There is neither an academic nor an international legal consensus regarding the properÂ definition of the word "terrorism".Â Various legal systems and government agencies use different definitions of "terrorism". Moreover, the international community has been slow to formulate a universally agreed upon, legally binding definition of thisÂ crime. These difficulties arise from the fact that the term "terrorism" is politically and emotionally charged
The term "terrorism" comes from FrenchÂ terrorisme, fromÂ Latin:Â 'terror', "great fear", "dread", related to the Latin verbÂ terrere, "to frighten". TheÂ terror cimbricusÂ was a panic and state of emergency in Rome in response to the approach of ...view middle of the document...
Experts and other long-established scholars in the field are equally incapable of reaching a consensus. In the first edition of his magisterial survey, "Political terrorism: A Research Guide," Alex Schmid devoted more than a hundred pages to examining more than a hundred different definition of terrorism in a effort to discover a broadly acceptable, reasonably comprehensive explication of the word
In this sense, after surveying the various academic definitions of terrorism, Vallis concluded that:
"Most of the formal definitions of terrorism have some common characteristics: a fundamental motive to make political/societal changes; the use of violence or illegal force; attacks on civilian targets by "nonstate"/"Subnational actors"; and the goal of affecting society. This finding is reflected in Blee's listing of three components of terrorism:
1. Acts or threats of violence;
2. The communication of fear to an audience beyond the immediate victim, and;
3. Political, economic, or religious aims by the perpetrator(s)."
Date | Name | Definition and notes |
1987 | L. Ali Khan | "Terrorism sprouts from the existence of aggrieved groups. These aggrieved groups share two essential characteristics: they have specific political objectives, and they believe that violence is an inevitable means to achieve their political ends. The political dimension of terrorist violence is the key factor that distinguishes it from other crimes." |
1988 | SchmidÂ and Jongman | "Terrorism is an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi-)clandestine individual, group, or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal, or political reasons, wherebyâ€”in contrast to assassinationâ€”the direct targets of violence are not the main targets. The immediate human victims of violence are generally chosen randomly (targets of opportunity) or selectively (representative or symbolic targets) from a target population, and serve as message generators. Threat- and violence-based communication processes between terrorist (organization), (imperiled) victims, and main targets are use to manipulate the main target (audience(s), turning it into a target of terror, a target of demands, or a target of attention, depending on whether intimidation, coercion, or propaganda is primarily sought". |
1989 | Jack Gibbs | "Terrorism is illegal violence or threatened violence directed against human or nonhuman objects, provided that it: (1) was undertaken or ordered with a view to altering or maintaining at least one putative norm in at least one particular territorial unit or population: (2) had secretive, furtive, and/or clandestine features that were expected by the participants to conceal their personal identity and/or their future location; (3) was not undertaken or ordered to further the permanent defense of some area; (4) was not conventional warfare and because of their concealed personal identity, concealment of their future location, their...