James Crossland
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Insurgents across borders
in The rise of devils
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As this chapter explains, the real ‘international brotherhood’ of the 1860s was not spearheaded by nihilists but by Fenians – Irish-American radicals who sought Ireland’s emancipation from the British Empire. The New York-based chief of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), James Stephens, forged relationships with Marx’s International Workingmen’s Association in London, the Franco-American mercenary Gustave Cluseret and the Swiss republican Octave Fariola. With the help of these collaborators, the IRB launched a series of ambitious attacks in 1866 and 1867 in Canada, Ireland and England. The attacks failed but in the process a policeman was shot and a prison in London was bombed by Fenians, prompting public outrage and accusations in the press that the IRB had turned to terrorism, with one newspaper claiming that the Irish republican movement now ‘reeks of the dreaded violence and depravity of the Russian nihilists’. The lesson that targeted violence could alert the British public to Ireland’s plight was learned, prompting a new generation of Fenians to consider terrorism as the way forward in their struggle.

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The rise of devils

Fear and the origins of modern terrorism


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