Title page for ETD etd-04112008-125925

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Bester, Francina
URN etd-04112008-125925
Document Title New trends in contemporary international and transnational terrorism as manifested in the Al-Qaeda movement
Degree MSS
Department Political Sciences
Advisor Name Title
Prof F M Hough Supervisor
  • new terrorism
  • cold war
  • Al-Qaeda
  • radical Islam
  • terrorism
  • international terrorism
  • September 11 attacks
  • traditional terrorism
  • Muslim religion
  • Jihadi ideology
Date 2007-09-05
Availability unrestricted

The objective of this study is to investigate trends in international terrorism since the end of the Cold War, including those identified as “new” terrorism and to determine to what extent these are applicable to the Al-Qaeda movement. To achieve this aim, the study focused on aspects such as the origin and development of new terrorism; the differences and resemblances between traditional and new terrorism; the historical development of international terrorism; the effect of the end of the Cold War on terrorism; and factors impacting on contemporary terrorism.

An analysis of the Al-Qaeda movement was done with respect to its motivation, ideology, transnational character, target selection, operational strategy and tactics, and its desire to use non-conventional weapons. The intention was to identify aspects which may indicate whether the movement serves as a model of the characteristics identified by certain authors as a new terrorism. Case studies of the most important terrorist incidents linked to Al-Qaeda, including the September 11 attacks on the US, are included.

The study demonstrates that the nature of terrorism as an instrument to obtain political objectives has evolved but, at the same time, it has retained most of its essential characteristics. An investigation of the characteristics of traditional and new terrorism confirmed this conclusion, as well as that a differentiation between these types of terrorism is mostly a matter of perspective. Another finding of the study is that terrorist campaigns have rarely obtained their strategic goals but that it nevertheless remains a popular strategy aimed at effecting desired political change.

The study furthermore confirms that terrorist groups do not operate in a vacuum but are influenced by the existing political, socio-economic and cultural environments. As such the end of the Cold War has caused specific changes in the international system which facilitated the rise of a movement like Al-Qaeda and which enabled it to function at a global level. The usefulness of the study lies in the clarification of the concepts of traditional and new terrorism; its indication of the evolving of motivations and strategies applied by terrorist organisations; and in the findings about the current campaign of the Al-Qaeda movement.

Copyright 2007, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Bester, F 2007, New trends in contemporary international and transnational terrorism as manifested in the Al-Qaeda movement, MSS dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-04112008-125925/ >

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