What is Terrorism?

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  • Written By: Sherry Holetzky
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 05 May 2020
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The commonly accepted meaning of the word terrorism is any use of terror in the form of violence or threats meant to coerce an individual, group, or entity to act in a manner in which any person or group could not otherwise lawfully force them to act. The world community has struggled with creating a legal definition of terrorism that is globally accepted. In the United States, it is broken down into two categories: international and domestic.

The main characteristics of acts or threats that constitute terrorism are the same as in the wider definition above, but additional details have been added under these categories. Both include violent acts or any actions that endanger human life or violate U.S. laws, both federal and state. The definition further clarifies that these acts appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce civilians — collectively — or to intimidate or coerce changes in governmental policy or government conduct through the use of mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.

The main difference between the two definitions is the inclusion under international terrorism that clarifies criminal violations as those that would be construed as such if committed in U.S. federal or state jurisdiction. The other distinction describes where the acts occur. International terrorism occurs primarily outside the “territorial jurisdiction” of the United States, while domestic primarily occurs within U.S. jurisdiction.

Despite the legal definitions, terrorism means different things to different people. While the threat to the modern world appears to involve more Islamist extremists than any other type of terrorist, it should be clearly acknowledged that not all Muslims are terrorists and not all terrorists are Muslim. In fact, many Muslims are in as much danger under the radicalized practices of Islam as any other people, because they divert from the extremist interpretation of Islam.

Terrorism has been around for centuries, although it’s been defined or described differently throughout the years. Today, it amounts to bullying, only on a grand scale, because these bullies have powerful weapons and fighters who embrace death as martyrdom. There is nothing more dangerous than a terrorist who believes that he has nothing to lose.

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Post 31

In order to meet the qualifications of terrorism, it needs to be:

1) A violent act that is done with the deployment of bombs, missiles, hijacked planes, guns, cannons, poisoned letters, swords, and other lethal objects.

2) Intended to cause injury and/or death upon persons who are not taking part of active hostilities or who are not contributing to the war effort in situation of armed conflict. Typically, most of the victims of terrorism are civilians, law enforcement agencies (within the civilian context), prisoners of war, and neutral members of armed forces.

3) Highly motivated by political, religious, or ideological beliefs and intended to cause disorder and chaos amidst the population and/or to influence the government to change

its political stance towards the goals in which terrorists intended to deliver the message to such goals.

To those who refer to our military being terrorists, no, members of the U.S. armed forces are not terrorists because many of them do not intend to kill non-combatants and no one within the high ranks in the U.S. military encourage such a policy to do so. The definition of terrorism does not extend to enemy soldiers who are fighting terrorists in the battlefields. This includes those who are insurgents mounting attacks on enemy occupying troops who are trying to maintain law and order within the occupied nations.

Post 30

Is the act for independence also defined as a terrorism?

Post 26

A simple comment passing by: can someone please explain how different people interpret different meanings of terrorism?

Post 23

How do people see terrorism in different ways? Does anyone know?

Post 22

According to the definition in the first sentence, the U.S. is a terrorist entity - its armed forces use coercive violence every single day. It is interesting that the U.S. definition (see Wikipedia) explicitly excludes U.S. and other state-organized armed forces from the definition, so that when a civilian kills an American it is terrorism, but when US forces kill thousands, it isn't terrorism.

The specific exclusion of state armed forces from the U.S. definition is a fine example of the definer choosing a definition that suits his own interests. For more analysis, see George Orwell. For more examples, see Josef Goebbels.

Post 21

Terrorists don't have any religion. They are the screwed up people who don't understand that any matter can be solved by talking about it. They are using the name of religion just to convince people that they are right.

Post 20

If there be one thing that affect our daily lives the most, i think it's religion. no matter how hard we try to fight against terrorism, it will never go away as long as we have the freedom of religion around.

Post 19

Terrorism means any use of terror in the form of violence.

Post 15

@egcoptic: What is the matter with you? That has to be one of most ignorant things I've heard.

Interpreting texts with such a narrow mind and causing misconceptions is the whole reason why there are prejudices, racism, and particularly Islamophobia.

Read the rest of the Quran, understand it and then ask questions.

Post 14

Terrorism has always been a threat for people since time began. But as years pass by, there seems to be no difference in its intensity. It seems to be getting worse every time.

People are stuck in the middle of a fight between these extremist groups and the government, irrespective of which country it may be.

Terrorism should have been nipped in the bud, but now it has grown into something very difficult to put an end to. Terrorism should be stopped immediately, before it is too late.

Post 12

so, to those who say terrorism is not islam/muslims, can you just reply "yes" or "no" to the following question? To Muslims, your Quran says: it's O.K. to kill non-muslims? God will reward you greatly. Yes or no?

Please don't need to go into a long explanation. Just say, yes or no.

Post 11

if Muslims are terrorists, then what do you say about the drone attack or USA army in Afghanistan killing the innocent people?

Post 9

Muslims are not damn terrorists please understand. Don't be stupid like others. I don't care about what America thinks or says about Islam/terrorism.

Post 8

George W. Bush did not go to Iraq in the name of Christ. Islamic terrorists terrorize others not of the same belief, in the name of Allah. And not all the soldiers in the US military are Christians.

Post 7

Terrorism is a complex term. However, it comprises of 'Terror' and 'ism' which may simply translate as the philosophy of creating terror or fear or destruction among the people(which may expand to nations as well). Fascism was also a kind of terrorism, imperialism is/was also a kind of terrorism and of course we have the religious terrorism (where islam has been implicated by various entities and sources as cause of terrorism).

However, if we see through the lens of history, we find that Islam did not ever support terrorism. However, if people are hell bent on calling Saudi Arabia an "Islamic State" they are ignorant, for Islam does not allow the rule by heredity. it is by consensus among people

that the governments are created. There are Kings and not Caliphs to rule the nation.

Apart from this, if i say that Christianity is a source of terror because of whatever George Bush did in the name of "Crusade" was sheer 'Terrorism'. he created a fear psychosis in the heart of the Iraqis, he looted and plundered the nations, US soldiers were also involved in looting the artifacts of the Iraqi museums. If this is not terrorism what is it then? Thus, it is necessary to understand that terror does not have any linkage to religion. And if it has, then surely the christianity of carrying out a Crusade in the twenty first century to kill and exploit the resources of nation like Iraq and Afghanistan is the biggest terror.

As far as Osama and Company are concerned, i think it is the USA the will have to come clean on Osama. if he were a terrorist then why did the American administration plant him in Afghanistan? To throw roses at the Russian?

Let us, therefore, not implicate religion in the debate of terrorism. because if we implicate religion then christians and Judaism will come in the first list of terrorism of world terror in twenty first century.

Post 6

Muslims are not terrorists! It is against Islam to be a terrorist!

Post 4

Terrorism has always been a threat for people since time began. But as years pass by, there seems to be no difference in its intensity. It seems to be getting worse every time.

People are stuck in the middle of a fight between these extremist groups and the government, irrespective of which country it may be.

Terrorism should have been nipped in the bud, but now it has grown into something very difficult to put an end to. Terrorism should be stopped immediately, before it is too late.

Post 2

Please explain the Patriot act.

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