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Does terrorism work?

A new book offers a sober corrective to some recent misconceptions about terrorism, says Islamist expert Malise Ruthven

By Malise Ruthven   December 2009

Sealing the shift: Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams visit Downing Street, 1999

Terrorism: How to Respond By Richard English (OUP, £12.99)

Does terrorism work? For years scholars and military experts have been debating this question with a view to formulating the appropriate responses of governments. The answers are both complex and ambiguous. There are indeed some instances where a presumed terrorist act has produced the result intended by its perpetrators: in October 1983, for example, a suicide truck-bomb launched by Hizbullah killed 241 men and women who were part of a multinational force sent to Beirut in the wake…

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