Political Terrorism

May 13, 1970

Report Outline
Concern Over Rising Terrorist Activity
Uses of Terror as Political Weapons
Movement Toward Ideology of Violence
Special Focus

Concern Over Rising Terrorist Activity

Destructive Acts as Omen of Nascent Terrorism

Destructive acts suggesting the birth of a terrorist movement in the United States have moved the Nixon administration to step up its pursuit of violence-prone militants on the left. A series of dynamite explosions in major cities, the discovery of makeshift bomb factories, police-sniping incidents and numerous acts of sabotage committed during campus disorders all have heightened fears that one or more dissident groups may be embarking on a campaign of terror. Suspicion falls mainly on white extremists of the New Left and ultra-militants in the Black Power movement. Terrorist action from the extreme right, however, is by no means absent from the scene.

The situation is worrisome on many counts. Authorities are concerned that a terrorist conspiracy in this country could go beyond the present sporadic acts of property destruction. Steps have already been taken to give greater protection to high-ranking officials against two classic weapons of the political terrorist: assassination and kidnaping. Fear of escalating terrorism was underlined by recent kidnapings of diplomats by guerrillas in Latin America, a practice that has taken the lives of two ambassadors, one American, the other West German.

Another troubling aspect of the situation concerns the federal government's response to the youth protest movement. Many young Americans who object to official policies on Indochina and on various domestic problems believe the Nixon administration is moving from indifference to repression of dissent. History recites many instances of repression leading to clandestine activity in which the seeds of terrorism may sprout. This was the case with the so-called Nihilists of Czarist Russia a century ago, with whom present-day American radical youth are often compared.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
May 14, 2021  Domestic Terrorism
Apr. 09, 2021  Targeted Killings
Apr. 01, 2016  Defeating the Islamic State
Jan. 29, 2016  Unrest in Turkey
Jun. 27, 2014  Assessing the Threat From al Qaeda
Sep. 02, 2011  Remembering 9/11
Sep. 03, 2010  Homegrown Jihadists
Mar. 12, 2010  Prosecuting Terrorists Updated
Nov. 2009  Terrorism and the Internet
Feb. 13, 2009  Homeland Security
Apr. 21, 2006  Port Security
Oct. 14, 2005  Global Jihad
Apr. 02, 2004  Nuclear Proliferation and Terrorism
Feb. 22, 2002  Policing the Borders
Oct. 12, 2001  War on Terrorism
Jul. 21, 1995  Combating Terrorism
Aug. 26, 1988  New Approach to Mideast Terrorism
May 30, 1986  Dealing With Terrorism
Oct. 08, 1982  Prospects for Peace in Northern Ireland
Mar. 27, 1981  Anti-Terrorism: New Priority in Foreign Policy
Dec. 02, 1977  International Terrorism
Jan. 26, 1973  Control of Skyjacking
May 13, 1970  Political Terrorism
Jul. 24, 1952  Red Terrorism in Malaya
Terrorism and Counterterrorism