Introduction: contemporary debates on terrorism
It seems hard to believe now, but there was a time before 11 September, 2001 when terrorism was a fairly minor concern of public policy, academia and popular culture. In those days, following the period of cold war rivalry, policy-makers were more concerned with issues like the illegal drug trade, nuclear proliferation, rogue states, civil war and humanitarian crises. Unbelievable as it may seem, there were few laws specifically designed to deal with terrorism and only a handful of fairly small agencies devoted to its control. In academia, Terrorism Studies was a minor sub-field within International Relations, with a few select scholars devoted to its study; a very small number of universities offered courses of study in it and doctoral research in terrorism was considered by many to be a questionable career choice. Culturally, in the days before 9/11, there were few Hollywood films, television shows, popular novels, video games, comics, plays, songs or comedy routines which took terrorists or terrorism as a central theme, and the topic was only periodically discussed in the mainstream news media.