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Terrorism topics for a research paper: 10 unexpected attacks to write on

Make no mistake about it, terrorism is real, and it is global. Terrorism is no longer only synonymous with or endemic to the Middle East. The Ideology of terrorism has moved beyond networks of terror to the so-called “lone-wolf” stage where attacks do not necessarily have to be conducted by a traditional terrorist or in an area known for acts of terrorism in the past.

Given the climate of unrest that was and has been brewing amongst Islamic radicals, if we are to limit our scope of terrorism to one specific group, none of these attacks have been particularly unexpected, however, for the sake of the governments  claiming no prior knowledge of active terror cells, here is a list.

The Beirut Barracks Bombings

  • In 1983, 299 American and French soldiers were killed after two truck bombs exploded in two separate housing buildings.
  • A group calling itself “Islamic Jihad” claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Lockerbie Bombing

  • Pan Am Flight 103 killed 270 people in total, including 11 on the ground.
  • Numerous conspiracy theories still persist, even after Muammar Gaddafi claimed responsibility on 2003.


  • While never confirmed if Osama bin Laden was involved, it was the precursor for the deadly reality we live with today.

Nairobi, Kenya

  • 1998 U.S. Embassy, 224 killed in attack linked to Al-Qaeda.


  • September 11, 2001 was the beginning of a new era of terrorism after what was considered impossible-an attack on American soil-was actually carried out.

Christmas Day Shoe Bombing

  • In 2001, Richard Reid failed in attack aboard a flight to Detroit.

Bali Bombings

  • In 2002, during an evening out at a nightclub in Bali’s tourism district, 202 people, mainly Westerners, were killed at two separate night clubs.
  • A violent Islamist group based out of Indonesia with links to al-Qaeda, known as Jemaah Islamiyah, claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Madrid Train Bombings

  • In 2004, simultaneous attacks on Spanish commuter trains in Madrid killed 191 people on their way to work.

London Train Bombings

  • In 2005, several suicide bombings took place in concert during morning rush hour, killing 52 and injuring over 700 more.

Battle of Wanat

  • In 2008, al-Qaeda and Taliban forces ambushed NATO soldiers in eastern Afghanistan, killing 9 American soldiers and becoming the worst loss of American life since the beginning of U.S. operations in Afghanistan.

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