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My thoughts are with those whose lives were shattered on 9/11/2001 – and in the wars and terror unleashed across the globe in its aftermath  –Jeremy Corbyn

“He who kills is guilty only if he consents to go on living or if, to remain alive, he betrays his comrades. To die, on the other hand, cancels out both the guilt and the crime itself.”  –Albert Camus

Definitions of Terrorism

State Department definition: “politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.”

State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations list: group must “threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security (national defense, foreign relations, or the economic interests) of the United States.”

State Dept. #3: “Terrorism involves the use of violence by an organization other than a national government to cause intimidation or fear among a target audience.
FBI definition: the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

United Nations definition: any act “intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to a […] person not taking an active part in the hostilities in a situation of armed conflict, when the purpose of such act […] is to intimidate a population, or to compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act.”


Case #1: Under occupation by a foreign power, a group targets the soldiers and politicians of the foreign power for assassination and attack.

Case #2: During war, a group of soldiers go on a rampage, destroying any fields, buildings, crops, shelter, and territory that might be giving solace to the enemy, and killing many civilians. Aim is in part to intimidate population, to prevent support for enemy.

Case #3: Under occupation by a foreign power, a small armed group targets civilians of the foreign power for assassination and attack.

Case #4 A group of students vandalize and destroy the property of a corporation/medical center to protest and attempt to halt painful experimentation on animals.

Case #5: A group is fighting a “war of liberation” against a government it deems oppressive. The group bombs a hotel used by military personnel. The group calls ahead, warning of the attack, but the blast still kills some civilians.

Case #6:
In order to end a war sooner, and spare its soldiers’ lives, a government targets enemy civilians for bombings. The hope is that the opponent thereby be forced to surrender.

Case #7: Facing a series of assassinations and other attacks, a government launches a “dirty war” against insurgents, using kidnapping, execution, and torture.

Case #8: Facing a series of assassinations and other attacks, a government counter-terror force plants bombs, blames the explosions on “terrorists” and uses the resulting outrage to gather more support for the “war on terrorism.”

Case #9: Gunman kills politician, judge, and bystanders for unclear reasons, causing fear and commanding attention of entire nation.

Case #10: Group bombs abortion clinic, arguing that it aims to stop “silent holocaust” of pre-born babies, and warns women to stay away from such clinics.


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Filed under Courses, GOV 253 Politics of Terrorism

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