Goals and Outputs of this course: Terrorism and Political Violence in Europe


This course provides a comprehensive understanding of terrorism as a phenomenon, including its root causes, motivations, and dynamics. It should investigate various definitions and properties, allowing students to analyze the subject matter critically. Understanding the intellectual origins of terrorism is vital. The course explores different ideological frameworks, such as nationalism, separatism, religious extremism, or political ideologies, and their influence on the perpetration of terrorist acts in Europe. The course begins with a thorough definition of radicalization and its various manifestations. Students should grasp that radicalization is a complex process involving adopting extremist beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. Students should examine the multiple factors that contribute to the process of radicalization. Examples of such variables are political grievances, socioeconomic marginalization, ideological influences, personal experiences, online propaganda, social networks, and identity concerns. Students are encouraged to assess and critically evaluate the significance of each component in the course.


The course also covers European counterterrorism measures, such as legal frameworks, intelligence gathering, law enforcement, and international collaboration. Students should critically evaluate the effectiveness of these strategies and investigate any ethical or civil liberties issues that may arise. Finally, the course seeks to provide students with a complete grasp of terrorism and political violence in Europe, allowing them to examine the subject critically, participate in informed conversations, and potentially engage in research or policy work in this sector.


Subheadings of the course




-Financing Terrorism

-Countering Terrorism

-Money Laundering


Terrorism and Political Violence in Europe


Terrorism is a developing global phenomenon that severely challenges societies and nations worldwide. Terrorist attacks have grown in frequency, complexity, and worldwide reach during the last few decades, hitting countries of all sizes and areas. Terrorism has far-reaching social, economic, and political implications beyond the immediate loss of life and physical harm. Terrorism has far-reaching consequences for societies. It causes anxiety, disturbs daily living, and erodes social cohesion. Terrorist attacks frequently cause psychological stress, anxiety, and a sense of vulnerability in communities. Fear of future assaults can breed suspicion and mistrust among citizens, collapsing social harmony.


Terrorism also poses significant economic consequences. Attacks on vital infrastructure, tourism, and business centers can cause widespread disruption and financial losses. Investments may be deterred, leading to economic decline and unemployment. In addition, the cost of enhanced security measures and counterterrorism efforts can burden national budgets.


The rise of transnational terrorist organizations, such as Al-Qaeda, DAESH (aka ISIS -Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), and their affiliates, has fueled the global spread of terrorism. These groups employ a range of tactics, including bombings, armed attacks, kidnappings, and suicide bombings, targeting both civilians and government institutions. The evolving nature of terrorism presents a multifaceted challenge to societies and governments worldwide.Politically, terrorism challenges the stability and legitimacy of governments.

Attacks may undermine public confidence in the ability of authorities to provide security, leading to demands for stricter measures that can infringe on civil liberties. Terrorist groups often exploit grievances, religious or ethnic tensions, and political instability to further their agendas, exacerbating existing conflicts and potentially leading to broader regional instability.Moreover, the impact of terrorism is not limited to individual countries. The interconnectedness of the modern world means that terrorist acts in one


region can have ripple effects globally. Attacks on transportation systems, international commerce, or significant cities can disrupt global trade, travel, and the flow of information. This underscores the need for international cooperation to combat terrorism effectively.

The increasing threat of terrorism has prompted nations to adopt comprehensive counterterrorism strategies, strengthen security measures, and enhance intelligence sharing domestically and internationally. Cooperation between countries is crucial in addressing the transnational nature of terrorism, as terrorist networks often transcend national boundaries and exploit safe havens or weak governance in certain regions.


Terrorism threatens these fundamental rights. There is hardly a country in Europe that has not been directly or indirectly affected by terrorism. Terrorist actions can undermine the rule of law and the fundamental principles on which the constitutional traditions and legislation of Member States’ democracies are based. They are committed against one or more countries, their institutions, or people to intimidate them and seriously alter or destroy the political, economic, or social structures of those countries.


Terrorism constitutes one of the most severe threats to democracy, the free exercise of human rights, and economic and social development.

Terrorism can never be justified, whatever the target and the place where the offense is prepared or committed. This has never been clearer than in the terrible aftermath of the unprecedented, tragic, and murderous terrorist attacks against the people of the United States of America on 11 September 2001. These cowardly attacks highlight the need for an effective response to terrorism at the level of the European Union.


The European Union has set itself an objective in the Treaty of European Union to provide citizens with high safety within an Area of Freedom, Security, and Justice. This proposal, combined with the proposal to replace extradition within the European Union with a European Arrest Warrant, is a critical element of the Commission’s contribution to achieving this objective in the fight against terrorism.


It is vitally essential that the Member States of the European Union have effective criminal laws in place to tackle terrorism and that measures are taken to enhance international cooperation against terrorism. This proposal does not relate only to acts of terrorism directed at Member States. It also applies to conduct on the territory of the European Union, which can contribute to acts of terrorism in third countries. This reflects the Commission’s commitment to tackle terrorism at a global and European Union level. Indeed, the Commission is working closely with Member States and third countries to combat international terrorism within the framework of international organizations and existing international cooperation mechanisms, particularly the United Nations and the G8, to ensure the full implementation of all relevant international instruments.


The European Union and its Member States are founded on respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, the guarantee of the dignity of the human being, and the protection of these rights, both as regards individuals and institutions. Furthermore, the right to life, the right to physical integrity, the right to liberty and security, and the right to freedom of thought, expression, and information are included in Articles 2, 3, 6, 10, and 11 of the Charter of Fundamentals Right of the European Union.


Terrorism takes different forms, ranging from murder through bodily harm and threats to people’s lives, kidnappings, destruction of property, and damage to public or private facilities. Terrorism causes suffering to the victims and those around them. It destroys their hopes, expectations, and the material basis of their livelihood, injuring them, inflicting psychological torture, and causing death.

Terrorism has a long history behind it, but what makes modern-day terrorism particularly dangerous is that, unlike terrorist acts in the past, the actual or potential impact of armed attacks is increasingly devastating and lethal. This can result from the growing sophistication and ruthless ambition of the terrorists, as demonstrated most recently by the horrific events in the United States on 11 September.

Alternatively, it can result from technological developments (and easy access to information about them), whether in the traditional arms and


explosives areas or the even more terrifying fields of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. In addition, new forms of terrorism are emerging. There have been several recent occasions where tensions in international relations have led to a spate of attacks against information systems. More severe attacks could lead to serious damage and, in some cases, to loss of life.


Terrorism is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that defies a universally accepted definition. However, it generally refers to the deliberate use or threat of violence, often targeting civilians, to create fear, spread terror, and advance ideological, religious, or political objectives. Acts of terrorism are typically carried out by non-state actors, such as extremist groups or individuals, but can also involve state-sponsored terrorism.

Various Forms of Terrorism:

  1. Ideological Terrorism: Ideological terrorism is driven by political or ideological motives. Extremist groups and individuals engage in violence to promote their ideology or pursue social or political Examples include left-wing or right-wing extremist groups that use violence to advance their political agenda or revolutionary movements seeking to overthrow established systems.
  2. Religious Terrorism: Religious terrorism involves acts of violence committed in the name of religious beliefs or in pursuing a religious agenda. Perpetrators often interpret religious doctrines distortedly, justifying their actions as religiously Notable examples include jihadist groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS, who employ violence to establish or defend a perceived Islamic state.
  3. Ethnonationalism or Separatist Terrorism: Ethnonationalism or separatist terrorism is rooted in grievances based on ethnic, national, or regional identities. These groups seek autonomy, independence, or territorial control for a particular ethnic or national group. Their actions often involve bombings, assassinations, or kidnappings to destabilize governments and assert their political Examples include the Basque


Homeland and Liberty (ETA) in Spain and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Northern Ireland.

  1. State-Sponsored Terrorism: State-sponsored terrorism refers to acts of terrorism perpetrated or supported by a nation-state. Governments may use terrorism to further their political objectives, suppress dissident groups, or wage covert warfare against their State-sponsored terrorism can provide funding, training, and safe havens to non-state actors or carry out direct attacks through intelligence agencies or military units.
  2. Cyberterrorism: With the increasing reliance on technology and interconnected systems, cyberterrorism has emerged as a significant It involves using digital attacks, such as hacking or disruption of computer networks, to cause damage, create chaos, and spread fear. Cyberterrorist activities can target critical infrastructure, financial systems, or sensitive information, with potentially wide-ranging consequences.


It is crucial to highlight that these types of terrorism are not mutually exclusive and that there may be overlaps or combinations of motives and techniques among various terrorist groups. Terrorism is also a complex and developing phenomenon, with new forms or variations emerging over time.

Understanding the various types of terrorism is critical for establishing successful counterstrategies. It necessitates holistic policies addressing underlying concerns, promoting social participation, and strengthening security measures while preserving human rights and the rule of law. International collaboration is essential for sharing intelligence, coordinating actions, and countering terrorism in all its forms.


Suggested Readings:

  • Caruso, Raul, and Friedrich Schneider. “The socio-economic determinants of terrorism and political violence in Western Europe (1994–2007).” European Journal of Political Economy 27 (2011): S37-S49.
  • Dafinger, Johannes, and Moritz Florin, eds. A Transnational History of Right-wing Terrorism: Political Violence and the Far Right in Eastern and Western Europe Since 1900. Routledge, 2022.
  • Delpech, Therese. International terrorism and Europe. Institute for Security Studies, European Union, 2002.
  • Nesser, Petter. Islamist terrorism in Europe. Oxford University Press, 2018.


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Dr. Salih Bıçakcı

Dr. Salih Bıçakcı is an Associate Professor of International Relations at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, Turkey, and a researcher at the university’s Center for Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection. His research focuses on cybersecurity, critical infrastructure protection, hybrid security, data privacy, and terrorism. Dr. Bıçakcı is an advisor to the NATO Centre of Excellence for the Defence Against Terrorism (COE-DAT), and frequently lectures at COE-DAT as well as at the NATO Centres of Excellence for Command and Control, and for Maritime Security. Salih teaches courses on Cyber Security and Middle Eastern security at the Turkish War College’s Armed Forces Academy. Dr. Bıçakcı has prepared Cyber Security reports for nuclear power plants in Turkey and led simulation exercises and training for several organizations’ executive management. He is also leading She4Cyber Project to increase the visibility of women in the sector.

“The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”