How Is Terrorism Different From Violent Crime and Insurgency Ethno National Terrorism? Essay

Pages: 5 (1618 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Terrorism

¶ … terrorism different from violent crime and Insurgency / Ethno-National Terrorism

How is terrorism different from violent crime and insurgency

Terrorism has become one of the most discussed subjects in terms of international threat, national security, and domestic preventive action. In recent decades there have been numerous attempts to try to define the notion of terrorism and to tackle its causes and effects. However, to this day, despite impressive improvements, terrorism remains one of the greatest threats for international and national security.

Terrorism is rather hard to define in particular because it represents a complex phenomenon and its causes particularly difficult to fully contain and tackle. One of the first definitions of terrorism relates to the idea that the acts in themselves represent means through which pressure is placed on the political decision makers. More precisely, terrorism may be "All criminal acts directed against a State and intended or calculated to create a state of terror in the minds of particular persons or a group of persons or the general public." (Defining Terrorism: A Principled Approach, n.d.) Therefore, from this point-of-view, several aspects can be pointed out. On the one hand, it most be said that terrorism relates to criminal acts that imply the targeted of innocent civilians and public or private interest locations. This is different from violent crime because the reason behind criminal acts is that of making a statement rather than the act in itself. Unlike violent crimes, terrorism has a particular political focus in the sense that it aims at creating a political statement and not necessarily a violent proof of power. On the other hand, terrorism aims at influencing public opinion, which in turn may determine a series of pressures at the political level. For instance, the 9/11 attacks referred to the political level of the United States but also affected the public opinion in trying to make the public opinion empathetic to the cause of the Jihad. Indeed, the public targeted in this case was not the American but rather the Muslim audience. Yet, the reverberations were more substantial that would violent crimes have.

Another definition of terrorism however points out a different aspect of the phenomenon. More precisely, a 2002 definition suggests that "defining terror also means taking a position on whether there are limits on the use of violence, relations between the "weak" and the "strong," ethics in international relations, how a population can legitimately resist living under occupation and increasingly, and sovereignty." (O'Neill, 2002) This approach points out in fact to the nature of the actors involved in the terrorist act. More precisely, usually there are the "weak" which are considered to be the terrorist groups and the "strong" which are seen as the states. In the case of the Palestinian terrorism for instance, there are opinions suggesting that the Palestinians are somewhat entitled to use violent and terrorist means in reaction to the measures conducted by the Israeli forces that represent the state. It may be that such means are considered legitimate. At the same time however, in Afghanistan, the Taliban insurgency is perceived as different from traditional terrorism despite the fact that they still conduct violent acts against civilians and target political change. Yet, the difference between the insurgency and terrorism lies in the capacity of the insurgent groups and the fact that their actions are more limited to a particular areal and to certain goals that the insurgents wish to achieve. While terrorism is seen as a global phenomenon, insurgencies are viewed as localized forms of terrorism, with more limited access to resources and capabilities. Further, their aim is not at a global scale but rather at a local one. This does not exclude the fact that insurgencies can team up and represent the local liaison with the major international terrorist organizations.

One similarity between terrorism and insurgency and difference with violent crimes is related to one of the causes identified as being at the root of the development of terrorism and insurgency. In this sense, poverty is often seen if not as a cause of terrorism, a condition that harbors the rebellious desire and the sense of overturning current political power. On the other hand, there are opinions arguing that in fact terrorism is a mere form of violence and evil. Former President Bush argued that terrorism is "evil, the very worst of human nature"(Townshend, 2007). Therefore, it is rather difficult to argue on the definition of terrorism, of similarities and differences between terrorism and other forms of violence largely because it depends on the perspective one looks from and the way in which the notion of just violence or just use of violence is interpreted.

Essay 2. Ethno-national terrorism

Ethno-national terrorism relates to those acts of terrorism that rely on ethnic and national aims and goals. There are numerous examples throughout the world that can be accounted for as representatives of ethno-national terrorist groups. These include ETA in Spain or the Basque Region and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka. While the former have gone through different stages of transformation that have determined a decrease in terrorist acts, the Tamil Tigers have long been seen as one of the most ferocious groups of terrorists that fought in the name of nationalistic aims. Data from 2006 reveals that "the group has conducted some 200 suicide bombings -- far more than any other terrorist group," as they are on the U.S.'s list of terrorist groups (the Council of Foreign Relations, 2006). Despite the fact that these facts are not of recent date, they serve the purpose of pointing out the magnitude of their initiatives up to that point. Even more, in 2009, they were seen as one of the most dangerous terrorist groups in the world. Also, it is said "they invented the suicide vest and, according to the FBI, are the only terrorist group to have assassinated two world leaders" (Pickert, 2009). Moreover, "Throughout the following decade, the Tigers continued to mount violent attacks, assassinating the president in 1993 and the former Prime Minister of India in 1991, among others." (Pickert, 2009) This comes to point out the massive allocation of resources, the state of preparedness and the damage the group was willing to cause in order to send their message across to the political levels of the government. This technique, of targeting significant figures of the higher political echelon is representative for any type of terrorism because it draws the attention on the act itself through the use of the media coverage and at the same time the impact on the political forces in the country and in the region is rather significant.

Taking the case of the Tamil Tigers into account, there are several aspects to consider. Firstly, it must be pointed out that in general, ethnic national terrorism is based on a certain public legitimacy (Wilkinson, 2000). This is largely due to the fact that in their creed they appeal to the desire to emancipate a certain ethnic or national group. Similar to religious terrorism, which also appeals to a certain type of identity, the power provided by such recognizable and applicable goals is rather significant. This type of motivation offers the legitimacy for their actions and the support of at least the minority from which they came. That is to say that ethnic terrorism draws part of its causes from a historical background that is common for at least a significantly large group; large enough to eventually create a state or assume it has the capabilities of creating a state or sustain an autonomy, depending on the ultimate goal of the ethnic terrorist group.

Regardless of the type of terrorism, there are several assumptions to be made. Terrorism can be seen, depending on the perspective, as acts of violence… [END OF PREVIEW]

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