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Analyzes and discussions about terrorism are always after a specific wave of terrorism has occurred at the regional or global level, where ways of confronting terrorism and alerting its causes such as intellectual extremism from religious and national intolerance or social and cultural conditions are discussed. And weak in the other? Is there a time pattern or time waves for that? And if so, is it possible to anticipate the next wave before it occurs and then prepare to face it, just as we prepare to face expected hurricanes and earthquakes? This is what David Rapoport, a professor at the University of California, is trying to do.
Contrary to all the usual methods and approaches, Rapoport put forward a new theory on terrorism in his book “The Four Waves of Modern Terrorism”, which is one of the most influential and widely discussed theories in the field of terrorism studies. This book was after the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001; After that, the author published many studies and books, and a new book entitled: Waves of Global Terrorism: From 1879 to the Present was recently published.
Rapoport explains that terror is a generational feature of human society; He put forward the idea that the modern global terrorist threat comes in waves of time approximately every 40 years, and each wave has its own dynamics, and compares its motivations, tactics, targets, methods of attacks, and the reasons for its decline, then puts it in the context of the history of terrorism in the longer term.. Finally, he formulated a forecast for the next fifth wave, as well. We extract it from the master’s thesis of researcher Erin Walls.
The first wave of terrorism was called the anarchist wave that emerged in the late nineteenth century with the anarchist movement after technological developments that changed communications and transportation, and dynamite enabled individuals or small groups to carry out bombings and cause the largest possible number of losses. This wave emanated from Russia and eventually swept across Europe and the Balkans, assassinating prominent figures in what they called “action propaganda”; In the end, the outbreak of World War I led to a reorientation of the political priorities of Europe, which suppressed the wave of anarchism.-
This was followed by the second wave, which he called the nationalist or “anti-colonial” wave that emerged in the British Empire in the 1920s; Beginning with the political principle after the First World War with the declaration of the principle of self-determination, and its violent development into a legal right after the Second World War.. It resulted in regional conflicts for parties that believed that they had only obtained parts of what they wanted, so terrorist organizations were born that targeted the police and the army. With the end of World War II, the European empires disintegrated, and the justifications for that wave disappeared and diminished.--
The third wave was called “new leftism” and was sparked by the Vietnam War.. During the sixties, terrorist groups focused on using ideas compatible with Marxist socialism to try to overthrow the existing capitalist system, the most famous of which were the Italian Red Brigades, the German Red Army, and French direct action..and it was among the most famous of them. Its methods are hostage-taking and aircraft hijacking. Ultimately, the international community’s steadfast resistance to the terrorists’ demands and its reluctance to negotiate with the kidnappers ended this wave.
Finally, the current wave, which Rapoport called the “religious wave,” began with the fall of the Shah of Iran and the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.. Most of it was formed in the Islamic world, and suicide bombings were the most common means. It will diminish by 2025 if the life cycle of generations remains constant, as Rapoport expects. who also predicts that it will be followed by the emergence of a fifth wave of anti-immigrant or white supremacist terrorism as we observe today from racist attacks; Just as some suggest that there are indicators of potential dangers that appear through polarization policies, the emergence of populism, and the rise of anti-establishment sentiment.. On the other hand, some experts in terrorism studies object to these expectations, pointing out that the extraordinary strength of the religious wave will allow it to remain for a longer period than its predecessors.
The question remains whether the fourth wave, which is currently receding, will fade in 2025, as Rapoport predicted, and a new, fifth wave will emerge? Will the current tensions in societies, including technological, political, economic and ideological factors, either prolong the life of the fourth wave or encourage the emergence of a new fifth wave? How do we know when a wave is going down and a new wave is starting to appear? Rapoport’s theory states that when the strength of a wave can no longer affect the formation of new clusters, the wave will begin to disappear, although a few strong clusters can affect the wave’s life cycle and extend its life.
There are, also, three other different fifth-wave theories put forward by: Jeffrey Kaplan, Jeffrey Simon, and Anthony Celso; But there is no reliable way to predict human behavior, except that when trying to predict the future, the social and political movements that move people cannot be ignored. Terrorism is a dynamic phenomenon, and any theoretical, descriptive or predictive frameworks must have flexibility that allows taking into account unexpected values that arise and deviate from the expected context to reveal unexpected cases that were not taken into account.