TERRORISM – Introduction

Origin: The word “Terrorism” comes from a Latin word “Terrere” which means creating fear or extrme anxiety or frighten.

Meaning of Terrorism:

“The covert use of violence against state and/or society” is the simplest way of looking at terrorism.

It can also be understood as “an attempt to acquire or maintain power by creating fear or helplessness in the society at large scale”.

Definition of Terrorism:

League of Nations Convention on Terrorism (1937) declares that “Terrorism is a criminal act to create fear in the state and society on a continuous basis, in order to produce psychological effects in people”.

According to the International Law Commission, Terrorism “is deliberate threat or use of violence, when such action creates extreme anxiety and fear in groups bigger than the immediate victims”.

Terrorism can result in the creation of an atmosphere of fear, and cause civilian deaths in order to coerce a government to succumb to a particular political demand by the terrorist group. Any terrorist activity reflects the tactical goal of intimidating the target population in order to achieve the strategic purpose of coercing the government representing that population into certain political concessions.

Other ways of looking at Terrorism:

The Council of the European Union on 13 June 2002 defined terrorism as “international acts that caused damage to government facility, transport infrastructure, etc thereby endangering human life and so forth.

The United States Department of Defense (DoD) defines terrorism as “the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological”.

The U.S. Department of State defines terrorism to be “premeditated politically-motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience”.


Terrorism is a deadly act committed by highly trained and motivated people who are devoid of humanity and have no value for human life. Terrorists use the rights and liberties inherent in a democratic society to operate with comparative freedom and then use the democratic laws to circumvent or evade the consequences. Terrorism doesn’t have a religion. There are or have been terrorists belonging to almost all the religions of the world: to associate terrorism with any particular religion is unjustified and unfair. The ‘coalition’ in the fight against terrorist and religion together even though, in this instance, a militant ‘Islamist’ organization is the perpetrator. The genesis of terrorism can be attributed to the development of exclusive instead of inclusive societies. Terrorism draws its strength from one of three sources: militant religious fundamentalism, ethnic intolerance or deprivation. Militant religious fundamentalism, advocates the use of unbridled violence to terrorize the population and the state achieve their ends.

The terrorist groups are not ordinary civilians or some misguided youth but the paramilitary organs of militant extremism such as LeT, Naxalites, and the like who believe in the culture of extreme violence and whose objective is destruction of the established social system and structure, that is, the whole way of life of free societies.

While there could be several antecedent causes of terrorism, some of the most significant ones are a perceived sense of injustice by the aggrieved group, and a belief by that group that the use of violence will bring about a change. Thereby, most terrorist groups use their political ends for justifying violent means.

(Rise follows….)