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What is Terrorism?
  • A complicated phenomenon
  • Specialized from of political violence
  • Viscous species of psychological warfare
  • The target is different from the intended audience
  • The goal is not to kill, but to make an impact on another
  • The goal is symbolism
Definition of Terrorism

Terrorism is the use of force or violence against persons or property in violation of The criminal laws for purposes of intimidation, coercion, or ransom. Terrorists often use threats to: Create fear among the public, Try to convince citizens that their government is powerless to prevent terrorism, Get immediate publicity for their causes. Acts of terrorism include threats of terrorism; assassinations; kidnappings; hijackings; bomb scares and bombings; cyber attacks (computer-based); and the use of chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological weapons. High-risk targets for acts of terrorism include military and civilian government facilities, international airports, large cities, and high-profile landmarks. Terrorists might also target large public gatherings, water and food supplies, utilities, and corporate centers. Further, terrorists are capable of spreading fear by sending explosives or chemical and biological agents through the mail.

  • Terrorism as an adjective: "An act intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act."
  •         - UN Panel on Terrorism
  • Terrorist as a noun: A group that engages in acts of terrorism.
  •         -Yet, this is tricky because nearly all groups have attacked civilians.
  • Webster's: the use of the force or threats to demoralize, intimidate and Subjugate, especially as a political weapon.
  • World Book: the use of threat of violence to create fear and alarm.
International Law

The Sixth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly attempted to formulate a comprehensive general definition of terrorism.

Any person commits an offence within the meaning of this Convention if that person, by any means, unlawfully and intentionally, causes:

  • Death or serious bodily injury to any person; or
  • Serious damage to public or private property, including a place of public use a State or government facility, a public transportation system, an infrastructure facility or the environment; or
  • Damage to property, places, facilities, or systems referred to in paragraph 1(b) of this article, resulting or likely to result in major economic loss, when the purpose of the conduct, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to compel a Government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing an act.
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