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In recent years, terrorism in the Middle East has been brought to Western attention through many tragic events, with 9/11 being at the forefront (although, to be sure, Middle Eastern terrorism has been a tempest in a teapot at least since the 1970s). Similar actions would resonate with viewers as the acts of villains.
However, there is the fear that depictions of Muslim terrorists would be unfair to all the non-terrorist Muslims in the viewing audience, not to mention religiously intolerant -- and if there's anything the masters of Executive Meddling are dead scared of, it's offending a potential rating point. This is further complicated by the fact that most Muslims disapprove of the tactics used in the War on Terror, now known as "Overseas Contingency Operations" under the Barack Obama administration. Some even support the mujahideen, seeing them as freedom fighters. During the Cold War, Ronald Reagan even dedicated a shuttle launch to the anti-Soviet insurgency in Afghanistan, calling them "brave freedom fighters".
The solution in television seems to be to make all the movers and shakers behind terrorist acts Westerners. While one would be wise not to ignore such individuals as Timothy McVeigh, it can lean so far in that direction as to be unrealistic, since the vast majority of American news stories about terrorism in the past fifteen years, as well as by any measure of casualties or number of incidents, even aside from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, have been about Muslim terrorists.
This, however, can also be seen as an example of political bias in the media. An incident of a person going into a building and shooting wildly are often defined as "criminal" if the perpetrator is white or black, and terrorism if they are Muslim or Arab. Also, attacks that are carried out against American soldiers in Iraq by former members of the Iraqi army are perfectly legal under international law - they are defined as partisans (if and only if they have a chain of command, some means of identification from a distance, and carry their weapons openly; otherwise, they are unlawful combatants). That doesn't prevent the media from calling their attacks terrorism despite their legal legitimacy.
Some groups of Western Terrorists that have appeared in media and news are the ELF and radical(er) factions of PETA, whose actions have been dubbed eco-terrorism. (PETA, for one, is more infamous for acts of bizarre street theater, although even these are often so obnoxious and cruel that they could qualify as terrorism.) The Unabomber, Lucas Helder, and Lee Malvo are other examples of Westerners whose criminal actions have been described as terrorism. There are also militia groups with ideologies similar to Timothy McVeigh's, though they have committed far more heinous crimes in fiction than in Real Life.
In general, terrorists most frequently attack and are most effective in areas they are familiar with, and where their presence is less likely to raise suspicion. Even terrorist attacks on American interests by Arab Muslims occur more often (though perhaps less spectacularly) in Arab countries like Iraq or Muslim countries like Indonesia.
In that regard, for decades, The Troubles in Northern Ireland were a perfect alternative for TV to use; a definitely European dispute, with white Christians involved in sectarian violence which included riots, shootings and bombings violent enough to satisfy any action show. Naturally some writers still managed to get it wrong - Tom Clancy has portrayed the left-wing nationalist Provisional IRA as Commies more than once, when that is the very issue over which they split with the genuinely communist Official IRA and although remaining secular and left-wing the Provos are by no means Marxist.
In point of fact, there are still a few Irish separatist attacks each year, and other separatist organizations in Europe are still alive and kicking. In 2006, Europol noted 498 terrorist attacks within the EU. Of these, three were classed as Islamist, 55 “left-wing and anarchist”, and 424 “ethno-nationalist and separatist”. Yes, that’s more than one separatist terrorist attack per day, mostly in Spain and France. You don’t hear much about about them because a) they have few casualties and b) they’re so common they aren’t newsworthy. More recent Europol reports have similar proportions, but less accessible executive summaries.
Another good source of Euro-villainy is the post-Soviet weaponmonger. This person may be a fascist, but usually they serve no cause other than the creation of chaos, a self-sustaining market for their endless supplies of nukes, viruses, and other deadly toys for their more ideologically minded customers to use on each other. In series where such black-market dealers and Corrupt Corporate Executives exist, they inevitably prove to be more dangerous than the Islamists/neo-Nazis/revolucionistas/etc. to whom they're selling weaponry. Newer ones however prefer to reinstall the old Soviet Regime without the communist ideals and instead aim for a rule that will combine the "best" of Ivan and Stalin.
In an ironic way, one could consider this more discrimination, suggesting that Islamic terrorists are not capable of being true Big Bads.
The above examples are actually unusually detailed. Many Western Terrorists are also Terrorists Without a Cause. Note also that they rarely have much in common with the original meaning of "terrorism".
Ironically, the first people to systematically employ what we would today call "terrorist" tactics (random bombings, assassinations, etc.) were Westerners (okay, white, but it's close enough): the dreaded narodniki (Russian anarchist-communists) of the nineteenth century, who targeted the Russian royal family at least once.
Type I: Miscellaneous Conspiracies, Terrorists Without a Cause, and Corrupt Corporate Executives
- Flight Plan: Part of the reason that no one was surprised at who the real villain was. Casting Sean Bean made for a much more successful Red Herring; thanks to this trope, everyone already knew the Middle Eastern fellow was going to be innocent.
- Face Off: In John Woo's second American Heroic Bloodshed movie, Castor Troy seems to fit this trope.
- In Batman Begins, the villain Ra's al Ghul, an Arab in the source material, is shown first to be East Asian, later revealed as a decoy for a Caucasian. And in The Dark Knight, the Joker is repeatedly referred to as a terrorist (which is half-true. While he mostly does needlessly destructive things for his own amusement, he does have some ideas and beliefs about chaos and anarchy).
- The Die Hard series (though in all but the second, the terrorists are actually thieves), with the villains being German in the first and third, and American in the other two (in the second, with the help of Banana Republic dictator).
- And in the German synchronization of the first film they are converted to a generic European group with their names altered. Hans to Jack, Karl to Charlie...
- Actually, in the second they are half-terrorists, half-mercenaries, as they are motivated by money as much as sympathising with the anti-Communist credentials of the guy they are trying to rescue; the villains in the third and fourth are also driven by a cause- anti- and pro-Americanism, respectively- even if in the 3rd one Simon and his mercs are personally more interested in money, and the villain from the 4th movie expected "payment", via theft, for proving his point.
- Though not the main villain, the very Middle Eastern character The Hassassin of Angels and Demons is replaced in the movie by a generic (though very creepy) Caucasian villain for hire in the movie version.
- The villains of 24's Day [[spoiler:2 were a conglomerate of Corrupt Corporate Executives in the oil business, as well as a German arms dealer called Max, all of whom hired Peter Kingsley to give a nuclear device to Islamic terrorists and frame three Middle Eastern countries for the act so the United States could invade these countries and secure a steady supply of oil in the Caspian Sea.
- To quote this handy article, "But Bauer'ss ass-kicking takes place in a landscape straight out of the '70s, in which America's terrorist enemies are enabled by (in no particular order) a cabal of businessmen hoping to foment a Middle Eastern war and benefit from skyrocketing oil prices; a group of hawkish Cabinet officials who plot to remove from office (or assassinate) their dovish superiors; a Nixonian chief executive who permits terrorist attacks on American soil as a pretext for U.S. military intervention in Central Asia; and an endless host of traitors inside America's antiterrorism outfit."
- Spoofed in the South Park episode "The Snuke", a parody of 24 where Cartman (playing the role of Jack Bauer) is convinced the new Muslim kid in school is a terrorist, and tips off the government. Turns out there is a terrorist plot going on in South Park, but it involves Russian mercenaries trying to distract the government with a nuclear device planted in Hillary Clinton's crotch while America's oldest enemies (the British) stage a naval assault.
- In G.I. Joe, COBRA was always referred to as a "terrorist" organization, even though it was closer in every way to James Bond's SPECTRE or Nick Fury's HYDRA than anything resembling modern terrorism (western or otherwise). The comic version of the franchise portrayed COBRA as tapping into the frustrations of lower to middle-class white Americans, even making Cobra Commander into a former used car salesman. COBRA also tended to use ordinary, all-American small towns named Springfield as secret headquarters.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine used this trope (together with the Trek cliche of evil admirals) in "Homefront", in which a Changeling attack on Earth turns out to have been orchestrated by Admiral Leyton, the head of Starfleet Operations, as an excuse to tighten security for when the real attack inevitably comes. Sisko foils his plans -- learning in the process that there are Changeling infiltrators on Earth (but only 3), watching all this with amusement.
- While not human (although she is played by a Caucasian actor), Kira is an admitted former terrorist. Of course, as her acts of terrorism were against the Cardassian Occupation of Bajor, she was still a good guy. At least as far as anyone on DS9 is a 'good guy'. Part of what kept her sympathetic as a character was that, while she still feel her terrorist actions were justified by the occupation, she never took any pleasure in killing and many of the more brutal attacks she carried out still haunt her.
- The TV-movie Meltdown. Former US soldiers faking an attempt to blow up a nuclear powerplant to make a statement. "Our terrorist is GI Joe."
- The unaired pilot for Heroes gave Ted's radioactive power to an Arab terrorist character. This plotline was dropped for the actual pilot and given to Ted, a white American. One result is that connected events (the train derailment, some of Isaac's paintings) become disconnected and random, while in the original pilot, they were all connected by the terrorist story.
- The Eco-Villains of Captain Planet are this. One, such as Looten Plunder, crossing over into the realm of White Collar Crime. Three--Plunder, Greedly and Sly Sludge--are just rich, myopic pricks who only really care about money (though they occasionally make quips about loving to pollute.) and Dr. Blight was out-and-out insane and wanted to cash in on dangerous, experimental technology. Exceptions were Verminous Skumm and Duke Nukem, and Zarm. Verminous Skumm wants humanity to live in miserable and chaotic conditions, Duke Nukem wants humanity to be mutated like himself, and Zarm basically wants to destroy the world.
- A particularly notable example is fan favorite Sark from Alias
- A particularly Anvilicious episode of Without a Trace featured a precocious young boy who built a bomb to make a point that the country wasn't protected enough after his mother was killed in 9/11 (similar to one theory behind the anthrax letter guy's motivation). Additionally, the boy's only friend tortures him in his basement to make him reveal where he hid the bomb.
- The irony being that there was no bomb (the kid made the whole thing up, as kids are apt to do), but the torture session embittered him so much that afterward he built a real one.
- End War has Russian forces disguising themselves as "The Forgotten Army", who "are" a band of soldiers from various nations misused by the US and Europe.
- In the movie Iron Man, Tony Stark is imprisoned by Afghan terrorists hiding in caves inspired by Al Qaeda, but not explicitly Islamic or even entirely Middle Eastern (the terrorist group actually has different cells of different races). It turns out that his capture was orchestrated by his white business partner Obadiah Stane, who later has the Afghan terrorists brutally murdered.
- Kyle Hobbes in the remake of V.
- Captain America deals with a lot of these groups. The most prominent was HYDRA, led by Cap's Arch Enemy, the Red Skull, which was basically bent on tyrannical world domination. He also tangled with the likes of AIM (dedicated to establishing a global technocracy), ULTIMATUM (dedicated on establishing a world without national borders of any kind), and the Secret Empire (modern-day fascists).
- The movie versions of Resident Evil has the Umbrella Corp. dedicated to causing a massive zombie epidemic for no particular reason.
Type II: Right Wing Militia Fanatics
- The Ku Klux Klan, the Knights Of White Camellia, and other racist groups that used textbook terrorism to bar African Americans and other non-Christian Whites from gaining equal rights as well as terrifying them into not exercising them.
- The Big Bads in the sadly Vin Diesel-less xXx: State of the Union were of the right-wing military splinter ideology type.
- The John Brown Army, headed by Emile Dufraisne, from Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent.
- The villains in the Danger.com book "Firestorm" were whites with a revolutionary war motif who wanted to rid the US of foreigners.
- The Montana Freemen.
- Timothy McVeigh.
- MECH from Transformers Prime.
- In 1990, Hitoshi Motoshima, mayor of Nagasaki, was shot in an assassination attempt for publically having said "I do believe that the emperor bore responsibility for the war" two years earlier, shortly before the emperors death. The assassin was a member of the "Sane Thinkers School" organization, that has been involved in several politically motivated crimes.
- Anders Behring Breivik, the anti-immigrant, anti-Islamic Norwegian that confessed to orchestrating the 2011 Oslo Bombing and the Worker's Youth League Shooting.
- The upcoming Rainbow Six Patriots the antagonists will be a terrorist group called "True Patriots" who plot to over throw the American government.
Type III: Neo-Nazis and white or ethnic supremacist terrorism
- The film adaptation of Tom Clancy's The Sum of All Fears replaced the Muslim terrorists of the novel with neo-Nazis. According to the production staff, this was because shooting had actually wrapped on the film before 9/11, and, at the time, they felt the idea of a successful Muslim attack of that scale on the U.S. was far-fetched. It was apparently less farfetched to have the said neo-nazis be a bunch of wealthy businessmen, led by an Austrian billionaire, who hope to provoke a nuclear war between the USA and the Russian Federation in order to pave way for their takeover.
- Not that farfetched, actually. See this little tidbit about a similar plot from the 1930s.
- The really far-fetched part was that they kept the origin of the loose nuke, which the Israelis lost during the '73 war. Some Palestinians find the bomb, and then... take it to Damascus to sell it to the Neo-Nazis.
- Not that farfetched, actually. See this little tidbit about a similar plot from the 1930s.
- And then there's those three white supremacists who were planning to assassinate Obama. There are currently rumors going about that the state US attorney Troy Eid decided not to prosecute to limit sympathetic coverage for Obama. This sounds ridiculous until you realize this guy was vetted by Goodling, was willing to prosecute a black man in prison for sending threatening letters to McCain, and received a recommendation from the FBI telling him to go all out.
- Rumors debunked, the men have pled guilty.
- A reversal of this occurred in a Doctor Who spin-off audio adventure, wherein the villain who desires to remove non-British from Britain, uses mind control to get people to blow themselves up shouting "THIS IS FOR MY PEOPLE!" Regardless of the nationality, he gets the press to cover it as a Muslim extremist (In the first instance, a Scot blew himself up, and was said on the news to be a Muslim student) or other non-British to cause riots and swell public support for his anti-foreigner agenda.
- A bunch of skinheads came damn close to assassinating the president in The West Wing.
- Although they weren't actually trying to assassinate President Bartlett, but rather his bodyman, Charlie Young. Though technically they were trying to kill him for political reasons (he was black and was dating the president's white daughter).
- In Red Eye, a film resonating with post World Trade Center feeling, the terrorists and their colleagues are all white guys. The terrorists themselves speak Russian amongst each other.
- In the film The Peacemaker, a white Bosnian Serb tries to suicide bomb New York City with a backpack nuke.
- The Nicolas Cage movie Next did this, with the bad guys being a group of apparently Francophone Europeans.
- Tom Clancy has quite a few examples, notably Patriot Games and Rainbow 6, as well as Clear and Present Danger, and most of the Net Force series.
- Though the main villains of Patriot Games were more of a Type VIII (being a fictional splinter group of Irish nationalists in Northern Ireland), and as noted under Type VII, the main villains of Rainbow 6 were eco-terrorists.
- Richard Thompson's song about terrorism, "Guns are the Tongues," seems to be about the IRA (he's said the organization is meant to be generic, but the checkpoint they blow up is in Glengary and there are other hints). Who the terrorists are, though, is really incidental - the point of the song is that there are other reasons besides ideological fervor one might become a terrorist (in this case, being seduced and rather mentally unbalanced to begin with) and that the freedom fighter/ brutal terrorist line is really very subjective if it exists at all.
- However, he does have a song sung from the perspective of a Muslim extremist suicide bomber, "Outside of the Inside"
- A Real Life British example was the Welsh group Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru ("Movement for the Defence of Wales"), who organised a bombing (of a transformer) to prevent a Welsh village from being converted into a reservoir. Later they came under the leadership of a former non-commissioned officer of the British army and tried to prevent the Investiture (as Prince of Wales) of Prince Charles by planting bombs around the area. Their intention was to only disrupt the ceremony (or so their leader maintains to this day) but there were several casualties (2 members of the organisation died when a bomb went off prematurely, and a child was injured by a bomb which detonated several days late). This predates some more well known terrorist campaigns by several years.
- The Basque separatist movement Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (Basque Homeland and Freedom), also known as ETA.
- An episode of Crossing Jordan had a terrorist bombing committed by a Westerner upset that the U.S. was not "protecting against terrorism enough" and wanted to prove it.
- The Drazens, the employers of Ira Gaines in 24's Day 1, consisted of Slobodan Milosevic's lieutenant Victor Drazen and his two sons.
- In Call of Duty 4, Khaled Al-Asad's Arab Muslim revolutionaries are more or less finished off by the end of the first act; from then on, you're fighting Imran Zakhaev's Russian Ultranationalists, who are revealed to have been behind Al-Asad and to have supplied his nuke.
- Khaled Al-Asad also could count as he seems to hate the West for purely secular patriotic reasons, fitting his role as a Saddam Expy.
- In the sequel, it turns out that -ta da!- American nationalists are really the ones pulling the strings!
- Not really. While the conflict was ignited by them, the fuel for it was obviously gathering for quite a while, and probably would have happened sooner or later.
- MW3 focuses largely on Vladimir Makarov and his Ultranationalist terror cell, the Inner Circle, who bedevil the current Russian government for not being Ultranationalist enough. They, along with their contacts in West Africa, carry out a series of deadly terror plots, which include hijacking the Russian President's plane and detonating chemical weapons in capital cities across Europe to pave the way for an invasion, with the ultimate goal of establishing a new Russian Empire with Makarov himself as its Tsar.
- The Order in the first Soldier of Fortune game.
- Most of Captain America's terrorist enemies are Type I organizations, but the Sons of the Serpent fit more into this category. Think Archie Bunker if he were a murderous and genuinely bigoted psychopath, and you have a good idea of what the organization stands for.
- In the UK, Channel 4 aired an original drama called Gas Attack about a neo-Nazi organising an anthrax attack on a council estate full of Kurdish asylum seekers, as part of the neo-Nazis plan to force the government to deport all immigrants, homosexuals and non-white British people from the country.
- Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield.
- In the Harry Potter series, the Death Eaters are essentially a terrorist organization. Their main goals are based on their very Nazi-esque Fantastic Racism.
- Any comic by Frank Miller will inevitably have Nazi henchmen. Oddly enough, they rarely, if ever, make racist remarks. In fact, a neo-nazi in Sin City is shown working for Big Scary Black Man Manute with no trouble.
- A lot of paramilitary formations and irregulars during the Yugoslav Wars. The Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army and the Liberation Army of Preševo, Medveđa and Bujanovac are this with arguably some Type VI elements.
Type V: Western religious terrorists
- The Gunpowder Plot of 1605 skirts the edge of what could be regarded terrorism: The conspirators where a group of English Catholics who planned to start a revolution and overturn the English Reformation by assassinating the king. However, their plan was not to destabilize the state through intimidation, but rather to kill the entire government by blowing up the parliament while the king holds his oppening speech with all major political figures attending, and immediately stage a coup to take over the government. While certainly similar to high profile terrorist attacks, their long term strategy does not fit any common definition of terrorism. If successful, the 36 barrels of what is estimated to be two and a half tonnes of gunpowder right beneath the wooden floor of the council chamber, would have been the most devastating blow to any government in history.
- An episode of Law And Order: Criminal Intent dealt with two Western, non-Arab converts to Islam who decided to become suicide bombers. Which may, in turn, have been inspired by the Real Life case of John Walker Lindh, the "American Taliban".
- A recent Eleventh Hour had a group attacking the Philadelphia transit system. In this case our bad guys are... Belgian? Though in this case, they are converts after the pattern of Lindh, mentioned above.
- Played with in Robert Zubrin's The Holy Land. The terrorists are explicitly American, but given that they act out of religious fanaticism manipulated by greedy politicians, use student visas to infiltrate the Western Galactic Empire, and sabotage passenger spacecraft to kill huge numbers of innocent civilians, the readers are probably meant to view them otherwise.
- Used in a more meta- way later on. Even though all of the terrorists are Americans, the Western Galactic Empire is afraid of accusations of discrimination, and its own (Western) people are accused of terrorism by government and media at least as often as the Americans are.
- An episode of the fifth series of Spooks featured the Sons of Phineas; former drug addicts who have been turned into fanatical assassins by a fundamentalist Anglican priest during his rehab programmes. They might have been an interesting collection of enemies if the writers hadn't made them carbon copies of Islamic extremists with the terminology switched around (seriously, the first one who appears even yells, "Death to the enemies of Christ!" before he shoots a radical Muslim cleric). Furthermore, the minister who organised them seemed to honestly believe that this little band (which has about nine or ten guys at most) could eventually bring about the Endofthe World As We Know It.
- Joseph destroys the Machine in Contact.
- In Unthinkable, Steven Arthur Younger is a nuclear weapons expert and ex-military man who has converted to Islam and changed his named to Mohammed Yusuf Atta. He has planted three nuclear bombs in three different US cities and the FBI and other agencies must get him to tell them where the bombs are - they achieve this by relying on a lot of Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique.
- Eric Robert Rudolph, the Atlanta Olympic bomber, killed two people and injured at least 150 others in a series of bombings in the name of a religiously-motivated anti-abortion and anti-gay agenda. According to the FBI, Rudolph had a long association with the Christian Identity movement, a series of religious sects that teach a decidedly racialized theology, and according to some investigators, many of his bombings were done on behalf of a group called the "Army of God," a group of anti-abortion extremists that are associated with Christian Identity.
- Though Fox News thought they scooped the story of the Oslo Bombing quickly claiming the suspect to be Muslim it was actually Anders Behring Breivik, a Christian man who fancies himself as a literal Knight Templar. Breivik's attacks were perpetrated in response to the percieved spread of Islam in Europe.
- Season 2 of 24 used this for an actual, solid twist. The sister of a woman marrying a Muslim boy she met at college in London learns starts to suspect that he may have ties to a terrorist group. Turns out he's innocent; it's the bride who's been converted and embraced radical Islam.
- In 1995, the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo released poison gas into the Tokyo subway, killing 13 people and causing injury to about 5,000 more. While it is doubtful that they would have the means to deliver it, a raid on their headquarters uncovered chemicals to create enough poison for about 4 million lethal doses.
Type VI: Red terrorism
- The Japanese Red Army, which was responsible for (among many other things) plane hijackings, a deadly shootout in Israel's Lod Airport and bombing various corporate headquarters in the Greater Tokyo Area. More significantly, they also introduced suicide bombing to the Middle East, training their (secular) allies the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the tactic; it was in turn adopted by the likes of Hamas and Al-Qaeda. A successor to the JRA is known to Japanese police and various intelligence agencies as the Movement Rentai, though they've yet to make any significant acts in Japan/Asia.
- Real life example: The German Red Army Faction (AKA the Baader-Meinhof gang) who were responsible for numerous political murders and hostage takings. They did base their name on the Japanese Red Army. From 1971 to 1993, they killed 34 people, most of which were american soldiers, german bodyguards, and police officers, but also 10 assassinations and executions of hostages.
- Their actions are accurately depicted in the 2008 German film The Baader Meinhof Complex.
- The hijacking of an Air France plane to Entebbe, Uganda was led by a German of the Revolutionary Cells movement (and also included another German woman). However, the Big Bad behind the hijacking was the Palestinian PLO.
- The Italian Red Brigades, a Marxist-Leninist group who were responsible for several attacks in the 1970s and 1980s.
- A recent episode of the U.S. version of Life On Mars featured the 1970s student-radical group, the Weathermen, claiming responsibility for (fictional) bomb attacks on former colleagues of NY!Gene Hunt. Though they were a real left-wing terrorist group, they never attacked New York police in this manner.
- A bonus comic (Cross Fire) in Hellsing features a communist group (hinted to consist of former Soviet officials), having brutally attacked a Catholic meeting and stolen millions from the Vatican, trying to buy weapons in a Berlin hotel (presumably to continue their anticlerical campaign). They are dealt with efficiently.
- The FLQ, a canadian Quebec Separatist group, trained with the PLO in Jordan because they thought those were the tactics they needed to free Quebec from Anglo-Canadian tyranny. Their ultimate goal was to establish the province as an independent Marxist state. Were responsible for a series of letter bombings, as well as a bomb that tore through the Montreal Stock Exchange. Kidnapped British Trade Commissioner James Cross and murdered Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte. The invoking of the War Measures Act by then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau, as well as the Quebec public's own anger at the kidnapping and murder tactics, were both instrumental in the FLQ's demise.
- The Irish National Liberation Army or INLA, a Marxist paramilitary organisation operating in Northern Ireland during The Troubles.
- The Enforcer pits Dirty Harry against fictional People's Revolutionary Strike Force, a Marxist terrorist cell.
- In the Philippines, there's the New People's Army, a pro-Maoist terrorist organization that does assassination of government officials, police officers and military officials and enlisted personnel with fellow NPA members who defected to the government with bombings of various cities aside from fighting in the countryside via guerrilla tactics. They made the headlines as they declared responsibility for assassinating an ex-American military prisoner after escaping from captivity in the Vietnam War, saying that his assistance to the Philippine Army made him a target.
- Russian socialist terrorist organization "The People's Will" ("Narodnaya Volya"). Its leaders, Sofia Perovskaya - the runaway daughter of an aristocrat - and Alexey Zhelyabov - a peasant - orcestrated the assassination of Alexander II.
Type VII: Eco-terrorists and Animal Wrongs Groups
- As an excuse to quit the Scenery Censor around Mariska Hargitay's pregnancy, an episode of Law and Order Special Victims Unit had Benson going undercover with eco-terrorists for an off-screen arc.
- An episode of the British medical drama Casualty which would have begun with a Muslim carrying out a suicide bombing was rewritten so that the bombing was committed by animal rights extremists.
- Real life: Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn was strongly opposed to what he called "political Islam" But he was killed by a white university-educated Animal Wrongs Group.
- Subverted in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. The three hot chicks claim to be from an extreme animal rights group and recruit Jay and Silent Bob to liberate an animal research facility, but the mission is really a cover for a jewel heist.
- Real Life examples: A number of groups have been labeled eco-terrorists by various government organizations for their bombing of medical research facilities, sending death threats to medical researchers who work with animals, arson attacks against the homes of researchers and corporate execs, sabotage and vandalism against development and logging machinery, and attacks on commercial fishing nets and vessels.
- The Earth Liberation Front is a non-centralized grassroots animal rights organization; it has been referred to by the FBI as "one of the most active extremist elements in the United States" and has been labeled a domestic terrorist threat. They've allegedly engaged in numerous vandalism attacks on various commercial farms, most notably egg producers; as well as bombing and arson attacks on medical research facilities. They are also believed to have been responsible for a rash of arson attacks on housing developments in the Seattle area in 2008 (a "calling card" was left claiming ELF responsibility), and the destruction of radio towers in 2009. The majority of the ELF officially disavows violent attacks on humans, preferring civil disobedience and property destruction; but a few groups and splinter factions have engaged in harassment and assault.
- The Animal Liberation Front is Great Britain's version of the ELF; and has allegedly engaged in similar activities in the UK as well as joint actions with the ELF in the US and abroad. They are believed to be responsible for a rash of character assassination attempts on medical researchers, done by circulating flyers in the researchers' neighbourhoods accusing them of paedophilia and other crimes.
- Earth First! is an organization that focuses primarily on anti-logging and anti-development activities; mainly through sabotaging machinery and spiking trees, as well as the occasional physical confrontation with workers. Although most claim to engage only in non-violent civil disobedience, and disavow violence against humans, tree-spiking has resulted in a number serious physical injuries to loggers. Although not universally practiced, many Earth First! members espouse an anarchist/communitarian philosophy.
- The most famous eco-terrorist would probably be Ted Kaczynski, aka, the Unabomber. Influenced by Jacques Ellul, he originally was an anti-technology anarchist who originally espoused a philosophy of civil disobedience and sabotage. Not satisfied that non-violent methods were effective enough, he then engaged in a seven-year campaign of mail-bombing that left three dead, and many more injured.
- The Criminal Minds episode "Empty Planet" has an anti-technology bomber who believes that the world is going to be overtaken by robots if we don't do something about it. Really, though, he was just trying to live out the plot of a novel because he believed the book's author was his mother and that somehow his crimes would serve to unite them.
- The Phoenix group in Rainbow Six, along with Corrupt Corporate Executive John Brightling.
- We're led to think an eco-terrorist group are the villains of Flashpoint's second season premiere, "One Wrong Move". Turns out to be a remnant of said group and the brainwashed daughter of two former members.
- The Newspaper Comic Minimum Security has the main characters committing acts of eco-terrorism but it is treated in a heroic manner.
- A superpowered eco-terrorist group fought the New Warriors a lot in the early days of their original series.
- A save-the-whales extremist tried to destroy a submarine on NCIS, believing that naval sonar and other signaling was disrupting whales' migration and breeding.
Type VIII: Multiple or Miscellaneous
- The Real Life Kahanist movement in the United States and Israel, which blends type IV with Type V, and whose members members respectively attempted to blow up an Egyptian embassy, gunned down a crowd of praying Palestinian Arabs, were involved in the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister and General Yitzhak Rabin, and have repeatedly tried to blow up the Golden Dome Mosque in Jerusalem.
- An older historical example of Jewish terrorism also includes the Irgun Zvai Leumi (known either as Irgun or by its Hebrew acronym Etzel), a Zionist extremist group active in Israel in the 1930s and '40s responsible for terrorist attacks against the British Mandate and Palestinian Arab civilians. Former Prime Minister Menachem Begin (as in the guy who signed the peace agreement with Egypt) was its leader.
- Also notable is Lehi, a splinter group from the Irgun; the British refused to dignify them with their proper name and instead called them the Stern Gang (after the founder, Avraham Stern). Unlike the Irgun, who chose to leave the British alone on the theory that the Nazis were worse, Lehi continued to attack British targets throughout World War II. Indeed, they tried to contact Those Wacky Nazis (yes, the Nazis) in 1940 on the theory that Hitler wasn't interested in killing the Jews, just in sending them out of Europe; Stern apparently wanted to found a Fascist state for all the world's Jews in Palestine (how's that for irony?). Lehi assassinated several officials, including the UN-appointed mediator Folke Bernadotte (a member of the Swedish royal family); that particular attack led the newly-minted State of Israel to outlaw the organization. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir was a prominent leader of Lehi.
- Plenty of far-right and far-left guerrillas in South America can easily be classified as terrorists, with FARC and the Contras being perhaps the most famous. Far right guerrillas tend to be IV or V, while far left guerrillas are VI, sometimes with a mix of V.
- The villains of most episodes of Threat Matrix were Western Terrorists.
- While the specific nationalities of the members of Danya's terrorists in Survival of the Fittest has so far remained unknown (though judging by the names, at least one is Swedish), most of the terrorists look distinctly Western and have Western names. So far we've only seen one Asian terrorist, a Vietnamese woman.
- Arlington Road.
- The Act of War series uses a Russian with a vendetta and various groups of Marxist/eco-terrorist groups out of Latin America and Mexico. Ironically, they're used by a bunch of Oil Corporations to take over the Earth. There also appear to be corporate security and Islamic terrorists among them, too.
- The sci-fi channel original series The Invisible Man frequently used western terrorists, including Swiss and Canadian terrorists.
- The Big Bad in almost (but not quite) all Rogue Warrior books has ties to Muslim terrorists (allowing for a scene in which Dick Marcinko blows away Arabs) but completely unrelated goals.
- Various episodes of Criminal Minds
- To elaborate, the unnamed terrorist cell in the "Lo-Fi/Mayhem" two-parter is given no real background, with its members being of various races and ethnicities (Although the group is overtly Islamic, and the 3 members we see are a Black man and two men who are light-skinned and modernly dressed enough not to raise immediate suspicion, but who are clearly Middle Eastern, which would be a realistic ethnic composition for a covert Islamic terrorist cell). It attempts to pull off an overly complex plot to kill a single politician. In "Amplification" the assistant of an eccentric scientist (who had created a new, more powerful strain of anthrax) kills his mentor in an argument and plans to unleash the anthrax to show how unprepared America really would be in the face of a terrorist attack (though in actuality he was just a spiteful little man who wanted to take revenge on places where he was rejected, one of which was a military research facility).
- In the Command and Conquer Tiberium series, most of the characters of the Brotherhood of Nod, a mysterious terrorist organization, are Westerners. Their only Middle Eastern character, Hassan, turns out to be a double agent working for the GDI, and is later defeated and executed by the Brotherhood. They combine Type IV, V, and arguably VI.
- This is true mostly for the first game. The second and third give most of them Eastern European or Oriental names: Anton Slavik, Oxana Cristos, Killian Quatar, Ajay, Marcion, etc. The Eastern overtones are quite obvious in their peculiar brand of architecture (a sort of uber-modernist meld of Islamic and Orthodox Christian), their religious views, and the fact that they're most active in Eastern Europe (Kane has a thing for Sarajevo).
- The Trigger by Arthur C. Clarke and Michael Kube-McDowell uses fictional examples of types I and II, and an apparently real-life but rather obscure type III, Los Macheteros (terrorists for Puerto Rican independence.) Wouldn't be so noticeable if Eastern and Middle Eastern terrorists weren't absent.
- The current, not so big scare, in German media are ethnic Germans who have joined Islamic terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as they could blend in perfectly with the population to stage attacks in Germany. You also can report about them without the threat of appearing racist.
- The first Darwin's Soldiers RP features homegrown terrorists who invade Pelvanida with the express goal of stealing some supplies to build a Einstein-Rosen Bridge.
- The various factions in The Troubles provide a major subset, although which Type they fall often depends on the depiction:
- The Provisional IRA, Real IRA and Continuity IRA may be depicted in various ways, generally being treated as adhering to a vague amalgam of anti-imperialist, extremist nationalism and anti-British bigotry. Often, particularly in non-British depictions, they will simply be "the IRA", skirting the complex issue of nationalist factionalism
- The Irish National Liberation Army and the Official IRA fall under Red Terror, being primarily Marxist organisations, although they possess the same nationalistic tendencies as the above.
- Unionist paramilitary organisations tend to receive less attention outside of Northern Ireland, in part because they rarely committed attacks outside of the region, but tend to be depicted as anti-Catholic or anti-Irish, usually with pro-monarchist and socially conservative views.
- The Modesty Blaise story "The Vampire of Malvescu" featured Europe's Fist; a terrorist group dedicated to striking back by committing an retaliatory act of terrorism for every act of Middle Eastern terrorism committed against Europe.
- The titular character of V for Vendetta, a Deconstruction of the Bomb Throwing Anarchist, qualifies. Whether he is simply an Anti-Hero, a Well-Intentioned Extremist, or a Complete Monster is likely to depend to a large extent on the reader's political views (V expresses that he considers himself the Monster); Word of God indicates that this is intentional. However, given that, typical of Moore's Black and Grey Morality, he is the opposition to the Norsefire régime, which crosses the Moral Event Horizon several times, he is likely to be viewed significantly more sympathetically than a large number of other examples on this list.
- The current version of the White Fang in RWBY is somewhere between Type VII and Type VIII. It started out as a non-violent Civil Rights Movement for Faunus, but there was a change in leadership about five years before the start of the series, and their methods turned violent. There are hints that they are being manipulated by someone else for more sinister purposes.