Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A History of Terrorism (and an odd conicidence)

Last Thursday the Magazine section of the BBC News' site published a very interesting piece that asked if Emile Henry was the first terrorist of the modern age.

Mr. Henry was convicted and executed in 1894 for tossing a bomb into the crowded, upscale Terminus Cafe in Paris, killing one and wounding 20 others. Henry was an anarchist. He said at trial that his action was driven by his "hatred for the ruling classes"; the year before another Henry bomb had killed five French policemen. Henry's change in targets - a cafe rather than policemen - in part prompted the question on whether he was the first "modern" terrorist; someone hoping to use carnage among innocents to further their cause. Henry was said to have passed up several other cafes along the Avenue de l'Opera before selecting the Terminus Cafe because they were not sufficiently crowded.

The BBC story makes for an interesting read, but the odd coincidence comes into play here. Three days after the BBC piece appeared, the Huffington Post published "The World's First 'Terrorists'," by writer Johann Hari, the first third of which recounts the story of Emile Henry told just days earlier on the BBC. Hari's piece goes on to also talk about American anarchists before going on to compare and contrast anarchist terror movements of the 19th century to global terrorism today.

Like the BBC piece, Hari's article is quite interesting and his telling of the Henry story is different from the BBC's. Still, it is odd that two pieces about an obscure French anarchist from more than 100 years ago should appear in print just days apart.
Sphere: Related Content

No comments: