"From the end of the 11th century, when a Muslim sect known as the Assassins (a translation from Hashishaya) willingly sacrificed their own lives in pursuit of what they termed righteousness and salvation, special difficulties have been involved in dealing with terrorists. Not until very recently, however, have these difficulties entailed the prospect of large-scale nuclear catastrophe. Today, the failure of counterterrorist strategies can give rise not only to locally destructive acts of rage and violence, but to genuinely apocalyptic events triggered by nuclear weapons. The nightmare that began with the Manhattan Project may end with megadeath, and the primary actors may not be governments, but terrorists. How can this be possible? The answer lies largely in the fact that the ability to acquire and use nuclear weapons has now passed into the hands of private individuals and groups. Coupled with the orientation to violence of terrorists, their relative insensitivity to orthodox threats of deterrence, and the growth of interterrorist cooperation, this ability signals an inexorable drift toward nuclear destruction."
U.S. Army War College: http://www.carlisle.army.mil/
Parameters (1979), v.9 n.2, p.11-19