Terrorism post 9/11: Shocking acts of political violence, regular acts of propaganda

Levi West, Adam Henschke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The terrorist attacks on the U.S. of September 11, 2001 were a globally significant event, whose ramifications are still being felt around the world decades later. We argue in this paper that these attacks, primarily those on the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York, need to be understood in the context of two complimentary and parallel narratives.First, as acts of political violence, they were a globally shocking spectacle that compelled the attention of people nearly everywhere. At the same time, however, as acts of propaganda, they were a regular feature of terrorism, a continuation of the ongoing ways in which political extremists have exploited modern communications technology as part of their terrorist practices. Undergirding the relationship between these two narratives are information and communications technologies; new technologies both enable the shock, but at the same time are a regular part of the evolution of terrorist tactics and strategies. Importantly for this paper,we can embed the 9/11 attacks in historical discussions,whilst explaining the post-9/11 evolution of transnational terrorist use of communications technologies. Recognising and understanding 9/11 as being concomitantly shocking and regular can assist with both properly contextualising the event and analysing the subsequent evolution of terrorist praxis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-78
Number of pages18
JournalJournal for Intelligence, Propaganda, and Security Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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