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Terrorism can be committed by governments (see state terrorism), individuals, or non-government groups; although some consider governments incapable of terrorism by definition (see article state terrorism and section on state terrorism below). In the eyes of a government that might endorse the political motives of the violent actors, such acts can also be ignored as terrorism, and can even be referred to as acts of freedom.
One who carries out acts of terrorism is a terrorist, though which acts those are is the subject of intractable debate. Terrorists are not protected by the laws of war because they cannot claim lawful combatant status. Guerrillas are often mistaken for terrorists, and some terrorists call themselves guerrillas. Adding to the confusion, are the numerous states, including developed ones who routinely employ terrorist strategies, in addition to established military practices. Asymmetric warfare, and low-intensity warfare[?] are military terms for tactics that can include terrorism or guerilla warfare.
Problems with the definition If applied to states' actions with respect to the citizens of other states, most of 20th century warfare, from aerial bombing of cities to "scorched Earth" policies to "ethnic cleansing" would qualify, and many states would be "terrorist" by definition. Thus the term "terrorist" itself usually will be applied (in military terms) to non-state actors[?] in asymmetric warfare.
As defined by the United States Department of Defense, terrorism is a very specific type of violence, although the term is often applied to other kinds of violence felt to be unacceptable. Typical terrorist actions include assassinations, kidnappings, bombings, drive-by shootings, lynchings, hijackings, and random killing. It is a political, not military, strategy and is generally conducted by groups not strong enough to mount open assaults, although it is used in peace, conflict, and war. The intent of terrorism is to induce a state of fear in an audience (not its victims) in order to cause the audience (or its government) to alter its behavior. This is the FBI's working definition that was also taken up by the British government in the Terrorism Act 2000
As if to illustrate the over-politicized use of the term terrorist, the US FBI listed Reclaim the Streets a party organiser amongst the "Threats of Terrorism to the United States." FBI director Louis Freeh listed Reclaim the Streets as a "potential threat" to the United States along with assorted terrorists from Egypt and Lebanon.
The report reads in part: "Anarchists and extreme socialist groups - many of which, such as the Workers' World Party, Reclaim the Streets, and Carnival Against Capitalism - have an international presence and, at times, also represent a potential threat in the United States. For example, anarchists, operating individually and in groups, caused much of the damage during the 1999 World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Seattle."
The list also included "extreme fringes of animal rights, environmental, anti-nuclear, and other political and social movements" as well as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). Earth Liberation Front have never done bodily harm of any type, claim only to have committed arson and "animal liberation", and claim non-violence to all living things as an explicit part of their doctrine. This group cannot conceivably satisfy the US Department of Defense definition, but the FBI finds it convenient to motivate its funding and "counter-terror" activities, gaining prestige for what would otherwise be ordinary arson cases.
The State Department also refuses to classify domestic militia groups as terrorist groups, despite a striking similarity in causes, doctrine, and training. This is widely believed to be due to a desire to maintain domestic cohesion, as the government fears the destructive potential of these groups if provoked. In the case of Irv Rubin of the JDL, the FBI took action to infiltrate and interfere with attempts to commit terrorism against Darrell Issa[?], a US Congressman[?], but does not consider the JDL to be a terrorist group in the same sense as groups such as Al-Qaeda.
In the current post-9-11 context, many claim the word terrorist to be overly politicized; being not a reference to a behaviour, but rather is an adjective to characterize and demonize an enemy in terms that carry moral disgust and outrage. This process of demonization of an enemy is normal in war and serves to solidify public opinion: George W. Bush of the USA, for example, routinely describes "the terrorists" as being "evil" and "without conscience."
Terrorist attacks and terrorists Significant terrorist incidents include the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack as well as the Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland, and the Oklahoma City bombing. See also terrorism against Israel.
Some famous terrorist organizations of the 20th century include the Spanish ETA, the German Red Army Faction (also known as the Baader-Meinhof Gang), the Irish Republican Army, Islamic Jihad, the Ku Klux Klan, the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Peruvian Shining Path, al-Qaeda, the Italian Red Brigade, the Front de Libération du Québec, the Weathermen, Black September, Puerto Rico's Los Macheteros, and the multi-Arab group Hezbollah.
Terrorism is extremely difficult for governments to control or prevent, especially if its practitioners are willing to risk or embrace certain death in the process. A few governments such as Iraq, Yemen, the United States and Libya, and the countries that supported the Taliban regime in Afghanistan have been accused of actually promoting or protecting certain terrorist groups.
History Terrorism has been used (though not so named) throughout recorded history at least as far back as ancient Greece. During the French Revolution the more extreme period of the rule of the Committee of Public Safety received the name of "The Terror", epitomising state terror directed primarily at the state's own citizens: the Committee's Jacobin adherents became "Terrorists" (with a capital "T").
Prior to the 19th century terrorists would give immunity to innocents not involved in the conflict. For example, Russian radicals intent on the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in the mid-19th century cancelled several actions out of concern that they might injure women, children, elderly persons, or other innocents. Over the past two centuries, however, as states have become increasingly bureaucratized, the death of a single individual leader did not produce the political changes that the terrorists desired, so they turned to more indirect methods to cause general anxiety and loss of confidence in the government.
Today terrorism's use has increased among the alienated due to the psychological impact it can have on the public through the extensive media coverage that it can generate. Terrorism is often the last resort of the desperate, and can be and has been conducted by small as well as large organizations. Historically, groups may resort to terrorism when they believe all other avenues, including economics, protest, public appeal, and organized warfare, hold no hope of success (also see rioting). This suggests that perhaps one effective way to combat terrorism is to ensure that in any case where there is a population feeling oppressed, that at least some avenue of gaining attention to problems is kept open, even if the population in question is in the minority on an opinion. Other reasons to engage in terrorism include attempts to gain or consolidate power either by instilling fear in the population to be controlled, or by stimulating another group into becoming a hardened foe, thereby setting up polarizing us-versus-them dynamics (also see nationalism and fascism). A third common reason to engage in terrorism is to demoralize and paralyze one's enemy with fear; this sometimes works, but can also stiffen the enemy's resolve. Often, a particular group engaged in terrorist activities can be characterised by several of these reasons. In general, retribution against terrorists can result in an escalating tit-for-tat; however, it is often felt that if the consequences of engaging in terrorism are not swift and punishing, the deterrent to other terrorist groups becomes diminished.
Terrorism relies heavily on surprise and often occurs when and where least expected. Terrorist attacks can trigger sudden transitions into conflict or war. It is not uncommon after a terrorist attack for a number of unassociated groups to claim responsibility for the action; this may be considered "free publicity" for the organization's aims or plans. Because of its anonymous and often self-sacrificial nature, it is not uncommon for the reasons behind the action to remain unknown for a considerable period.
There are eleven major multilateral conventions related to states' responsibilities for combating terrorism.
In addition to these conventions, other instruments may be relevant to particular circumstances, such as bilateral extradition treaties, the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Moreover, there are now a number of important United Nations Security Council and General Assembly Resolutions on international terrorism, including three important Security Council resolutions dealing with Libya's conduct in connection with the 1988 sabotage of Pan Am 103, which includes UN Security Council Resolutions 731 (January 21, 1992); 748 (March 31, 1992) and 883 (November 11, 1993).
The following list identifies the major terrorism conventions and provides a brief summary of some of the major terms of each instrument. In addition to the provisions summarized below, most of these conventions provide that parties must establish criminal jurisdiction over offenders (e.g., the state(s) where the offense takes place, or in some cases the state of nationality of the perpetrator or victim).
During the negotiations on the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, many states supported adding terrorism to the list of crimes over which the court would have jurisdiction. This proposal was not adopted; however the Statute provides for a review confrence to be held seven years after the entry into force of the Statute, which will consider (among other things) an extension of the court's jurisdiction to include terrorism.
Types of Terrorism Six broad categories of terrorist organizations can be identified, though the distinctions between them are not always precise. In addition to this classification, terrorism can also be classified by its range of operations into domestic terrorism and international terrorism[?].
The first usage of the word terrorism (terrorisme in french) was in France during The Terror, then first usage of this word was for state terrorism.
According to Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón[?], "State terrorism is a political system whose rule of recognition permits and/or imposes a clandestine, unpredictable, and diffuse application, even regarding clearly innocent people, of coercive means prohibited by the proclaimed judicial ordinance. State terrorism obstructs or annuls judicial activity and transforms the government into an active agent in the struggle for power."
Almost all the countries in Latin America have experienced periods of state terrorism under dictatorial or military governments, pushed by the CIA Condor Plan[?]; it is common that the initial 3-5 years after the coup d'état are characterized by violence, arbitrary detentions, exile, torture, and "disappearing" people.
The population of the Soviet Union also suffered state terrorism during the Stalin era. Millions were semi-arbitrarily arrested, forced to sign ridiculous confessions, and executed or sent off to the Gulag labour camps. Communist regimes in other countries also practiced state terrorism to control the population, but to a lesser degree than the Soviet Union.
The bombing by United States using fire-bomb attacks on Dresden killed 135,000 citizens, and Tokyo killed 83,000 citizens and the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima killed 70,000 citizens and Nagasaki killed 36,000 citizens during World War II. Some argue that these acts qualify as state terrorism. However, there were valid military reasons for the attacks on these particular locations. For example, Nagasaki had major naval shipyard facilities and Hiroshima had bases where tens of thousands of Japanese soldiers were quartered. There is also evidence that the United States attempted to repeatedly warn the civilian populations of Nagasaki and Hiroshima to evacuate the target areas. There is no evidence that causing civilians deaths was the purpose and objective of the attacks.
State terrorism is mantained through state-founded propaganda, mainly stating that it is for "National Security Reasons", that it's a short period of time, that the government is in state of war against guerrilla or terrorist groups (usually, the groups that are still loyal to the last president), and that they are working to restore the "Constitution and the Democracy".
The most pervasive elements of state terrorism are that detained people usually have no right to a judicial process and many people are executed under summary and secret trials. In virtually every case where a terrorist group has achieved power it has been marked by a dictatorship.
States widely classed as 'terrorist' include:
Anarchists believe that all states are founded on violence and therefore the term 'terrorist state' is redundant. As with other uses of the term 'terrorism', the term 'state terrorism' is highly controversial. Many people would classify the United States, Britain, or Israel as leading terrorist states.
Nationalist terrorists seek to form a separate state for their own group, and try to draw attention to their fight for "national liberation."
Examples of Nationalist Terrorist Groups:
Religious terrorists use violence to further what they see as divinely commanded purposes. (see also Religious intolerance).
Examples of Religious Terrorist Groups:
Examples of Left-Wing Terrorist Groups:
Right-wing, or "neo-Fascist", terrorists seek to do away with liberal democratic governments and create fascist states in their place. They frequently attack immigrants and are both racist and xenophobic, often specifically antisemitic.
Many right-wing Latin American terrorist groups during the 1980s, known as death squads, consisted usually of members of the armed forces who acted in an unofficial capacity to terrorize dissidents, generally with the implicit support or protection of high ranking officials. As private groups with overlapping memberships with the military, they were able to carry out a terror campaign on the government's behalf while giving the government a form of plausible deniability. The most famous victims of this campaign of death squad terrorism in El Salvador were four American nuns in 1980, and archbishop Oscar Romero also during that year. In a civil trail ending in July of 2002,a Miami, Florida jury found two former Salvadoran defense officials in the torture of three Salvadoran dissidents and ordered them to pay $54.6 million to the plaintiffs.
In many other cases, right-wing terrorists are among the least organized; most of them belong to various neo-Nazi groups.
Anarchism and Violence[?]
Anarchist terrorism was much more prevalent from the 1870s into the 1920s than it is at present. Several heads of state were assassinated, including President of the United States William McKinley. The justification of Anarchist terrorism was that such acts would make anarchist ideas famous; however, there were also many terrorists and criminals who called themselves "anarchists" but had little in common with philosophical anarchists, who often rejected any association with these individuals. This was also known as "propaganda by the deed[?]". Modern Anarchist terrorists would include Revolutionary Cells[?], Germany and Direct Action, Canada. (Neither actually called themselves Anarchists.) Often some Anarchists are found participating with the more violent elements of demonstrations, such as the anti-globalism protests in the 1990s and 2000s. This violence included both the broadest definition of the word as the destruction of property and the more narrow definition of the word as being beaten or teargassed by police. There are significant sections of the Anarchist movement who do not support terrorism or violence, including many organisations and individuals that advocate pacifism.
Famous terrorists include some of the most notorious fighters in history:
Famous terrorists and former terrorists:
See also: The Terrorist (film), List of terrorist groups, asymmetric warfare, assassin, guerrilla, doublespeak, Bomb threat, mailbomb, U.S. list of state sponsors of international terrorism, bioterrorism, narcoterrorism, List of terrorists, list of people, list of people by occupation, Insurance of terrorism.