Defining Terrorism and Terrorists

Defining Terrorism and Terrorists - Defining Terrorism and...

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Defining Terrorism and Terrorists Unable to achieve their unrealistic goals by conventional means, international terrorists attempt to send an ideological or religious message by terrorizing the general public. Through the choice of their targets, which are often symbolic or representative of the targeted nation, terrorists attempt to create a high-profile impact on the public of their targeted enemy or enemies with their act of violence, despite the limited material resources that are usually at their disposal. In doing so, they hope to demonstrate various points, such as that the targeted government(s) cannot protect its (their) own citizens, or that by assassinating a specific victim they can teach the general public a lesson about espousing viewpoints or policies antithetical to their own. For example, by assassinating Egyptian President Anwar Sadat on October 6, 1981, a year after his historic trip to Jerusalem, the al-Jihad terrorists hoped to convey to the world, and especially Library of Congress – Federal Research Division The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism 12 to Muslims, the error that he represented. This tactic is not new. Beginning in 48 A.D., a Jewish sect called the Zealots carried out terrorist campaigns to force insurrection against the Romans in Judea. These campaigns included the use of assassins ( sicarii, or dagger-men), who would infiltrate Roman-controlled cities and stab Jewish collaborators or Roman legionnaires with a sica (dagger), kidnap members of the Staff of the Temple Guard to hold for ransom, or use poison on a large scale. The Zealots’ justification for their killing of other Jews was that these killings demonstrated the consequences of the immorality of collaborating with the Roman invaders, and that the Romans could not protect their Jewish collaborators. Definitions of terrorism vary widely and are usually inadequate. Even terrorism researchers often neglect to define the term other than by citing the basic U.S. Department of State (1998) definition of terrorism as “premeditated, politically
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Defining Terrorism and Terrorists - Defining Terrorism and...

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