Terrorism by nature is difficult to define. Acts of terrorism conjure emotionalresponses in the victims as well as in the practitioners.
No two writers agreeon what is terrorism. Even the U.S. government cannot agree on one singledefinition. The old adage, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedomfighter” is still alive and well today (“Terrorism Research Center:Definitions” 1).
Although many people believe that terrorism is evil, it ismerely misunderstood because there is no set definition. Terrorist areresponsible to most of the freedom movements in every country. Terrorist haveused violence to get their point across to the public.
These acts are oftennecessary for the success of the movement or cause. The use of this violence canbe justified in several ways. You can’t make an omelet without breaking someeggs has been used by terrorist to describe their actions. Terrorism has beenused by governments and against them. It has been used as part of a campaign byguerrillas who have widespread support and by small groups. Terrorism has beenused in societies where grievances can be expressed freely and where free speechis suppressed.
In a well organized guerrilla campaign, for example, the maingoal might be to destroy the governments military forces. The violence islimited to acts which will achieve that objective. This might be destroying afactory which is making arms, or putting out of action part of the governmentarmy, or bombing an airfield so that it cannot be used by government aircraft.In some cases, the use of terrorism appears to be a reaction to thedisintegration of law and order. A stable society has normally evolved peacefulways of keeping order and handling disputes between its members withoutviolence. Once law and order breaks down, as they do in civil wars, members ofsociety have to defend themselves in different ways. There may be in a situationwhere government forces are using terrorism and guerrilla forces the samemethods in return.
Other groups in society start using violence to defend thisright and so a climate of terror emerges. What little law and order remains ismaintained solely by the strongest groups using fear (Freeman 43). Terrorism hasbeen used by groups of the right in an attempt to uphold the established system.
In Northern Ireland Protestant extremist groups have used terrorism againstthose fighting for a united Ireland. There have been similar groups in Italy andLatin America Fighting for the return to more authoritarian and conservativeforms of government. There are many different kinds of terrorism, this makesdefining the word difficult. Guerrilla warfare is used in most revolutions andis a form of terrorism, whether it is indiscriminate terrorism (example: thebombing of a public places) or terrorism aimed only upon the government.Terrorism can also be used by a government to control its people. War betweencountries is a place were terrorism is used immensely in order to strike fearinto an enemy (The Encyclopedia America 523). Terrorism is often a weapon oflast resort.
Most revolutions began as guerrilla terrorism. The AmericanRevolution started out as terrorist acts against England. The “Boston TeaParty” is a prime example of terrorism. Colonial revolutionaries sneakedaboard an English Tea Merchant Ships, where they threw hundreds if not thousandsof dollars worth of tea into the Atlantic Ocean. Americans today think of thatincident as a stride to freedom, but the English look at it as the beginning ofcountless terrorist acts.
The Law and Order Maintenance Act of 1962 in Rhodesia(now Zimbabwe) included among its definitions of terrorist as anyone who went onstrike if an essential service was put at risk as a result. These strikes led tothe revolution of the Zimbabwe people from the Rhodesia (English) government(Freeman 21). In South Africa, the burning of the Identification cards and thebombing of several military bases by the A.N.C. (African National Congress) wasthe beginning of an independence movement against the Afrikaners.
Terrorism isoften the start of a revolution that makes the country and even the world abetter place. The IRA (Irish Republican Army) would argue that they too arefighting a colonial government, the British government, which is continuing tooccupy part of Ireland (Freeman 41). One of the most important duties of anygovernment is to maintain law and order.
It usually does this through a systemof laws which are enforced by a police force (“Terrorism Research Center:Information Terrorism” 3). In democratic countries, these