Terrorist activity has come to the forefront of political thought in recent years, especially since the attacks on the World Trade Center and Washington D.C on September 11, 2001. President George W. Bush declared a “war on terror” and governments all around the world have taken steps to enhance national security in efforts to prevent terrorist activity. The steps taken are not unwarranted, and in some cases have been successful. The nature of terrorism modernizes just as the world around it does, and as the global community has benefited from globalization and modernization, so have terrorist organizations. This study analyzes the history of modern terrorism through the comparison of four separate waves: the Anarchist Wave, the Nationalist-Separatist Wave, the Revolutionary Wave, and the Religious Wave. This paper compares each wave’s roots, desired outcomes and goals, strategies and modus operandi, destructive impact, and outcomes. The study identifies a move away from hierarchal organization, modernization in communications and weapon choice, and a significant rise in the lethality of terrorist activity in recent years. Furthermore, there is a connection between globalization and modernization and the increase in terrorist activity and lethality. Economic interconnection has provided opportunities through which terrorists can act by providing them with a shield of anonymity, while cultural interconnection has created situations through which anger and frustration can fester to provide motives and justifications for terrorist activity. Meanwhile, modernization has created new technologies that provide more effective means through which terrorists can act on their motives. Although the Religious Wave has been nicknamed the "jihadist wave" to reflect the prevalence of Islamic groups, this study analyzes social, economic, and historic impacts that have led to this wave rather than assume that Islam is inherently violent.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Turcu, Anca


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Sciences


Political Science

Degree Program

Political Science; International Relations and Comparative Politics


Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date

May 2016