Terrorism

Terrorism, originating from the French 18th century word terrorisme (under the Terror), is the term commonly used to refer to the calculated use of violence or the threat of violence, against the civilian population, usually for the purpose of obtaining political or religious goals.

Table of contents
1 Definitions
2 Problems with the definition
3 Terrorist attacks, terrorist attack plots, and terrorists
4 History
5 International Conventions on Terrorism
6 Types of Terrorism
7 Famous Terrorists and Former Terrorists
8 Related topics
9 External links

Definitions

There is no single, universally accepted, definition of terrorism. One 2003 study by the U.S. Army [1] stated that over 100 definitions have been counted. Some current definitions:

  • In the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations: "...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" (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85).
  • In the current U.S. national security strategy: "premeditated, politically motivated violence against innocents."
  • According to the U.S. Defense Department: the "calculated use of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or intimidate governments or societies in pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological."
  • The British Terrorism Act 2000, defines terrorism so as to include not only attacks on military personnel, but also acts not usually considered violent, such as shutting down a website whose views one dislikes.

Although the exact meaning of the term is disputed, it is commonly held that the distinctive nature of terrorism lies in its deliberate and specific selection of civilians as targets, a choice designed to attract wide publicity and cause extreme levels of public shock, outrage and fear. Terrorists believe these conditions will help to bring about the political or religious changes that they seek.

Irregular acts of revolutionary or guerrilla warfare are not usually considered to constitute terrorism. However, revolutionaries and guerrillas are often labelled as terrorists, especially if they deliberately and specifically select civilians as targets of violence in the pursuit of political or religious ends.

Some hold that terrorism can be committed by governments, although others consider governments incapable of terrorism by definition (see #State Terrorism). If the terminology is accepted, state terrorism has claimed far more lives (tens of millions) than terrorism by non-state actors.

In the eyes of a government sympathetic to the political motives of violent actors, such acts might not be called terrorism, and may be referred to as acts of "freedom fighters".

One who carries out acts of terrorism is a terrorist, though which acts those are is the subject of interminable debate. Terrorists are not protected by the laws of war because they cannot claim lawful combatant status. Guerrillas are often mistaken for terrorists, and some terrorists call themselves guerrillas. Adding to the confusion are numerous states, including developed ones, which routinely employ terrorist strategies in addition to established military practices. Asymmetric warfare and low-intensity warfare are military terms for tactics that can include terrorism or guerilla warfare.

Finally, terrorism is distinguished from other crimes by its political motive. A gang of bank robbers who kill the bank manager, blow up the vault, and escape with the contents would normally not be classified as terrorists, because their motive was profit. On the other hand, if the gang were to execute the same assault with the intent of causing a crisis in public confidence in the banking system, followed by a run on the banks and a destabilization of the economy, then the gang would certainly be classified as terrorists.

Problems with the definition

If applied to states' behaviour towards the citizens of other states, most of 20th century warfare, from aerial bombing of cities and "scorched Earth" policies to "ethnic cleansing" would qualify, and many states would be "terrorist" by definition. Since no state wants to define itself as terroristic, the term "terrorist" is more often applied to non-state actors in asymmetric warfare.

As defined by the United States Department of Defense, terrorism is a very specific type of violence, although the term is often applied to other kinds of violence felt to be unacceptable. Typical terrorist actions include assassinations, kidnappings, bombings, drive-by shootings, lynchings, hijackings, and random killings. It is a political, not military, strategy and is generally conducted by groups not strong enough to mount open assaults, although it is used in peace, conflict, and war. The intent of terrorism is to induce fear in an audience (not its victims) in order to cause the audience (or its government) to alter its behavior.

The United States Department of State maintains a list of designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations (c.f.) American citizens may not knowingly provide "material support or resources" to such organizations; members of such organizations are not allowed to enter the United States and may be deported if found there; and United States financial institutions are required to freeze the assets of such organizations and report them to the government.

In the current post-9-11 context, many contend that the word terrorist is overly politicized; they argue that it is used not a reference to a behaviour, but rather as a label to demonize an enemy in terms that convey moral repulsion and outrage. This process of demonization of an enemy is normal in wartime and serves to solidify public opinion: George W. Bush of the USA, for example, routinely describes "the terrorists" as being "evil" and "without conscience".

As well, it should be noted that as long as the term "terrorism" carries with it more rhetorical horsepower than such terms as "war," "assault," "vandalism," "slander," "noncompliance," "dissent," and the like, there will be a motivation for targets of attacks more properly labeled by the lesser terms to find ways to promote their experience to qualify for the stronger term "terrorism" instead.

Terrorist attacks, terrorist attack plots, and terrorists

Significant terrorist incidents include the Oklahoma City bombing (April 19, 1995), the Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland (August 15, 1998) and the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks in the USA. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has also spawned a significant number of terrorist incidents, such as the 2002 Passover massacre. See Terrorism against Israel for more details and a timeline. There are also allegations of Israeli terrorism during the 1940s and 1950s.

The deadliest terrorist attack ever committed was the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks. The deadliest terrorist attack ever planned that likely would have went off as planned was Operation Bojinka; the first phase, which involved the death of Pope John Paul II and the bombing of 11 airliners, had a prospective death toll of about 4,000 if it was ever pulled off. The plot was aborted after an apartment fire in Manila, Philippines on January 5, 1995, exposed the plot to police. The terrorists were slightly more than two weeks away from implementing their plot.

Some famous terrorist organizations of the 20th century include the American Ku Klux Klan (founded in 1865 and revived several times since), the Irish Republican Army (founded 1919), the Pakistani Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, the pre-state Zionist groups Irgun (founded 1931) and Lehi (founded 1940), the Spanish ETA (founded 1959),the Canadian Front de Libération du Québec (founded 1963), the Palestine Liberation Organization (founded 1964), the German Red Army Faction (also known as the Baader-Meinhof Gang, founded 1967), the Italian Red Brigade (founded 1969), the American Weathermen (founded in 1969), the Peruvian Shining Path (active since the late 1960s), the Palestinian Black September (founded 1970), Puerto Rico's Los Macheteros (founded 1976), the multi-Arab group Hezbollah (founded 1978), the Islamic Jihad (active in Egypt and Palestine since the late 1970s) and internationaly acting al-Qaeda (founded in 1988).

Terrorism is exceedingly difficult for governments to control or prevent, especially when some of its practitioners are willing to risk their lives or (in some cases) even to embrace certain death. A few governments such as Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, the United States, Yemen and the countries that supported the Taliban regime in Afghanistan have been accused of promoting or protecting certain terrorist groups.

History

Terrorism has been used (though not so named) throughout recorded history at least as far back as ancient Greece, mostly in the form of State Terrorism. According to Greek mythology, Zeus, King of the Gods, maintained his power by intimidating the other gods with threats of physical violence. In some cases, he acted on these threats, most famously in the legend of Prometheus' punishment. In that legend Zeus was assisted by Cratos (personification of strength and power) and Bia (personification of force). In Greek "Cratos" also has the meaning of "State Authority" or simply "State". Bia is Greek for "violence". The legend as used by Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound seems to demonstrate the belief that monarchs ruled by means of state authorized violence.

Based on their writings, many Greek scholars seem to have believed that monarchs and tyrants in general dealt with their subjects in similar ways in order to maintain their personal power. However, city-states practising oligarchy and democracy were also known for sentencing a number of their citizens to death if they were believed to pose a threat to the stability of the current form of government. In some cases, mere suspicion was enough for capital punishment to be used. In others, a confession by the accused or a testimony against them was needed. However, Thucydides mentions several cases where confessions were forced out of prisoners and testimonies out of slaves by means of torture.

During the French Revolution (1789 - 1799), the most severe period of the rule of the Committee of Public Safety (1793 - 1795) was labelled "The Terror" (1793 - 1794), epitomizing state terror directed primarily at the state's own citizens: the Committee's Jacobin adherents became "Terrorists" (with a capital "T"). The Committee's leader Maximilien Robespierre is particularly noted for his fanaticism in pursuing what he believed were honest goals.

Before the 19th century, some terrorists went out of their way to avoid casualties among innocents not involved in the conflict. For example, Russian radicals intent on the assassination of Alexander II of Russia (reigned March 2, 1855 - March 13, 1881) cancelled several actions out of concern that they might injure women, children, elderly persons, or other innocents. When the assassination was finally performed, only the Tsar, his assassin Ignatei Grinevitski and a few members of the Tsar's escort are known to have been killed or wounded -- no "innocents".

Today, the use of terrorism has grown among the alienated owing to the psychological impact it can have on the public through extensive media coverage, and perhaps owing to weapons technology improvements that have made it possible for a "super-empowered angry man" (in the words of Thomas Friedman) to cause a large amount of destruction by himself or with only a few conspirators. Terrorism is often the last resort of the desperate. It can be, and has been, conducted by small as well as large organizations. Historically, groups may resort to terrorism when they believe all other avenues, including economics, protest, public appeal, and organized warfare, hold no hope of success (also see rioting). This suggests that perhaps one approach to combat terrorism is to ensure that in any case where there is a population feeling oppressed, that at least some avenue of gaining attention to problems is kept open, even if the population in question is in the minority on an opinion. Other rationales for terrorism include attempts to gain or consolidate power either by instilling fear in the population to be controlled, or by stimulating another group into becoming a hardened foe, thereby setting up polarizing us-versus-them dynamics (also see nationalism and fascism). A third common rationale for terrorism is to demoralize and paralyse one's enemy with fear; this sometimes works, but can also stiffen the enemy's resolve. Often, several of these reasons may explain the actions of a particular group. In general, retribution against terrorists can result in escalating tit-for-tat violence; however, it is often felt that if the consequences of engaging in terrorism are not swift and punitive, the deterrent to other terrorist groups is diminished.

The existing order within countries or internationally depends on compromises and agreements between various groups and interests which were made to resolve past conflicts. Over time these arrangements become less relevant to the current situation. Some terrorist acts seem calculated to disrupt the existing order and provoke conflicts in the expectation that it will lead to a new order more favorable to their interests.

Terrorism relies heavily on surprise.  Terrorist attacks can trigger sudden transitions into conflict or war.  It is not uncommon after a terrorist attack for a number of unassociated groups to claim responsibility for the action; this may be considered "free publicity" for the organization's aims or plans.  Because of its anonymous and often self-sacrificial nature, it is not uncommon for the reasons behind the action to remain unknown for a considerable period.

International Conventions on Terrorism

There are eleven major multilateral conventions related to states' responsibilities for combating terrorism.

In addition to these conventions, other instruments may be relevant to particular circumstances, such as bilateral extradition treaties, the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Moreover, there are now a number of important United Nations Security Council and General Assembly Resolutions on international terrorism, including three important Security Council resolutions dealing with Libya's conduct in connection with the sabotage of Pan Am Flight 103 on December 21, 1988, which includes UN Security Council Resolutions 731 (January 21, 1992); 748 (March 31, 1992) and 883 (November 11, 1993).

The following list identifies the major terrorism conventions and provides a brief summary of some of the major terms of each instrument. In addition to the provisions summarized below, most of these conventions provide that parties must establish criminal jurisdiction over offenders (e.g., the state(s) where the offense takes place, or in some cases the state of nationality of the perpetrator or victim).

  1. Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed On Board Aircraft (Tokyo Convention, agreed 9/63--safety of aviation):
    • applies to acts affecting in-flight safety;
    • authorizes the aircraft commander to impose reasonable measures, including restraint, on any person he or she has reason to believe has committed or is about to commit such an act, when necessary to protect the safety of the aircraft and for related reasons;
    • requires contracting states to take custody of offenders and to return control of the aircraft to the lawful commander.
  2. Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft (Hague Convention, agreed 12/70--aircraft hijackings):
    • makes it an offense for any person on board an aircraft in flight [to] "unlawfully, by force or threat thereof, or any other form of intimidation, [to] seize or exercise control of that aircraft" or to attempt to do so;
    • requires parties to the convention to make hijackings punishable by "severe penalties;"
    • requires parties that have custody of offenders to either extradite the offender or submit the case for prosecution;
    • requires parties to assist each other in connection with criminal proceedings brought under the convention.
  3. Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Civil Aviation (Montreal Convention, agreed 9/71--applies to acts of aviation sabotage such as bombings aboard aircraft in flight):
    • makes it an offense for any person unlawfully and intentionally to perform an act of violence against a person on board an aircraft in flight, if that act is likely to endanger the safety of that aircraft; to place an explosive device on an aircraft; and to attempt such acts or be an accomplice of a person who performs or attempts to perform such acts;
    • requires parties to the convention to make offenses punishable by "severe penalties;"
    • requires parties that have custody of offenders to either extradite the offender or submit the case for prosecution;
    • requires parties to assist each other in connection with criminal proceedings brought under the convention.
  4. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Internationally Protected Persons (agreed 12/73--protects senior government officials and diplomats):
    • defines internationally protected person as a Head of State, a Minister for Foreign Affairs, a representative or official of a state or of an international organization who is entitled to special protection from attack under international law;
    • requires each party to criminalize and make punishable "by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature," the intentional murder, kidnapping, or other attack upon the person or liberty of an internationally protected person, a violent attack upon the official premises, the private accommodations, or the means of transport of such person; a threat or attempt to commit such an attack; and an act "constituting participation as an accomplice;"
    • requires parties that have custody of offenders to either extradite the offender or submit the case for prosecution;
    • requires parties to assist each other in connection with criminal proceedings brought under the convention.
  5. Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (Nuclear Materials Convention, agreed 10/79--combats unlawful taking and use of nuclear material):
    • criminalizes the unlawful possession, use, transfer, etc., of nuclear material, the theft of nuclear material, and threats to use nuclear material to cause death or serious injury to any person or substantial property damage;
    • requires parties that have custody of offenders to either extradite the offender or submit the case for prosecution;
    • requires parties to assist each other in connection with criminal proceedings brought under the convention.
  6. International Convention Against the Taking of Hostages (Hostages Convention, agreed 12/79):
    • provides that "any person who seizes or detains and threatens to kill, to injure, or to continue to detain another person in order to compel a third party, namely, a State, an international intergovernmental organization, a natural or juridical person, or a group of persons, to do or abstain from doing any act as an explicit or implicit condition for the release of the hostage commits the offense of taking of hostages within the meaning of this Convention;"
    • requires parties that have custody of offenders to either extradite the offender or submit the case for prosecution;
    • requires parties to assist each other in connection with criminal proceedings brought under the convention.
  7. Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts of Violence at Airports Serving International Civil Aviation (agreed 2/88--extends and supplements Montreal Convention):
    • extends the provisions of the Montreal Convention (see No. 3 above) to encompass terrorist acts at airports serving international civil aviation.
  8. Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, (agreed 3/88--applies to terrorist activities on ships):
    • establishes a legal regime applicable to acts against international maritime navigation that is similar to the regimes established against international aviation;
    • makes it an offense for a person unlawfully and intentionally to seize or exercise control over a ship by force, threat, or intimidation; to perform an act of violence against a person on board a ship if that act is likely to endanger the safe navigation of the ship; to place a destructive device or substance aboard a ship; and other acts against the safety of ships;
    • requires parties that have custody of offenders to either extradite the offender or submit the case for prosecution;
    • requires parties to assist each other in connection with criminal proceedings brought under the convention.
    • Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf (agreed 3/88--applies to terrorist activities on fixed offshore platforms):
    • establishes a legal regime applicable to acts against fixed platforms on the continental shelf that is similar to the regimes established against international aviation;
    • requires parties that have custody of offenders to either extradite the offender or submit the case for prosecution;
    • requires parties to assist each other in connection with criminal proceedings brought under the protocol.
  9. Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for the Purpose of Identification (agreed 3/91--provides for chemical marking to facilitate detection of plastic explosives, e.g., to combat aircraft sabotage). Consists of two parts: the Convention itself, and a Technical Annex which is an integral part of the Convention.
    • designed to control and limit the used of unmarked and undetectable plastic explosives (negotiated in the aftermath of the Pan Am 103 bombing);
    • parties are obligated in their respective territories to ensure effective control over "unmarked" plastic explosive, i.e., those that do not contain one of the detection agents described in the Technical Annex;
    • generally speaking, each party must, among other things: take necessary and effective measures to prohibit and prevent the manufacture of unmarked plastic explosives; take necessary and effective measures to prevent the movement of unmarked plastic explosives into or out of its territory; take necessary measures to exercise strict and effective control over possession and transfer of unmarked explosives made or imported prior to the entry-into-force of the convention; take necessary measures to ensure that all stocks of such unmarked explosives not held by the military or police are destroyed or consumed, marked, or rendered permanently ineffective within three years; take necessary measures to ensure that unmarked plastic explosives held by the military or police, are destroyed or consumed, marked, or rendered permanently ineffective within fifteen years; and, take necessary measures to ensure the destruction, as soon as possible, of any unmarked explosives manufactured after the date-of-entry into force of the convention for that state.
    • does not itself create new offenses that would be subject to a prosecution or extradition regime, although all states are required to ensure that provisions are complied within their territories.
  10. International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombing (agreed 12/97--expands the legal framework for international cooperation in the investigation, prosecution, and extradition of persons who engage in terrorist bombings):
    • creates a regime of universal jurisdiction over the unlawful and intentional use of explosives and other lethal devices in, into, or against various defined public places with intent to kill or cause serious bodily injury, or with intent to cause extensive destruction of the public place;
    • like earlier conventions on protected persons and hostage taking, requires parties to criminalize, under their domestic laws, certain types of criminal offenses, and also requires parties to extradite or submit for prosecution persons accused of committing or aiding in the commission of such offenses.

During the negotiations on the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, many states supported adding terrorism to the list of crimes over which the court would have jurisdiction. This proposal was not adopted; however the Statute provides for a review conference to be held seven years after the entry into force of the Statute, which will consider (among other things) an extension of the court's jurisdiction to include terrorism.

Types of Terrorism

Six broad categories of terrorist organizations can be identified, though the distinctions between them are not always precise. In addition to this classification, terrorism can also be classified by its range of operations into domestic terrorism and international terrorism.

State Terrorism

Main article: State terrorism

The first usage of the word terrorism (terrorisme in French) was in France during The Terror, then first usage of this word was for state terrorism.

According to Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, "State terrorism is a political system whose rule of recognition permits and/or imposes a clandestine, unpredictable, and diffuse application, even regarding clearly innocent people, of coercive means prohibited by the proclaimed judicial ordinance. State terrorism obstructs or annuls judicial activity and transforms the government into an active agent in the struggle for power."

The US operated the School of the Americas in Panama to train Latin American military personnel, formally in counterinsurgency. The alumni often formed the core of security agencies in Latin America that supported military dictators and made use of torture.

Almost all the countries in Latin America have experienced periods of state terrorism under dictatorial or military governments, pushed by the CIA Condor Plan; it was common that the initial three to five years after the coup d'état were characterized by violence, arbitrary detentions, exile, torture, and "disappearances".

The population of the Soviet Union suffered state terrorism during the Stalin era. Millions were arrested, sometimes arbitrarily, forced to sign ridiculous confessions, and executed or sent off to the Gulag labour camps. Communist regimes in other countries also practised state terrorism to control the population, but to a lesser degree than the Soviet Union.

During World War II (September 1, 1939 - August 15, 1945) both the Axis Powers and the Allies were responsible for the deaths of numerous civilians not directly involved in the fighting.

The Nazis systematized the practice of executing hostages in response to resistance actions (considered as terrorist by them).

World War II was also notable for the strategic bombing of cities. Nazi Germany's bombing of London and other major British cities is known as the Blitz and caused the deaths of an estimated 42,000 civilians. The United Kingdom and the United States used fire-bomb attacks on Dresden between February 13 and February 15, 1945. Dresden was largely destroyed and estimates of the number of civilians killed vary from as few as 35,000 to as many as 135,000. The USA's bombing of Tokyo is estimated to have killed 83,000 civilians. The atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima (August 6, 1945) and Nagasaki (August 9, 1945) are estimated to have killed about 70,000 and 39,000 civilians respectively; these numbers do not include longer-terms deaths from radiation poisoning. It has been argued that these acts qualify as state terrorism as they specifically targeted civilian rather than military targets. Others have argued for military justification of these acts as they did manage to somewhat weaken the enemy state. The later two attacks are believed to have forced Japan into surrendering and so ending the war.

Some claim Israeli actions against the Palestinian population are an example of state terrorism. Others disagree, claiming Israeli actions are not aimed specifically at harming Palestinian civilians, but are rather a part of regular warfare, in which civilians sometimes suffer.

State terrorism is backed by state-funded propaganda, ostensibly for "National Security" reasons; the state may argue that the measures are short-term, that the government is in state of war against guerrilla or terrorist groups (sometimes, groups loyal to a previous, deposed government), and that they are working to restore the "Constitution" and "democracy".

The most pervasive elements of state terrorism are detention without judicial process, extrajudicial or summary executions, and secret trials. A terrorist group that achieves power may institute a dictatorship.

States widely classed as 'terrorist' include:

Anarchists believe that all states are founded on violence and therefore the term 'terrorist state' is tautological. As with other uses of the term 'terrorism', the term 'state terrorism' is highly controversial. Many of those who believe in the reality of 'state terrorism' would classify Britain, Israel and/or the United States as leading terrorist states.

Nationalist Terrorism

Main article: Nationalist terrorism

Nationalist terrorists seek to form a separate state for their own group, and try to draw attention to their fight for "national liberation".

Examples of Nationalist Terrorist Groups:

Religious Terrorism

Main article: Religious terrorism

Religious terrorists use violence to further what they see as divinely commanded purposes. (See also Religious intolerance).

Examples of Religious Terrorist Groups:

Left-wing Terrorism

Main article:
Left-wing terrorism

Left-wing terrorists wish to undermine or destroy capitalism and replace it with a communist or socialist government.

Examples of Left-Wing Terrorist Groups:

Right-Wing Terrorism

Main article:
Right-wing terrorism

Right-wing, or "neo-Fascist", terrorists seek to abolish liberal democratic governments and create authoritarian regimes in their place. They frequently attack immigrants and are both racist and xenophobic, often specifically anti-semitic.

During the 1980s, right-wing Latin American terrorist groups, known as death squads, often consisted of members of the armed forces who acted in an unofficial capacity to terrorize dissidents, generally with the implicit support or protection of high ranking officials. As private groups with overlapping memberships with the military, they were able to carry out a terror campaign on the government's behalf while giving the government a form of plausible deniability. The most famous victims of this campaign of death-squad terrorism in El Salvador were four American nuns in 1980, and Archbishop Oscar Romero also during that year. In a civil trial ending in July of 2002, a jury in Miami, Florida convicted two former Salvadoran defence officials of the torture of three Salvadoran dissidents, and ordered them to pay $54.6 million to the plaintiffs.

In many other cases, right-wing terrorists are among the least organized; most of them belong to various neo-Nazi groups.

Anarchist Terrorism

Main article: Anarchism and violence

Anarchist terrorism was much more prevalent from the 1870s to the 1920s than it is at present. Several heads of state were assassinated, including King Umberto I of Italy (July 29, 1900) and President of the United States William McKinley (September 14, 1901). The justification of Anarchist terrorism was that such acts would make anarchist ideas famous; however, there were also many terrorists and criminals who called themselves "anarchists" but had little in common with philosophical anarchists and often rejected any association with these individuals. This policy was known as "propaganda by the deed". Modern Anarchist terrorists would include Revolutionary Cells, Germany and Squamish Five, Canada. (Neither actually called themselves Anarchists.) Some Anarchists are found participating with the more violent elements of demonstrations, such as the anti-globalism protests in the 1990s and 2000s. There are significant sections of the Anarchist movement which do not support terrorism or violence, including many organizations and individuals that advocate pacifism.

Front Organizations

Terrorist organizations sometimes create front organizations, sometimes legitimate, to conceal activities and/or to provide logistical and/or financial support to the illegal activities. Many "import-export" companies ended up being front organizations for terrorist groups.

Famous Terrorists and Former Terrorists

The classification of a person or group as "terrorist" is nearly always disputed. Below, we list some of the better-known individuals who are regarded as terrorists (or as having been terrorists in the past) by a significant body of opinion apart from the victims of acts with which they have rightly or wrongly been linked. In many, perhaps most, cases there is also a significant body of contrary opinion. Inclusion of many people in this one list does not indicate any type of equivalence between them. We have not included leaders of governments even when they are widely regarded as guilty of "state terrorism".

Related topics

The Terrorist (film)

External links

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