The Fifth Wave


In Module Two, you explored Rapoport’s wave theory. In this theory, Rapoport describes each wave as dominated by a particular form of terrorism: anarchist, anticolonialist, New Left, or religious terrorism. Rapoport also described each wave as a cycle lasting about forty years. Rapoport suggested that this was due in part to terrorists failing to pass their beliefs on to children: Therefore, each wave faded out over time. Rapoport asserted that the current religious wave began in 1979 and predicted that, like the previous waves, it would fade out and be replaced by a fifth wave that might begin to emerge around the year 2025.

Counterterrorism experts have already begun to explore what this fifth wave of terrorism might look like. If Rapoport’s time table is accurate, indicators and signposts of that fifth wave might already be emerging.