I wrote a primer on terrorism a few years ago, which discussed why a rational person could be seduced into acting as a terrorist, and we’re seeing that in real time as protests rock college campuses all across the country.  It’s because terrorism works.

Contrary to what the pundits on television will have you believe, terrorists like Hamas don’t conduct attacks solely for the bloodlust – although the Hamas foot soldiers who executed the mission on October 7th certainly could be described as such.  The action has a purpose, and terrorist leaders have learned over time that such killings advance their agenda, regardless of how horrific they are to the rest of the world.  In the words of Brian Jenkins, a recognized expert on the phenomena, “terrorists want a lot of people watching, not a lot of people dead”.  The level of the dead is directly correlated with the level of interest news organizations have to cover it.  In order to get eyeballs watching – and by extension, the perceived grievances of the group on the world stage – a terrorist has to make the news. I saw this with my own eyes in Iraq.

The first time a vehicle borne improvised explosive device was used in Baghdad (VBIED to the military, car bomb to everyone else) it killed fewer than five people but made global news due its novelty at the time.  In short order, VBIEDs were everywhere, so much so that it didn’t warrant a news report.  The result?  Terrorists realized they needed a bigger kill chart.  Eventually, on a day that saw four VBIEDs explode in Baghdad, it was the one that killed more than a hundred that made the news.

Terrorism as a phenomenon has been around since humans learned to smash skulls with a bone axe, but for the first two centuries of the United States’ existence it wasn’t a primary driver of our national security conversation.  That changed in September 1972.

Black September, the military wing of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), murdered eleven Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics.  For the PLO it was a debacle. They were vilified on the world stage, the entire action horrific, and Yasser Arafat (the head of the PLO) repudiated the event, swearing off violence. But then a strange thing happened. The PLO’s ranks swelled with recruits. The world, while ostensibly shocked by the action, also took notice of the PLO’s perceived grievances. In 1948, when Israel declared independence, the Palestinians went to war with them – and lost.  Israel, once willing to live side by side, conquered them and forced them to flee in what is known as the Nakba.  The Palestinians had been fighting to regain the land they once held ever since, with everyone on earth oblivious to the struggle.  After 1972, the world took notice. A mere two years later, in 1974, Yasser Arafat, a non-state actor, spoke in front of the United Nations. By the end of the 1970s, the PLO – a non-state organization – had more formal diplomatic relationships than Israel itself.  The murder of the Israeli athletes had served its purpose.

We see this playing out yet again after the heinous October 7th attack.  Hamas willfully slaughtered innocent civilians, going so far as using rape as a weapon of war, then dragging over a hundred hostages into tunnels – including the elderly and infants – for further abuse, something that any normal human would recoil from, but that’s not what’s happened.  Instead, there are now massive protests across our college campuses with people sympathizing with Hamas against Israel.  Sympathizing with people who wantonly raped and pillaged, as if they were the noble ones.  The screaming “enlightened” ones don’t understand that their very protests are validating terrorism as an effective tool.

Currently, Hamas is refusing to accept the ceasefire deal that Israel has offered, even as it has been Israel which has conceded time and time again on their demands.  Why is that?  It’s because Hamas – and their masters in Iran – see the protests occurring and are making a calculation that allowing ordinary Palestinians to suffer strengthens its bargaining position on the world stage.  Both Hamas and Iran are completely willing to sacrifice the Palestinians in Gaza to gain further world vilification of Israel, and a ceasefire would end that. Their terrorism is working.

Why has Gaza suddenly inflamed the passion of students?  At this very moment, the Rohingya in Myanmar (Muslims, no less) are being eliminated in an actual genocide, which has been occurring for years.  Sudan has devolved into slaughter-fest of biblical proportions, with entire villages beheaded simply for being a different tribe, but nobody on any college campus has ever uttered a word about it.  Ukraine has been invaded by Russia, with war crimes being committed as a matter of course, to include Ukrainian children being forcibly removed for “re-education” in Russia– which earned the president of Russia an indictment for war crimes – but American students didn’t protest or lock-down universities with their outrage.  Nobody on college campuses said a word.  Hamas conducts a terrorist attack, raping and savagely killing more than a thousand people, and now everyone’s protesting on the side of Hamas?

The bottom line is that the violence perpetrated by Hamas on October 7th served its purpose.  The most elite schools in the world are now in turmoil, with uneducated students blathering on about ceasefires and the persecution of Palestinians without even realizing that it’s Hamas that is causing this – and that they’re encouraging Hamas to continue its reign of terror.  Make no mistake, if the protests had gone the other way, with the entire world erupting and holding Hamas culpable for its actions, a ceasefire would have occurred by now.  Iran would not allow Hamas to strengthen Israel.  Instead, the protestors are validating the very terrorist tactics used.

Others will take notice.  If the Rohingya ever develop the capability, make no mistake, they’re going to conduct a terrorist act against an unwitting civilian population, possibly far removed from their home country.  It will seem random and horrific, but they’ve learned a lesson from Hamas:

Terrorism works.