Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Roxane Cohen Silver & Richard Matthew
Terrorism is a fluid and adaptable form of political behavior that defies precise definition. It typically involves the illegal use or threatened use of violence against individuals unable or unprepared to defend themselves in order to elicit fear and advance a political, ideological, or religious cause. Attacks can range from isolated events perpetrated by “home-grown” terrorists such as Theodore Kaczynski (the Unabomber, who engaged in nearly 2 decades of bombings from the late 1970s to early 1990s) and Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols (who bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995) to synchronized mass casualty events such as the September 11,2001, attacks (9/11) or the Madrid train bombing in 2004. Weapons of terror can include chemical or biological agents (i.e., bioterrorism), radiological dispersal devices (RDDs), and nuclear devices (the so-called weapons of mass destruction, or WMDs). Sometimes terrorism can involve self-sacrifice (i.e., suicide terrorism) and ...