It is a cliché to note that there are more than 200 definitions of the term terrorism from different studies conducted across the world to the point that many terrorism scholars have opted to use the term unreflectively after giving up on the definitional debate. Search activities hamper theoretical terrorism perspectives and skew its research. The significance of definitional debate goes across the boundaries of academic confines since the issue is of a global nature. The issue with the definition of the term terrorism is key in the global fight against terror activities and terror groups. In cultural and academic realms, the implications of the definition terrorism would provide more insights into the knowledge of the term terrorism and would have a substantial indirect effect on groups of people classified as terrorists who in most cases have been subjected to torture, internment without trial and rendition. Terrorism can be defined as violent or dangerous acts to human life that are a violation of country’s law carried out by sub-national groups or non-state entities with certain political goals but no ideology with the main aim being to scare away, intimidate or coerce individuals present in a given country.
For the above definition of terrorism to stand, it is important to establish a set of criteria that evaluates each of the different elements of terrorism based on its definition. In this case, the definition is broken down into several components and investigated individually. Since it has been provided as one definition, the term will only be applicable if all the components in the definition clearly define the question under investigation. In the first case, the types of violent or dangerous activities under terrorism are supposed to be identified, defined and explained why they have to necessarily fall in a different class of crime under any country’s laws or rules. Secondly, a clear and elaborate explanation as to why terrorism is associated with sub-nationals or non-state entities although all of the above factions are present and reside in a given country. Thirdly, to identify the important political gains accomplished by terrorist and identify the link between terrorism and politics. Under this section, it will also be important to identify whether terrorism is built on any firm ideology that holds certain principles. Lastly, the effect of the main goal accomplished when individuals permeate terror activities against a state or country. In essence, all parts of the above evaluation would make up the true definition of the term terrorist activities. When certain components do not fill in the gaps, then the existing definitional debate on terrorism would not have been solved.
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Acts of terrorism involve engaging in dangerous and violent acts at a higher magnitude compared to the normal criminal activities within a specific country. These acts are different from genocidal events since they occur instantaneously after a specific period of planning by the associated parties with the causalities of the crime having no prior information about the specific of the crime. In the case of genocidal events, casualties seem to have a clue since genocidal events due occur within a period. It is also important to delineate terrorist acts from the normal criminal acts that individuals engage in. The main aim of terror activities is to inspire fear among people by engaging in criminal activities that result in the maximum number of deaths. Normal criminal activities such as manslaughter conducted by one individual or killing of a family out of vengeance may not necessarily fall under terrorism since it will not inspire any fear among people. The mass killing of people suits the terrorism definition. A good example is in the case of the terror attack in the Bataclan concert in Paris where more than 90 people were killed. It is important to note that most terror activities always seek to instil some level of fear among people. In the above case, it would serve to prevent people from going to public places since people fear they will be attacked. In some cases, terror activities may involve the death of one individual through crude means though an element of fear must be present. A good example are radical extremist’s video circulating online showing the killing of foreign individuals by the Islamic State of Levante and Syria commonly referred to as ISIS. In the above case, foreign individuals are executed through the use of brute force in the process creating and installing an image of fear among the populace. This is one of the commonly used methods by terrorists to instil fear among people in different populations. The combination of criminal activities with this element of fear defines terrorism. The effects of terror are mainly directed to states so that more people would become afraid of terror organisations. Once people are afraid, terror organisations utilise such opportunities to make demands and sometimes force governments to retrieve their troops in their strongholds. However, when governments remain unbound and unshackled terror activities in the countries increase meaning that more people would become afraid.
Terrorism or terror activities are conducted by individual belonging to a subnational group or non-state entities. In the recent past, most scholars have associated terror activities with Islamic states in the Middle East though this is not the case. No fully functional government heading a state or country in the present world can be led by the terror organisation. The reality of the matter is that most of this terror organisations exists within a country and have formed subgroups within countries. A good example is the presence of Al Qaeda which operates in different countries across the world but is more predominantly found in the Middle East where it has its origins. This never means that Al Qaeda controls the Middle East. In fact, it poses the same threat to countries in the Middle East in a similar manner to other parts of the world. Another example of a subnational group is Al Shabaab located in Somalia in East Africa. The unit controls some parts of the country, but it is not recognised as a state entity. A similar case is in the case of ISIS which controls some parts of Iraq and Syria though it has not a state entity. Most terror organisations that hold states land hold them unlawfully and in the process are in constant war with different countries who seek to regain their territory and jurisdiction.
The end goal of terrorism is to achieve a certain political gain through the use of crude methods. Most terrorist organisation across the world are fighting tooth and nail with different countries so that they could own certain countries. A good example is in the case of Al Shabaab and ISIS. After the civil war in Somalia, Al Shabaab took over some part of the country and attempted to run such a country. Their efforts were thwarted from the first day since they are not recognised as a legitimate form of government. This organisation is still at war attempting to become take control of Somalia and running it based on their laws. Similarly, ISIS as an organisation is interested in taking over countries in the Middle East and running them as based on their political ideologies. In fact, most terrorist organisation across the world have been fundamentally built for this political reason to attempt to cede land and govern themselves based on their laws. To date, none has been successful. Another political ideology that drives terrorist organisation is the belief that the Western culture should not be tolerated in their countries since they interfere with their cultures. Any country aligning with countries from the West is believed to be in conflict with most terror organisation.
Terrorist’s organisations engaging in acts of terrorism have no form of ideology or principle in which most of their actions are explained. In the recent past, there has been an attempt to link the Islamic religion to terrorism. The truth remains that the Islamic religion teaching does not in any way advocate for the terrorist activities conducted by most of the above-named terror groups. In reality, Islam is a religion of peace just like the other religion. If it were based on an ideology, then it would be expected that all Muslims would be engaging in acts of terror or may be linked to terror organisations in one way or another. In addition, most of the terror organisations that exists are short-formed and change their purpose or shift their allegiance after a given time. A good example is the case of ISIS which was formed by combining different terror organisations present in the state. Therefore it would be wrong to state that terrorism activities are founded on ideology.
Though different scholars have attempted to define terrorism, many definitions have been brought up in the process creating an unending definitional debate. An ideal definition of the term terrorism should encompass the engagement of violent or dangerous activities by a non-state entity or subnational group with no ideology but with interests in instilling fear among populations with the sole purpose of gaining political goals.
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