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Defining Terrorism

Autor:   •  November 20, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  814 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,885 Views

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Terrorism is a word that has no universal definition, and is a phenomenon that is hard to understand because it is generalized in different ways. It derives from a concept of morality, law, and rules of war. It is hard to define "Terrorism" because it varies from different groups, cultures, ideology and countries. Terrorism also changes over time. This is true in that the terrorist the United States is fighting in 2011 are not the same terrorist that the country was fighting before September 11, 2001. The Code of Federal Regulations defines Terrorism:

"the unlawful use of force and 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"

The text by Noftsinger, Newbold, Wheeler defines it as: "Organized, politically, religiously and/or socially motivated criminal behavior, meant to influence an audience, inflicted upon civilians or noncombatants, resulting in the incitement of fear and the deprivation of life, property, and/or freedom".

It is not hard to see that these two definitions are very different but describe the same thing. This is definition to homeland security is important in order to figure out how to combat or deter terrorism. For decades scholars, and politicians have not been able to been able to establish a universally excepted definition. The debate is a political one and nations are reluctant to classify and accept a definition of religion or ethnic group as terrorist. "Terrorism appears to represent a notion that can be identified when it occurs, but difficult to affix a common meaning"(Noftsinger, Newbold, Wheeler, 2007). In attempt to clarify or classify this term by scholars and political bodies to define this word has been futile and difficult for some time.

Terrorism is a complex social problem that needs to be understood on a broad scale of cultural context "of chaos at the intersection of lawless places, dangerous flows, and extreme ideology" (Kamien, 2005). An old famous adage, "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" (Noftsinger, Newbold, Wheeler, 2007. p. 2).

It is an asymmetric type of warfare that uses low-cost means to attacking targets such as civilian populations or national infrastructures. This type of tactic has to be used because they cannot use conventional tactics or weapons because an enemy has superior economic and military might. Terrorism is used as a tool of intimidation and violence and not only a physical attack on a target. It can be


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