essay on TERRORISM

Having undertaken research into terrorism, anyone who dares doing so would encounter such a problem like diversity of definitions of the term. It can resemble the Medieval discussions on number of the witches dancing on the needle’s tip. Like in case with the Holy Inquisition, the way terrorism is defined to a certain degree depends on the point of view of the one who defines that term. Even different US agencies busied with fighting terrorism provide the audience with different definitions of it. So the United States Department of Defence defines terrorism as “the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.” The FBI defines terrorism as follows: “Terrorism is the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” According to the U.S. Department of State definition “terrorism” is the “premeditated politically-motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.”  ( )

United Nations Security Council report of November 2004 defines terrorism as any 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.” ( ) By the way, that UN report does not constitute an International Law. Neither of the definitions recognizes the civilians’ right to resort to violence in case of having their country invaded and occupied. So eventually, the distinction is a matter of a political judgment.


On the theories of the terrorism


Such pioneers of the terror like Assassins and Zealots did not care much for giving some ideological grounds for their deeds. Any acts, which could be esteemed nowadays as terrorist, were considered as the normal warfare practices.

However, since the political power was considered no more to possess certain divine origin the need for ideological basis arose.

The period of warfare and political conflict that Europe endured after the French Revolution gave an impetus for contriving political theories during the early 1800s. Several important theories of social revolution developed during this time. The link between revolutionary violence and terror was developed early on. Revolutionary theories rejected the possibility of reforming the system and demanded its destruction. This extremism laid the groundwork for the use of unconstrained violence for political ends.

Two ideologies that suggested ideas of violent social change were Marxism, anarchism and Marxism. Both advocated the complete destruction of the existing system. Both acknowledged that violence outside the accepted bounds of warfare and rebellion would be necessary. Communism focused on economic class warfare, and assumed seizure of state power by the working class (proletariat) until the state was no longer needed, and eventually disposed of.

Anarchism rejected  all forms of governance. The anarchist’s belief was that after the state is destroyed, nothing will be required to replace it, and people could live and interact without governmental coercion. In the short term, communism’s acceptance of the need for organization and an interim coercive state made it the more successful of the two ideologies. Anarchism survived into the modern era and retains attraction for violent extremists to this day. (

In the early years of the 20th Century, nationalism and revolutionary political ideologies were the principal developmental forces acting upon terrorism. Since World War I resulted in crush of the major European empires ”“ German, Austro-Hungarian and Russian American president Wilson put forward his 14 Points, which suggested the nation’s right to self-determination. This encouraged minorities and ethnicities not receiving recognition to campaign for independence or autonomy. However, in many cases self-determination was limited to European nations and ethnic groups and denied others, especially the colonial possessions of the major European powers, creating bitterness and setting the stage for the long conflicts of the anti-colonial period

In particular, Arab nationalists felt themselves to have been betrayed. Believing they were promised post-war independence, they were doubly disappointed; first when the French and British assumed the authority over their lands; and then especially when the British allowed Zionist immigration into Palestine. (

Since the end of World War II, terrorism has developed itself into but a major component of contemporary conflict. Primarily in use immediately after the war as a subordinate element of anti-colonial insurgencies, it expanded beyond that role. In the service of various ideologies, terrorism sometimes replaced other forms of conflict completely. It also became a far-reaching weapon capable of effects no less global than the intercontinental bomber or missile. It has also proven to be a significant tool of diplomacy and international power for states inclined to use it.

The seemingly quick results and shocking immediacy of terrorism made some consider it as a short cut to victory.

Small revolutionary groups not willing to invest the time and resources to organize political activity would rely on the “propaganda of the deed” to energize mass action. This suggested that a tiny core of activists could overthrow any regime using terror alone. The result of this belief by revolutionaries in developed countries was the isolation of the terrorists from the population they claimed to represent, and the adoption of the Leninist concept of the “vanguard of revolution” by small groups of revolutionaries. In less developed countries, small groups of foreign revolutionaries such as Che Guevara arrived from outside the country, expecting to immediately energize revolutionary action by their presence.

On approaches to identify the terrorist groups


Since there is no strict everywhere recognized definition of the term so diverse are approaches to the problem. Either way the governments are concerned with the problem so they do their best to exclude themselves from any responsibility and furthermore try to gain profit from that. Most of groups esteemed as terrorist deny application of the term to them. Since the term is not clearly identified by international law, it is loosely applied and simultaneously difficult to challenge. Therefore, there are no rules of using and application of the term. Soon US forces succeeded to capture first captives in Afghanistan they were put to prison at the Guantanamo and are currently kept there contrary to the Geneva Agreements and contrary to international law. This state of affairs could bring international community to the practices of the conquistadors who slaughtered American Indians simply not considering them humans.

Therefore, as we can see within all listed above definitions, there are three key elements””violence, fear, and intimidation””and each element produces terror in its victims.

The word terrorism originates from the Latin word terrere, which means to frighten. That word came to English and many other languages via the French word terrorisme, which is often referred to the regime de la terreur the Reign of Terror – the policy conducted by the French revolutionary government in 1793-94. As the French revolutionary leader Maximilien Robespierre put it in 1794 “Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible; it is therefore an emanation of virtue; it is not so much a special principle as it is a consequence of the general principle of democracy applied to our country’s most urgent needs.” Five years later, the word terrorism appeared in English dictionaries as meaning “systematic use of terror as a policy.”


Retrospective and the outlook of the terrorism


The history of the terrorism could be traced back to the dawn of the civilization itself. The Holy Writ contains dscription of the slaughter of the innocents. Gaius Mucius Scaevola – a noble Roman youth is reported to have sneaked into the enemy’s camp in order to kill the king of the foe. On being captured by the Etruscans and brought at their king declared outwardly his intentions and to emphasize his courage thrust his hand into the fire the king had just ordered to cast the youth alive. Etruscan king Porsena is said to have been so impressed by courage of the young Roman that ordered to free the youth. The trustworthiness of that episode is still disputable but anyway that plot describes but the first recorded example of the terrorist act. Porsenna was likely to be simply frightened by the youth who managed to sneak into the enemy camp and then without revealing a sign of a pain sacrificed his limb. It could have become evident for Porsenna that there are such men among the Romans who do not care a bit about their own lives in order to achieve certain abstract goal he would not be able overcome them. In other words he was frightened, terrified. May be the story is so eloquent because is made-up. May be the only terrorists known from the historical records genuinely committed to an abstract idea were Jewish Zealots who at the beginning of the A.D. used to kill roman officials and Jewish renegades who collaborated with the invaders. Still more fascinating parts of our plot wait for us in the Middle Ages. English and many other European languages have the word assassin, which is for a murderer. This word allegedly derives from Arabian word hashish, which they are reported to have been addicted to.

Nonetheless, they were in fact an offshoot of Ishmael sect of Shia Muslims they were often motivated by the infidels.

Being instigated by the Hospitallers, they killed Jerusalem patriarch. They were reported to have killed Conrad of Montferrat being hired by Richard the Lionhearted. As soon as Mongols appeared in the Middle East Assassins tried to negotiate with Hulagu Khan. However, the latter had no need in them so on 1256 December 15 during the assault, Mongols captured and destroyed Assassins’ stronghold Alamout. The fall of the fortress marked the end of that oriental “Murder Inc”.

Russian leftist terrorists are also renowned for their collaboration with tsarist secret police. The famous author of the Catechism of Revolutionary Sergey Nechaev and the leaders of Narodnaya Volya are reported to have collaborated with the secret police okhranka whose officials tried to influence Tsar Alexander II whose reforms would diminish the gendarmes’ role in the country.The successor of Narodnaya Volya ”“ Socialist-Revolutionist party had hardly each third its member on the police’s payroll.

While gathering materials for that essay I encountered such a term like a state-sponsored terrorism describing support offered to different terrorist movements from abroad. At the first sight everything seems to be clear. Some governments sponsor subversive activities in other countries seeking for overthrow their governments or even to change the social order there.

Cuban citizen Che Guevara left for Bolivia to export revolution there. Former Taliban government of Afghanistan supported Islamic movements in Middle Asia. But there are other rather curious prima facie examples of terrorist activities. Islamic State of Iran sponsor Islamite extremists abroad trying to export Islamic Revolution. Latin American dictatorships initiated Condor operation in order to persecute and extradite political refugees. All of that seems to be routine and humdrum. But there are some points which are still beyond my mind. Why cannot Israeli secret service, which succeeded to kidnap Adolph Eichman and deliver him from Argentina, can not overcome the terrorists in the Left Bank and in Gaza? How come Russians could not capture Basayev during several years? After all how come the mightiest power in the world the USA which succeeded to send men to the moon and  bring them back can not catch Osama bin Laden whom they had previously on their payroll?

The only explanation coming to mind is as follows. Since counterterrorist campaigns are generously sponsored by the governments there are for sure certain people among officials who are to a certain degree interested in terrorism because fighting it they are develop their careers. Businesses get governmental contracts and so gain profits. In brief, there are certain powerful interests, which are interested in maintaining terrorism as well as pharmacologists are interested in maintaining deceases to a certain degree, so they could make profits on merchandising cures.As it goes in a popular fairy tale “if the stars are being lightened in the sky it means that somebody needs it.” So until somebody could gain his/her profits of the terrorism or fighting terrorism such an abominable phenomenon will exist “the audience” would be “influenced” by “premeditated politically-motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents”

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