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Terrorist Groups & Tactics

What makes terrorist groups tick and why do they use the tactics they do? Find terrorist group profiles here, and the tactics they've used throughout time, from kidnapping to suicide bombing.
  1. Osama bin Laden (4)
  2. Propaganda (2)
  3. Tactics and Weapons (11)
  4. Terrorist Leaders (4)
  5. Notorious Terrorists (9)

Al Shabab (Somalia)
Al Shabab is a militant Islamist group in Somalia.

Suicide Terrorism: Definitions, Groups, Theories of Suicide Terrorism
Suicide Terrorism is a growing phenomenon and one that is difficult to understand. This overview provides definitions, profiles of groups who use suicide terror tactics and explorations of widely held theories of what motivates suicide attackers.

Glossary of Weapons and Tactics
What's a dirty bomb? Why is hijacking an effective terrorist tactic? Where does the association between terrorists and AK-47s come from? Find the answers in this glossary of terrorist tactics and weapons.

Terrorist Groups -- A List of Terrorist Groups by Type
Terrorist groups can be categorized according to their goals, from national liberation to socialist revolution, to the creation of a religious state.

Terrorists, Guerrillas, and Revolutionaries Talk about Violence
Terrorists, and violent activists of all stripes, have a lot to say about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it. Everyone represented in this gallery has been called a terrorist by someone, but most have also been called freedom fighters or revolutionaries by others.

Notorious Terrorists Gallery
The history of terrorism is best told through the people who commit it. These notorious terrorists are the backbone of the history of terrorism.

Abu Nidal -- Terrorist Leader
The Palestinian terrorist leader Abu Nidal was known in the 1970s and 1980s as a prolific, if paranoid, terrorist. Learn more about Abu Nidal here.

Abu Sayyaf
Abu Sayyaf Philippines terrorist group blurs the line between ideology and organized crime with their radical Islamist outlook and kidnappings for profit.

Animal Liberation Front (ALF)
The Animal Liberation Front describes itself as helping end animal exploitation. But the law sees the group as 'animal rights extremists' and 'ecoterrorists.'

Al Qaeda
A profile of the terrorist group, Al Qaeda

Al Qaeda Leaders
Who runs Al Qaeda besides Osama bin Laden? These presumed Al Qaeda leaders strategize, plan and command operations for the organization and its affiliates.

Al Qaeda Network - A Guide to the Al Qaeda Network
The Al Qaeda network isn't just one organization, but a loose network of affiliated groups with a similar ideology of global jihad. Learn more, and see which groups are affiliates.

Al Qaeda in Iraq
Al Qaeda in Iraq, also known as "Qaidat Al Jihad in the Land of Two Rivers" was formed in 2004 under the leadership of Abu Musab Al Zarqawi. The group continues activity in Iraq today.

Al Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb
The Al Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb suggests Al Qaeda terrorism extends to North Africa, according to analysts.

Assassins (Hashhashin) -- History of Terrorism in the 12th Century
The history of terrorism often begins with stories of the Assassins. Half Crusader tall tale and half true crime, the stories of the mysterious assassins always fascinate.

Ayman Al Zawahiri (Al Qaeda; Egyptian Islamic Jihad)
Ayman al Zawahiri began his life as a militant Islamist as a fifteen year old in Cairo. An ambitious leader, he later became what many suspect was one of the chief planners of the 9/11 attacks.

Black Panthers
The Black Panthers, a militant black nationalist group of late 1960s remember, are often recalled as a terrorist group now.

Bill Ayers-- Profile of Bill Ayers, the Weatherman (aka Weather Underground)
Bill Ayers led the Weathermen, a 1970s student group, to violent action in the quest to achieve a classless society and protest the Vietnam war.

Brian Keenan (Ireland, Provisonal IRA)
Brian Keenan was among the IRA's leaders. He was an influential strategists at the height of the IRA's bombing activity in the 1980s, but he also played an influential role in the IRA's transition from terrorism to politics in the 1990s.

Carlos the Jackal (PFLP; independent)
The terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal offered the image of terrorist as a glamorous, ruthless criminal able to pull off amazing capers, then elude authorities.

Ergenekon- Guide to Ergekon, Accused of Terrorism in Turkey
Turkey has accused Ergekon, an alleged network of highly placed government, military and others, of terrorist activity and a plot to overthrow the government.

ETA (Basque Homeland and Freedom)
The Basque separatist group ETA committed itself to armed struggle in the late 1960s in its quest for sovereignty for the Basque country. ETA attacks have been responsible for 800 deaths in the intervening years.

Fatah Al Islam
Fatah Al Islam was founded in 2006 in Lebanon, raising new questions and fears about the spread of radical Islamist extremism in the region.

FARC -- A Profile of the Colombia FARC guerrilla group
The Colombian FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces Group) is frequently described as the largest, oldest and best organized armed leftist group in South America. The United STates and Europe have classified it as a terrorist group.

Hamas, the Gaza based Palestinian movement, is both a political party and a terrorist group known for its history of suicide bombings.

Hezbollah (Lebanon)
The summer 2006 fighting between Hezbollah and Israel gave the Lebanese terrorist group global prominence. A profile of Hezbollah explains who they are and what they want.

Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Ireland has fallen from headlines as a terrorism hotspot. But Irish terrorism is actually on the rise. A profile of the Irish Republican Army, and its relationship to Sinn Fein, provides background on the continuing troubles in Northern Ireland.

Pakistan Kashmir based groups include Jaish-e-Mohammed, an organization actively committed to waging a self-declared jihad to liberate Kashmir from what they perceive as an Indian occupation.

Islamic Jihad -- A profile of Palestinian Islamic Jihad
Palestinian Islamic Jihad combines Palestinian nationalism, Islamist ideology, and a belief in armed confrontation with Israel.

Jemaah Islamiyah (JI)
This Jemaah Islamiyah Indonesia profile explains the terrorist group's goals, notable attacks and purported links to Al Qaeda.

Kamikazes (Japan)
Japanese pilots committed suicide attacks against American planes and aircraft in World War II.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (Kuwait, Al Qaeda)
Khaled Sheikh Mohammed brought the idea to fly planes into buildings Al Qaeda head Usama bin Laden in the late 1990s. The idea evolved into the September 11, 2001 attacks. In June 2008, Mohammed went on trial for terrorism as an 'enemy combatant.'

Ku Klux Klan (KKK) - Profile of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK)
The Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist group, was designated a terrorist group in 1871 by Congress. It continues to promote white supremacy through rallies and other expressions today.

Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)
The Kurdistan Worker's Party became a new actor in the war on terror in October 2006, as the United States, Turkey and Iraq vowed to put an end to the PKK's guerrilla activites in northern Iraq. Here, a profile of the Kurdish nationalist group.

Lashkar-e Tayyiba -- Guide to Lashkar-e Tayyiba
Pakistan militants, Lashkar-e Tayyiba, have played a substantial role in fostering Pakistan India conflict over Kashmir. Lashkar-e Tayyiba came under increased scrutiny following attacks in Mumbai in November 2008, which some attributed to the group.

Laskar Jihad (Indonesia)
Laskar Jihad, an Islamic militia in Indonesia, hopes to create a unified Indonesian Islamic state. Despite declarations it has disbanded, some believe it is training in West Papua.

Luis Posada Carriles (anti-Castro Cuban terrorism)
Luis Posada Carriles may be the only former CIA operative wanted for international terrorism. The man behind the bombing of Cubana Flight 455 in 1976 remains untried in American detention.

Mas Selamat Kastari
Mas Selamat Kastari was already a well known figure as the alleged Singapore head of Jemaah Islamiyah, when he received worldwide attention for his escape from Singaporan prison in February 2002.

Menachem Begin (Irgun Zvei Leumi)
Menachem Begin began his career in British Mandate Palestine as the head of the a right-wing Zionist militia, Irgun Zvai Leumi. Some say he should be remembered as a terrorist, while to others, Begin was a heroic player in the founding the state of Israel.

Michael Bray (Army of God)
In 1985 Michael Bray was convicted for destroying eight women's health care clinics and other properties in the Washington DC area. Find out more about the Army of God chaplain, and why he says Christianity justifies acts of terrorism.

Muslim Brotherhood--Oldest International Islamist Organization
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is the oldest and largest Islamist organization in the world. Although it has renounced violence, it is often referred to as the source of inspiration for today's jihadist groups.

Narodnaya Volya (The People's Will, Russia)
The history of terrorism would not be complete without a history of Narodnaya Volya, the late 19th century Russian organization that made terrorism a centerpiece of its revolutionary project to upend Tsarist Russia.

Osama bin Laden (Al Qaeda)
This profile of Osama bin Laden traces his life from childhood and schooling to his association with the Afghan Mujahideen, to the declarations of jihad that have made him the world's most notorious terrorist.

The Connection between Osama bin Laden and Jihad
The term jihadi is closely linked to that of Osama bin Laden. Here's the historical connection between the Al Qaeda leader and jihad.

Osama bin Laden in Historical Context
Osama bin Laden's belief in jihad was shaped by a number of 20th century events and movements. This article explains how these affected bin Laden's life and activities, from the 1960s through 1996, when he issues his first fatwa.

Patty Hearst (SLA)
Americans were riveted by the Patty Hearst kidnapping in 1974, and then shocked when the heiress joined her terrorist captors, the Symbionese Liberation Army.

Real IRA -- A Guide to the Real IRA (Real Irish Republican Army)
The Real IRA was formed in 1997, when members of the Provisional IRA objected to its decision to pursue a non-violent solution to the the Northern Ireland issue. A decade later, MI5 still considers the Real IRA a serious threat.

Red Army Faction (also, Baader-Meinhof Group, Germany)
The left wing terrorist Red Army Faction, often referred to by the names of two of its founders, Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof, committed terrorist acts in the name of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist revolutionary ideals.

Sicarii: First Century Terrorists
In the first century after the birth of Jesus Christ, Jewish Sicarii used terrorist tactics--from assassination to kidnapping--to bring Roman rule of Judea to an end.

Taliban Back on the Web?
In the fall of 2006, former Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar issued a threat of imminent attacks in Afghanistan and Europe via a Taliban website. Or did he?

Tamil Tigers (LIberation Tigers sof Tamil Eelam)
The Tamil Tigers were among the first groups to use suicide attacks on a wide scale, inspiring other groups such as Hamas. Here, a profile of the Sri Lankan separatist rebels.

Ulrike Meinhof -- Profile of Ulrike Meinhof, Red Army Faction founder
Ulrike Meinhof's dramatic transformation from a celebrated journalist who wrote about leftist causes to a violent advocate on behalf of class revolution has made her one of Europe's most notorious twentieth century figures. She was one of the founding members of the German Red Army Faction.

Up the IRS, Inc.
When Dean Harvey Hicks was denied a tax deduction on his 1981 income tax return, he turned to bombing IRS service centers near his hometown, Fresno, California, under the name Up the IRS, Inc.

Weatherman (aka Weather Underground)
Weatherman were committed to the violent overthrow of the U.S. government in the 1970s.

Names and Activities of Active Foreign Terrorist Groups
Brief profiles of State Department terrorist groups, goals, activities from the Center for Defense Information

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