This is partly because of the changing historical elements of terrorism, especially the exercise of terror by perpetrators within a certain political and social setting. This essay identifies the significant historical elements of terrorism and how they have evolved since the attacks of 2001.
The 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center revealed that the historical elements of terrorism had drastically transformed. Nowadays, terrorists are involved in a spate of mass murder and suicide across the globe. In the past it had been reasonable to think that there were boundaries that terrorists would not dare go beyond. After the large number of casualties on the 11th of September 2001, it was clear that there are terrorist groups that would dare break boundaries. Terrorism in the past was different from that after 9/11. The history of terrorism is not only Middle Eastern but also European, and not only religious but also nonreligious. However, there are several common elements that can be identified in the evolution of the elements of terrorism. The 9/11 attacks were a threatening new turn in an ancient tale of obsession with political violence and terror.
The term ‘terrorism’ became part of the European vocabulary after the 1789 French Revolution. In the initial revolutionary period, it was mainly through violence and terror that the French governments attempted to force their revolutionary new order onto the hesitant masses. Consequently, the original definition of ‘terrorism’ was ‘rule of terror’ (Coaty 9). Such definition works as a powerful message that terror is usually at its most violent when exercised by dictatorial regimes against their own citizenry. However, in the 19th century, terrorism went through a historic evolution, becoming linked, as it remains until now, to nongovernmental organizations.