Counter-Terrorism: Leftist Terrorists Make a Comeback


March 7, 2007: The widespread use of violence by Islamic terrorists has masked the revival of leftist terrorist groups. Last month, for example, Italian police arrested fifteen members of the 1970s era "Red Brigades", and charged them with plotting the murder of people who did not agree with their revolutionary goals. The Red Brigades were part of an wave of small, violent, leftist revolutionary groups that emerged in the 1960s and 70s, and were largely gone by the 1990s. Actually, the groups never died out completely, but, except in Greece and Latin America, they were much less violent after the Cold War ended. The Soviet Union had provided some support for these groups, but mostly they were sustained by disaffected middle class kids out to change the world. A new generation of disaffected, politically motivated murderers are now signing up. Many Western leftists still see the United States as the enemy of the people, and capitalism as something that must be destroyed at all costs. In an odd confluence, many of these leftists are marching (literally) shoulder to shoulder with Islamic radicals. This despite the fact that the two groups (one anti-religious, and the other very pro one religion) are natural enemies.

More enthusiastic adoption of socialist, and anti-capitalist policies in Western Europe over the last century has led to a high unemployment rate for people coming out of school, and this had made radical politics a more attractive proposition to some. But compared to the poverty and desperation in the Islamic world, the Western terrorists have a far smaller recruiting pool. But like the Islamic terrorists, the Western groups share the same basic myth. That is, if the world would only unite under a benevolent despotism, everything would be better. Like the Islamic radicals, the Western terrorists find it more comfortable to blame foreigners for their trouble. In this case, the big bad is the United States, and local officials who have "sold out" to those evil Americans.

Western governments have gotten behind the anti-American movement, because it's easy to sell to voters, and the object of their scorn is not likely to hit back. But their homegrown radicals are not so civilized. So now Europe has another group of terrorists to worry about. No doubt, they'll find a way of blaming it on the Americans.


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