The Global War on Terror or GWOT (trademark pending) has been going on since the beginning of civilization. When the Marines began forcing retired members back into active service a spokesman said "The authority is until GWOT is over with." They had best prepare for perpetual servitude.
For the purposes of this exercise I will define terrorism as the act of waging systemic asymmetrical warfare against noncombatants for the purpose of creating intense fear in a population either to foment rebellion against an established authority or to instill domination over a people. Terrorism is as much a part of civilization as agriculture. In ancient times terrorists walked with Jesus, fed on the collapsing Roman Empire, and killed millions.
Zealots and Sicarii
History records at least two of Jesus' disciples were terrorists - Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot. Both were from small Jewish groups in the First Century AD dedicated to driving the Romans out of Judea. The Sicarii got their name from the small knife they used to murder Jewish leaders who worked with the Romans. These groups used atrocities to foment a Jewish rebellion which the Romans crushed in 70 AD.
Vandals and Huns
These barbarian hordes gave English a word, vandalism. As armies they could never have brought down the mighty Roman Empire had it not been weakened by centuries of corruption. When these uncivilized Germanic tribes enforced their will by killing noncombatants and burning cities they used tactics we today call terrorism.
The Hashshashin - Assassins
Another English word was created because of these Islamic terrorists. During the time of the Crusades an Islamic cult grew in what is now Iraq and Iran. Named after their found, Hassan-i-Sabah (not for the hashish they allegedly used to glimpse Paradise), the Assassins spread havoc through the Middle East for two centuries, using suicide agents to publicly execute Arab rulers. Truth about this cult is clouded by legend. It is known they attempted to kill Saladin the Great on several occasions, renounced Islamic Sharia law in 1164 AD establishing their own version of the religion, and as they were being hunted to extinction by the Mongols considered converting to Christanity - an offer rejected by the Knights Templar. In many ways, Osama Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda cult resembles the Hashshashin.
In part 2 I'll examine the Middle Ages, the heydays of religious inspired terrorism.