Discussion Questions

  • Why, if at all, is it useful to study the history of terrorism?
  • Briefly describe the motives and tactics of the Zealots, the Assassins, and the Thugs. What influence, if any, do you believe these ancient groups had on modern terrorism?
  • Trace the development of the term “terrorism” beginning with the French Revolution. What, if anything, remains of its original connotations today?
  • Describe Rapoport’s four waves of terrorism. Identify what you believe to be the key similarities and differences between the four waves.
  • How does Rapoport characterize the wave phenomenon? Based on those characteristics, make a prediction as to how the long the current (4th wave) will last and explain why.
  • Discuss the influences of each wave on the subsequent waves. Identify those influences that are still the most potent today.
  • Briefly summarize the activities of the three terrorist groups described in this article. Identify the key differences and similarities among these groups.
  • Describe the significance of both the Japanese conquest of Singapore and the Atlantic Charter. Do you see any aspect of these two events mirrored in today’s conflicts? Why or why not?
  • What strategic and tactical lessons can be drawn from the anti-colonial groups active in the 1950s and 1960s? How have these lessons been applied by terrorist groups operating in the later half of the 20th century? With what level of success?