Talk:Definitions of terrorism/Archive 2

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this comes from the doublespeak page, where User:Uriyan had added it at one time:

Note however, that in scholarly contexts, "terrorist" is usually defined in a way consistent with the biases of the politics of

the region where the scholastic institution is located.

I'm not sure if it can be considered useful inspiration?? Mozzerati 21:26, 2004 Aug 9 (UTC)

I changed the section on the EU definition to update it. It referred to the source and substance of the proposed definition, rather than the source and substance of the definition actually used. Further, I removed the section delaing with the Euro-med summit 2005 which was not relevant to the European Union definition of terrorism, and was principally concerned with showing that a definition had not been agreed within the context of that summit.There are many international meetings where the groups have failed to agree on a definition of "terrorism." I do not see how the fact that a meeting between the EU, and certain North African countries failed to agree a definition of terrorism is relevant to a section on the EU definition of terrorism. Diranh

The article says:

For this reason, many news sources avoid using this term, opting instead for less accusatory words like "bombers", "militants", etc.

There should be some discussion here about the fact that this is a new development. News services stopped using "terrorist" and "terrorism" only in the last few years. And some people believe that this is evidence of their taking a stand on a controversial issue. -- 19:17, 4 July 2006 (UTC)

There is no evidence that "[n]ews services stopped using 'terrorist' and 'terrorism' the last few years." There are almost daily news about "suspected terrorists" being apprehended here and there, thereby not only entrenching this term, but actually labelling persons in advance of any court proceeding. Such methods are not used by respectable media with regard to ordinary killings. It is not common that news services label a person a "suspected murderer" but at most the "person suspected of having committed the murder". The term "terrorist" has become, for all appearances, a new pejorative label used by mass media and public authorities to destroy the reputation of people. Thus, a person who was befriended with a "suspected terrorist" is already tainted by this label. -- (talk) 15:48, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

Wider implications of this article

Wikipedia should be internally consistent with itself, so shouldn't the content of this article determine if we use the word 'terrorist' at all? As far as I am concerned, and how I read the article, the term expresses a POV and so has no place in wikipedia articles except when attributed to a source. Damburger 09:37, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

Since terrorism is so vague and emotionally laden, it's better to stick to a core-meaning, and don't make the article like a long discussion page. Better refer to other, more defined concepts: warlords, insurgents, para-militaries, liberation armies, freedom fighters, militias, guerrillas, youth gangs, pirates, criminal organizations, mafia.Mirrormundo


Although the definition of terrorist conduct is controversial, many organisations have been designated as terrorists, which has a very real and specific legal consequence. Shouldn't this be mentioned in this article?--AndrewRT 19:54, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

A useful reference is this article: Jenny Teichman, How to define Terrorism, Philosophy: The Journal of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, vol. 64, no. 250, (October, 1989), p. 511

The article gives historical overview, in brief (if memory serves):
Originally (18th C.) the term was coined for acts of state violence, eg collective punishment, intended to instil fear in the population. The modern use was taken up in 1960's West Germany to designate RAF activities, and has since been increasingly used for acts of violence by individuals or nongovernmental groups. She goes on to propose a definition covering most uses. The article was written in response to a definition proposed by (?US state dept?) under the first Bush administration, which more or less excludes acts by a state.

A partial rewrite using Teichman as source may bring a little coherence to the current article. It seems also to be cited in literature (well, from a quick googling...) Klapautius 11:32, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

Boston Tea Party

There is currently a discussion in Talk:Boston Tea Party, as to whether the BTP meets the definition of an act of terrorism. Could interested parties peek in? For the sake of a more pluralistic viewpoint, it would be nice if people not from the US also got involved in the discussion. Thanks, samwaltz 14:52, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

Edward Peck quote

I propose that the Edward Peck quote be either eliminated or reduced to: Some United States government groups have had trouble creating a definition for terrorism that was accurate while keeping the definition from encompassing acts by the United States and Israel.[[1]] Reason: the quote does not hold the weight of federal law, a UN resolution, or even an academic definition.--Mich112358 20:28, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

109 definitions

The citation is weak. It cites a study (Jeffrey Record, "Bounding the Global War on Terrorism") that cites a book (Bruce Hoffman “Defining Terrorism,” ) that cites a book (Alex Schmid, et al. "Political Terrorism: A New Guide to Actors, Authors, Concepts, Data Bases, Theories, and Literature") that cites either the study or a book that cites the study (it is unclear at the moment). I left off with the [schmidt] citation if someone can track from there. I suspect its a political statement that biases original information. What is apparent from the secondary or tertiary source I tracked down is that it was survey work among experts and that the author was able to construct a defiintion that "81% of [expert] respondents found fully or partially acceptable". Mrdthree 18:22, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

I fully agree. Do we really need to quote Jeffrey Record quoting other people? Wouldn't it be better to quote directly the original source of the information? -- Bonifacius 08:43, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

I do not understand why it seems like most definintions either: 1. Try to model the formulation in order to target as best as possible the author's (group or culture) primary anemy. 2. To blure the term in such a way that almost every act of war/violence can fit the definition. 3. To say in some words that "it is in the eye of the beholder".

so either "my enemy is the best example of terrorism" or "everebody is a terrorist" , or "nobody is a terrorist". 

Inclusion in the definition of highly subjective and interpretable terms like the 'motivation behind', or if it's "legal" or "(un)justified" makes the definition worthless when it can be as simple and clear as this: "Organized acts of violence intended against noncombatant civilian population." I think most of the "experts" were concerned more of who the definition might or might not include, rather then defining what is terrorism.

'War' on Terror

I am bothered by this quote "Generally speaking, only a small group of radical interest groups define the War on Terror as "atrocities" or compare it with acts of terrorism."

I believe that a lot of people consider the 'war' on terror to be comparable with acts of terrorism. So saying that only a small 'radical' group believes that violates NPOV.

I know I am biased, but I believe that saying the WOT is comparable with acts of terrorism is a fairly common non-fringe belief.

Going much further, I also believe that the doctrines of 'Shock and Awe' and 'preemptive war' are fairly commonly held to be comparable with, if not actually completely, terrorism

Shock and Awe was meant to terrify, but it targeted potential combatants, particularly the Iraqi army and government, instead of civilians. therefore it wasn't terrorism. Preemptive war isn't any different than regular war as far as similarities with terrorism. If preemptive war is terrorism then all war is terrorism. It's perfectly possible to conduct preemptive war while minimizing civilian casualties as much as is reasonably possible. Mindbuilder (talk) 00:41, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

Reasons for controversy

This section is badly out of shape with regards NPOV guidelines. "However it needs to be stated", "The legitimate governments of nations, and their police and military forces, need to" and "This is true " have no place in any Wiki article. The third paragraphs suggestion that the world is beginning to regard terrorism as a purely Muslim activity is, as well as being un-cited is rather shrill.

Unless soemone wants to do a fairly extensive re-write on paragraphs 3-5 of this section, they should be deleted altogether. Epeeist smudge 16:02, 20 February 2007 (UTC)

Another reason for controversy is that states have a vested interest in defining terrorism in such a way as excluding their own violent and coercive acts from the ambit of the definition, while civil society might wish to include such acts in a definition of terrorism but exclude a too broadened definition. As an example, some state-based definitions might be used to criminalize workers' strikes as acts of terrorism because they may be construed as "violence" and as a form of "intimidating" the government. Thus, any popular effort aimed at pressurizing the government can be construed as coercive at a certain point, and if civil resistance is added, such resistance may be construed as violence (such as not obeying the orders of law-enforcement officials). For these reasons, any attempt to reach a consensus between civil society and states on the definition of terrorism is probably futile. It does not help either that individuals participating in the definition declare that they are not state employees. Finally, a legal definition will perforce remain an exercise by the state. Thus, the current legal definitions by states and the UN (a international states' organisation) exclude the most blatant violence by states against civilian populations from the ambit of terrorism.

Possibly the only solution to this dilemma is to explicit this dilemma and present in Wikipedia the underlying intersts involved in preventing a universal definition of terrorism. --Sannleikur (talk) 16:03, 18 January 2008 (UTC)


NOTE: The link for citation #3 (RE: Russia's Terrorism List) is broken. Try changing it to Henry Meyer, "Hezbollah Not on Russia's Terrorist List," Associated Press, 28 July 2006. Available online at: Accessed on 07 May 2007. Fixed!

NOTE: Citation #5, referencing U.N. Terrorism definitions, includes a misspelling. "Terrorism definicions" should be changed to "Terrorism Definitions." Also, "United Nations Organisation" should be changed merely to "United Nations." Fixed!

"Weapon of the weakest." Neither Google nor Encyclopaedia Britannica reveals who made this quote. Anyone have the answer?

  1. REDIRECT [[]]

UK Definition

   (a) the action falls within subsection (2),
   (2) Action fall s within this subsection if it
   (a) involves serious violence agai nst a person,
   (b) involves serious damage to property,
   (c) endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action,
   (d) creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public or
   (e) is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.

does this mean that it is only terrorism if it covers part 2a AND 2b AND 2c AND 2d OR solely 2e? OliverR 02:19, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

And under the American Patriot Act it is defined as "activities that (A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the U.S. or of any state" Does this mean that an act which would not be against the law in the U.S. could still be terrorism if it is against any other law on the planet (For example under Sharia-law), well this probaply only refers to states accepted by USA, excl. Palestine, Tibet.......? OliverR 02:28, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

The intro is crap

It has also been argued by who that the political use of violent force and weapons that deliberately target or involve civilians, and do not focus mainly on military or government targets, is a common militant, terrorist, or guerrilla tactic, and a main defining feature of these kinds of people[citation needed] these kind of people? terrorism is behavior not identity. The criminal act is clear when babies, children, mothers, and the elderly are put in harms way mothers serve as members of the US military and are "put in harms way". All nations have distinct criminal laws that prohibit the predictable murder or severe injury of civilians not true. Even in times of war, there is an effort to avoid civilian casualties, unlike the intended use of civilian targets by terrorists.[who?] says who, what's the source?, in total war there are no functioning civilians who are uninvolved in supporting the war effort. children act as messangers. old ladies sew uniforms...

As terrorism ultimately involves the use or threat of violence with the aim of creating fear not only to the victims but among a wide audience, it is fear which distinguishes terrorism from both conventional and guerrilla warfare baloney. there is plenty of fear in all forms of war. While both conventional military forces may engage in psychological warfare and guerrilla forces may engage in acts of terror and other forms of propaganda, they both aim at military victory utter nonsense. war “is merely the continuation of policy by other means,”(Karl von Clausewitz) many policy objectives are other than military victory. Terrorism on the other hand aims to achieve political or other goals, when direct military victory is not possible.more nonsense. terrorism has also been used in cases where military victory was achieved This has resulted in some social scientists referring to guerrilla warfare as the "weapon of the weak" and terrorism as the "weapon of the weakest."[3] only using terror is a symptom of weakness, but that does not prevent the strong also using terror as a weapon

WAS 4.250 (talk) 21:23, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

Worldwide view

What are the reasons for the banner "The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. Please improve this article or discuss the issue on the talk page."? --Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 13:10, 8 July 2008 (UTC)

Peacock terms

What are the peacock terms referred to in the banner "The quality of this article or section may be compromised by peacock terms: wording that promotes the subject in a subjective manner without imparting real information.You can help Wikipedia by removing peacock terms or finding content which backs the claims."? --Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 13:10, 8 July 2008 (UTC)


What are the reasons for the banner "The tone or style of this article or section may not be appropriate for Wikipedia."? --Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 13:10, 8 July 2008 (UTC)

The best definition

The best definition I have heard is this: "subversive, orchestrated acts of violence".

It is the only thing that works, in my opinion. You have to define violence, orchestrated, and subversive, of course, but once you've done that it holds up. It is not always done defensively, or offensively, but it is always done subversively, and in an orchestrated way. All these mentions of "intent to influence public opinion" are bullshit, and should not be included in the definition. Terrorism is not always done in the attempt to influence public opinion or even to influence terror. It is done for a whole plethora of reasons. It seems like it is done to influence public opinion because we intrinsically empathize (not sympathize) with the underdog, and subverts are always the underdog.

This is, in my opinion, the only adequate definition I have ever heard: "subversive, orchestrated acts of violence". (talk) 03:26, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

The French resistance during WWII engaged in "subversive, orchestrated acts of violence" against Nazi military targets. But that was not terrorism when the targets were military. Mindbuilder (talk) 00:59, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

Rebuttle to "best definition" (subversive, orchestrated acts of violence)

Orchistrated implies more than one act, or else more than one person. No one act by a single person could then be an act of terrorism. Subversive is a matter of opinion. Mass media brings me orchestrated acts of violence and I think it's subversive. Is this terrorism?

Possible new definitions of terrorism:

A threat or act to kill people which is designed to cause fear in the general public

Any violence which has creating public fear as one of it's purposes.

"Kill/violence": this excludes acts of property damage unless it will cause fear. An explosion away from the public is not a terrorist act, or else no one could use explosives for mining or construction. If an explosion weakens a dam it would be terrorist if the dam breaking threatens the public.

Excludes military targets. Attacking military bases or personnel is not terrorism unless wars are terrorism.

"Causing fear" is important because some acts are justifiable that cause fear. For example a nation seals off one of it's own towns that has been exposed to some disease or chemical exposure to keep it from spreading. The town citizens will probably be fearful, but this isn't a terrorist act. The release of the disease or chemical would be terrorism however if intentional.

Border cases/problem with the definition:

 Many criminal acts are terrorism if applied to many victims at once:
   Kidnapping, Murder, and Assault all may become terrorism when applied to large numbers of people.
   maybe the dividing line is "causing fear in the general public"; single murders happen; mass murders cause fear.
 If someone kills many people through negligence, can he be a terrorist?

I will concede your point regarding orchestration. What I really meant is 'premeditated'. I have thought a lot about this definition, and the word "subversive" is probably the most important. It is what allows us to decipher between military ("overt") acts of violence and para-military ("subversive") acts of violence. It's not perfect, but I think it's the best we're gonna do. It separates violence into 2 categories, and violence has to be strictly defined, too. Nothing anybody does on the news is directly violent. It's something else. There's another word for that. Violence is not it. Regarding fear, I don't think causing fear has anything to do with terrorism. The fact that premeditated subversive acts of violence inspire fear doesn't mean that's one of the terrorist's intentions. Many times the terrorist's only intention is to take hostages or hijack planes so that they may have a list of demands met. They're not necessarily always trying to make the world afraid of them, nor is it always (or even often) political. We can't go into the reasoning, is my point. We just have to specify what kind of act of violence it is. (talk) 04:41, 9 October 2008 (UTC)
The definition of terrorism has to include causing fear because the very word "terrorism" is derived from the word "terror" which is synonymous with fear. Are you trying to say that though terrorism causes fear, it is not necessarily meant to cause fear? Hijackings are carried out for various reasons. Some are done for money. Others are done to obtain transport that is otherwise unavailable to the hijacker. And some are done in hopes of making a prisoner swap. But hijackings done for those purposes alone are not terrorism. They're just criminal kidnapping and extortion, or the non-terrorist war crime of using civilians for hostages. Mindbuilder (talk) 01:37, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

defn of terrorism in the USA

It would be great if someone could spell out explicitly if "activities that involve violent ... acts" includes violence against things as opposed to human beings. In other words, for an act to qualify as terrorism (according to the USA defn) do people have to murdered (attempted to be murdered, threatened to be murdered)? -- (talk) 17:06, 19 October 2008 (UTC)

Global - Why are the views of so few countries represented?

I have put the Global tag on this article, as it seems to represent the views of a tiny majority of the world - Russia, China, Iran, Cuba, Turkey, Syria and many other countries views need to be incorporated fully before this tag can be removed. (talk) 08:19, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

I am removing it. The views are global as the United Nations is discussed. You have had a month to add some new views but have not done so. You are free to add other countries views if you think that they will add new perspectives on the issue. --PBS (talk) 11:54, 21 March 2009 (UTC)

Countervalue definition of terrorism

OK, so I propose we have a new definition of terrorism, one that focuses on the violent action, its executor, its target, and its intended effect. I think its a logical application of the vocabulary developed in the game theory analysis of nuclear war scenarios. It is basically the classification of an violent (i.e. essentially military) action as being counterforce or countervalue.

In this generalized definition, we will focus on the main complaints against terrorists. They usually target non-combatants, and they attack without warning, without declaring the state of war, and without putting any physical or geographic limits to the military action.

Terrorist organizations that strike against non-combatants are essentially exhibiting countervalue targeting behavior. Precisely because most terrorist organizations are small and stateless, they cannot engage their enemies (in the contemporary global context, this is often an industrialized and developed country) in a symmetrical "conventional" counterforce military operation and expect to win. Therefore, attempts to change behaviors or policies in the richer country through symmetrical military action (that is to say violent) action will not work.

This is why these organizations logically pursue asymmetrical conflict models, and strike at countervalue targets instead of counterforce targets.

Therefore the main criteria for terrorism becomes whether the target selected is countervalue, and whether the organization in question clearly declares the geographical and otherwise physical extent of its military operations. This is related to the countervalue vs. counterforce targeting issue, as pre-defining the theatre of war physically allows non-combatants a chance to escape the area before fighting begins. In countervalue targeting, you don't do this precisely because the non-combatants are the target.

The final aspect of terrorism, which is the sensation of "terror" it is designed to induce, is also a logical consequence of the method. Because the terrorist organization has less developed resources than the group it is fighting, it is in its interest to maximize the psychological (and therefore political and generally mental) value of what is usually a relatively small actual attack. The structure of modern media often facilitates this.

Argantael (talk) 21:51, 25 March 2009 (UTC)

Reasons for controversy

The reasons for the controversy includes the sentence "Some such definitions are so broad, like the Terrorism Act 2000, as to include the disruption of a computer system wherein no violence is intended or results." The provision in the act is not as strange as it seems because at that time the British Government was worried about electromagnetic pulse weapons being used by the IRA. (This source is not reliable but it cites a reliable source) --PBS (talk) 23:33, 26 March 2009 (UTC)

This section has to be redrafted. It has POV problems and lacks good citations.-- Bonifacius 21:09, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

Useful source

The first chapter "what is terrorism" of richard english's new book "Terrorism how to respond", as it deals at length and in great detail with the topic and would greatly enhance this article. Sherzo (talk) 12:21, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

United Nations

Who is SAJID DAWAR and why should he be quoted in the UN section? -- Bonifacius 21:11, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

On the assessment sub-section, it would be desirable to seek other views, not only that of Andrew Byrnes.-- Bonifacius 08:29, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

Further reading

I have moved the Further reading section to here:

Further reading as of 7 February 2010
  • Cyrille Begorre-Bret, Terrorism, Globalization and the Rule of Law: The definition of terrorism and the challenge of relativism, 27 Cardozo Law Review (2006) pp. 1987-2004.
  • Bruce Broomhall, "Terrorism on Trial: state actors in an international definition of terrorism from a human rights perspective", 37 Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, p. 421 (2005)
  • C.F. Diaz-Paniagua, Negotiating terrorism: The negotiation dynamics of four UN counter-terrorism treaties, 1997-2005, City University of New York (2008)
  • Ben Golder and George Williams, "What is 'Terrorism'? Problems of Legal Definition" (2004) 27 University of New South Wales Law Journal 270.
  • Malvina Halberstam, “The Evolution of the United Nations Position on Terrorism: From Exempting National Liberation Movements to Criminalizing Terrorism Wherever and by Whomever Committed “ 41 Columbia Journal of Transnational Law 573 (2003)
  • Roberto Lavalle, "A Politicized and Poorly Conceived Notion Crying Out for Clarification: The Alleged Need for a Universally Agreed Definition of Terrorism," 67 ZaöRV (2007), 89-117
  • Daniel D. Novotny, What is Terrorism? in Edward V. Linden, ed., Focus on Terrorism, v. 8, (2006)
  • 'Review of definition of “Terrorism” in British Law published'
  • What is Terrorism - Collated & Sequenced by Nadesan Satyendra
  • Terrorism (Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
  • Ben Saul, Defining Terrorism in International Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), p. 3.
  • Ben Saul, “Defining ‘Terrorism’ to Protect Human Rights” in Sydney Law School Legal Studies Research Paper ,No. 08-125 (2008)
  • Ben Saul, Attempts to Define ‘Terrorism’ in International Law, Sydney Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-115, (2008)
  • Gerhard Hafner, “The definition of the crime of terrorism,” in: Guiseppe Nesi, ed., [International Cooperation in Counter-terrorism: the United Nations and regional organizations in the fight against terrorism] (Aldershort, UK, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Co., 2005)
  • Susan Tiefenbrun, "A Semiotic Approach to a legal definition of terrorism", 9 ILSA Journal of International & Comparative Law (2003) p. 357.
  • Reuven Young, “Defining Terrorism: The Evolution of Terrorism as a Legal Concept in International Law and its influence on definitions in domestic legislations” 29 B.C. Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. 23 (2006)
  • Sami Zeidan, Agreeing to Disagree: Cultural Relativism and the Difficulty of Defining Terrorism in a Post-9/11 World, 29 Hastings Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. (2006) p. 215
  • Sami Zeidan, "Desperately Seeking Definition: The International Community's Quest for Identifying the Specter of Terrorism", 36 Cornell International Law Journal 491 (2006).

The may be useful for further article development, but as for the list in the articles it is large "Wikipedia is not a mirror or a repository of links, images, or media files" (WP:NOT) --PBS (talk) 11:19, 7 February 2010 (UTC)

the definition subjective?

PBS, the definition of terrorism in political or journalistic discourse might be subjective, the definition used a criminal legal context cannot be. Due process requires legal precision. The different legal interpretations of the geneva protocols cannot be brushed aside just as a political question. Terrorism and the laws of war (International humanitarian law) desperatedly needs some work. -- Bonifacius 13:13, 7 February 2010 (UTC)

I don't know what you are trying to say here. -- PBS (talk) 10:21, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
It is curious hos a single nick has been able for years to block the readers of Wikipedia to know what is terrorism. This particular article is purposely designed to mislead and bring confusion as a part of the general plan of hidding and despising. It is a perversion to use an enciclopedia to blur the meaning of a word.
There are three levels of definition of "terrorism". One is the vulgar used often incorrectly in newspapers, TV channels and`political statements. Second is the diplomatic-legal definition that changes from one country to another. Finally there is an academic definition that must have the prominent place in an ENCYCLOPEDIA.
Some editors keep quoting newspapers and looking for frontier cases to undermine the concept. This article is set up to enhance their thesis.--Igor21 (talk) 12:49, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
Dear Igor, the last few days I have been adding a lot of information to this article. By now, I'm by far its main contributor. I don't necessarily like everything that is in it, but this is supposed to be a colaborative project. Let me assure you that I have no hidden agenda. My overriding goal is to make its content more precise and less contentious.
I do agree with you that there are 3 levels of definitions of terrorism. A "popular" one, used in political discourse. A "legal-diplomatic one" that changes, as you say, from one country to another, but that is also reflected in the various treaties. Unfortunately, the polical nature of law making has made difficult to agree within the UN General Assembly to a universally legally binding criminal law technical definition. There are, though, agreed definitions of certain types of criminal activities, for example, the one contained in the Bombings Convention. And there is also a variety of "academic definitions". Please note that I say a variety. As far as I know, scholar have not agreed on 1 single definition yet.
I also agree with you that the 3 levels have a place in an encyclopedia. I would not say though that they deserve the same treatment. Clearly a definition that has been agreed by 190 states, that has been ratified by 185, and that has thus been incorporated in the national legislation of most of the world (the Financing Convention, for instance), is far more notable than the definition of unknown undergraduate (and we have now one undergraduate being quoted among the scholars ...). Legal-diplomatic definitions are not subject to contention. Either they are in a treaty or they are not.
As I see this article developing, it should be restricted to your second level: the legal-diplomatic definitions. Eventually I would like to have its title changed to something like Legal definitions of terrorism, Definition of terrorism in International Law or even Definitions of terrorism in Treaty Law. Obviously academic definitions should not be deleted from Wikipeadia, instead they should have their own page, something like Academic definitions of terrorism. The first level, "political" definitions, is part of your ongoing discussion.
Happy editing! -- Bonifacius 13:54, 8 February 2010 (UTC)

paragraphs for deletion

I´m proposing to delete the following paragraphs from the section "obstacles to ...":

Storically, the dispute on the meaning ....
More recently the 1977 Protocol ...

They came from the section on terrorism and laws of war, now deleted Terrorism and the laws of war (International humanitarian law). The material is covered by pages such as non-combatants and self-determination.—Preceding unsigned comment added by BonifaciusVIII (talkcontribs) 14:20, 8 February 2010

I am against deletion (and no they did not come from "Terrorism and the laws of war").[2] The problem with coming up with an agreed definition of terrorism is mixed up with unprivileged belligerents and the concerns of weaker states such as Belgium. It has been further complicated by the views over what are the justifiable means available for an oppressed people if they are fighting a regime that is based on a system of government recognised internationally as illegal such as apartheid.
This problem still causes problems. For example I saw the last prime minister of New Zealand argue that a weak state such as New Zealand, should always support multilateral initiatives through the UN rather than smaller coalitions, as development of international norms is the best way for small states such as New Zealand to protect their interests. Equally I have read that the USA will not sign up to the Rome Statute because for the time being as the most powerful military state in the world, it expects to be on the winning side in any conflict, so it has little to gain (as it can negotiate effective bilateral agreements) and much to loose if the ICC turns out to be an instrument used by its enemies to attack it legally.
So it is in the interests of a state such as the USA to try to get any potential enemy who fights an asymmetric war, to be branded an international criminal. Weaker states who worry that one day they may have to fight an asymmetric war are understandably leery of that drive. The mirror image of that is that weaker states who do not have access to hi-tech weaponry such as DU rounds, tend to side with those NGOs who would like to see them banned, while those states that have the weapon do not support such moves.
Where of course weak and powerful states can cooperate and agree treaties is over specific crimes such a hijacking, which (thanks to the hijackings in the 1960s and 1970s) all states perceive as a threat. It does not matter if a hijacking is politically motivated or just a commercial criminal act, it is equally a nuisance to all states, so the treaty wording does not have to directly consider the motives of the hijackers.
So as background paragraphs I think that help to explain why a universal definition is difficult to achieve and should remain in the article. -- PBS (talk) 22:38, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
I came across this "The soft power of a small power: the case of New Zealand" which expands on the issue of small sates and diplomacy which is now apparently called "soft power" -- PBS (talk) 23:20, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

Dear PBS, I'm quite aware of the reasons that have made difficult agreeing on a universal definition. The article already says clearly that there is a problem over the legitimacy of the use of force, just look at the quotes by Zeidan and Burke.

The problem is that those two paragraphs deal with an extremely complex legal and political controversy superficially. If you want to enter into the problems of the interpretation of international humanitarian law, then we need an article on terrorism and the laws of war - which you delete. -- Bonifacius 05:42, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

I don't agree, I think that the level is enough for this article and there are links to other article which a reader can follow to read about those disputes in more detail. I suggest that now we have laid our goods out at the market for others to see, that we wait and see what other editors think. -- PBS (talk) 09:00, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

OK, lets hear other editors. Cheers!-- Bonifacius 09:35, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

Dear sirs : I do not see any relation between "Martens clause" and Geneva Conventions with terrorism. I know PBS and probably Boniface VIII consider bogus any posible scientific definition of terrorism but I must state that scholar terrorism requires to exist the absence of war. Also the 2nd protocol does not apply since binds governements and governements by definiton cannot practice "terrorism" -being limited to "crimes of war", "state terrorism" or "terrorism sponsored by states" that are diferent things
As it is unfortunately so common, here you are mixing legitimacy and asuming that lack of legitimacy is the key condition for an action to be considered terrorism. This is not so. Terrorism is a tactic and can be used by groups with legitimate goals or by groups with illegitimate goals.
So to mix the concepts of "right to self-defence", the "right of people" (ius gentium), the "proportionate answer", etc... with terrorism can be correct from a legal point of view since in a trial it can be logic that the indicted group uses these concepts in his defense, but from a scholar point of view is absurd and leads to confusion.
I would delete this two paragraphs because have nothing to do with the article. Moreover, they include the wrong reasoning that if a group of people practise terrorism because of a "state of necesity" or using the right of a "proportionate answer" or because its antagoinst has vulnerated the "ius gentium" or etc... then it magically stops being terrorism.
In a future article where were discussed the legitimacy of the judge who judges someone as terrorist or where were discussed the atenuants in a trial of terrorism, perhaps this two paragraphas can have a place. Even now, if the article title were changed to "legal definition of terrorism" perhaps the paragraphs can have a place as part of the discussion about legitimacy that, let me insist, has nothing to do with if is terrorism or not.--Igor21 (talk) 11:19, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
The article is split up into three major sections.
  1. Definition of terrorism In international law
  2. Definition of terrorism In national law
  3. Definition of terrorism Scholars and recognized experts on terrorism
These paragraphs are in the section "In international law" so surly it already meets you criteria for inclusion as described in the last three paragraphs or you last posting to this talk page? -- PBS (talk) 01:37, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
PBS : Let me auto-quote "...if the article title were changed to "legal definition of terrorism" perhaps the paragraphs can have a place as part of the discussion about legitimacy...". Even asuming as you sugest the the first condition is complied it lacks the second. These two paragraphs are there to crown the list of rants about how dificult is to say what is terrorism, by adding to the conundrum some even more controversial issues that have nothing direct to do with terrorism.
What is true is that there are lots of things that should be also removed ASAP (like the infamous section about scholars with its crowd of nobodies saying non-sense). I do not know why Boniface VII focus in these two paragraphs but is true that introduce bias, smoke and mirrors to the article.--Igor21 (talk) 11:14, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Dear Igor and PBS, I've focused on those paragraph because in a previous life I used to work on International Humanitarian Law, and I dislike such a serious matter being treated supperficially. Meanwhile, I´m going to delete the 3 definitions that are clearly unsourced - staring with the one from the undergraduate, since we all seem to agree that those are out of place. If the 3 of us were to agree, perhaps we could delete the others. Our role as editors is not to negotiate a definition of terrorism, but to report objectively those definitions that are notable. Finally, it is a fact that the international community as a whole has failed to agree on a "comprehensive, all encompasing, unitary definition of terrorism to be included in a criminal law treaty". But that does not mean that the international community has not agreed on partial definitions of terrorism. Just look at the Terrorist Bombings Convention. It has a broad definition of the offence that covers 99.5% of the situations that any of you might wish to call terrorism. Definitions should reflect the normal cases, not the anomalies. Cheers!-- Bonifacius 11:41, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Igor21 are you aware that there is another article called International conventions on terrorism (I only recently came across it)? I am not sure why you want to exclude academic definitions from an article called definition of terrorism, as I think that definitions by prominent academics should be listed here.
The reason Boniface VII has not deleted the list of scholars good or bad, is in part because I asked him not to, see User talk:BonifaciusVIII#Definition of terrorism. Why don't you add what you think are appropriate definitions by prominent academics in the field to the scholars section?
BTW even when there is a clear internationally agreed definition for a crime such as for genocide -- which nearly every state in the world has ratified, and for which there is now a considerable body case law to interpret the convention -- Kurt Jonassohn an academic expert on genocide can still write that such the wording of the treaty is not intended to be a definition suitable as a research tool, and although it is used for this purpose, as it has an international legal credibility that others lack, other definitions have also been postulated. (see genocide definitions) as can be seen in genocides in history many different definitions are used to describe various events as genocides. -- PBS (talk) 13:33, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

PBS : I was not aware of the existence of the article about conventions but now that I know I do not change my mind regarding the two paragraphs, the section and this whole article that is a purposeful manipulation of the truth in spite of Boniface VIII efforts.

Boniface VIII : You continue with your idea that wikipedia editors are nobody to negociate the text of wikipedia articles. It is a ludicrous idea since all definitions in wikipedia have been negociated by editors. All this isue about terrorism definitions is ridiculous. All the academic definitions convey the same concepts and is trivial to write a definition that can be signed by Hoffman and Schmidt. Even the pathetic list at the bottom of the article shows the unanimity in scholarship. In this context, to continue deniying the posibility of defining terrorism is a joke.

As I warn you, legal aproach to terrorism is used in Wikipedia by terrorism deniers as a second layer of defense. By showing diferences in legislation between countries and by mixing with Geneva Convention, Martens Clause, genocide, etc.. a big cacofonic conundrum is created and the existence of terrorism can be hidden behind. You can see how PBS says "the day that a definition is agree..." refering to legal definition but extrapolating to the any definition.

Let me say that personally I found enraging the use of an encyclopedia to blur concepts, mudd waters and hide the truth as it is done in this article.--Igor21 (talk) 15:48, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Igor, the article on the Conventions has to be deleted or changed substantially due to copyright problems. Now, your last message just above does not seem to give us much space to move forward. I'm a bit puzzled. In any case, I will continue working on the legal defintions.
On the other hand - and probably you already wrote this elsewhere - why is Hoffman and Schmidt's definition so compelling to you? (If you have already explained this in other page, just give me the link). In all fairness, it seems to me that PBS' quote about the genocide definition is right inasmuch as any other academic can postulate a new definition... . Cheers! -- Bonifacius 19:04, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
I find the diferences between definitions used by scholars quite irrelevant. Even in the list compiled for this article, that has been purposely done to simulate enormous diferences, there are not. Some people emphasizes slightly more one concept and other people another concept but everybody KNOWS that terrorism is political violence done by non-gov groups which main goal is propaganda.
There are epistomologic problems in all definitions of any concept. Many books of many disciplines -not to say in social science- start with a definition written by the author that has a nuance or two. In the case of terrorism the problem is that if a guy puts a bomb in public place and says that has done to liberate XY, you cannot be epistemologically sure that that was his intention. This is clearly irrelevant for all purposes except to dress the first chapter of a book about terrorism.
So if the book deals with psicology of terrorism or terrorims and the media or etc... the author devotes the first chapter to give his definition of terrorism but then goes for the subject and there is no more doubts. If there is a simposium about terrorism nobody starts doubting of what is terrorism and asking himself how can be caracterized. It happens to be that the terrorist organizations are very similar even if they are from diferent epocs. And the incidents are also similar in the way that are planned. So when you start speaking in depth there is no more doubts.
Here in wikipèdia there are many people with bizarre ideas like thinking that the bombing of Hiroshima was terrorism or the tortures of the military juntas. Some people here thinks that "state terrorism" and "crimes of war" are mild expresions so every wrongdoing needs to be called "terrorism". Then there are the people who thinks that sometimes terrorism is necesary and when is necesary should not be called terrorism. Then we have people who simpatize with IRA or Irgun and considers that a group loved by them cannot have done terrorism. Finally we have the group who thinks that terrorism is just an expresion that USA (or whoever) uses to name those who wants to fight against. All these groups keep puting quotes out of context and lists of definitions in the articles to blur the concept, using the first page of books about terrorism.
Scholars do not spend much time with this trivial discussions but for me is a nightmare to see all this bullshit and be unable of overcoming it and do a proper article as the articles about "nation","country" or "religion". Terrorism is a very interesting and relevant subject and is incredible how uknown is being as it is all the time in the front pages.
So Hoffman and Schmidt definitions are just normal definitions as if you say "Feynman definition of proton" or "Richard Hawking definition of galaxy" to enhance the definition of proton or galaxy. But since these two gentlemen are very famous amongst wikipedian quoters that misuse their words time and again, I have the hope that at some point somenone reads e.g. "Inside terrorism" to find that is a full history of terrorism from XIX century to our days, not a book about why there is no definition (as can be thought by the preposterous use of its first pages as reference).
PBS has a rare erudition about wars in general and about the Irish conflict in particular. Instead of helping me to write a proper article about terrorism he keeps blocking the word by giving fronteer cases and avoiding the methodology of qualifying incidents instead of organizations. Now he starts with "genocide this" and "genocide the other" as a way to beat around the bush. He has all this constelation of articles and "words to avoid" and etc... and it is imposible to move it because in wikipedia time is power and he has more time than me.
I do not want to speculate about his reasons (in spite of the fact that I suspect he is protecting the image of a particular group) but for me is extremely annoying. Moreover he promotes this idea that to state a definition is to editorialize. I have no much time and normally I manage to forgot the whole question after a couple of encounters with him. But time to time I come here to waste my time discussing non-sense and geting stressed by the imposibilty of giving to the readers the information that is available to scholars. Cheers--Igor21 (talk) 23:17, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Ideally we need an overview and list of academic definitions written by an acknowledged expert in the field. But failing that why don't you add the definitions you think are most relevant to the section? If you look at the genocide definitions article you will notice two things the first is that it is largely based on two published sources and secondly there are two overview paragraphs based on experts opinions on what is the same and different between the definitions. I do not see why we should not have a similar structure for academic definitions of terrorism. I did a search Google book search on [Hoffman, Schmidt terrorism] in the hope of finding the definitions so that I could add them. But I did not find them however one of the first books thrown up by Google books was "Just war and terrorism: the end of the just war concept?" by Wim Smit p. 124
...In their famous and often cited book Political Terrorism Alex Schmidt and Albert Jongman identified 109 different definitions of terrorism. Many more definitions have cropped up especially in the wake of September 11th.

There are four major reasons why no definition of terrorism has yet been found. The first two we find in Bruce Hoffman's book Inside Terrorism. ...
If these are the two scholars you mean then clearly unless Wim Smit is selecting their opinions out of context, they are not quite as on message as you imply. The next couple of pages of Smit is worth reading and may be useful (see what you think). However leaving that aside for the moment, why don't you add quotes several definitions that you think appropriate and representative of scholarly definitions? -- PBS (talk) 02:34, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
Philip : Your games are transparent to me.
For the benefit of other readers I will say that the article of this certain Will Smit -whoever he is- verses about "just war" and in one of its 58 pages, before speaking about Bush campaign against Al-Qaeda, he names the dificulty of defining terrorism and quotes Schmidt, Longman and Hoffman on this. He does not because they are experts in no-definition of terrorism but because are experts on terrorism.
The sophistry of PBS manoeuver by giving this quote gets unveiled when in the following pages Mr. Smit gives some statistics about American victims in terrorist incidents, taken out from Hoffman. It si clear that to compile such statistics Hoffman has used a criteria to discriminate terrorist incidents from other causes of violent death.
Thus :
-Hofmman (as Schmidt and as all scholars) uses an operative definition and he is perfectly able to distinguish terrorist incidents.
-Hoffman et al. comments on definitions are normal in scientific books, are aimed to refine definitions and are NOT aimed to show that there is no definition.
-To misquote Hoffman to simulate that terrorism is a blur concept arbitrarily used, is baseless and preposterous (in Wikipedia terms is orginal research).
-To quote people who quotes Hoffman instead to quoting Hoffman directly is a trick to avoid the problem that in the next pages of the book where this quote is taken -"Inside terrorism"- he gives a full definition.
Someone at some point should finish this kingdom of darkness imposed on Wikipedia readers by the combination of PBS erudition and other people ignorance and prejudice.--Igor21 (talk) 10:17, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

Scholars and recognized experts on terrorism

Dear Sirs,

I am adding here some serious Academic literature - with the links to the full text or to an easy download - that might be useful to move forward on the question of the academic definitions. I´m including some works by Igor's prefered authors. I have not read all of it yet, though.

IGOR, if you do not like Hoffman and Schmidt being quoted second hand, please DO proposed some direct quotation from them, preferably from a book or an article that we all can access without having to run to the library.

  • UN Drugs and crime , forum (with an interesting article by schmid comparing the various working definitions, see p. 52).

Good reading, -- Bonifacius 14:38, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

Boniface : I do not like Hoffman and Schmidt being used to simulate that nobody knows what is terrorism and what not. I am eager to collaborate in a serious article about terrorism but I am not going to be accomplice in the spread of ideas about "terrorism is nothing and is everything". So lets see what happens now, once it looks like it is clear that terrorism is something specific.--Igor21 (talk) 15:49, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
I have sectioned off this talk page list from the previous section, but if you want to remove the new section heading then please do so.
While looking for more on Ali Kahn, I came across this book: Radiation Safety, Protection and Management: For Homeland Security and ... by Larry A. Burchfield on page 27 Burchfield give as list of individual definitions. The advantage of building a list from others lists is that it gets away from the problems of a list built selectively by Wikipedia editors in breach of OR and possibly NPOV. Interestingly many of his list are already in ours. I suggest that we add this book to those citations that are already included as it shows that these names are also in a list composed a third party. -- PBS (talk) 09:55, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Do you see, Boniface? There is no way. What we must do is to congratulate ourselves that there is only one PBS so only the articles about terrorism are afected because this same reasoning would destroy thousand articles since war, country, nation, GDP, etc... have hundreads of diferent definitions.
We can see a serious aproach to words-with-many-definitions in the article "species". What we can see there is a serious aproach to the problem and a will to make the concept and the debate understandable to readers. So the oposite of what is done here that is to try to obscure and blur the concept under an avalanche of opinions with various degrees of merit.
And not happy with this, PBS accuses others of doig OR and not respecting NPOV. What is heavy OR and ultra-heavy not-NPOV is to impede terrorism to have a definition in wikipedia. And once again I do not speculate about the reason this is done but at this point I have very clear idea.--Igor21 (talk) 13:34, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

PBS, yes, I see no problem adding the reference you suggest. I like what you did organizing the various academic definitions inside a box.

IGOR, the ball is now on your court. Since you do not like the article, please DO suggest some concrete texts to improve it. The LEAD, for instance, could be more accurate.

Comming back to the academic definitions, Vallis et all, p. 7, after making a survey of the various academic definition of terrorism arrive at the following conclusion:

Most of the formal definitions of terrorism have some common characteristics: a fundamental motive to make political/societal changes; the use of violence or illegal force; attacks on civilian targets by “nonstate”/”Subnational actors”; and the goal of affecting society (Cronin 2002; Martin 2003). This finding is reflected in Blee’s (2005) listing of three components of terrorism:

1) Acts or threats of violence;
2) The communication of fear to an audience beyond the immediate victim, and;
3) Political, economic, or religious aims by the perpetrator(s).

I wonder if we should not add this quote or a simmilar one in the lead of the academic's section. The advantage is that it is eminently fair. It does not say that all academic definitions are identical, but it does pick up prevaling trend.-- Bonifacius 15:01, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

I was going to suggest something similar, Burchfield on page 27 quotes Burke, but when I checked the Wikipedia article I noticed that Burke had already been quoted in the section "Obstacles to a comprehensive definition":

There are multiple ways of defining terrorism, and all are subjective. Most define terrorism as "the use or threat of serious violence" to advance some kind of "cause". Some state clearly the kinds of group ("sub-national", "non-state") or cause (political, ideological, religious) to which they refer. Others merely rely on the instinct of most people when confronted with innocent civilians being killed or maimed by men armed with explosives, firearms or other weapons.

But I think that either or both would be a useful addition to the lead of the section "Scholars and recognized experts on terrorism" as they both contain important summaries of what is common in terrorism definitions.--PBS (talk) 19:57, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Dear PBS, the problem with Burke's text is his use of "subjective". At the end, you could say that all concepts, all definitions, are subjective. Igor is right in saying that most serious definitions share a minimum common denominator. We know that there are conflicts and various approaches, but that has already been made abundantly clear in the article. Perhaps, if we could leave out the first sentence, we could use both texts. Cheers! -- Bonifacius 22:04, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Not really, I don't think that legal definitions are subjective. The reason why I would be leery of using the quote without that first sentence, is because as you know I have already stripped off all "buts" which followed in are in the fuller quotation currently in the article, and without that first sentence we are in danger of misrepresenting him. -- PBS (talk) 05:38, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Bonifacius VIII : Do you really think PBS is going to accept to write that exist a definition of terrorism? He will not, and is nothing that you or me can do against this reality.
A normal lead paragraph that reflect the true thinking of Hoffman and Schmidt will be :
The Definition of terrorism has proved controversial. Various legal systems and government agencies use different definitions of "terrorism" and the media tend to label as terrorism a range of different violent acts (Hoffman). However, there have been an academic consensus in the core of the definition for more than 20 years (Schmidt). In spite of some nuances in the wording and some open epistemological questions, scholarship defines terrorism as the use of violence by non-governemetal entities to coerce societies or governements to behave in a certain way or to adopt certain policies. The difference with insurgency/guerrilla is that the terrorist does not try to liberate any territory with his actions but uses violence as a way to send messages(Hoffman).An intuitive way of look at the concept is to see as 'crimes of war' in absence of war (Schmidt)
You will see that when Hoffman and Schmidt were used to mislead the reader, they had the most prominent place but now that the imposture is being revealed and their true thinking is being explained you will see how Will Smit, Ali Khan and Phil Bitt will become more apealing.
In fact, a good willed wikipedian would surrend to the evidence of the first chapter of "Inside Terrorism" or the Alex Schmidt Root Causes of Terrorism: Some Conceptual Notes, a Set of Indicators, and a Model of Terrorism link that you provide, and would use them as the base for the article. But you will see how PBS is not convinced by Hoffman and Schmidt now that their true ideas are conveyed. Cheers. --Igor21 (talk) 01:26, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Igor21, I read both those articles in detail and I do not see that they support your postiont. What is your citation from Schmidt's works that supports "However, there have been an academic consensus in the core of the definition for more than 20 years" what is your citation from that supports "scholarship defines terrorism as the use of violence by non-governemetal entities" Hoffman.-- PBS (talk) 04:50, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
I have no problem having it noted that Schmidt has suggested that an "Act of Terrorism = Peacetime Equivalent of War Crime". But where we part company is stating that "An intuitive way of look at the concept is to see as 'crimes of war' in absence of war (Schmidt)" because if it was so clear cut, then it would be obvious who committed the "war crimes" on Bloody Sunday (1920) and Bloody Sunday (1972). But after a detailed enquiry costing millions and millions of pound apparently there were few or no crimes committed on Bloody Sunday 1972, The Official IRA did not use human shields and the British Paras did not murder anyone.
I do not think that we can synthesise a global definition when so many scholars say that one does not exist, but we should note that there are some things in common as is done in the two examples given above. - PBS (talk) 05:38, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

PBS, I see your point on Burke's quote. In any case, he is already quoted earlier in the article, in a section where it makes more sense. Let's then include the vallis quote in as the lead of the subsection on academic definitions. On the other hand, I prefer not commenting on the Irish cases, At this point in the discussion going into specific cases it might not be terribly useful.

Igor, thanks for proposing some language for the lead of the whole article. I think it would be an improvement. Two points, though.

First, on the academc consensus, it would better if it were a direct quotation. If he said it, then there is no discussion that he said it. Problably, a longer quote in the section on academic definitions might be useful as well. The problem is that then somebody could ask introduce a quote saing that there is no consensus, and then we end where we started. Really, I still find Vallis most fair, noticing the differences, stressing the commonalities, but without saying "consensus", which could be contentious. Would you consider instead quoting Vallis in the lead? As you have explained it to us, what is really important for you is noting the core elements of terrorism, not endorsing one author or another.

Second, the intuitive part part is more difficult. It is not a definition but a slogan. It is not useful neither in Law or in social research, and creates an unnecesary confusion between the very precise international humanitarian law regime of war crimes and terrorism. Cheers!-- Bonifacius 07:09, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

PBS : I deplore the methods used by the English since the battle of Boyne onwards and I can see IRA as an organization of what Al-Qaeda has converted in "old style" (i.e. trying to mimmic the army of a nation). However most of the actions of IRA in the 70's and 80's were paradigmatic cases of terrorism.
I have explained many times and you can check again in the PDFs above that political violence is divided in some compartments and what RUC and Englich parachutist did was clearly state terrorism in its various forms (ilegal detention, tortures, shooting innocent unarmed crowds), state sponsored terrorism (various organizations) and some nearly crimes of war such us using civilians as shields. So we can go to the pertinent articles and detail all that. I am simpathetic with the cause of Ireland and I will help you to state truth about this in any article you want my help.
But our role here is not to open a "great cause" against terrorists and their adversaries, but to describe what this tactic is and how its use has evolved through time. Morevover in this particular article what we should do is to see the evolution of the term, its semantic core (political violence, non-gov. and propaganda).
You perfectly know that all what I wrote can be sourced word by word using Hoffman and Schmidt. I did not go into HTML niceties since I knew how useless it is. You are the only one who can finish with this absurd and allow academic sources to be used here for spreading light instead of obscurity.
No I don't know that they can be sourced "word by word", which is why I picked out a couple of phrases and asked you for citations to support them. -- PBS (talk) 11:38, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Bonifacius VIII : I am not going to go in these games. There is a an scolarship consensus and if you read your own PDFs you will see it. I am not going to help PBS to simulate that "some people thinks that there is a consensus" when every single well willed person who read all the academic definitions can see that are the same with different wordings. I have an idea of what is an encyclopedia. To help people to hide the truth for the sake of consensus is not part ot it.--Igor21 (talk) 10:56, 15 February 2010 (UTC)


Bonifaciaus now that the article has expanded into three major sections the introduction should reflect that as the lead section should be a summary of the article. -- PBS (talk) 11:10, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

You are right. I´ll try to pen something. Cheers!-- Bonifacius 11:31, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
PBS : Do you mean something such as "Terrorism means nothing at all and below you will see lots of definitions from very famous people like Ali Khan, Will Smitt and Phil Bit that will show you how misleading is to think that the word terrorism has a meaning. You will also see the concept mixed with ius gentium and humanitary law -that has nothing to do but who cares- and we will show you some politica maneouvers of diplomats trying to charge enemies and discharge friends. You will learn nothing about terrorism but precisely this is the objective of this article, to show you that some people are unfairly accused of terrorism when in reality are just patriots of countries beloved by the writers of the article."
Something like this will do the trick, PBS?--Igor21 (talk) 14:59, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Igor21 please stop misrepresenting my point and putting words into my mouth, it does not help us reach a consensus. In the last section I wrote: "I do not think that we can synthesise a global definition when so many scholars say that one does not exist, but we should note that there are some things in common as is done in the two examples given above." If you were to respond positively to such statements and present some sources to back up what you claim, we could work together on this article. I think it is a shame that you are choosing to be so negative as the best articles come from a melding of well researched different points of view.
In this case for the lead, I mean that there should be a brief summary of all three major sections. For example I think Angus Martyn paragraph (stripped of the Reuters sentence), with additional mentioning sectoral approach, would cover the international section. The national section is currently weak, but the mention of it in the lead is even less satisfactory. We need to agree on how to present a paragraph in the lead on the scholar section. Bonifacius has suggested the quote he took from Vallis et all, could be in the lead. I think it would be far more use to discuss this as an option than create paragraphs on the talk page of what we think others want.-- PBS (talk) 22:00, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

Igor21 you removed a paragraph from the lead, with the comment "Removing disinformation and quotes out of context". But the quote is taken from the lead paragraph of a section called "What is terrorism". The full paragraph is:

What Is Terrorism?

Sound strategy requires a clear definition of the enemy. The GWOT, however, is a war on something whose definition is mired in a semantic swamp. Even inside the U.S. Government, different departments and agencies use different definitions reflecting different professional perspectives on the subject.9 A 1988 study counted 109 definitions of terrorism that covered a total of 22 different definitional elements.10 Terrorism expert Walter Laqueur also has counted over 100 definitions and concludes that the “only general characteristic generally agreed upon is that terrorism involves violence and the threat of violence.”11 Yet terrorism is hardly the only enterprise involving violence and the threat of violence. So does war, coercive

diplomacy, and barroom brawls.

The section goes on to discuss this problem and concludes with these two paragraphs:

Morally black and white choices are scarce in a gray world. One

man’s terrorist can in fact be another’s patriot. “Is an armed Kurd a freedom fighter in Iraq but a terrorist in Turkey?” asks Tony Judt. “Were al-Qaeda volunteers terrorists when they joined the U.S. financed war [against the Soviets] in Afghanistan?”

To be sure, consensus on the definition of terrorism is hardly necessary to prosecute counterterrorist operations against specific terrorist organizations. We know a terrorist when we see one, and we know that al-Qaeda is an enemy. But lack of definitional consensus does impede the study of terrorism, which is a necessary component of dealing with the phenomenon itself.

— p.9 (PDF p. 15)

So how is the quote "disinformation and quotes out of context"? -- PBS (talk) 22:00, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

PBS, as you suggested, I merged Angus Martyn's quote with the summary of the international section that I had prepared. Cheers!-- Bonifacius 10:02, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

Scholars and recognized experts on terrorism (Continuation)

Igor, I am really surprised you have removed the following quote by Hoffman, who you say - and I do believe you- is the best and more reliable scholar on terrorism:

Bruce Hoffman, a well-known scholar, has thus noted that "it is not only governmental agencies within the same governmental apparatus that cannot agree on a single definition of terrorism. Experts and other long-established scholars in the field are equally incapable of reaching a consensus."[1]

For a whole week you have been saying that both he and Schmid say that there is a "consensus" definition. When PBS questioned it, I hoped you would provide us with a direct quote, proving him wrong. Since you did not, I went looking for it myself, and what do I find? A far more nuanced statement: that there is no consensus but only some commonalities among most, but not all definitions. There is NO manipulation at all. He said it. If you have some varifiable quotation saying that there is a consensus among scholars, this would be a good time to provide it. -- Bonifacius 18:26, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

Dear friends : It is funny to read all these kind invitations to colaborate and "be positive".
It happens to be that I have read the book "Inside Terrorism" some times and one of them taking notes. So when I read a quote from the book that conveys a concept that is oposite to what the book says, I tend to think that is a quote that must not be there. Unfortunately, googlebooks stops before the chapter called "Definition" ends, so the on-line reader is abandoned before Hoffman states what is his consensus definition. In this context, "consensus" does not mean as in wikipedia "laborious agreement achieved by looking for neutral words" but a kind of canon, obtained ex-post by distilation of the current academic opinions about the subject.
The Hoffman canon is my proposed definition and can be compared whith the one Schmidt elaborated in 1988 -and he himself called "consensus"- and it can be shown that both are equal, so it looks that 1) the definition of "terrorism" is not so elusive and 2)the favourite quotes about Schmidt and Hoffman do not convey the conclusions of these two gentlemen.
As a personal unsourced note, I do not know Schmidt so well but in the case of Hoffman, all these comments about definitions are a concesion to the people who expresses doubts about definitions to help them to go on-board (specially members of administrations). So it is easy to cherrypick phrases at the begining where he starts with the "Alas, how can we build a definition?" instead of reading the conclusions when he states the current canon.
This canon is written to show that small differences in words must not make people think that there are doubts about what is terrorism. To express in Cartesian terms, Hoffman (as Schmidt) accepts that every reader has in his mind a "clear and distinct" idea of what incidents can be called "terrorism", and so the quest is for the words. This in sharp contrast with the idea expressed in these articles where the emphasis is twisted to simulate that the lack of consensus is in the incidents.
Regarding Dr. Record quote, we also need to see the context. It was written in the apex of the so called Global War on Terrorism that was probably one the most striking misuse of the word "terrorism" in all times. Dr. Record is a sound military analist who has written many books about people dying because politic misuse words. The aim of his document was to show that the GWOT was fought without really being able of defining the enemy. He was shooting down the cheesy rethoric of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld not doing doctrine on "terrorism". Now please read again the quote and you will understand what he said and why (and how cunning is the allusion to each branch of the Bush administration thought a different thing). It is self evident that a quote to show how hollow was the concept of GWOT, cannot be used out of context to simulate that was refering to "terrorism" in general.
IMO the first consensus that we must reach is the consensus in the fact that not ANY quote has the same value and that if an author has devoted his profesional life to analize "something", to use quotes from him that convey the idea that he thinks that this "something" is a cacofonic misunderstanding, must be seen at inuendo.
So if we are really to colaborate, lets follow Hoffman as main author and lets him introduce us the rest of authors since from Dr. Record we have a clear quote of who Hoffman is.--Igor21 (talk) 23:46, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Igor2 instead of putting you comments in one place at the bottom of the talk page it would have been helpful if you had placed your comment "Regarding Dr. Record quote" directly below the quote in the same section (which is about the content of the lead), because you are doing other editors who wish to follow the threads of this debate any favour by making points about one thread in one section at the bottom of the next section. Remember they may read this months or even years after we write it. If you decide to move the comments about the Dr. Record quote into the proceeding section please delete this paragraph as it will make no sense to readers in the future. -- PBS (talk) 04:49, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Igor2, you write "conclusions when [Hoffman] states the current canon" but still you have not given a quote that we can use. Please provide a page number and a quote, so that others can judge that your interpretation if clear and concise because to date you with some of you other posting it is not at all clear that your interpretation of a passage is one that I would share. -- PBS (talk) 04:49, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

Ok. First of all and regarding the organization of the posts, IMO, the hipothetic exegete who tries to follow our convoluted interchange will be grateful if at least the posts are in chronological order. My experience in wikipedia pages organized by subjects has been always terrible since without cronological order, utter chaos is eventually assured.

Regarding content, I have very good news indeed since in the New York Times (ref 1 in the article) there is the end of the chapter that yesterday I allude in my post. So here we have the last paragraphs where Hoffman presents his conclusion in the most assertive way and dispelling any reasonable doubt about the existence of a clear definition for terrorism.

Here is in all its splendour the definition of terrorism that Wikipedia has been hidding for years. I put it in extenso since it is interesting to see how clear and comprehensive it is.

(For quoting purposes and double checks, these are the last paragraphs of the first chapter of the book "Inside Terrorism" written by Bruce Hoffman, the most renown expert in terrorism of present days.)

By distinguishing terrorists from other types of criminals and terrorism from other forms of crime, we come to appreciate that terrorism is :

  • ineluctably political in aims and motives
  • violent -- or, equally important, threatens violence
  • designed to have far-reaching psychological repercussions beyond the immediate victim or target
  • conducted by an organization with an identifiable chain of command or conspiratorial cell structure (whose members wear no uniform or identifying insignia) and
  • perpetrated by a subnational group or non-state entity.

We may therefore now attempt to define terrorism as the deliberate creation and exploitation of fear through violence or the threat of violence in the pursuit of political change. All terrorist acts involve violence or the threat of violence. Terrorism is specifically designed to have far-reaching psychological effects beyond the immediate victim(s) or object of the terrorist attack. It is meant to instil fear within, and thereby intimidate, a wider `target audience' that might include a rival ethnic or religious group, an entire country, a national government or political party, or public opinion in general. Terrorism is designed to create power where there is none or to consolidate power where there is very little. Through the publicity generated by their violence, terrorists seek to obtain the leverage, influence and power they otherwise lack to effect political change on either a local or an international scale.

Trancription by --Igor21 (talk) 17:57, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

Hoffman, Bruce (2006),Inside terrorism, Edition 2, Columbia University Press, 2006. ISBN 0231126999, 9780231126991. On page p. 34 lists what was and was not common in definitions. While he like many others can define terrorism, it does not make his definition definitive. Why not add his definition to the table of definitions that already exist in the article?-- PBS (talk) 02:53, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

PBS : I knew that once Hoffman real stance becomes cristal clear and your continuous misquotation of him evident, you will say that he is only "one amongst many". Your tactics have become so transparent that is boring.
I have shown beyond doubt that there is a perfectly usable and fully sourced definition for terrorism. Thus is now clear what is your purpose and why you do what you do. (cover-up of a certain specific group) and how easy is to demonstrate . Now the open question is what to do with the articles you are afecting with your intentional bias, once it has been documented. .--Igor21 (talk) 12:12, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

'Definition' in History of Terrorism'

Find it here: [3]. I think it's more useful, in its very brief way, than the vast number of words thrown at this impossible topic here. In any case, what do people here think of the definition section in 'History of Terrorism' (yes, the rest of the article is quite a mess!), understanding that that section needs to be very brief but not inaccurate or misleading.Haberstr (talk) 22:48, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

  1. ^ Bruce Hoffman,Inside terrorism, 2 ed., Columbia University Press, 2006, p. 33