Beyond Horror: Terrorist Atrocity and the Search for Understanding – The Case of the Shankill Bombing

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It is much easier to condemn terrorism than it is to comprehend it, yet outrage and horror can never be the sole foundation on which to build an accurate understanding of even the worst terrorist atrocities. Terrorism is not a simple phenomenon with easy explanations and direct solutions. Yet the effort devoted to gaining an objective understanding of terrorists and terrorism has often been extremely deficient. Such deficiency may not have often led to the collapse of the system combating the terrorists but it has certainly prolonged and exacerbated many conflicts that could have been resolved with greater speed and at less cost and suffering. This article highlights a framework through which useful insights into terrorist atrocities can be gained for those interested in combating and preventing similar acts in the future. As a demonstration, this article focuses its analysis on one of the worst terrorist incidents to occur in the conflict in Northern Ireland: the 1993 Shankill Bombing. In so doing, the article aims to highlight the lessons and insights that can be gained and how these can be usefully applied to prevent and counter future acts of terrorist violence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-60
Number of pages24
JournalStudies in Conflict & Terrorism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • Shankill Bombing
  • Northern Ireland
  • Troubles
  • terrorist decision-making
  • Ulster Defence Association
  • Irish Republican Army
  • Northern Ireland Troubles

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