Political Issues: Terrorism


Terrorism is the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion. At present, there is no internationally agreed definition of terrorism. Common definitions of terrorism refer only to those violent acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for an ideological goal (as opposed to a lone attack), and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants (civilians).

Some definitions also include acts of unlawful violence and war. The history of terrorist organizations suggests that they do not select terrorism for its political effectiveness. Individual terrorists tend to be motivated more by a desire for social solidarity with other members of their organization than by political platforms or strategic objectives, which are often murky and undefined.

The word “terrorism” is politically and emotionally charged, and this greatly compounds the difficulty of providing a precise definition. Studies have found over 100 definitions of terrorism. The concept of terrorism may itself be controversial as it is often used by state authorities to delegitimize political or other opponents, and potentially legitimize the state’s own use of armed force against opponents (such use of force may itself be described as “terror” by opponents of the state.). A less politically and emotionally charged, and more easily definable, term is violent non-state actor (though the semantic scope of this term includes not only “terrorists,” while excluding some individuals or groups who have previously been described as “terrorists”).

Important Terrorism Related Issues

Terrorism – PatriotWatch The Patriot Defenders Network supports military action against terrorism, the actions of George W. Bush, and other patriotic causes.

External Links to Terrorism

Terrorism – Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Official Department of Homeland Security site, featuring news, research and technology, current terror alerts and threats, links to sub-agencies, and more.

Terrorism – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Provides news, contact information, careers, and details about Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the largest investigative branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.