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Urban guerrilla warfare

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Title: Urban guerrilla warfare  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Guevarism, Molotov cocktail, Propaganda of the deed, Kale borroka, Urban guerrilla warfare
Collection: Guerrilla Warfare by Type, Revolutions, Terrorism, Urban Guerrilla Warfare
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Urban guerrilla warfare

Urban guerrilla redirects here. For the Hawkwind song, see Urban Guerrilla.

An urban guerrilla is someone who fights a government using unconventional warfare or domestic terrorism in an urban environment.


  • Theory and history of the urban guerrilla 1
  • Historical examples 2
    • Argentina 2.1
    • Bangladesh 2.2
    • Belgium 2.3
    • Brazil 2.4
    • Canada 2.5
    • Chile 2.6
    • Colombia 2.7
    • Cuba 2.8
    • El Salvador 2.9
    • Ethiopia 2.10
    • France 2.11
    • Germany 2.12
    • Great Britain 2.13
    • Greece 2.14
    • India 2.15
    • Iran 2.16
    • Iraq 2.17
    • Ireland 2.18
    • Italy 2.19
    • Japan 2.20
    • Malaysia 2.21
    • Lebanon 2.22
    • Palestinian Territories 2.23
    • Nicaragua 2.24
    • Philippines 2.25
    • Poland 2.26
    • Spain 2.27
    • Somalia 2.28
    • Turkey 2.29
    • Uruguay 2.30
    • USA 2.31
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Theory and history of the urban guerrilla

The urban guerrilla phenomenon is essentially one of industrialised society, resting both on the presence of large urban agglomerations where hideouts are easy to find and on a theory of alienation proper to the modern society of mass consumption.

Michael Collins, a commander of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) is often considered to be the father of modern urban guerrilla warfare. In April 1919 an elite assassination unit, known as The Squad or Twelve Apostles was created in Dublin. The unit was tasked with hunting down and executing British Intelligence operatives in the city, they can be considered one of the first true urban guerrilla units.

Historically guerrilla warfare was a rural phenomenon, it was not until the 1960s that the limitations of this form were clearly demonstrated. The technique was almost entirely ineffective when used outside of the later colonial environment, as was shown by the Cuban sponsored efforts in Latin America during the 1960s culminating in the hopeless foco campaign headed by Che Guevara in Bolivia that culminated in his death. The need for the target government to be simultaneously incompetent, iniquitous, and politically isolated was rarely met.

The failure of rural insurgency forced the discontented to find new avenues for action, essentially random terrorism aimed at creating maximum publicity, provoking the targeted regimes into excessive repression and so inciting the general population to join a wider revolutionary struggle. This movement found its mentor in the leader of the ephemeral Ação Libertadora Nacional, Carlos Marighela. Before his death during a bank robbery in 1969 he wrote the Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla which, between the polemics, gave clear advice on strategy and was quickly adopted by others around the world.

Historical examples









El Salvador






Great Britain




  • People's Mujahedin of Iran (formed 1970)











Palestinian Territories









However, not all urban political violence can be labeled as urban guerrilla. The Black Panther Party might not qualify, due to its public nature, although its policy of "self-defense" was interchangeable with a policy of armed struggle in militarily occupied African American communities. Similarly the Italian Autonomia movement, and the German Autonomen engaged in urban political violence, but not as urban guerrillas due to their policies of public, mass and non-deadly violence.

In the 1970s BBC comedy "Citizen Smith" Wolfie Smith, the leader of the fictional "Tooting Popular Front" described himself as an Urban Guerrilla.

See also


  1. ^ The final days of revolutionary struggle in Japan

External links

Suggested readings:

  • Greene, T.N. (ed) The Guerrilla—and How to Fight Him: Selections From the Marine Corps Gazette. Frederick A. Praeger, 1964.
  • Molnar et al., Undergrounds in Insurgent, Revolutionary, and Resistance Warfare. Special Operations Research Office, American University, 1963.
  • Oppenheimer, Martin. The Urban Guerrilla. Quadrangle, 1969.
  • The Black Bloc Papers: An Anthology of Primary Texts From The North American Anarchist Black Bloc 1988-2005, by Xavier Massot & David Van Deusen of the Green Mountain Anarchist Collective (NEFAC-VT), Breaking Glass Press, 2010.
  • A Communiqué on Tactics and Organization to the Black Bloc, from within the Black Bloc, by The Green Mountain Anarchist Collective (NEFAC-VT) & Columbus Anti-Racist Action, Black Clover Press, 2001.
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