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TA-ANALYSIS: Terrorism: Western Perspective (Part 3 of 4)

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posted on Mar, 17 2004 @ 08:10 PM
An exclusive, ongoing, multipart series, whose sole quest is to find a universally acceptable definition of Terrorism.

One of the major issues surrounding finding an agreeable universally acceptable definition of terrorism, is that every one of us perceive it and interpret terrorism differently. Likewise, when an “act” of terrorism takes place, we undoubtedly perceive and interpret the “act” differently. As mentioned in the preceding article, Brief Historical Perspective, that what one person’s “terrorist” is another person’s “freedom fighter.” With such glaring differences of thought and opinion on the word “terrorism” and “acts” of terrorism associated with it, would it be safe to deduce that conceivably no word in modern political usage is more controversial?

In truth, there have been historical attempts to give an internationally acceptable definition to terrorism. The League of Nation’s, in 1937, made the first attempt to do so. It defined terrorism as:

All criminal acts directed against a state and intended or calculated to create state terror in the minds of particular persons or group of persons or the general public.

A 1999, the United Nation’s made another attempt in the form of a resolution:

Strongly condemns all acts, methods and practices of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, wherever and by whomsoever committed;
Reiterates that criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other nature that may be invoked to justify them.

What is Terrorism
Terrorism Definitions
UNODC: Definitions of Terrorism

Despite the attempts to seek an agreeable international definition, the United Nation’s, the international organization whose purpose is to bring the world together to achieve worldly common goals, and as previously presented in Can You Decide, has confessed that:

the lack of agreement on a definition of terrorism has been a major obstacle to meaningful international countermeasures.


With such a blatant admission by the United Nation’s, what has inevitably transpired is that many individual nations have taken the initiative to propose their own official definitions of terrorism. This article will be focusing on the Western’s perception and definitions of terrorism.

The United States has proved that a definitive definition of terrorism is still somewhat elusive.

State Department:

the premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.

Federal Bureau of Investigation: [

the unlawful use of force or 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.

Department of Defense:

the calculated use, or threatened use, of force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives.

Department of Justice: Interprets the same as above, but uses the phrase:

the unlawful use of force or violence…

What those who read the above definitions undoubtedly miss is that both, the State and Defense Departments, perceive terrorism as an act of war, with the word usages of: the premeditated and the calculated use. Likewise, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice perceive terrorism as a crime, with the word usage of: the unlawful. Also of note, is that the Department of Defense’s definition emphasizes goals. The State Department’s definition emphasizes motives. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice’s definitions emphasize methods. The notion that terrorism is a crime heavily rests upon nation’s having an adequate legal framework, as well as having an astute understanding of terrorism itself.
US Terrorism Laws
Title 18
Title 50
Title 22
US Anti-terrorism Laws

Canada has proposed legislation, Bill C-36, that will officially give their definition(s) to terrorism:

Terrorist activity is an action within or outside Canada that is taken or threatened for political, religious or ideological purposes and threatens the public or national security by killing, seriously harming or endangering a person, causing substantial property damage that is likely to seriously harm people, or by interfering with or disrupting an essential service, facility or system.

Royal Assent of Bill C-36
Anti-Terrorist Legislation

Great Britain has The Terrorism Act, which simply mentions:

The use, or threat, of action which is violent, damaging or disrupting and is intended to influence the government or intimidate the public and is for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.

The United Kingdom Parliament
Terrorism Act 2000

The European Union’s definition of terrorism is so ambiguous that the definition has to be 'pieced' together to even get an appropriate understanding of the overall meaning:

Any "act of intimidation" committed by "an individual or a group" with the intention of "seriously altering ... political, economic or social structures" will be classified as a terrorist offence.

Council of European Union’s First Draft
"Pieced" EU Definition Within

Israel defines terrorism as (International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism):

The intentional use of, or threat to use violence against civilians or against civilian targets, in order to attain political aims.

Understanding Terror
Bomb’s Message…

The Strategic Studies Institute an extensive report that mentions that as of 1998, authors Alex Schmid and Albert Jongman had determined that there were approximately 109 definitions of terrorism, covering 22 extensive elements.
Mention of: Political terrorism : a new guide to actors, authors, concepts, data bases, theories, and literature.
Strategic Studies Institute Report

The next part of this ongoing series will cover the Islamic Perspective on terrorism.

Related Sources of Interest
Terrorism Resources
Terrorism and Terrorists
Terrorism: An Interdisciplinary Perspective

[Edited on 22-3-2004 by Seekerof]

posted on Mar, 17 2004 @ 08:48 PM
i'm getting into the thoughtscape
a little more each posting...

anticipating the 4th & 5th installments

~*~....just a thought,

ONE other word seems to share the 'controversial' mantle,
it's characterized as '"...can't explain IT, but i'll know IT
when I see IT'"-->>
and that word is Pornography..

(another type human right/dignity manipulation on several levels)

posted on Mar, 18 2004 @ 06:13 AM
Great analysis Seekerof... gets a 10 from me on thread score~
I look forward to the next installment...
Keep up the good work!


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