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Terrorism (from french (XVIIIe century) : terrorisme under the Terror) refers to the systemic or calculated use of violence or the threat of violence, against the civilian population, to instil fear in an audience for purposes of obtaining political or religious goals. It is critical to distinguish terrorism from irregular, revolutionary or guerrilla warfare. These are not intrinsic forms of terrorism. However, revolutionaries and guerrillas can become terrorists if they knowingly and wilfully bring violence against civilians for political or religious purposes.

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.

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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.

International Conventions on Terrorism

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).

  1. Convention on Offenses and Certain Other Acts Committed On Board Aircraft (Tokyo Convention, agreed 9/63--safety of aviation):
    • applies to acts affecting in-flight safety;
    • authorizes the aircraft commander to impose reasonable measures, including restraint, on any person he or she has reason to believe has committed or is about to commit such an act, when necessary to protect the safety of the aircraft and for related reasons;
    • requires contracting states to take custody of offenders and to return control of the aircraft to the lawful commander.
  2. Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft (Hague Convention, agreed 12/70--aircraft hijackings):
    • makes it an offense for any person on board an aircraft in flight [to] "unlawfully, by force or threat thereof, or any other form of intimidation, [to] seize or exercise control of that aircraft" or to attempt to do so;
    • requires parties to the convention to make hijackings punishable by "severe penalties;"
    • requires parties that have custody of offenders to either extradite the offender or submit the case for prosecution;
    • requires parties to assist each other in connection with criminal proceedings brought under the convention.
  3. Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Civil Aviation (Montreal Convention, agreed 9/71--applies to acts of aviation sabotage such as bombings aboard aircraft in flight):
    • makes it an offense for any person unlawfully and intentionally to perform an act of violence against a person on board an aircraft in flight, if that act is likely to endanger the safety of that aircraft; to place an explosive device on an aircraft; and to attempt such acts or be an accomplice of a person who performs or attempts to perform such acts;
    • requires parties to the convention to make offenses punishable by "severe penalties;"
    • requires parties that have custody of offenders to either extradite the offender or submit the case for prosecution;
    • requires parties to assist each other in connection with criminal proceedings brought under the convention.
  4. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Internationally Protected Persons (agreed 12/73--protects senior government officials and diplomats):
    • defines internationally protected person as a Head of State, a Minister for Foreign Affairs, a representative or official of a state or of an international organization who is entitled to special protection from attack under international law;
    • requires each party to criminalize and make punishable "by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature," the intentional murder, kidnapping, or other attack upon the person or liberty of an internationally protected person, a violent attack upon the official premises, the private accommodations, or the means of transport of such person; a threat or attempt to commit such an attack; and an act "constituting participation as an accomplice;"
    • requires parties that have custody of offenders to either extradite the offender or submit the case for prosecution;
    • requires parties to assist each other in connection with criminal proceedings brought under the convention.
  5. Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (Nuclear Materials Convention, agreed 10/79--combats unlawful taking and use of nuclear material):
    • criminalizes the unlawful possession, use, transfer, etc., of nuclear material, the theft of nuclear material, and threats to use nuclear material to cause death or serious injury to any person or substantial property damage;
    • requires parties that have custody of offenders to either extradite the offender or submit the case for prosecution;
    • requires parties to assist each other in connection with criminal proceedings brought under the convention.
  6. International Convention Against the Taking of Hostages (Hostages Convention, agreed 12/79):
    • provides that "any person who seizes or detains and threatens to kill, to injure, or to continue to detain another person in order to compel a third party, namely, a State, an international intergovernmental organization, a natural or juridical person, or a group of persons, to do or abstain from doing any act as an explicit or implicit condition for the release of the hostage commits the offense of taking of hostages within the meaning of this Convention;"
    • requires parties that have custody of offenders to either extradite the offender or submit the case for prosecution;
    • requires parties to assist each other in connection with criminal proceedings brought under the convention.
  7. Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts of Violence at Airports Serving International Civil Aviation (agreed 2/88--extends and supplements Montreal Convention):
    • extends the provisions of the Montreal Convention (see No. 3 above) to encompass terrorist acts at airports serving international civil aviation.
  8. Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, (agreed 3/88--applies to terrorist activities on ships):
    • establishes a legal regime applicable to acts against international maritime navigation that is similar to the regimes established against international aviation;
    • makes it an offense for a person unlawfully and intentionally to seize or exercise control over a ship by force, threat, or intimidation; to perform an act of violence against a person on board a ship if that act is likely to endanger the safe navigation of the ship; to place a destructive device or substance aboard a ship; and other acts against the safety of ships;
    • requires parties that have custody of offenders to either extradite the offender or submit the case for prosecution;
    • requires parties to assist each other in connection with criminal proceedings brought under the convention.
    • Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf (agreed 3/88--applies to terrorist activities on fixed offshore platforms):
    • establishes a legal regime applicable to acts against fixed platforms on the continental shelf that is similar to the regimes established against international aviation;
    • requires parties that have custody of offenders to either extradite the offender or submit the case for prosecution;
    • requires parties to assist each other in connection with criminal proceedings brought under the protocol.
  9. Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for the Purpose of Identification (agreed 3/91--provides for chemical marking to facilitate detection of plastic explosives, e.g., to combat aircraft sabotage). Consists of two parts: the Convention itself, and a Technical Annex which is an integral part of the Convention.
    • designed to control and limit the used of unmarked and undetectable plastic explosives (negotiated in the aftermath of the Pan Am 103 bombing);
    • parties are obligated in their respective territories to ensure effective control over "unmarked" plastic explosive, i.e., those that do not contain one of the detection agents described in the Technical Annex;
    • generally speaking, each party must, among other things: take necessary and effective measures to prohibit and prevent the manufacture of unmarked plastic explosives; take necessary and effective measures to prevent the movement of unmarked plastic explosives into or out of its territory; take necessary measures to exercise strict and effective control over possession and transfer of unmarked explosives made or imported prior to the entry-into-force of the convention; take necessary measures to ensure that all stocks of such unmarked explosives not held by the military or police are destroyed or consumed, marked, or rendered permanently ineffective within three years; take necessary measures to ensure that unmarked plastic explosives held by the military or police, are destroyed or consumed, marked, or rendered permanently ineffective within fifteen years; and, take necessary measures to ensure the destruction, as soon as possible, of any unmarked explosives manufactured after the date-of-entry into force of the convention for that state.
    • does not itself create new offenses that would be subject to a prosecution or extradition regime, although all states are required to ensure that provisions are complied within their territories.
  10. International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombing (agreed 12/97--expands the legal framework for international cooperation in the investigation, prosecution, and extradition of persons who engage in terrorist bombings):
    • creates a regime of universal jurisdiction over the unlawful and intentional use of explosives and other lethal devices in, into, or against various defined public places with intent to kill or cause serious bodily injury, or with intent to cause extensive destruction of the public place;
    • like earlier conventions on protected persons and hostage taking, requires parties to criminalize, under their domestic laws, certain types of criminal offenses, and also requires parties to extradite or submit for prosecution persons accused of committing or aiding in the commission of such offenses.

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[?].

State Terrorism

Main article: State 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 Terrorism

Main article: Nationalist terrorism

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 Terrorism

Main article: Religious terrorism

Religious terrorists use violence to further what they see as divinely commanded purposes. (see also Religious intolerance).

Examples of Religious Terrorist Groups:

Left-wing Terrorism

Main article: Left-wing terrorism

Left-wing terrorists are out to destroy capitalism and replace it with a communist or socialist regime.

Examples of Left-Wing Terrorist Groups:

Right-Wing Terrorism

Main article: Right-wing terrorism

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.

Anarchist Terrorism

Main article: 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.

External links

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.

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