the early 20th century, Wahabism made a comeback. When the Saudi dynasty
gained control of what is now Saudi Arabia, the Wahabis wanted Saudi
Arabia to become an example of Muslim purity. By the 1970's Islamic
revivalism had begun to threaten nationalism in the Middle East.
Dr. Zilfi next addressed the issue of how extremist groups in the Middle
East have gained so much strength. She stated that their strength comes
from piggybacking their political goals onto pre-existing conflicts
and grievances. They redefine those grievances for a much greater audience.
For example, the PLO wants a Palestinian national state. Extremists
such as Osama Bin Laden redefine this conflict as a religious struggle
- Israel is occupying a religious space. These claims are aided by media
images of Palestinian casualties, including children. The strength of
Bin Laden and others thus comes from their ability to find resonance
in the larger Arab population.
Dr. Zilfi concluded her section of the discussion by stating that what
is important in understanding the advent of terrorist groups in the
Middle East today is that religious goals alone do not create strong
terrorist groups - contingent politics are also critical.
Dr. David-Fox spoke next about terrorism in late 19th and early 20th
century Russia. He began by agreeing with historian Walter Lacquer's
statement that one cannot comprehensively define terrorism because the
meaning changes in different contexts. He argued that modern terrorism
began in the second half of the 19th century in Russia with a group
called The People's Will who conducted numerous assassinations, including