1. Compare and contrast several definitions of terrorism. Include definitions held to by government agencies as well as by scholars. Which definition do you find to be most accurate? Why? Also, by extension, why do you discount the definitions you find deficient? Different groups have different notions and ways of defining terrorism. The U. S. Code defines terrorism as a "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.
" ("Terrorism by Any Definition," 2002, p. A18). The US Federal Bureau of Investigation on the other hand regards terrorism as an unlawful use of force and violence to intimidate or coerce, the objects of which include governments, and civilian population (Ronczkowski 2004). The U. S. Department of State and the Department of Defense in the same regard define terrorism as violence that may be perpetrated with the intent of intimidating, included among the possible targets, the government
Scholarly definitions on the other hand have some discrepancies with the description of terrorism given by government agencies. The one given by Laqueur (1987) considered terrorism as the illegitimate use of force to achieve political objectives (Lutz & Lutz, 2004, p. 9) without necessarily the government as the target of violence. A collaboration of the works of Hoffman (1998), Kushner (1998b), and Claridge (1996) which became bases of the definition of terrorism in the book Global Terrorism likewise share the same perspective:
Terrorism involves political aims and motives. It is violent or threatens violence. It is designed to generate fear in a target audience that extends beyond the immediate victims of the violence. The violence is conducted by an identifiable organization. The violence involves a non-state actor or actors as either the perpetrator, the victim of the violence, or both. Finally, the acts of violence are designed to create power in situations in which power previously had been lacking (i. e.
the violence attempts to enhance the power base of the organization undertaking the actions) (Lutz & Lutz, 2004, p. 10). Given the descriptions by the government and scholars of terrorism, which are alike in the concept of the use of force, violence and intimidation, the objects of acts of violence have different implications. The view of governments and states comprises the notion that terrorism is perpetrated by men who do not adhere to government rules. As such, separatists, revolutionaries and guerillas are often referred to as terrorists.
Scholarly opinions however consider actors, irregardless of political inclinations, who perpetrate fear and violence for a cause, as terrorists. As such, in the opinion of the government, groups that cause violence and fear to achieve a political condition but are recognized and endorsed by the government or its officials are not terrorists. Scholarly definitions on the other hand may qualify these groups as terrorists when violence and intimidation became the tool to attaining their cause.
From such comparison of the definition of terrorism by the government and scholars, the definition of the scholars can be considered more accurate and fair. Defining terrorism correlates to defining the counter terrorism policies that will combat terrorist actions and groups and will therefore serve the needs and purposes of the entity that defines it. The scope of the definition of terrorism by the government or sectors of the government has discounted credibility such that as mentioned, defining terrorism correlates to defining its counter terrorism policies.
From such point of view, the government can be bias in defining terrorism such that it has all the political motives against what and who it considers as its enemies. Moreover, there is also what is called state terrorism where a state or its representatives use state resources such as military resources to perform terrorist acts and in such case, terrorist organizations sponsored or funded by states can be spared from being acknowledged as terrorists.
Scholarly definitions on the other hand are merely definitions that usually become helpful in the study of terrorism and related disciplines. 2. How do terrorists come to justify their actions—particularly when innocent, non-combatants are killed? As a part of your answer, consider the roles of group reinforcement. Terrorists need social approval for the acts that they have committed as a form of justifying the killing and inflicting of violence upon the innocent and the civilians.
However, with the nature of their attacks, these people instead receive social condemnation and protests. As such, terrorists resort to looking for “approval” from outside the normative groups. The terrorist groups to which these terrorists belong become the major source of approval and praise as the group provides social recognition and reinforcement for its members. From such, terrorist groups reshape the identities of terrorists and provide social acceptance. Hence, the terrorist group and group ideology become the primary means of justification.