Terrorism: Ideology and Strategy


Antony Field

Date of Graduation

Spring 2002


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

Ulrike Schumacher


At the start of the twenty-first century, terrorism has become a far greater threat to Western democracies than most could have imagined. Scarcely a nation remains untouched by the effects of terrorism. The events of 11 September have prompted a reassessment of terrorism and of terrorist groups. Many of the traditional theories of terrorism no longer seem applicable to modern terrorists and terrorist groups. Fresh thinking is required fr this "new age" of terrorism. This thesis will look at how ideological belief and strategic rationale can effect the strategic behavior of a terrorist group. The thesis will mainly concentrate on determining if ideology and strategy each have a different influence on the organization and operations of a terrorist group. Fatah and al-Qaeda are representative of a traditional terrorist group and a so-called "new terrorist" group. The strategic reasoning, ideological beliefs, organizational structure, and terrorist operations of these two groups will be compared and contrasted. The thesis will conclude by outlining how the theoretical difference between strategic and ideological motivation can have a practical effect on the strategic behavior of a terrorist group.

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Antony Field