Notes From the Margins…
Posts for Terrorism Category
Writing and Terror: Peter Herman’s Unspeakable

Writing and Terror: Peter Herman’s Unspeakable

  • August 08, 2019
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From the so-called ‘anarchist terror’ of the late 19th century to al Qaeda and Islamic State, the history of terrorism is filled with episodes in which governments have overreacted to  terrorist violence.  Emergency antiterrorist legislation, military tribunals, wars and quasi-militarisation, extra-legal procedures, torture, administrative detention, national security hysteria – all these responses have been repeated throughout the relatively short period in which terrorism was first identified as a unique category of violence in the second half of the nineteenth century.

This uniqueness – and the tendency towards overreaction that has accompanied it – has often...

From Christchurch to the White House

From Christchurch to the White House

  • March 15, 2019
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The disgusting murders of 49 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch  are further evidence of a growing threat of far-right extremism that has rarely received the same level of media and political attention as its jihadist counterpart.

It’s become a cliché in far-right and conservative circles to claim that ‘Islam is not a race’, that Islamophobia is a...

Shamima Begum and the Quality of Mercy

Shamima Begum and the Quality of Mercy

  • February 17, 2019
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What is mercy?   The Oxford Dictionary defines it as ‘ compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.’  This definition highlights the essential component of mercy, which is forbearance and leniency from a position of power and authority.

This concept is well-established in various religious traditions.  The Quran declares:...

Peter Kosminsky’s Islamic State

Peter Kosminsky’s Islamic State

  • August 22, 2017
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The violence that we call terrorism has always been surrounded by a curious paradox. On the one hand virtually every terrorist emergency in history has declared terrorism to be a unique threat to society,  yet the societies under the threat of terrorist violence are generally not encouraged and are even actively discouraged from thinking about...

History, Peace, and Beauty: On Barcelona’s Ramblas

History, Peace, and Beauty: On Barcelona’s Ramblas

  • August 18, 2017
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Of all the massacres perpetrated in Europe in the name of Islamic State, yesterday’s slaughter in the Ramblas has a particular personal resonance for me. I spent nine years in Barcelona, living near the Ramblas for part of that time. Even when I moved further away from downtown Barcelona, hardly a week went by in...

The Terror Election

The Terror Election

  • June 04, 2017
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From a strategic point of view terrorism has a dismal predictability.  Whatever its context or motivation its central objectives are usually the same: a) to provoke a militarily more powerful opponent into an overreaction that will strain its opponent’s resources and draw it into a debilitating confrontation from which the terrorist hopes to gain in...

About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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