Robert J. Fisch [CC BY-SA 2.0  (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)],  via Wikimedia Commons
Terrorist Attack of September 11, 2001
When most Americans think of terrorism, they think about the attacks of September 11, 2001. That was the largest terrorist attack in the history of the United States. Nearly 3000 people were killed.

But terrorism has been around for a long time.

What is terrorism? Terrorism is when a group uses violence  in order to make people afraid.

The term was first used during the French Revolution when the leader, Maximilien Robespierre, famously stated in 1793, "Let terror be the order of the day." During what became known as the "Reign of Terror," the government of France rounded up and killed over 60,000 people.

Terrorism goes back even further. The Assyrians in the ancient Middle East used terrorism, too. They attacked villages and lined the walls of cities with the skins of people they killed. 

Most terrorism is political in nature. That means that groups use terrorism in order to cause a change in government.

For example, several groups used terrorism in Russia in the 1800s in order to get rid of the Russian king, who was called a Tsar. In 1881, a terrorist group called "The Peoples' Will" successfully assassinated Tsar Alexander II in a bombing in St. Petersburg.

The Irish Republican Brotherhood and later the Irish Republican Army used terrorism against England in an attempt to bring Independence to Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Religion is often used as an excuse for terrorism. But, it should be noted, that no religion actually supports terrorism:

Of course, the biggest terrorist groups is ISIS, or the Islamic State. This group is waging war in various Middle Eastern countries in order to establish a government under Islamic law. They are responsible for many terrorist attacks, most notably the Bataclan Massacre in Paris and the Manchester Bombing in England.  Often, ISIS uses suicide bombers to carry out their attacks.

Many countries have experienced terrorism from groups in their own countries. For example, in the United States, the Ku Klux Klan was established to scare African Americans and keep them separate from others in society. In addition, terrorist activities have been conducted by groups wanting to end abortion or stop animal abuse and whaling.

45 Years of Terrorism (1970-2015). Courtesy of the the Global Terrorism Database https://www.start.umd.edu/gtd/