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Fear and Trembling: Terrorism in Three Religious Traditions

by David C. Rapoport, Department of Political Science, UCLA

As the first comparative study of religious terror groups, the article provides detailed analyses of the different doctrines and methods of the three best known groups: the Thugs, Assassins, and the Zealots-Sicarii. Despite a primitive technology, each developed much more durable and destructive organizations than has any modern secular group.

The differences among the groups reflect the distinguishing characteristics of their respective originating religious communities: Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. The distinctive characteristics of religious terror are discussed, and relationships between religious and secular forms of terror are suggested.

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