The Evolution of Modern Terrorism
July 23, 2015 By Dr. James Hess, Faculty Director and Associate Professor of Intelligence Studies at American Military UniversityIn September 1901, President William McKinley was assassinated by Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist terrorist. McKinley’s successor was President Theodore Roosevelt—who called for the end of terrorism everywhere.One hundred years before 9/11, terrorism was present in America. Given this history with terrorism, I will discuss the roots of modern terrorism, the scholarly perspective on the evolution of terrorism, and the importance of understanding the motivations and strategies of terrorists.The Starting Point for TerrorismMost experts in the study of terrorism point to the French Revolution as the starting point for modern terrorism. Not surprisingly, there was a period during the French Revolution known as the Reign of Terror. During the Reign of Terror, tens of thousands were executed for their perceived resistance to the revolution.