Neighbor Terrorism and the All-Risks Policing of Terrorism

Debate continues as to the transformations in terrorism evidenced by the September 11 attacks and since that time. Some, including the former U.S. President, point to changes in the nature of terrorism and argue that September 11 constituted a wholly new form of terrorism that demanded a novel response. Given the prior events of the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and the East African embassy bombings in 1998, it would appear more appropriate to depict a transformation in scale and tactics rather than nature.

This article seeks to explore a third perspective. It accepts the fact that there have been transformations in terrorism, but it focuses on the actors rather than on their actions. It suggests that one’s neighbor has become a potential foe and that this trend became apparent only gradually after September 11. There are important consequences for law enforcement beyond the major adaptations already incurred. The move toward neighbor terrorism has perhaps been masked by the other more brutal changes, but it is this trend that has the potential to cause the most lasting and insidious impact on everyone’s lives.

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