between historic terrorist groups and contemporary terrorist groups.
- Review the course media, “The Spectrum of Terrorist Groups.” Focus on the distinct characteristics of the terrorist groups discussed and consider how they developed.
Review Chapter 2 in the course text
Terrorism in Perspective
. Consider the characteristics of historic terrorist groups and their changing philosophies over time.
- Think about the differences in characteristics between contemporary groups and those in existence prior to 1990.
With these thoughts in mind:
Post by Day 4
an analysis of the characteristics that distinguish contemporary terrorist groups from those in existence prior to 1990. Then, explain at least one insight you had or conclusion you drew about the evolution of terrorist groups based on completing this assignment.
Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources.
Mahan, S., & Griset, P. L. (2013).
Terrorism in perspective
(3rd ed.). Los Angeles: Sage.
- Chapter 2, “History of Terrorism”
- Chapter 3, “International Terrorism”
- Chapter 4, “Terrorist Tactics Around the Globe” (pp. 147–154)
- Chapter 5, “Homegrown Terrorism in the United States”
McEntire, D. A. (2019).
Introduction to homeland security: Understanding terrorism with emergency management
(2nd ed.). New York: Wiley.
- Chapter 5, “Uncovering the Dynamic Nature of Terrorism: History of Violence and Change Over Time”
Martin, G. (2006).
Two Thousand Years of Terror
. In G. Martin (Ed.),
Understanding terrorism: Challenges, perspectives, and issues
(2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
U.S. Department of State (n.d.).
Foreign Terrorist Organizations
. Retrieved from
U.S. Department of State. (2004).
Terrorist exclusion list
. Retrieved from