The consensus seems to be that terrorism is unlawful violence (not sanctioned by war) that incites terror among civilians.
This terror disables or alters the civilians’ way of life for a political purpose.
It is action that is premeditated, deliberate and designed to create the largest disruption with the smallest amount of force.
Terrorism could involve for example, the slaughter of a village, the bombing of a cinema hall, or planes being hijacked.
Groups who are not backed by dominant military powers are more likely to use terrorism because of lack of resources and manpower makes traditional warfare all but impossible.
The term “terrorism” itself was coined in the 18th century during the French Reign of Terror, when average citizens were often publicly executed to scare others into submission.
Terrorism as an act, however, is much older than that.
Murders, assassinations, the burning of villages and the rape of women were all on record long before the French Revolution.
In fact, terrorism reaches back to ancient Greece and has occurred throughout history.
Terrorism can be instigated by the State; State terrorism could be part of a government campaign to eliminate the opposition, such as under Gregory Kayibanda and Juvenal Habyarimana in Rwanda as well as under Idi Amin in Uganda or under Hitler of Germany, Mussolini of Italy, Stalin of Russia and many others.
It is a tool used by governments to control the population within their borders.
Methods of State Terrorism can include the use of secret police, military action in intimidation acts.
State sponsored terrorism occurs when governments provide support or protection to terrorist groups that carry out proxy attacks against other countries.
This is the case with Iran supporting Hamas in Gaza as well as Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Terrorism has most commonly become identified, however, with individuals or groups attempting to destabilise or overthrow existing political institutions.
Terrorism by radicals (of both the left and right) and by nationalists became widespread after the Second World War.
Since the late 20th century, acts of terrorism have been associated with the Italian Red Brigades, the Irish Republican Army, the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Peru’s Shining Path, and Sri Lanka’s Tigers among many groups.
The difference between resistance and terrorism is a slight one, often highlighted by value judgments and prejudice.
Indeed “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda have continued to terrorise the Congolese people.
They are involved in killings, rape, looting and destruction.
They present a danger to the Rwandan people, because they were involved in the Genocide and they would not hesitate to do the same again.
Religiously, inspired terrorism has also occurred, such as that of extremist Christian opponents of abortion in the United States, of extremists Muslims associated with among others, Hamas, Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda, there are other organizations such as extremist Sikks in India, and Japan’s Aum Shinrikyo, which released nerve gas in Tokyo’s subway system (1995).
In modern era, terrorism appears to be more frequent and more dramatic.
This can be regarded as concurrent with the increasingly globalised society. Easier and better world communication and travel links, more advanced technology and instant global media, all mean that terrorism is easier and more effective, more fear can be created in an easier manner and get wider coverage.
The recent advances will continue to enable even small numbers of alienated people to find and connect with one another, justify and intensify their anger and mobilise resources to attack.
All this without requiring a centralized terrorist organization, training camp or leader.
The Muslim world has produced more than its fair share of terrorists and terrorism.
Despite Islamic teachings against suicide and the killing of innocent people, terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda, have used a fundamentalist form of Islam to justify an unholy war of terrorism.
Many other groups also commit terrorism in the name of Islam.
To name a few, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Hamas in Palestine, Algeria’s armed Islamic group, Egypt’s Islamic Jihad, Uzbekistan’s Islamic Group, Egypt’s Islamic Jihad, Uzbekistan’s Islamic Movement, the Philippines’s Abu Sayyard and Pakistan’s Jaish-e Muhammed (Army of Muhammed). Although their goals differ, they all want to set up Islamic States, based on Islamic fundamentalism.
There are five major Palestinian terrorist groups; these are Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Fatah, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade.
They have all carried out deadly terrorist attacks. Although ideology may differ among the groups, they share the same goal of ending Israeli occupation in and around the area of West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as establishing an independent Palestinian State.
They recruit men and women to engage in suicide attacks against Israeli military and settlers in the region.
In 1988, Al Qaeda, the most feared and most dangerous terrorist organization in the world were formed.
It came to the spotlight on September 11, 2001, when it staged the single largest terrorist attack in history on America.
Al-Qaeda operatives hijacked four U.S. airlines and crashed two of them into the World Trade Centre Towers and one on the Pentagon, close to 3,000 people were killed in the attack.
Al-Qaeda’s brand of terrorism is distinct from the terrorism that individual countries like Egypt faced in the 1980’s and 1990’s, unlike earlier radical Islamists, Al-Qaeda is not primarily driven by the goal of promoting revolution in the individual States. Its chief target is the West and seeks to end Western influence in Muslim countries.
It is responsible for many other terrorist acts killing many innocent men, women and children. On August 7, 1998, Al-Qaeda terrorists almost simultaneously set off bombs 150 miles apart at U.S Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The blasts killed 12 Americans and about 250 Africans.
On May 12, 2003, Al-Qaeda suicide terrorists set off bombs in three housing compounds in the capital of Saudi Arabia. The bombs killed 35 people, including 25 Americans.
Al-Qaeda has been linked to many other attacks and continues to be a big threat, even though its operational headquarters was disrupted in Afghanistan by a U.S. invasion in early 2002.
At heart, Al-Qaeda is a highly decentralised international organization.
It is made of Semi-independent Islamic terrorists in more than twenty countries.
Bin Laden is the top leader of Al-Qaeda and the most visible figurehead.
While he provides inspiration and ideology for the organization, he is likely not involved in the day-to-day operations.
Al-Qaeda continues to try to acquire and eventually use chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear material in attacks and would not hesitate to use them if it develops sufficient capacity.
The rate of fatal terrorist attacks around the world by terrorist insurgent groups and the number of people killed in those attacks increased dramatically after the invasion of Iraq.
A large part of this rise occurred in Iraq, the scene of almost half the Global Jihadist terrorist attacks.
The phase “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” is a view that terrorists themselves would accept.
Terrorists do not see themselves as evil, they believe they are legitimate combatants, fighting for what they believe in, by whatever means possible.Ends