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date: 14 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Some terrorists appear to focus their ire around a particular issue or small set of issues and are often characterized using the label “single-issue terrorist.” This chapter discusses the concept of single-issue terrorism as it appears in the broader terrorism literature and formulates a working definition based on this scholarship. It then critically assesses whether single-issue groups as commonly conceived of actually exist and, even if they do, whether they can persist or merely represent an ephemeral stage in the development of a terrorist group. More fundamentally, the chapter examines the very utility of the term and suggests that our understanding of terrorism might be better served by abandoning the use of the label to describe a separate type of terrorism and instead characterizing the phenomenon as an attribute of a broader ideology. Throughout, these ideas are illustrated by reference to three ostensibly single-issue terrorist organizations.

Keywords: single-issue terrorism, special-interest terrorism, ideology, Army of God, ELF, PAGAD, label, definition, typology, cross-contamination, drift

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