#1 reference guide by A B

"Symbolism in Terrorism - Motivation Communication and Behavior" is an extensive and systematic collection of data in relation to semiotics of terrorism.

You will mostly likely find anything you are looking for, such as anti-globalization, suicide terrorism, female terrorism, branding, etc., etc. Jonathan MATUSITZ explains over 40 areas of symbolism, provides case studies and references his sources.

The book has everything except graphic elements, but one can find them by following the references. This book is from the year 2015 and therefore extremely fresh. I am deeply indebted to MATUSITZ for collating this amount of information. If there is one book you should be reading next to "Branding Terror", this should be it. 

terrorism is a modern profession by A B

The little book "Ausbruch der Kunst - Politik und Verbrechen II" includes a 24 page essay by art critic Boris GROYS entitled "Terrorism as Profession".  

GROYS' basic idea is that terrorism is a modern profession similar to web designer or consultant. Put simply and in his own words "without media, there would be no terrorism." GROYS goes back to the "first terrorists" in Russia, namely Boris SAVINKOV to show that one becomes terrorist, because it is "possible" simply by creating opportunities and access. For me personally, GROYS is the master of abstract thinking and reading his views on terrorism from the perspective of art history is refreshing.  

And it is totally applicable. For example, ISIS gets so many supporters from the European Union because it is easy and relatively cheap to travel to Turkey and cross the border to Syria. The opportunity is there or to put it in GROYS words "where career can be made, it will be made". If you want to join Al-Qaeda, how would you do it? Probably to to Pakistan and try to cross the border to Afghanistan. But this is much more expensive, you need a visa, etc. 

One should never underestimate the appeal of religion and afterlife and everything else that might trigger someone to join a terrorist organisation.  But we should also not overestimate it and get caught up in discussions about the definition of terrorism and its connection to religion and so on. If we can keep it simple, why shouldn't we do it. 

This text is in German. You can contact me if you want more information.  


terrorist mindset by A B

"Underground - The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche" is an extraordinary collection of testimonies by people on both sides of terrorism.

Against the backdrop of the sarin gas attack on 20 March 1995 in the Tokyo subway, that left (only) 12 people dead, Haruki MURAKAMI interviewed ordinary people that were affected by the attack and members and ex-members of AUM, the perpetrators of the attack. Especially insightful are the eight interviews with (ex-)members of AUM and their reasons to join the "doomsday cult".

Many were bored/disillusioned with life and/or needed a "strong hand" to guide them in life and tell them what to do. As for the ordinary people that were affected by the attack, it is remarkable that almost none of them called AUM a "terrorist organisation" during the interviews. Numerous people decided to ignore AUM altogether as in not watching or reading anything about them in the aftermath of the attack. 

There is much more relevant information in this book and I certainly recommend this impressive essay in witness literature to everyone interested in the "terrorist mindset". You can contact me for more detailed information. 

death as a gift by A B


A seminal work in anthropology, The Gift was originally published in 1923. Marcel MAUSS describes the exchange economy and the morals underlying gift-giving in archaic societies and shows that gift-giving comes with an obligation to return.

This observation is in so far relevant for understanding terrorism as it describes the underlying principles of exchange. Thus, if a suicide bomber is willing to give his life ("for the cause of God") as a gift and his enemy is not, it results in the enemy staying morally indebted to the suicide bomber. And this again plays out in the fighting spirit of the (ir)regular military forces facing each other. 

evolution of the car bomb by A B

BUDA’S WAGON - A Brief History of the Car Bomb” follows the evolution of the car bomb from its first use during the Wall Street bombing in 1920, to modern-day Iraq, stopping for brief stories in the Balkans, Palestine, Northern Ireland and Lebanon.

The book is good because it illustrates that terrorism is more a tactic than it is an ideology. Terrorism after all is a career and the job of a terrorist is to be innovative in the use of weapons. Remarkable is how the author Mike DAVIS exposes the role of various state intelligence agencies in globalizing urban terrorist techniques. 

9/11 as a matter of architectural criticism by A B


ATTA is exceptional, because 9/11 is described as a matter of architectural criticism (and not solely as religious terrorism). It is a fictional biography of the crazy mind Mohamed ATTA, who in 1999 defended a master’s thesis in urban planning that critiqued the introduction of Western-style skyscrapers in Aleppo and called for the return of the “Islamic-Oriental city.” Written in an experimental way, this book is a refreshing demonstration for the need of alternative ways to understand global terrorism. Especially memorable is the part where the author Jarett KOBEK deconstructs the movie “Das Dschungelbuch” as seen through Atta’s eyes.