Bruce Hoffman's Inside Terrorism has remained a seminal work for understanding the historical evolution of terrorism and the terrorist mindset. In this revised edition of the classic text, Hoffman analyzes the new adversaries, motivations, and tactics of global terrorism that have emerged in recent years, focusing specifically on how al Qaeda has changed since 9/11; the reasons behind its resiliency, resonance, and longevity; and its successful use of the Internet and videotapes to build public support and gain new recruits. Hoffman broadens the discussion by evaluating the potential repercussions of the Iraqi insurgency, the use of suicide bombers, terrorist exploitation of new communications media, and the likelihood of a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear terrorist strike.
Closer to home, Hoffman reconsiders the Timothy McVeigh case and the threats posed by American Christian white supremacists and abortion opponents as well as those posed by militant environmentalists and animal rights activists. He argues that the attacks on the World Trade Center fundamentally transformed the West's view of the terrorist threat. More relevant and necessary than ever, Inside Terrorism continues to be the definitive work on the history and future of global terrorism.
Bruce Hoffman, the director of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, has written a clear summary of some of the major historical trends in international terrorism. He makes careful distinctions between the motivations that drive political (or ethno-nationalist) terrorism and religious terrorism, and he also shows why the rise of religious terrorism, coupled with the increased availability of weapons of mass destruction, may foretell an era of even greater violence. In the past, Hoffman argues, the main goal of the terrorist was not to kill, but to attract media attention to his cause in the hope of initiating reform. "For the religious terrorist," however, "violence is first and foremost a sacramental act or divine duty executed in direct response to some theological demand or imperative ... religious terrorists see themselves not as components of a system worth preserving but as 'outsiders,' seeking fundamental changes in the existing order." Hoffman does not "choose sides" in this framework, pointing to the bombings of the World Trade Center and Oklahoma City and to the sarin nerve gas attacks in Tokyo in order to demonstrate that fundamentalists of any religious denomination are capable of extreme acts of terrorism.