[FOUNTAIN]Terror: Medieval Times to TodayThe word "terror" originated from a Latin word, meaning great fear. But today the word terror normally means the illegal use of violence on people and property to threaten governments and citizens over political and social goals. This is how the word is defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The word terrorism was coined during the political oppression of the French Revolution, called "La Terreur." Terrorism by pro-revolutionists was "Red Terror," and revengeful terrorism by anti-revolutionists was termed "White Terror."
In the encyclopedia published by Academie Francaise in 1798, terrorism was defined as the systemic use of violence. The political oppression itself after the revolution was also called terrorism.
In the 1800s, anarchists committed acts of terror to achieve their political goals. Russian anarchists, like Mikhail Bakunin and Sergei Nechaev, defended terrorism, saying violence was the only means available to change the political system.
Of course, terrorism existed even before the French Revolution. In the middle ages, Islamic extremists relied on terrorism to fight the crusaders, who had superior military strength. The secret units that assassinated the leaders of the crusaders drank a Hashish potion before executing their targets. The word assassin was thus derived from the word hashish. As seen in history, Islamic fundamentalism is closely connected to terrorism. The Saudi-born Osama bin Laden is considered a primary suspect in the huge tragedy at the World Trade Center Towers and the Pentagon on Tuesday. Mr. Laden himself denied the charge, but it seems obvious that Islamic fundamentalists committed such crimes. The real identity of the "potential enemy," which the United States has continuously emphasized in promoting the Missile Defense plan, has now become clear. It is not Russia or China, as the United States has insisted, but the Islamic fundamentalists armed with terrorism.
Samuel P. Huntington, a Harvard professor who visited Seoul two years ago, warns in his book, "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order," that competition between civilizations or cultures would be the biggest threat to international politics, after the Cold War. Mr. Huntington is concerned about a clash between Christian civilization and Islamic civilization. Many scholars criticized this as white supremacy, but with the World Trade Center disaster, it is frightening to see the proposition become reality.
However, such cowardly terrorism is always punished in the name of humanity. I pray for the victims' souls who perished in the disaster.
The writer is Berlin correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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