The attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon on September 11 confirmed that terrorism had acquired a new face. Terrorists were now engaged in a campaign of suicide and mass murder on a huge scale. Previously it had been possible to believe that there were limits beyond which even terrorists would not go. After the thousands of deaths on September 11, it was evident that at least one group would stop at nothing.
'...terror is often at its bloodiest when used by dictatorial governments against their own citizens.'
Terrorism was not always like this. Its history is as much European as Middle Eastern, and as much secular as religious. Far from being wilfully indiscriminate, it was often pointedly discriminate. Yet there are some common threads that can be traced through the history of terrorism. What happened on September 11 was a sinister new twist in an old story of fascination with political violence.