What is Violent Extremism?

Why is the Las Vegas Shooter, Steven Paddock, not a terrorist, but the individual who drove a car into a sidewalk in Manhattan, Sayfullo Saipov, is? The first question was asked (and debated) extensively in the aftermath of the Vegas Shooting, and even more so after the Manhattan attack was so quickly referred to as an act of terrorism. So, what separates them, and why were we not willing to call the Vegas attack Terrorism, despite the significant harm (and indeed terror) it caused?

The answer is a simple one on the face of it; the Vegas Shooter did not have a political motivation. Despite his actions, his methods, and the harm he caused, he did not (to our knowledge) do this to create political change. The Manhattan attacker, despite causing less harm, did so in support of a violent extremist group (the Islamic State).

Understanding what terrorism is can be complex, and our definitions often change depending on context, time, country, and often emotion. In the pictures above, we have curated a small list of approachable articles on the topic that we hope will help you understand what terrorism is, the history of it, and why it is so hard to define. Click through each one to read more.

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