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(Government, Politics & Diplomacy) a person who employs terror or terrorism, esp as a political weapon
An individual who uses violence, terror, and intimidation to achieve a result.
terrorist - a radical who employs terror as a political weapon; usually organizes with other terrorists in small cells; often uses religion as a cover for terrorist activities
act of terrorism, terrorism, terrorist act - the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear
radical cell, terrorist cell - a cell of terrorists (usually 3 to 5 members); "to insure operational security the members of adjacent terrorist cells usually don't know each other or the identity of their leadership"
cyber-terrorist, cyberpunk, hacker - a programmer who breaks into computer systems in order to steal or change or destroy information as a form of cyber-terrorism
Jacobin - a member of the radical movement that instituted the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution
radical - a person who has radical ideas or opinions
sleeper - a spy or saboteur or terrorist planted in an enemy country who lives there as a law-abiding citizen until activated by a prearranged signal
suicide bomber - a terrorist who blows himself up in order to kill or injure other people
Acts of violence committed by groups that view themselves as victimized by some notable historical wrong. Although these groups have no formal connection with governments, they usually have the financial and moral backing of sympathetic governments. Typically, they stage unexpected attacks on civilian targets, including embassies and airliners, with the aim of sowing fear and confusion. Israel has been a frequent target of terrorism, but the United States has increasingly become its main target.
One engaged in armed rebellion or resistance against an oppressive government.
(Government, Politics & Diplomacy) a militant revolutionary
freedom fighter - a person who takes part in an armed rebellion against the constituted authority (especially in the hope of improving conditions)
insurgent, insurrectionist, rebel
mutineer - someone who is openly rebellious and refuses to obey authorities (especially seamen or soldiers)
crusader, meliorist, reformer, reformist, social reformer - a disputant who advocates reform
revolutionary, revolutionist, subversive, subverter - a radical supporter of political or social revolution
Young Turk - a member of one or more of the insurgent groups in Turkey in the late 19th century who rebelled against the absolutism of Ottoman rule
To the British, the "minutemen" of the US revolution were "terrorists" but to Americans then and now, they were "freedom fighters".
The Partisans in France, Belgium, Norway, Yugoslavia, Poland etc during WW-2 were "terrorists" to the Nazi Germans but "freedom fighters" to the local population.
The Basque rebels are considered terrorists by the Spanish but freedom fighters by people of Basque heritage.
The "Tamil Tigers" in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) are considered terrorists by the Ceylonese but freedom fighters by the Tamils.
The Palmarch and especially the "Stern Gang" were Jewish freedom fighters to the Jews in British Palestine but considered "terrorists" to the British. The "Stern Gang" only blew up the military wing of the King David Hotel and no civilians were killed.
The Viet Minh and its military wing, the Peoples Army of Vietnam (PAVN) were terrorists to the French during the First Indochina War (War of Independence 1947-1954) but were freedom fighters to the Vietnamese population.
The National Liberation Front of Southern Vietnam (NLF and often wrongly called the Viet Cong) were terrorists to the US and the illegal (under international law and the "1954 Geneva Agreements on Indochina") Republic of South Vietnam but were freedom fighters to the majority of the people in southern Vietnam.
The Algerian Liberation Front were terrorists to the French during the War of Independence, but were freedom fighters to the Algerian population.
The Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) was a terrorist organisation to many in Israel and the rest of the world, but to many (Muslim) Palestinians they were freedom fighters. It was the PLO who started attacking civilian targets including civilian aircraft. Hamas and similar organisations are carrying on the actions of the PLO in also attacking civilian targets as well as military
The Mujaheddin, including Al Quaida, (armed and trained by the US) who fought against the Russians were considered terrorists by the Russians, but freedom fighters by the Afghanistanis and the rest of the world.
Now Al Quaida, since it has turned against the materialistic, and in the view of many Muslims, immoral US, the US considers them as terrorists. Many Muslims consider them as fighters for Islamic independence and moral values.
Do terrorists see themselves as terrorists?
No. The French revolutionaries who coined the term "terrorist" in the 1790s thought it had positive connotations, but today, it’s hard to find anyone who wants to be known as a terrorist. Instead, individuals and organizations branded as terrorists tend to prefer calling themselves "freedom fighters," "urban guerrillas," or "holy warriors," among other things. For instance, Ilich Ramirez Sanchez (a.k.a. Carlos the Jackal), the mastermind of numerous terrorist attacks in the 1970s and 1980s, described himself in 1994 as a revolutionary and "above all a family man."
Even though most people think they can recognize terrorism when they see it, experts have had difficulty coming up with an ironclad definition. The State Department defines terrorism as "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience." In another useful attempt to produce a definition, Paul Pillar, a former deputy chief of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center, argues that there are four key elements of terrorism:
It is premeditated—planned in advance, rather than an impulsive act of rage.
It is designed to change the existing political order. It is not merely criminal, like the violence that groups such as the mafia use to get money.
It is aimed at civilians—not at military targets or combat-ready troops.
It is carried out by subnational groups—not by the army of a country.
What is the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter?
It’s tough to say, according to experts—largely because they are overlapping categories. Terrorism is a tactic, and "freedom fighting" describes a motivation, so a person or group could be engaged in both at the same time. Experts say whether one calls a particular group "terrorists" or "freedom fighters" often largely depends on whether one thinks the group’s ends justify its violent means—which, in turn, depends on one’s politics
Can states be terrorists?
Again, it’s a question of definition. The State Department and many leading experts define terrorists as members of subnational groups, not government leaders or states—thereby placing even such dedicated abusers of human rights as Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbia beyond the bounds of the epithet "terrorist." These experts often define Milosevic-style atrocities as human rights abuses or war crimes. But some terrorism scholars do include violence perpetrated by governments in their definitions of terrorism, if these assaults involve state violence intentionally aimed at civilians and designed to instill fear or influence public opinion. Also, states can sponsor terrorism by providing sanctuary; weapons; training; or logistical, financial, or diplomatic support to terrorist groups. The State Department lists seven countries as state sponsors of terrorism: Cuba, Libya, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria.
Arrested in Donegal near a car loaded with 5,000 rounds of ammunition and 250 pounds of explosives, he was sentenced to six months by a court whose jurisdiction he denied, "I am a member of the Derry Brigade of the (IRA) and am very, very proud of it."
A Londonderry official called him "a cold-blooded ruthless terrorist (who) will weigh up the consequences of his actions only in terms of benefit to the IRA, regardless of the cost in human lives." Another said he was a "fanatic ... responsible for mass murder."
He himself has spoken of the "legal and moral right of the IRA to kill a British soldier at any time," and was once quoted: "Freedom can be gained only at the point of an IRA rifle, and I apologize to no one for saying that we support the freedom fighters of the IRA."
He is Martin McGuinness. And the same March 13 New York Times that carries the picture of millions of Spaniards protesting the murderous terror attack on the Madrid trains has a photo of McGuinness chatting amiably with John Kerry before McGuinness spoke at Harvard.
Is it then true that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter"? After all, many Irish consider McGuinness and his Sinn Fein comrade Gerry Adams, whom Bill Clinton invited to the White House for St. Patrick's Day, as freedom fighters in the tradition of the "martyrs" of the "Easter Rising" of 1916, celebrated by the poet W. B. Yeats.
As the president swears eternal war on terrorism, it is time to ask: Who is a terrorist? Exactly what is terrorism? Have we not ourselves sometimes breached our commitment "never to negotiate with terrorists"? Have we Americans also engaged in terrorism?
Terrorism has been defined as the murder or massacre of innocent men, women and children for political ends. In that sense, 9-11 qualifies, as do the Hamas bombings of buses in Jerusalem.
Ariel Sharon, as head of Force 101, is accused of massacring scores of Palestinian villagers at Qibya in 1953 in a reprisal raid for the murder of an Israel woman and her children.
Nobel Prize winner Yasser Arafat has been charged in the cold-blooded assassination of U.S. Ambassador Cleo Noel in the Sudan in 1973. His PLO is an umbrella group embracing organizations for whom the weapon of choice in the war against Israel is terror.
Nelson Mandela, another Nobel Peace Prize winner, did not get life imprisonment on Robben Island for sitting in at lunch counters, but if memory serves, for plotting terror to overthrow the regime.
Jomo Kenyatta, the "Grand Old Man" of Africa in the 1960s, was the leader of the Mau Mau in the 1950s. Ahmed Ben Bella led Algeria's war of independence, in which terror was the insurgents' weapon and torture the counter-weapon of the French.
What is Nagasaki – the atomic bombing of a defenseless city of a defeated nation – other than an act of slaughter, killing 40,000 men, women and children in minutes to force Japan's warlords to submit to America's will?
But that was war, we say, and Japan was the aggressor. Does that also justify Dresden? Is air terror permissible in a just war if a nation can demonstrate it was the victim of aggression?
Saddam's Iraq did not threaten us, did not attack us, did not want war with us, did not have weapons of mass destruction. Yet, we attacked, invaded and occupied Iraq. And when Iraqis attack our troops, we call it terror and we call them terrorists.