Terrorism- a deliberate act of killing

Terrorism- a deliberate act of killing

Terrorism is a multifaceted complex political phenomenon. This is a highly complex and controversial topic. There is no clear definition of terrorism. It is a type of violence perpetrated by non-state actors with political motives. Terrorism is a deliberate act of killing and is becoming a threat to humanity.

Definition of terrorism

There are several different definitions of what terrorism really is.

In Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries, terrorism is defined as the use of violent action in order to achieve political aims or to force a government to act.

According to dictionary.com – Terrorism is the unlawful use of violence or threats to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or government, with the goal of furthering political, social, or ideological objectives.

History of terrorism

The term terrorism was first coined in the 1790s to describe the actions of the Jacobin Club during the Reign of Terror in the French Revolution. Reign of Terror involves mass execution. This led to the development of early terrorist groups. It is an act of violence by the state against its own citizens.

9/11 Attack (pic- BBC)

The term terrorism gained popularity after the September 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, New York, popularly known as the 9/11 attacks. Earlier there had been extensive acts of terrorism, just after 9/11 the fear of terrorism intensified.

Reasons behind terrorism

  • Negligence or injustice done by the government
  • Discrimination
  • Poverty
  • Social and political injustice
  • Beliefs
  • Imbalance between opponents
  • Lack of democracy
  • Western cultural influences
  • Illiteracy
  • Unemployment
  • Extreme nationalism
  • Religious extremism
  • Growing intolerance in society
  • Ineffective anti-terrorism legislation
  • Lack of decision-making and internal security policy
  • Inadequate modernization of police
  • Access to the Internet and social media  

Objectives of terrorism

The aim of terrorism is to create an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty among a wide audience. Terrorists want to draw attention to their issues through terrorism. Terrorism seeks to achieve political, religious and ideological objectives.

Terrorist attacks on citizens, symbols of power such as embassies, parliaments etc. and political leaders. They use bombings, hijackings, plane hijackings, suicide bombings, killings, indiscriminate firing, etc. These terrorist acts led to post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and life-threatening depression.

Can terrorism be morally justified?

Is there any ethics in terrorism?

Terrorism is not justified anyway but some terrorists see themselves as freedom fighters. And sometimes they try to justify their behaviour. So the question is, is their behaviour justified anyway?

We don’t know about it because we don’t have any clear definition of terrorism. Terrorists come from different countries and different religions and have different objectives and accomplish their objectives by using different methods. Terrorism fulfils these conditions which help to differentiate terrorism from other political violence. such as-

  • This is deliberate violence and destruction.
  • It is committed by groups to promote some sort of agenda.
  • A target is a limited number of people but they have a greater intention to influence a particular country or government or leader. The real victims are not the people directly involved but their wider audience.
  • It kills and injures innocent people.

There is a huge difference between killing innocent people during terrorism and killing innocent people during war. The killing of innocent people is not intentional but it is a supreme emergency. Is it okay to justify such innocent killings during the war?

Some say that terrorism is not justified but it is okay to bomb a city during the war because it is a measure of last resort, an act of self-defence and it is in response to aggressive fighting. If so, then if a terrorist group just wanted to attack a building but has no intention of killing innocent people so it is morally justified. I think many of us are definitely not okay with it.

There is a saying that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Well, I am not in a place to say whether the act of terrorism is ethical or morally justified as I am not going through this.

United Nations Office on Counter-Terrorism

It was established through a resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 15 June 2017. It aims to assist member states in combating terrorism by disseminating policy support and in-depth knowledge about the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

UNOCT (Pic- the United Nations)

Role of Anthropologists

Anthropologists try to understand the combination of religion, culture and influence from other terrorist organizations that led society to the emergence of terrorism. They try to interview convicted terrorists and try to understand the psychology of terrorists.

Their main focus is towards the ideology which attracts people to join any kind of terrorist organization. Terrorists are the heroes among the members of the organization. It’s just the mentality that a group create in its member’s mind. People buy into the ideology and the values of terrorist organizations.

Pic- slate.com

Here anthropologists follow in-depth field interviews in a controlled environment. This puts the researcher at risk. The interview requires permission from the authorized country and remember that it is not an easy task but still it is the job of an anthropologist.


Anthropologist Seeks the Roots of Terrorism


UN Office of Counter-Terrorism


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