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Definition of Terrorism

Discuss about the Rise of Terrorism in Australia.

Terrorism, in the broadest sense of the term, refers to the unlawful as well as the unjustified use of violence to create fear and terror among the common people. The act of terrorism is usually used by the various individuals as well as terrorist organizations to achieve some political, economic, ideological or religious purposes. However, it is often seen that the act of terrorism is used by the individuals or terrorist organizations simply to create terror and destruction of lives as well as property out of hatred and personal spite.

The interpretation of the concept of terrorism varies from people to people and society to society. It is usually seen that the motives which inspire these terrorists as well as terrorist organizations vary widely and thus in the absence of a proper definition the theorists have labeled the different terrorist acts on the basis of the ulterior motives of the terrorists or the terrorist organizations concerned like political terrorism, religious terrorism and others. However, the factor which is common among all these acts of terrorism is that they inevitably cause the destruction of valuable property as well as human lives in addition to causing terror and suffering.

The question what is the purpose of terrorism is a very broad one and the answer to it various from individual to individual as well as terrorist organization to organization. However, it is generally seen that the primary of the various terrorism is the achievement of some hidden agenda by creating pressure on the national government of the concerned nation. Furthermore, in many cases it is seen that the various terrorist activities are motivated by personal hatred as well as animosity towards the people as well as the national government of a particular nation. The primary means through which the various terrorists as well as the terrorist organizations seek to attain their desired results is through the creation of fear as well as chaos among the general people of the nation. Thus, many people are of the opinion that terrorism can be seen as a form of psychological warfare which attains its desired aims through attacking the psychology of the common people.

There is a very thin line between terrorism and other form of political violence. The concept of political violence generally refers to the achievement of some political aims through the use of violence and unfair means whereas terrorism is not always related to the attainment of some political aims. In the majority of the cases it is seen that personal hatred as well as animosity overshadows political concerns during the terrorist activities.

Key Concepts

The Assassins group which survived for nearly two centuries (1090-1275) can be said to be forerunners of the form of terrorism which is being practiced in the present times. The primary reason for this is the fact that the violence which was perpetrated by them unlike the Zealots-Sicariis was not limited to the Jews only. Rather just the modern form of terrorism the victims of the attacks and violence committed by them were people from all religious groups as well as social and economic backgrounds. Furthermore, it was seen that this particular group was motivated not only by the religious factors but at the same time by political aspirations as well. Thus, although the group aimed to spread Islam yet there were some hidden motives behind the terrorist activities conducted by them.

One of the most commonly accepted definition of terrorist during the 12th and 13th centuries was that “it was propaganda by deeds”. Thus, the major purpose for the attainment of which these groups or organizations resorted to these terrorist or violent activities was not only for the spread of Islam but to influence the people. The intended target audience of the group under discussion here was the people belonging to the other religious groups like Christianity, Buddhism and others.

Violent anarchism and contemporary terrorist to a large extent are guiding by the same set of ideologies as well as motifs. For example, both of them prefer action over ideology, the focus of both of them is on resisting the authority in power, lack of pragmatic goals, use of violence to attain the end which they want and others. However, there are various differences between the two forms of terrorism as well. For example, the Tsarist government against which the Anarchists revolted was an autocratic and needed to be stopped for the common good of the people of the nation. It is true that the means adopted by the organization was unfair as well as unlawful yet the goal which they sought to attain was a logical one. However, the contemporary terrorism when taken into consideration will reveal lack of effective motif and is generally caused by the terrorists to fulfill their own personal agendas.

The conditions which lead to the rise of the violent anarchists were the oppression as well as the dominating nature of the Tsarist government. The ruling government used all sorts of coercive measures to attain its own personal agendas. This is generally ascribed as one of the major reasons for the rise of this particular terrorist organization. The factors which lead to the decline of the concerned organization were firstly the resistance offered by the Tsarist government and also the lack of effective planning as well as leadership of the organization.

Pre-Modern Terrorism

The major difference between a revolutionary terrorism and the contemporary terrorism is the end motif which the people who are resorting to the violent method are willing to achieve. It is true that the use of violence outside the legal framework cannot be justified in any manner however if the cause is a noble one then the harshness of the incident can be mitigated to some extent. This is one of the major reasons why some of the revolutionary movements even though they take the help of violent methods are being able to get the sympathy of the people whereas other movements which do not take the help of violent but with less effective causes are not being able to do so. The methods used in the process of the attainment of the end result does matter a lot but at the same time the ultimate goal which they are trying to achieve is more important.

One of the primary reasons why the rebellions after the First World War were being able to gain success was the fact that they were able to get the necessary amount of provocative reaction from the national governments of the concerned nations or from the parties to which they were directed. This provocative reaction in turn helped them to gain the sympathy of the common people which in turn lead to the success of the movement.

The primary reason why the nature of the various rebellions changed in the 1960s was because of the change of the political landscape of the world. For example, according to an estimate more than 32 countries of the world had gained their independence during that decade. Furthermore, psychologically the people were tired of the long drawn out violent process by means of which they had achieved their independence. Thus, there was a natural repulsion of the people towards the various kinds of violent activities and this made the rebellions to undergo a change in their nature. Instead it was seen that the people were revolting for some of the basic rights like gay rights, women empowerment and others.

Terrorism in the sense of the contemporary times was fairly unsuccessful at this particular period of time since the people were more focussed on the attainment of some of the basic above mentioned rights. Furthermore, it was generally seen that although there were few instances of violent outbreaks yet most of the times these rebellions were peacefully conducted.

Anarchist terrorism

One of the primary reasons which lead to the rise as well as the growth of the religious wave was the fact that the traditional motifs used by the terrorist groups were no longer effective with the general mass and thus these organisations decided to use to religious sentiments of the people. In addition to this, the two great wars as well as the Cold war left a void in the lives of the people and the people filled this particular void with the machinery of religions. Thus, it seemed more profitable to these terrorist groups to use this particular sentiments of the people to further their personal agendas. Religion apart from shaping the identity of the people plays a great role in deciding the psychology of a particular person and to a large extent even determines the actions of a particular person. It is a reflection of this particular that a group of people following a particular religion tend to have a similar kind of psychology and perform similar kind of actions.

Yes religious terrorism poses a greater amount of danger to the people of the world on the score that it directly appeals not only to the religious views which are being held by a particular person but at the same time his or her psychology as well. Thus, this form of terrorism not only poses physical danger to the people but at the same time psychological as well as spiritual danger as well.

The general opinion which is being held about the concept of terrorism is the fact that the various terrorist actions cause destruction of physical property as well as lives in a significant manner. Thus it is generally seen that direct sort of action is generally considered to a prerequisite of terrorism. However, it is generally seen that the various terrorist groups or terrorists often resort to the use of indirect action or put pressure on the government of the ruling nation to get their demands or objectives fulfilled by them. Furthermore, the demands which are being made by them the attainment of which they seek through indirect means without causing any harm of lives or property can cause more amount of harm than the direct terrorist actions. Thus, it would be apt to say that it is not always necessary that direct action has to be associated with a particular terrorist act.

In a way it can be said that this form of terrorism causes a significant lesser amount of loss of property as well as lives and in a way reduces human harm. Yet at the same time it needs to be said the motives which these terrorist groups seek to attain are sometimes more dangerous and can cause more amount of harm than the traditional methods.

Revolutionary Terrorism and Insurgency

Right Wing Terrorism was one of the most popular forms of terrorism in the 1970s and the places which were most affected by this particular form of terrorism were the Eastern and Western Europe and several parts of Soviet Union. The primary motif of this particular form of terrorism were motivated with various diverse kinds of ideologies and some of the most popular ones among them were the “Islamophobia, anti-communism, neo-fascism and neo-Nazism, and a mindset against abortion”. Thus, the primary idea of these kinds of terrorist groups and individuals was to overthrown the traditional oppressive forms of governmental organisations and authorities and replace them with the kind of governmental authorities which believed in nationalism or the ideologies of Nazism and fascism.

It was generally seen that the majority of these terrorist groups as well as individuals resorted to the active use of violence for the overthrown of the governmental authorities of the various nations. Thus, it was seen that in the nation of the Soviet Union these groups sought to overthrow the Communist government. However, this particular form of terrorism soon fizzled out as they did not have the active support of the people because of the nature of ideologies which they followed.

In the present times one of the most important trends which is being seen in the world of terrorism is the fact that the terrorist actions in addition to being group oriented have became isolated as well. For example in the recent times the number of terrorists operating on their own has increased in a significant and this is one of the primary reasons for the increased in the number of terrorist activities which the world is witnessing at the current moment. Generally it is seen that these individuals are motivated by personal reasons like the injustices which they have received at the hands of the society or the justice system of the concerned nation to which they belong. Thus, it would be apt to say that these individual terrorists are more motivated by the personal hatred as well as personal animosity rather than the achievement of any political, religious and other agendas which the major terrorist organisations seek to attain through the large scale destruction which they cause. In a way it can be said that these actions of violence committed by these individuals can be as regional forms of terrorism. The primary difference between these personal acts of terrorism and the large-scale terrorist actions conducted by the terrorism groups does lies in the motif factor.

References

"How Terrorism Works". 2018. Mark Manson. https://markmanson.net/terrorism.

Dyer, Gwynne. 2018. "Terrorism 101 | Gwynne Dyer". Gwynnedyer.Com. https://gwynnedyer.com/2014/terrorism-101/

Fromkin, David. "The strategy of terrorism." Foreign Affairs 53, no. 4 (1975): 683-698.

Hoffman, B. ‘Religious Terrorism’ and ‘Suicide Terrorism’  in Inside Terrorism (Revised and Expanded Ed.), New York: Columbia University Press, (2006): 81-171

Hoffman, Bruce. Inside terrorism. Columbia University Press, 2006.

Jensen, Richard Bach. "Nineteenth century anarchist terrorism: how comparable to the terrorism of Al-Qaeda?." Terrorism and Political Violence 20, no. 4 (2008): 589-596.

Joosse, Paul. "Leaderless resistance and ideological inclusion: The case of the Earth Liberation Front." Terrorism and Political Violence 19, no. 3 (2007): 351-368.

Kaplan, Jeffrey. "Leaderless resistance." Terrorism and Political Violence 9, no. 3 (1997): 80-95.

Law, R. ‘The Era of Leftist and International Terrorism’, in Terrorism: A History, Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, (2009): 254-280.

Liddick, Don. Eco-terrorism: Radical environmental and animal liberation movements. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006.

Likar, Lawrence E. Eco-warriors, nihilistic terrorists, and the environment. ABC-CLIO, 2011.

Rapoport, David C. "Fear and trembling: Terrorism in three religious traditions." American Political Science Review 78, no. 3 (1984): 658-677.

Roberts, Mark. "The Terrorism Lectures: A Comprehensive Collection for Students of Terrorism, Counterterrorism, and National Security. By Dr. James JF Forest. Santa Ana, CA: Nortia Press, 2012." Journal of Strategic Security 6, no. 1 (2013): 2.

Schmid, Problem Alex P. "The Response Problem as a Definition." In Western Responses to Terrorism, pp. 17-23. Routledge, 2012.

Southern Poverty Law Center. ‘Terror from the Right: Plots, Conspiracies, and Racist Rampages Since Oklahoma City’, Special Report from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, Montgomery, AL: Southern Poverty Law Center, 2012

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