Talk:Terrorism/Archive 10

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State Terrorism

Anonymous removed my edit at the end of of definition of State Terrorism

  • My edit stated

However a state and its government has been established to defend the nation and enforce the law of the land by using violence, if needed. Therefore, every single state and government could be labeled with State terrorist label. So this definition is meaningless.

I repeat it. The state is created for the only purpose - to defend people and to ensure some kind of order and justice. In order to execute these functions it is authorised to use violence according the Law, when needed. (If one does not understand that, it is too early for him/her to read political articles. Not to say to write them.)
So, according the article's definition of State Terrorism, every state may be labeled as a state terrorist. --HenryS 03:17, 4 July 2006 (UTC)
  • I received a message

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, and so its editors' opinions do not belong here. Please review our point of view and original research policies, so that you know what type of material can and cannot be included. Dylan 20:19, 2 July 2006 (UTC)

It is not an editor's opinion, however this requires some middle school level of education. I believe that virtually every wikipedia reader has it. Meantime, it requires some logic. I believe that virtually every wikipedia reader is able to use it.

Finally, I am not happy with a war around obvious ideas. So I put a "Fact" request near the State Terrorism definition and I wait a definition by highly reliable, by Wikipedia standards, source.

I was the anon (I hadn't logged in), and I was also the one who left you that message. No one is arguing that you're wrong, only that this is not the place to voice your opinion in that regard. Again, please read about no original research. Using logic and reasoning, no matter how valid, doesn't belong on Wikipedia: by reasoning something like that out, you're coming to a new synthesis of information, which is squarely original research. However, what you can include is other peoples' analysis of that issue. If some political theorist or outside commentator has remarked that "state terrorism" is a meaningless term, then great -- cite it, and put it in the phrasing "Some people have argued that 'state terrorism' is meaningless." However, stating as fact "'state terrorism' is a meaningless term" is simply your own opinion, one with which not everyone would agree, and so it can't be included here. Regarding the {{fact}} tag you placed, that sort of issue might be better resolved at the State terrorism article, since in this article, state terrorism is sort of an ancillary subject.--HenryS 03:17, 4 July 2006 (UTC)
Again, the point is not that your reasoning is faulty, only that this particular kind of material cannot be included in Wikipedia. Kane5187 17:40, 3 July 2006 (UTC)

Well, let me ask a question. Suppose, Mary has 2 apples and Ann has 3 apples and everybody knows that. Or should know. Is it an original research to write that the girls have 5 apples?--HenryS 03:17, 4 July 2006 (UTC)

Yes, because if you can't cite an outside source that's already pointed that out, it doesn't belong here. Read WP:NOR, and note at the bottom of each edit page that "Content...must be based on verifiable sources." Kane5187 03:34, 4 July 2006 (UTC)
Well, so could you clairify what should be verified
  1. The fact that Mary has 2 apples and Ann has 3 apples (It is suggested that everybody knows that, or should know)
  2. The fact that 2 apples and 3 apples is 5 apples (It is suggested that everybody knows that, or should know)
  3. Other (please specify)

--HenryS 12:10, 4 July 2006 (UTC)

You cannot include "any new analysis or synthesis of published data," such as adding 2 and 3 together for yourself. This is clearly against WP:NOR, as any other editor familiar with the policy will testify. You will find yourself getting into grey area very quickly if Wikipedia editors have to start making judgments about what people "should know." We re-produce information that has already been published, and nothing else. Kane5187 15:09, 4 July 2006 (UTC)

Henry, you are wrong as a conceptual matter. Many states are violent, launch wars not in self-defense, etc. But violence does not equal terrorism. The definition of terrorism includes the violent targeting of civilians for a political purpose. Many states have sponsored terrorism. If you find sources showing states that committed acts consistent with this definition, then I might agree that they should be listed here. In general, since so much of the terrorism in the world is state terrorism, this section should be much LARGER than it is. --JustFacts 17:10, 5 July 2006 (UTC)


The problem lies in defining who is a non-combatant. For example is a civilian police officer a civilian or a combatant? Is an off-duty police officer a civilian or a combatant? Is a member of the internal security service a civilian or a combatant? If an army, uses civilian infrastructure for observation (e.g. civilian traffic cameras) and the civilian cellular phone network for communications, are the civilians who maintain this infrastructure non-combatants?

Don't know who wrote this (no signature!), but here's an idea: in October of 2000, when the USS Cole was attacked, the sailors aboard were not permitted to fire upon the rubber dinghy that approached them, filled with explosives. The result was that 17 sailors lost their lives. The reasoning: the ship had not been fired upon, and thus the people in the dinghy were considered non-combatants. Authority to fire has been extended to all water vessels failing to stop for US Naval vessels, when hailed via loudspeaker. Needless to say, we've learned our lesson in this regard. Non-combatants are those who are not actively engaged in combat, or who are trying to avoid combat altogether. It should be noted that it is sometimes difficult to determine who are and who are not non-combatants, and for this reason if there is a question, most people tend to err on the side of caution in this regard. Thus, if we're under attack from within the infrastructure, we would treat these civilians as combatants, and if any of them made any move that were considered threatening or sudden, our troops would likely not hesitate to shoot. However, if there is no reason to believe that the civilians are combatants, they are non-combatants. Kinda. This is the "quick and dirty" explanation, and should give kind of any idea. Red Heron 16:33, 30 June 2006 (UTC)
I would like to add to this that rules of engagement usually state that men of military age (usually 15-50) are always suspect, especially if in groups; and women, children, and old men are usually not suspected. An armed civilian police officer, if engaged on the battlefield, would be considered a combatant if he did not immediately surrender. An unarmed police officer would probably not be considered a combatant, unless he was to be considered a possible spy, then he could be taken prisoner. The rules change when an area is being occupied by an army, then the rules of marshal law apply to the civilian population and the army becomes a military police force until redeployed. --Britcom 18:37, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
The more interesting question (to me) around the Cole incident is whether the attack was terrorism. It was my job in a previous life to oversee publication of a compendium of worldwide reports on terrorist acts, which meant I had to decide whether an act of violence was to be considered terrorism. (The decisions had political implications, as you can imagine.) The definition we finally arrived at, which seemed to work, is pretty much what I added to the definition of terrorism here. The keys are INTENTIONALLY targeting violence against NON-COMBATANTS, the latter term needing much care and elucidation, as attempted in the terrorism entry. To the extent the sailors on the Cole were part of the effort against the terrorists, the terrorists' action was one of self-defense, undeclared war, unconventional war, etc, not terrorism. Heinous crimes such as beheading a captured SOLDIER with a knife or executing a dozen bound Iraqi POLICEMEN are not terrorism just because they are heinous or use certain methods.

The definition leads us to conclusions some of us may be uncomfortable with. Hiroshima, the firebombing of Dresden, etc, were terrorist acts. We can plead that they were judged to be the lesser of two evils, that a calculation was made that they would in fact result in fewer deaths than the alternatives. But if we go down that road, people who intentionally blow up kindergartens can say that it is for the greater good as well. I feel strongly that we must clearly define terrorism as INTENTIONAL targeting of (what I will call here for the sake of brevity) "non-combatants." Only then will such statements as "Oh well, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" be answerable. Only then can we isolate this activity and take coherent action against it. JHarlen


I would love to know why you think Seperatism and Democracy are legitimate explanations of the cause of terrorism. Headsock 02:11, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

I'm thinking that you misinterpreted something, as I don't understand where you're getting this from (EDIT: I'm agreeing with Headsock, for what it's worth... these sections don't make a lot of sense). Also, the claim that "the countries with the least amount of terrorism tend to be the most democratic" seems to not be NPOV, as this is a subjective statement on its face. Red Heron 15:34, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

major edits

Please note that all of the major additions and deletions to the entry I have been making are part of a larger attempt to restructure the article to make it more readable, consistent, accurate, readable, and shorter. In essence, I'm trying to make it more like an encyclopedia article and less like a forum where everyone constantly adds their two cents over and over again on a topic.Headsock 00:17, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

Goodbye to lone wolves

This is my reasoning for my most recent edit of the lone wolf section, deleting the first two paragraphs. I believe the only function such a sectio has in our entry on Terrorism is to dispel the myth than individual fanatics acting alone should be considered in the same breath as terrorist organizations. The causes, effects, and means of handling lone wolf attacks are entirely different than terrorist acts perpetrated by groups. As I mentioned in the article, Boehlert's discussion of terrorism vs. hate crimes reflects how the social construction of an attack determines it's classification. To understand and prevent terrorism, it is vital that we deconstruct both kinds of attacks to see what causes them and what effectively counteracts them. Headsock 18:33, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Even so, wouldn't it make sense to include this information on a section about Lone Wolves, as they are engaging in terrorist activity? Red Heron 15:48, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

section on "psychological factors"

If my edits on the "causes of terrorism" section are acceptable, i propose deleting the psychological factors, section, as it is rendered largely irrelevant given the sociological understanding of terrorism. Headsock 21:08, 1 June 2006 (UTC) <---what does "UTC" mean?

I support your proposal for deleting the section on psychological factors, or at least consider a serious revision of it. While it may hold true for some cases, terrorists are typically not "loners," but involved in vast social networks, or groups, that encourage and support their belonging to such orginizations.

This was my rational for essentially deleting the section on psychological factors, and just briefly discussing why such factors do not belong in an article on terrorism. I would love to hear any contrary argument there might be, in light of evidence provided on the social origins and explanation for terror, for why a discussion of psychological factors belongs here. Headsock 18:56, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

I would like to see a section on psychological factors that assist in the furthering of terroristic aims, such as the grooming of psychological traits that promote any or all of the five stages theory, as well as recruitment and other activities that require a focus on the psychological makeup of the individuals who are members of such organizations. There are roughly 5% of any society (according to the American Psychiatric Association) who are active dissidents, but very few (if any) of these ever engage in terrorist activity. Rather, terrorists (from my own observation and nothing more) tend to come from a gradual recruitment process that builds on things like poor education, political hatred, susceptibility to suggestion, and a host of other traits. This gradual process would then be necessary for inclusion if it can be substantiated (which I cannot do, as it would be considered OR and thus unsuitable for an encyclopedic entry). --Red Heron 19:16, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

terrorism in the modern sense

Re: edit by Peter McConaughey - edit summary was "History - POV removed. Who says that "terrorism in the modern sense seems to have emerged around the mid 19th-century" and "it does not correspond to the modern use of the term state terrorism?"" I don't know about the "state terrorism" line but the sentence about terrorism in the modern sense -- that is a generally established notion in counterterrorism literature, though there is some dispute over how clear a line can be drawn between premodern and modern terrorism. But the key factor is the invention of dynamite in 1866, after which a new form of terrorism appears that is characterized as the individual or small group attacking a larger group rather than mob action against an individual or group of individuals (e.g. KKK or Sons of Liberty). Many have written about this but a good touchstone is David C. Rapaport's typology of modern terrorism.--csloat 01:51, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

Perhaps we should say that, according to David C. Rapaport's typology of modern terrorism, terrorism in the modern sense seems to have emerged around the mid 19th-century.
I don't think that Rapaport's "modern terrorism" is indicative of all "terrorism" currently in use. Until we have another word to use in the description of state terrorism, for instance, we still need the strict sense of "terrorism" in order to communicate the original idea of a system of terror. --Peter McConaughey 17:42, 12 December 2005 (UTC)
Do you know of other scholars who disagree with this assessment? Rapaport is the one who invented this typology, and it has been criticized for being too rigid, but the general distinction between modern and premodern terrorism is pretty common in counterterrorism scholarship. "State terrorism" is acknowledged by such scholars but it is called "state terrorism," not just "terrorism." I just think it would be appropriate to make clear distinctions that are generally acknowledged in the field.--csloat 18:26, 12 December 2005 (UTC)
I agree that it is good to make the distinctions, but when they are disputed, even among non-scholars, they should be cited. There is nothing wrong with stating who makes such assertions. When the source is strong, citing it adds credence to the argument. When the source is weak, citing it maintains NPOV. Either way, sources should be cited if there is any chance that the reader would question the conclusion. --Peter McConaughey 18:36, 12 December 2005 (UTC)

Hello this is corey i live in iowa!!!

Terrorism has been a part of man's history dating to the dawn of time. War is often confused with terrorism: They are definitely not the same. Attila the Hun: Was that war? No, that was terrorism of people in the territory he wished to claim. Hitler? No, that wasn't war either (against the Jews): That was terrorism against a religious group (no, I am not Jewish). Pol Pot and Lon Nol in Thailand: Terrorism against their own people. In the modern world though, it appears to me that all (90%+) terrorism is by Islamic people that I feel are trying to impose Islamic rule on the world. I hold no particular religious belief, but the possibility of a holy war instigated by radical Muslims is a distinct threat to the Western world. Indonesia, London, the USA, we're all targets of zealots who feel that their way is the only way. This has no place in the current, modern world, but is a fact nonetheless. I am most definitely not a prejudiced person, and I believe that all people of faith have the right to observe their own religion. But the undeniable fact that most all of the "terrorist attacks" occur at the hands of Islamic radicals makes me feel that this should be the target of US action. For the record, I am against the US occupation of Iraq and the Bush Administration's evedropping policies. Rant over...... The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk • contribs) 22:17, 28 January 2006.

Hi Corey, i meant to reply to your rant earlier but for some reason this page was protected, am a muslim and on behalf of all muslims i would like you to know that we don't give a shit about what you & your people believe in, you can worship Jesus, jehovah,allah, buddha.. the only nation trying to impose its beliefs on others is the USA, when your countries troops gets attacked in iraq or yemen or saudi, its not because they are christians, its because they are occupying others lands. as for (90%+) terrorism is by Islamic peopleallow me to justify that, when a group of usa soldiers rape a 13 year old girl in iraq, kills her along with her family & try to accuse the resistance in iraq, this is not considered as terrorism, had the iraqi resistance been accused of it, this would have been considered as terrorism, so you see, any crime done by americans, israelis, or their allies is never considered as terrorism, hence you won't find an american terrorist even if he butchered a whole country, so sweatheart, please stop believing the lies you hear from your media & your monkey-face president, cause your people's ignorance is causing the death of my people.

"terrorism expert"?

RonCram added a theory by Christopher L. Brown that claims that al Qaeda attacks after releasing two videos. Someone should add that this theory has been rejected by other terrorism experts and that the CIA refused to even comment on it (that's from the article Ron links). Mr. Brown is not a "terrorism expert," regardless of what the neocon website CNS News says. Interestingly the site only says he works for a Washington-based think tank but refuses to tell us which one. As far as I can tell, this guy's only publication is about British theories of human rights in the 18th century. I've never seen his name listed on any list of essays by terrorism experts and I've never seen his name on the program for any conferences about terrorism. A google search yields 112 hits for both "Christopher L. Brown" and "terrorism" - very few of which actually refer to this person and even fewer (I can't find a single one!) that refer to his theories on terrorism. Compare a similar search for real terrorism experts for example. I don't think it's a good idea for wikipedia to hilight every crackpot theorist as an "expert" just because some right wing website calls him that.--csloat 17:59, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

Most of the sites that I can find that refer to Mr. Brown's theories on terrorism tend to be very much on the crackpot side of things, and spin out conspiracy theories that don't have a solid basis in fact, or which distort facts in a manner consistent with propagandism. The term "expert" however is a subjective one, as anyone can publish a book that says anything they want to, as long as it would sell. Sales are very much a part of who is and is not considered an "expert" in any field, and thus subjectivity in the academic world must be attributed for anyone without academic credentials. Take Kerry Boren, for example, who has multiple books published on various historical topics: very much an "expert" in the classic sense, but most of his work is theoretical at best. I doubt very much that he's personally surveyed most of the subjects he writes about, though his writing reflects a realism that makes an otherwise dry subject very appealing. I don't think he has much in the way of academic credit, however, and is simply a "well-selling" author. This distinction is perhaps the most important when determining who can or cannot be considered an expert. I'm afraid that Mr. Brown might qualify, despite the fact that any theory advanced would be automatically suspect by anyone who is well-studied in the area.Red Heron 15:46, 30 June 2006 (UTC)


...I usually refrain myself from editing articles. As such, I will leave it to the rest of the community to deal with this line (at the end of Examples of Major Incidents):

"Terrorist are cowards that can't fight a real fight and win. They have to make up for their small penises by blowing up innocent people."

You might want to try Chris Brown or Christopher Brown and terrorism before you make such broad stroked statements

Please sign your comments with four tildes. MichaelBillington 10:20, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

i'm quite sure there are quite a few terrorists who have NO penises. as in, they are women. Gringo300 07:23, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

according to

According to Mark Juergensmeyer, Terror in the Mind of God, the definition of the latin word: Terrre is defined as "to cause to tremble," not "to frighten."

Terrorism definition...

Although I feel it is important to know the history of terrrorism, I do not feel that it necessarily belongs in the "defintion" section of the article. The "different definition" section of this article has been broken down into legal/state definitions. This rules out opinions of the definition of terrorism and also makes the article much easier to read.

It might be nice to put the word in perspective with some examples of how its been used historically. If you want to take what I added and put it a tier down thats fine. We also need to deal with the fact that we now have a Democratically elected terrorist state in Hamas, that has been recognized by President Bush, albeit with no great pleasure, but still some redefinition of terms is required. Federal Street 23:02, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

That'll be tough since one man's terrorist is often another man's freedom fighter. The definition might depend on which side you're on. The British probably considered George Washington to be a terrorist.SR - RE 18:40, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

The United Nations has proposed at least one definition for terrorism and this may be contrasted with that of, say, the United States or other countries. Readers may infer the self interest inherent in each definition if they wish, or the writer can point it out to them. Either way, defining it is a central issue/bone of contention, politically. But that shouldn't stop an encyclopedia from showing the diverse range of definitions out there. RM

I think this is the crux of the problem with the word terrorist: there is no set criteria that makes a group a 'terrorist organisation.' It is an entirely subjective label applied by states to groups that oppose them by violent means. There is no real difference in the end result if a bomb is detonated by a 'terrorist' group, a state security service or a country's military.GiollaUidir 13:17, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Just had a thought: what is we included a definition section that stated: Although widely disputed by many governmental and civil organizations; for the purposes of this article, terrorism will be defined as <blah>. This should remove any need for disputing which definitions are valid or not, and the state-related definitions can be dropped into the "Other Definitions" section. (Oh, and, for what it's worth, Mormons are on the list of cults around the world, but most Mormons consider their beliefs a religion with a solid foundation... it's a matter of whom you ask, and the same holds true of terrorism, terrorist organizations, and terrorist activities just as it does for cults and religions.) --Red Heron 18:32, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

"Recruitment" section

Tactics vary between groups. Islamist terrorist groups use the promise of a "martyr's" reward in the afterlife. In addition, Saddam Hussein's Iraq was known to offer money to Palestinian martyrs' surviving family members after a successful attack.

I reworded these two sentences, but that doesn't change them still being crap. I don't know much about terrorist recruitment, but I doubt that the promise of 70 afterlife virgins is the Islamist terrorist recruitment method. The gratuitous mention of Saddam Hussein while ignoring Iran, by far the largest state sponsor of terror, again reflects the continuing Western obsession with Iraq after a U.S. PR blitz during the 1991 Gulf War. There's no mention of non-Middle Eastern terrorism, nor is there any detail or good information given about much of anything, really. I've moved the section from the article to here so that either it can be improved, or at least be out of the article. --Mr. Billion 04:53, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

Recruitment for any organization still has a very common foundation. Criminal and terrorist organizations still require some measure of "proof" in order to be able to believe that someone is not an infiltrator. Additionally, the higher up in the organization an individual goes, the greater the proof that is required (in well-organized groups). The exception to this is in cellular organizations (al-Qaeda falls into this category) where there is only a single central authority with wide distribution of information--information which can be smuggled through a variety of different means. Cutting off the head of such an organization might certainly cause a splintering, but the desired effect of causing the organization to crumble from within would effectively result in two organizations with different aims (in effect two sets of cellular groups), called the "Hydra Effect" after the serpent of Greek mythology. Recruitment, therefore, is a careful screening process resulting in far fewer numbers than anyone would give credit to believe, with regard to organizational leadership. It is, in fact, very difficult to gauge how many are in an organization when the organization itself doesn't keep any kind of record about this, and basically anyone who upholds its aims and which claims an alliance in such an organization cannot be verified. However, in organizations that do keep tabs on their members (even if only verbal tabs), contact networks can usually verify and authenticate the activities of its members with a fair amount of speed. In addition, higher levels typically know more about an organization's operation, whereas foot solders tend to simply follow orders until their superiors need replacing. And a foot soldier typically cannot be distinguished from a superior simply by sight. Thus, terrorist organizations are free to recruit from within other organizations, and even from within prisons, schools, etc., without the recruit ever knowing that they'd been recruited. Terrorist recruitment follows an ideal that is very different from other criminal organizations in this respect, and operates more like an intelligence agency. --Red Heron 19:16, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

al Qaeda

Bin Laden was, though, a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Al-Qaida, literally "the database", was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians.Federal Street 01:45, 8 February 2006 (UTC)

The fact that bin Laden was being armed in the 80s by the CIA is in dispute. Yes, the CIA and the Saudi's (among others) were pouring money into Afghanistan, but it was going to the Afghan mujahidin that were fighting the Russians, not bin Laden. The other thing is that the CIA funneled its funds through the Pakistani Inter-Services-Intelligence Directorate (ISID). This meant that there was no direct contact between the CIA and mujahidin. You also have to remember that during the 80s bin Laden was not the guy in charge of the recruitment and training of the Muslim volunteers, plus, Al Qaeda never even existed at that time. The man in charge was bin Laden's mentor, Abdullah Azzam, who was responsible for the formation of Mektab al Khidimat (MAK or Afghan Services Bureau), the organization bringing the volunteers into Afghanistan. It wasn't until the late-80s that al Qaeda was formed. Azzam was assassinated by a car bomb in mid-89 by unknown persons. Finally, bin Laden could tap into his fortune that was reported to be in the millions. At the sametime he was also receiving a lot of money from various people throughout the Middle East. These donations brought in further millions. L.J.Brooks 18:52, 17 MAr 2006 (UTC)
Your disputation that bin Laden was "armed" by the CIA is kind of a misconstrual of the facts. The truth is that bin Laden was a part of the mujahidin in Afghanistan. The dispute that bin Laden has been heard saying (if memory serves) is that the Afghans were abandoned when the USSR pulled out, and then we (Americans) interfered with the internal order of things in the Middle East by invading Saudi Arabia (1990-91, in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait), an action that bin Laden opposed because of our treatment of Afghanistan. We as a country did indeed train and arm bin Laden through the CIA in the 1980's, though this was not a direct action and the monies did not go directly into his pocket. The claim should be that we trained and armed him inadvertently, by training the people he was involved with at the time. Red Heron 16:06, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

terrorist surveillance

Terrorist Surveillance Activities

Few terrorist attacks are executed without pre-operational surveillance of the desired target. Surveillance is done to determine target suitability, security and noticeable patterns in the targets movements, physical security, and the surrounding environment.

Key activities suggesting possible terrorist surveillance is in progress may include:

Foot surveillance involving 2-3 individuals working together.

Mobile surveillance using bicycles, scooters, motorcycles, sport-utility vehicles, cars, trucks, boats or small aircraft.

Persons or vehicles being seen in the same location on multiple occasions; persons sitting in a parked car for an extended period of time.

Persons not fitting into the surrounding environment, such as wearing improper attire for the location, or persons drawing pictures or taking notes in an area not normally of interest to a tourist.

Persons using possible ruses to cover their activities, such as taking on a disguise as a beggar, demonstrator, shoe shiner, fruit or food vendor, street sweeper, or a newspaper or flower vendor not previously recognized in the area.

Persons videotaping or photographing security cameras or guard locations. Unusual or prolonged interest in security measures or personnel, entry points and access controls, or perimeter barriers such as fences or walls.

An increase in anonymous threats followed by individuals noticeably observing security reaction drills or procedures. Questioning of security or facility personnel by an individual(s) that appears benign.Federal Street 01:45, 8 February 2006 (UTC)

(I thought I'd posted this earlier, but apparently I must have closed the window before hitting Save Page).
Few terrorist attacks are committed without getting dressed in the morning, but getting dressed in the morning is not a terrorist attack. Surveillance aids many terrorist attacks, but surveillance itself isn't a terrorist attack, and it doesn't make any sense to list it as such. I've edited some of your additions and left others as they are. --Mr. Billion 22:17, 10 February 2006 (UTC)
Are you a terrorist? Do you know any terrorists? If not how would you know? 16:49, 12 February 2006 (UTC)
Posted in anonymity... bah. I'd respond to that last post, but it's just silly. For the real post: Mr. Billion, I'd like to say that your logic is sound, though I have to say that surveillance itself is an activity that most people don't engage in, and thus it is a good indicator as to whom to watch when you discover surveillance. It also matters what you're surveilling, and in what quantities. For example, several Middle Eastern nationals were found to be in possession of detailed surveillance of the Panama Canal, which has for years been said to be a potential target for terrorist activities. The surveillance was not itself a terrorist act, but in the wrong hands it could have led to successful placement of improvised explosive devices, attacks on ships, and potentially hundreds of lives lost, not to mention a loss in international revenues due to increased turnaround times for trade on perishable goods. The fact that surveillance activities are counted in terrorist precursor activities is a very real idea, though I believe extra care should be taken to avoid the observing of security reaction drills by those who are unauthorized to do so. Just my two cents. Red Heron 16:19, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

Al-Qaeda means "the base," not "the list"

The meaning of the phrase has been thoroughly discussed on the Al-Qaeda article. al-Qa'ida (The Base) --Mr. Billion 17:52, 10 February 2006 (UTC)

Its silly for someone who doesn't speak arabic to make statements like that. Take a look at the triliteral semitic roots.(qda) AlQaeda

means ENTRY: qd. DEFINITION: To be(come) holy, sacred. 1. Kiddush, from Mishnaic Hebrew qiddû, sanctification, purification, from Hebrew qidd, to consecrate, sanctify, derived stem of qda, to be(come) holy, sacred. 2. Kaddish, from Aramaic qaddi, holy, sacred, from qda, to be(come) holy, sacred (so called after the first words of the prayer: yitgaddal w-yitqadda meh rabb, may His (God's) great name be exalted and kept holy).

The list of those who will become holy or sacred Federal Street 04:09, 11 February 2006 (UTC)

That's interesting, and as always I'll grant the possibility that I'm wrong. But what's your source for that? Do you speak Arabic?
All the sources I've seen say "The Base." Wiktionary and Wikipedia both said it meant "the base" until you changed the Wikipedia entry just now, again without providing a source. As I noted earlier, the Federation of American Scientists entry on al-Qaeda says it means "the base". gives "Base" as a synonym. Another dictionary site gives this etymology from the American Heritage Dictionary: "Arabic al-q'ida, the base : al-, the + q'ida, foundation, base, feminine participle of qa'ada, to sit." The BBC says it means "the base." Search Google for "al-Qaeda means the list" and you get two message boards. Enter "al-Qaeda means the Base" and you get 265 results, among them another BBC article, a speech by Dick Cheney in which he says it means "the base," a Guardian article, and many others. The FBI says it means "the base."

--DEATH TO THE SOVIETS!! 02:14, 15 May 2006 (UTC)It does mean the Base. the origin of the name Al-queda originally comes from the base Bin Laden established in Afghanistan in order to train the Muhaydeen to fight against the Russians.

Googling around, it looks like your source is The American Heritage Dictionary, but you've wildly misread what is written. This entry is not for the word combination "al-qaeda," giving its "Semitic Roots," it is for an actual Semitic root phrase qdš. that forms a part of the language. Above you copy/pasted what was probably the text, but didn't get the "š" because you can't paste an image as text. The word "list" doesn't appear anywhere in that entry, so I'm guessing you added that yourself.
Copy/pasting that text into the Al-Qaeda article without quote marks or a source was a copyright violation, by the way. --Mr. Billion 05:38, 11 February 2006 (UTC)
"Do you speak Arabic?"
Mostly Egyptian Arabic, although my accent is probably Iranian. I'm fluent enough to be able to survive in areas where no other language is spoken.
Why do you prefer Dick Cheney's explanation to that of Bartleby's semitic roots?
You might want to familiarize yourself with the use of triliteral roots in semitic languages.
"qdš or qdsh represents a set of consonants which are used in words with similar meanings.(kadesh = high place and kodesh = holy) The literal meaning is holy and sacred."
The list of those who are prepared to do what it takes to become holy and sacred through martyrdom. To give that a secular meaning without recognizing what it means to al Qaeda is worse than misleading.
First recognize that triliteral semitic roots don't include vowels, then recognize that "al" is the equivalent of our definitive article.
Copy/pasting that text into the Al-Qaeda article without quote marks or a source was a copyright violation, by the way.
Since you clearly don't speak the language or have any familiarity with linguistics, you might want to remedy those deficiencies before speaking further about this.Federal Street 16:52, 12 February 2006 (UTC)

Extensive familiarity with linguistics is not required to recognize a copyright violation, and anyway I'm not confident of the extent of yours.

I don't prefer Dick Cheney's explanation for much of anything, but I do prefer to believe facts that are supported by the vast majority of sources. Your response apparently tries to ignore all the other sources I mentioned while attacking Cheney specifically because he's fairly widely accepted to be a greedy, corrupt politician. It doesn't follow, though, that Cheney would likely lie about the meaning of "al-Qaeda," nor even if his statement was discounted would it affect the credibility of the several other sources I've mentioned. I've provided many sources that say that the phrase in question means "the base," while you yourself have provided no sources at all. All you've done is pasted some text that didn't contain the word "list" (without bothering to mention the source) and added "list" in yourself. I remain unconvinced.

The text you pasted was copied from, but "Bartleby" is not the original source. hosts dictionary information from The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. That dictionary's appendix is where your text came from. Its etymology of al-Qaeda, though, is the one I gave above. This is not complicated.

Other sources on also say "the base."

In the future, for the sake of clarity, please keep your comments separate from other editors'. Inserting your own messages in the middle of other people's makes it hard for observers to tell who's saying what. I've separated your comments from mine. --Mr. Billion 18:35, 12 February 2006 (UTC)

Crummy edits

I dont know who did it, but starting an article with "The exact definition of terrorism is highly controversial" is about as amateurish an edit as Ive ever seen. It's a bit disappointing to see actually, considering the work I and others have put into the article over the last few years. Thanks, newbies. -Ste|vertigo 20:51, 14 February 2006 (UTC)

Why don't you fix it? thejabberwock 17:49, 22 February 2006 (UTC)
I incorporated the old intro; it's definitely better. TheJabberwock 02:54, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

approved terrorists section

This "Approved terrorists" section is not very clear as what it is saying. It needs to define what is meant by "approved terrorists" and be clearer in how this effected the anti-terror legislation that would ban verbal support of terrorists. --Cab88 02:23, 18 February 2006 (UTC)

I deleted this section. It was an inaccurate description of the proposed offence of glorification which was overtaken by events - the government agreed to remove glorification as a distinct offence and instead made glorification an element of encouragement to terrorism (clause 1). The proposed offence of glorification was ridiculous, but the text didn't reflect how it would actually work. 17:15, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

Regarding definitions of terrorism

I find notable bias in the following "actors who don't belong to any recognized armed forces, or who don't adhere to their rules, and who are therefore regarded as 'rogue actors'." The definition is inherently biased in the favour of the state, for according to this definition all that is required in order NOT to be a terrorist is a uniform denoting membership in an armed force. Clearly this would mean any army or nation-state could not commit terrorism and that's an unfortunate bias in the writing.

Note that Kofi Annan's (Toronto Globe and Mail 11 March 2005) definition and the UN definitions for terrorism are lacking from this piece.

--Rick MacLaren

"[A]ctors ..." seems to be addressing not so much definition of terrorism as definition of "combatant". Terror can be by the State or by non-State actors, and the only difference is whether responding to it constitutes "war" in an international-law sense. (Distinguishing between "state", and "state-sponsored" terrorism hints at the difference. And the "war on terror" is not a war so defined; it's a slogan as others doubtless have pointed out, and forgive me if I haven't read through the entire site.)

These (non-state actors) are issues well known to human/civil rights law and to refugee law. See, for example: (a bibliographic essay with links to hundreds of archived law reports and newspaper accounts that I've been working on for a year and which will in due course be published in NYU's GlobaLex series). The problem is more obvious with "state" or "state-sponsored" terrorism when political actors and the police encourage, but do not participate in, militia-type violence against dissidents.

A very few judges have tried to define "terrorism". A UN (General Assembly) definition would probably be worthless unless it became accepted as consensus by nations and by international-law scholars. That takes time (the relevance of "doctrine" to law is better known in the Civil Law system than the Common Law one, and is something I wouldn't need to point out if I were writing this in French). For many, "terrorism" is a violent attack on the status quo, and proximity and personal risk are relevant. That's why I quoted Monty Python's "News for Parrots". The main concern of a Muslim or Jewish or Swiss or Korean (etc.) newspaper report on an air crash or terrorist attack is -- quite understandably -- whether any members of their constituency were victims.

Finally, there seems to be a paradox and the mere abstention from taking a view may constitute taking one. As in earlier research on Sharia law, I find that extremism tends to crowd out rationality and liberalism. There's a reason why so much of the real scholarship on Sharia is occurring in Germany and the USA and not in any Muslim land. Citing anything gives it credibility, but you have to cite -- or at least to sample -- varying arguments or one becomes an advocate and not a commentator or analyst. But one man (or woman)'s terrorist will always be somebody else's freedom fighter. And who but McDonald's would have accused Steel and Morris of "eco-terrorism"?

--Andy Grossman

I wouldn't omit the controversey over definition between the UN and the USA vis terrorism. Each has it's own idea of how to define it, and each has their own rationale and self interest.

Andy Grossman says "But one man (or woman)'s terrorist will always be somebody else's freedom fighter." Exactly. I submit that's at the core of why some nations don't want it to be possible for a terrorist to be defined as (potentially/possibly) a state. The UN definitions make it possible for states to be terrorists. That's a significant disparity of points of view, I contend, and not an uninteresting one.

--Rick MacLaren

Terroristic Threats article

First, let me say that this is the first time I've added to a talk page. Ergo, if I commit a breach of etiquette, please let me know. That being said...

There seems to have been at one time a page, linked to other legal terminology, titled "Terroristic Threats." This page appears to have been either removed or absorbed into the general topic "Terrorism."

My concern is that there is a crime called, verbatim, "Terroristic Threats," and it is a felony. My question, then, is this: Shouldn't this be an article separate from the general topic "Terrorism," since its definition as a federal crime does not fall comfortably into the catch-all of the general topic article?

Just a thought...Wikipedia is something I feel quite strongly about, and I wouldn't want to commit an error in judgment that damages either credibility or accuracy.

Merge Political terrorism into here

I feel that this page might be better facilitated by being merged with Terrorism. As it is this article is mainly from a US POV, minorly from a UK POV, and does not address domestic terrorism in other countries. Any thoughts? --Scaife (Talk) Flag of Austria.svg Don't forget Hanlon's Razor 06:53, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

'Agree'. Little point in having separate articles.Mark Sedgwick 09:54, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
Agree, although I assume you meant to post this on Talk:Terrorist. --Descendall 01:26, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
Very Agree (no speaka de English) - the.crazy.russian (T) (C) (E) 04:24, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
Obvious Agree! Tazmaniacs 22:57, 10 April 2006 (UTC)
Disagree Terrorism should explain the basic definition of terrorism, then give links to the kinds of terrorism. it should also be cleaned of any redundancy. --DEATH TO THE SOVIETS!! 02:19, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
Agree and Disagree.
Yes, "Terrorism should explain the basic definition of terrorism" (though we'd have to accept definitions in the plural), and one of the major problems with this article is indeed redundancy, as the main thread keeps getting lost in detailed discussions of individual groups.
No, "political terrorism" as a "kind" of terrorism is not obvious. I have argued in the journal Terrorism an Political Violence that terrorism is by definition political, and that so-called "religious terrorism" is basically political with religious elements. In thory, we could have a section on "purely religious terrorism," of which an obvious example (sometimes used) is the Thugs--except that then it's not clear that they were actually terrorists in the first place. --Mark Sedgwick 07:15, 6 June 2006 (UTC)
Agree I think that we should merge "political terrorism" into this topic as a subsection. -Red Heron 16:40, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

Massive POV Rewrite

I think that there is a compromise position between the two extremes of Jayjg's version and that of GregorB. Instead of having a revert war, let me try to take just the NPOV parts of both and make a better article. I am in the middle of doing that. I ask both sides to please let me finish before deciding it is acceptable. -- 15:40, 9 April 2006 (UTC)

I don't have any "version". The article was completely re-written yesterday, in a highly POV way, by a sockpuppet. Previous to that the article had been in a stable state for months. You haven't compromised, you've merely reverted to a POV re-write. Jayjg (talk) 15:42, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
I disagree with most of the "compromises" you've made. You've taken it back almost entirely to Jayjg's version (yes, that is the "Jayjg approved" version) already. Still you say that you are "in the middle" of making the compromise? What is left, to revert the last two parts of GregorB's version? -- 15:51, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
Hardly a "Jayjg approved" version. I didn't write any of it; it was written and agreed to by multiple other editors. Jayjg (talk) 15:55, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
I note your latest revert edit summary claims this article is "Jayjg/JPGordon/Slimvirgin Jewish propaganda like everything else they control"? I see your claim that there was "nothing personal" in your original revert was, in fact, completely false. Banned editors are not allowed to edit; please stop. Jayjg (talk) 16:06, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
Your excuse for reverting this article back to your version, locking the page, and banning the editor representing the other side of the dispute was "banned anti-semitic editor editing." The editor you banned never said anything against your faith. He only pointed out that your edits seemed to him to be "Jewish propaganda." How exactly is accusing you of something "anti-semitic?" -- 16:16, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
To begin with, the banned editor himself is well-known. Next, please recall, I do not have a "version" of this article, nor have I made edits to it; I've just reverted non-consensus POV changes. In addition, I didn't "revert to my version then lock it"; rather, I semi-protected the version that was currently in place. Regular editors can still edit it. And finally, why on earth would "Jewish propaganda" come into it, anyway? Why bring up alleged Jews at all, some of whom have never even edited this article? The banned editor was alleging something about specific editors, not about the article. Jayjg (talk) 16:19, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
The banned editor is well-known? You semi-protected the version in place? That sounds like something out of a B Nazi film. "He is well-known to the SS as a subversive and a threat to the fatherland. We have not locked the document; we have only semi-protected it against editors who have not proven their loyalty to the Fuhrer." -- 16:37, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
If you want an answer to your question about why the editor brought up Jewish propaganda at all, you would have to ask the editor. Except that you can't, because you banned him. -- 16:41, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
Looking through your contributions and the history of this article, it appears that you and Jpgordon do this song and dance quite frequently. Jpgordon reverts the article to the one you clearly prefer and then you immediately lock or "semi-protect" it saying, "I just locked the current version." It looks like you often get this Slimvirgin, that was talking about, into the act too. I have to admit, you're quite a showman. Now how about letting somebody else take a crack at editing this article? -- 16:52, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure what article history you imagine you've looked at. Contrary to your claims, I've never semi-protected this article before, I have not banned the IP who was blathering about "Jewish propaganda", so he can certainly explain himself, and I'd already contacted a half-dozen editors with interest in the article to comment on it before semi-protecting. The last time I touched this article was twice on Feb 21, 2006, the last time before that was once on October 27, 2005, and once before that one October 14 2005, once on Sept. 19, etc. I am, in fact, letting everyone else "have a crack" at editing this article, since I've barely edited it, and have added no content. Now, why don't you get your facts straight, and use the Talk: pages for discussing content rather than attacking other editors. Jayjg (talk) 17:39, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
The editors of Wikipedia can look through your contributions and determine for themselves how often this same scenario happens, but they don’t have to go very far to see what you did this time. You had a disagreement over content with another editor. That other editor was willing to compromise, listen to the suggestions of other people and try to reach a consensus, but you weren’t. You used your position to control the definition of this term. -- 03:26, 10 April 2006 (UTC)
Because of the many falsehoods in your previous statements, your current ones have no credibility. "That other editor" ( was spouting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, and gave no indication he was willing to compromise. As for you, there's no reason why you can't propose changes on the Talk: page, is there? Please start discussing article content. Jayjg (talk) 04:12, 10 April 2006 (UTC)


I see this article has no picture. I found this [[Image:National Park Service 9-11 Statue of Liberty and WTC.jpg|right|thumb|350px|[[New York]], [[september 11]] [[2001]].]] that could be put in the text so it becomes better. The problem is that I can't manage to out it in right. This is just a reminder so that somebody else could put it in. --NorwegianMarcus 12:21, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

I've also had trouble with this. The 'terrorism' box seems to mess up the formatting. Unfortunately, none of the other pages that use the box have lead images, so there's no standard on how to have both the box and an image. Is there a way to edit the box? It might work better as a bottom-oriented box. At any rate, I think that an image of the 9/11 attack would be a bit too obvious, would present a highly American view of terrorism, and would probably just set off all sorts of debate. I had planned to use the first image on the page for Black September, because the Munich Massacre was an international crisis, as well as a pivotal event in the emergence of modern terrorism.

Well, that's what we have on -no. NorwegianMarcus 11:45, 3 July 2006 (UTC)


I think the first two paragraphs are loaded with inaccuracies.

Paragraph 1
The term terrorism is used to refer to acts of violence, or the threat of violence carried out for political motives by organisations/individuals who are not recognised as organs of the legitimate state within a given territory nor officially at war with that territory.

Does not this definition mean that all those who fought as rebels in the American War of Independence were terrorists ("We must hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately")? What is an "official war". Does this make the 2003 invasion of Iraq an act of terror? As the United states had declared a "War on Terror" is that an official war? The US adminstation think that people they hold under the War Powers Act are "enemy combatants". So and do acts of violence are carried out by an enemy combatant in the territory of the U.S.A do not count as terrorism as they are part of an "official war"?

Further is there not a contradiction to the first paragraph created by Article 1. Paragraph 4 of GC Protocol I and should that not be mentioned?

Paragraph 2
"Terrorist attacks" are usually characterized as "indiscriminate," "targeting of civilians," or executed "with disregard for human life." The term "terrorism" is often used to assert that the political violence of an enemy is immoral, wanton, and unjustified. According to the definition of terrorism typically used by states, academics, counter-terrorism experts, and non-governmental organizations, "terrorists" are actors who don't belong to any recognized armed forces, or who don't adhere to their rules, and who are therefore regarded as "rogue actors".

Who are "civilians"? Are police civilians? What about part time police like the old B Specials in Northern Ireland. What about territorial soldiers can they only be targeted at the weekend when they are in uniform? Was the murder of Airey Neave by the INLA a terrorist attack or an legitimate attack on part of the command and control of the British security forces?

The IRA targeted the City of London it to very large truck bombs (we are talking more than 10 tonnes of explosives in each bomb). These were made to do billions of pounds of damage so that the insurance companies despite political pressure would not pay out, this forced the British Government to pay for the damage, and so in a round about way acknowledge that the British state was in an armed conflict with the IRA. In both cases warnings were given. The intention of the attacks was not to kill people but to destroy the infrastructure of the City of London, The British press called these terrorist attacks, but the attack was not an "indiscriminate," "targeting of civilians," or executed "with disregard for human life." so does this mean that Wikipedia is claiming that targeting civilian infrastructure is not terrorism?

The first sentence of the second paragraph of the article does not bring any clarity to the points I have raised above and as such is not of any use because it appears to be a defintion (quotes and all) but on closer examination does not say anything.

The last sentence does not make sense unless one qualifies the word "actors" as "enemy actors" after all one does not usually call "Freedom fighters" terrorists. --PBS 13:09, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

Have you ever heard the expression "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter"? In case you don't know, there is no universally accepted definition of terrorism, and this is part of the reason why. In one of the notes in Pacifism as Pathology, Ward Churchill quips "[...] political effectiveness rather than the use of violence is the defining characteristic underlying official use of the term [terrorism]." The Ungovernable Force 01:45, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
Yes I have and Yes I do, and Ward Churchill's quip misses out the word "enemy" in front of "political effectiveness", friends who are politically effective don't often get called terrorists. --PBS 11:30, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Proposed Criteria

The definition statements lack clarity and virtually anything can be construed as "terrorism". Terroistic tactics are not necessarily the most horrific or egregious, but instead describe tactics that are symbolic, target civilians (not the same as non-combatants which may include political leaders) and do not attempt to secure economic or geographic resources.

For example, Dresden while probably a war crime was not terrorism - not because the USA did it, but because it was leading to a surrender of a state and the acquisition of territory. Colombine, Oaklahoma city bombing, 9/11, Mombasa hotel bombings, car bombings in Bagdhad all pretty easily match this criteria. Israeli attacks on Lebanon also likely constitute war crimes but are not necessarily terrorism. On the other hand Hamas' missle attacks on Israel are not to secure resources or target combatants but to harm civilians and cause symbolic damage.

Many organizations use a combination of political, economic, military and terroristic tactics and an attempt to simply lable any organization with one term is futile. Terrorist organizations will generally have or be affiliated with other organizations that utilize the other tactics -- the IRA/Shin Fein and Hamas are good examples and in can be argued that the CIA and KGB, North Korea and Iran have historically provided various services to terrorist organizations.

To attempt to validate the morality of violent acts is futile and meaningless -- in the end, dead people are dead people. To say that there are enemy actors who "don't play by the rules" or lack "regard for human life" or that one act is worse than another is rather meaningless since being blown up by a car bomb is probably similar to being blown up by a 500 pound bomb -- it is instead a POV approach to defining your current enemy. To talk as if the Russians in Chechnya or Israelis in Lebanon are playing by accepted rules makes little sense.

If a recognized armed force is a primary consideration, then every revolution has been a terrorist act. Obviously not the case and that would be contradicted by the economic and geographic criteria.

Gulliver001 20:06, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

"Problems" section

What is the purpose of this opening monologue. Was this slipped in at the last minute or has this been a long-standing section? savidan(talk) (e@) 20:14, 21 May 2006 (UTC)

American war of independence

However, historically, neither the the term "insurgency" nor "terrorism" was used by Colonial England to describe the behavior of its American colonies during the Revolutionary War.

I would imagine that they were described as traitors. and that was a in the minds of the English at the time was a far more heinous crime than murder, hence the punishment for high treason (HDQ). At the Nuremberg trials no one was tried and found guilty of genocide, they were found guilty of "crimes against humanity". This does not stop most articles on the subject describing the Holocaust as an act of genocide. Is there any evidence that "insurgency" or "terrorism" were used in contemporary English to describe the actions of rebels of not then this sentence should go. --PBS 11:30, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

The comparison is further complicated by the complex legal framework within which the American Revolution was framed (see Declaration of Independence) and international aid and acknowledgment (from France.

What does this mean? A UDI is not a complex legal framework. If independence is achived, it becomes a legal document (at least in the eyes of the new state), but few would argue that Smith's Rodesian UDI was legal or complex. --PBS 11:47, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

merging ?

it seems that both articles can be expanded; merging would create a semantic confusion --Ayanoa 18:39, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

What is to be done?

This must be one of the most messy articles in the whole of Wikipedia. Of course, this is a reflection of the difficulty of the subject and of the diversity of views that exist, but even so I think something needs to be done.

One problem is that irrelevant material keeps creeping in. One third of the opening section on "Problems" is now devoted not to problems but to a discussion of the American revolution. In the following section on "Etymology," the reader has to get through six paragraphs of discussion and official definitions before getting to the etymology. Then there are references to 50 U.S.C. § 1801(c), and the Strategic Foresight Group meeting in New Delhi, neither of which have anything to do with etymology either. In fact, of 15 paragraphs in this section, I would say that only three actually deal with etymology!

Examples are meant to help clarify. But all too often in this article they lead to qualifications which then confuse. Fortunately, no one (so far!) has felt obliged to jump in to defend the Jacobin Club... But when we move on to the section on "Key Criteria," what starts as a simple statement about "Target" refers to the Irgun. So then we find a vaguely pro-Irgun statement followed by a vaguely anti-Irgun statement, and then of course someone has to mention Hamas... Ok, but what does all this add to anyone's understanding of the basic point that many think that targeting civilians is one of the key criteria?

I could go on. But I won't, because my key proposal is to try to slim the article down and make it as concise as possible by removing irrelevant discussions and including examples only if (a) they genuinely help and (b) are sufficiently generally accepted not to give rise to off-topic discussions. Any support for this idea? Deleted material could be put somewhere else--for example, a short disucssion of "Terrorism in the American revolution" or even "50 U.S.C. § 1801(c)." Mark Sedgwick 08:14, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

Nobody feels like responding to this proposal? I've just looked at "terrorism" articles in some other language versions of Wikipedia, and they're all much better than the English one... If there was some encouragement, I'd be happy to edit the current version of this article down to the minimum and post a draft here for discussion. Mark Sedgwick 07:31, 6 June 2006 (UTC)


'Problems' is actually not too bad a header after all. -- max rspct leave a message 23:18, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

Globalize tag

Terrorism is rather U.S.-centric, particularily in the definitions section. Although it discusses one UN agency's defintion of terrorsm as war criles in peacetime (clever little rhyme) and goes on for some length about Columbia, it mentions three U.S. governmental agencies' definitions without citing a single one from another state agency. A little more balance is needed, it seems. --Zantastik talk 18:06, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

Having US-centric definitions may be inevitable, given that it's the US, more than any other state, that guides official definitions world-wide. Here in Egypt official definitions (to the extent they exist) don't differ significantly from US ones. The two major definitions in actual use are (and I exaggerate only slightly):
"A terrorist is anyone who threatens the current regime, including so-called 'peaceful' demonstrators" (informal government definition)
"Terrorism is what Muslims are hypocritically accused of by people who don't like them" (informal popular definition).
Actually, perhaps we need a section on "popular perceptions" as well as "official definitions"?! Any takers?
Mark Sedgwick 07:25, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

section on "psychological factors"

If my edits on the "causes of terrorism" section are acceptable, i propose deleting the psychological factors, section, as it is rendered largely irrelevant given the sociological understanding of terrorism. Headsock 21:08, 1 June 2006 (UTC) <---what does "UTC" mean?

It means "Coordinated Universal Time", about the same as Greenwich Mean Time. (Also, it would be good to make sure to post new comments on the bottom. Helps to keep things from getting confusing.) --Mr. Billion 17:21, 2 June 2006 (UTC)
I support your proposal for deleting the section on psychological factors, or at least consider a serious revision of it. While it may hold true for some cases, terrorists are typically not "loners," but involved in vast social networks, or groups, that encourage and support their belonging to such orginizations. (Orignally posted at top by Skr3 6 June 2006 01:43 & moved here to keep discussion in one place)
Agreed. And why not merge "sociological factors" into "causes" while you're at it, and then delete the whole "Common characteristics" section? Mark Sedgwick 07:05, 6 June 2006 (UTC)
  • OK, your edits need some changes, because you've gone in a non-encyclopedic direction with them (or the existing language you moved has done so.) For example, you need to leave out essayish fluff like it should be noted (well, yeah, you just noted it, so you don't need to say it should be noted, because otherwise, you wouldn't have noted it); we don't use language like When we understand that, because we don't address the reader (and who is "we" anyway?). Likewise, we know that (we do?) needs to go; also, we don't self-reference or tell people what to think, as in Also, as in the Lone Wolf section of this article, violent acts committed by an insane or fanatical individual should not be considered terrorist. --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 19:15, 6 June 2006 (UTC)
I'm trying to come to some understanding so that I can uphold or oppose the consensus, but here is the problem I'm having: why not completely rewrite the "psychological factors" to reflect how the five-stage process interacts with the mind? Also, it would be handy to include how recruitment, etc., relies heavily on the pyschological makeup (and alteration thereof) for those who are interested in the invention of an enemy for political purposes. Why not include these items? I could be off-base with this, but I really don't understand why we don't simply disambiguate and/or remove the redundancy. -Red Heron 17:17, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

Let's discuss this definition

Terrorism is the use of terror against civilians as a means for political or ideological ends.

1. Does the target of terrorism matter?

2. Does the purpose matter?

3. Does it matter who the agent is?

Does anyone dispute that the above captures an undisputable minimum?

The Russian revolutionaries in the top of the 19th century were called "terrorists" 1. Their target was government officials, including the Czar. 2. Their purpose was a political and economic revolution. 3. They were private persons.

The Jewish Irgun in Palestine, under the British mandate were called "terrorists" 1. Target: British military 2. Purpose: political 3. Agents: clandestine para-military

In neither of these cases were the target of attack civilians -- so, at best, these were terrorists in an extended sense -- not in its core sense. Put otherwise, it is controversial whether the Russian and Jewish terrorists were strictly "terrorists.

But if the target is an innocent civilian, and the killing is for a political end, then it is clearly a terrorist act.

Bombing a bus, a restaurant, a ship, or an airplane containing innocent civilians is clearl a terrorist act -- whether the agents are civilians, police, or the military.

It's all a matter of interpretation.. The ANC was labelled terrorist by the white minority government etc etc.. I think the Irgun did use wartime/terroristic tactics. Is the US bombing of wedding parties in Afganistan and Iraq terrorism?? Is blowing up Iraqi policemen terrorism? or restistance to a puppet state? I think the general public would view violence aginst civilians as the most recognisable definition of terrorism.. But then the defintion of civilian goes on... Can bomb attacks in wartime China against japanese carpetbaggers and chemical weapons experts be classified as against civilians? What about oil extraction experts and 'private security contractors' be classified as such? This article is here to explain all the different views and claims about terrorism. All the defintions should be here. And the background behind the them.. such as the origin of the definition and arguments surround the nature of modern warfare. -- max rspct leave a message 16:35, 8 June 2006 (UTC)
Good idea, but
(1) you can't really use "terror" in a definition of "terrorism." "Violence," perhaps.
(2) restriction to "civilians" is HIGHLY problematic.

I would suggest that what is core is "the use of violence to achieve a political or quasi-political objective indirectly [1] rather than directly." Mark Sedgwick 13:39, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

Your definition

Terrorism is the idea that terror can be used as a compelling means of coercion.

First, terrorism is not an idea. The idea of terrorism is an idea. Second, coercion implies a compelling force. Third, if I pull a gun on you to get your money, this will satisfy the definition, but it will not be terrorism. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Skovoroda (talkcontribs) 16:54, 8 June 2006

As an aside, Skovoroda, you can sign your messages by typing "~~~~", which turns into a signature with your username and the time of the message. That way people know who's saying what. --Mr. Billion 17:10, 8 June 2006 (UTC)
Skovoroda: the definition holds true, and I would say that all criminal activity is terrorism in one form or another. The difference is one of scale: if one person is involved against another, it's an interpersonal dispute. If it involves entire countries, it's a war. If it involves only political groups, then the result is terrorism. Thus, groups that commit hate crimes (KKK, IRA, neo-Nazis, al-Qaeda, etc.) are terrorist organizations because they engage in activities that fit the definition cited above. Can you suggest a more compelling definition? -Red Heron 17:08, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

Primary or Core Sense and Extended Senses

Having to take usage into account, we can, I think, distinguish a core sense -- the one I am proposing, and extended senses.

1. The core sense is the terrorizing of civilians for political and ideological ends.

2. One extended sense has to include Russian terrorists targeting the government.

3. Another has to include cases like the Irgun targeting the military.

4. Perspectical senses: from the perspective of an established governments, all attacks against its military and government are terrorist acts. But from the perspective of those trying to topple the government -- their acts sgsinst the government and military are acts of war.

5. Borderline cases: since some civilian jobs help to maintain the military and the government, when these are targetted it is not clear what to call such acts. Bombing a telephone exchange center, for example, to disrupt communication. Skovoroda 18:08, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

That is one way that the word is used, but not the only way. Max rspct has the article start with the broadest meaning and work its way toward specific uses like the one defined by the United States Department of Defense that you mention. According to the Wikipedia manual of style, that's the way articles are supposed to read. I don't mean any disrespect by reverting your contribution. I just think that following the manual of style, the way Max rspt had it, makes for better articles. --Tammy Wise 20:30, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

US DoD definition/global view

Is the Department of Defense definition necessary? The description of terrorism that follows states pretty much the exact same definition (creating fear to force compliance with demands), so this just seems redundant.

Also, the phrase "In recent Western culture," could be removed from the next sentence. I think the sentence already provides a very universal definition of what terrorism is. I can't imagine why a European or an African would define terrorism as anything but the use of violence to create fear and, in turn, influence people. -Rodeosmurf 01:47, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

The DOD definition and the second paragraph are pretty much the same thing because they come from the same source: the United States Armed Forces. The DOD definition is not a world view, and neither is saying that terrorism is "the use of violence...." Violence is an action. Terrorism is a way of thinking about, not just violence, but any way of inducing an overwhelming sense of imminent danger as a means to an end. Various cultures have added things to that definition (usually to serve their own ends), but we're writing a world view, not a propaganda piece. We need to start the article with something that isn't out to prove a point. I'm going to replace the United States Department of Defense definition with the more general worldwide view that we had there before. Please add anything you want to the body of the article, but I think the first paragraph has to be more universal than something created by the United States Armed Forces. --Award winner 02:50, 10 June 2006 (UTC)
Can you cite a source on your notion of terrorism being an idea about coercion, rather than the action of terrorist attacks themselves? -Rodeosmurf 03:10, 10 June 2006 (UTC)
No, I can't. Would you like me to delete everything in this article that does not have a source? --Award winner 03:26, 10 June 2006 (UTC)
I changed it to the following. I hope this works for you. The DOD definition or any derivative of it does not work for me because it is not a world view. --Award winner 03:39, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

Terrorism is the rationale that invoking overwhelming feelings of imminent danger in a population can be a compelling means of coercion.

I don't think you're wrong, I just think the way you're wording things isn't very clear. How about this:

Terrorism is an ideology which promotes the use of violence and threats as a compelling means of coercion. In recent Western culture, terrorism is often used to refer specifically to the acts carried out by terrorists.

In general, terrorists practice a strategy of using political violence, social threats,...

-Rodeosmurf 15:14, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

I don't think that's right either, Rodeosmurf. Terrorism isn't an ideology, it's a form of violence undertaken by rogue actors for political or ideological purposes. --Mr. Billion 15:52, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

"Terrorism" either doesn't (tho of course it does exist as a term) exist or: is never separate from war/it is a form of warfare practised but not acknowledged by most warmakers. Same goes for booby traps. Whether it is justified or not. In Italy, the Bologna massacre, the biggest attack on civilians in post-WWII Italian if not West European history, was perpertrated by agents (not necc as in individual "agents") of the Gladio project. Attacks like these are rarely perpetrated by lone individuals (the London Nail Bomber is one exception). Groupuscules and government proxy forces whether 'left' or 'right-wing',religious or monarchist etc have been killing and maiming since time immemorial. The orthodox media and most governments are happy to use the terrorist moniker covering insurgent-type groups while dismissing suggestions that terrorism (as bombing of civilians) is more a tactic than a cohesive set of identifiable organisations or even 'ideology'.- -- max rspct leave a message 16:10, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

reverted removal of reference to US as state sponsor

I reverted this edit [2], in the hopes that we could make it more NPOV and keep it. Thoughts? btw, does anyone know why the talk page is protected but not the article?--Chaser T 22:19, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

I rephrased the paragraph to make it a little more NPOV, as seen here. Thoughts?--Chaser T 03:12, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

I'm not a scholar on this subject, but I am curious to know whether or not selective assassinations could be reasonably construed as terrorism. Also, some research into "The School of the Americas" and "Air America" may be of some help. To wit, did either of these organizations serve to support terrorist activities? As I said though, it's not my field. I was "RA" (Regular Army). Rklawton 03:28, 20 June 2006 (UTC)
Your experience gives you more knowledge than I have. Looking at the key criteria section of the article, targetting of civilians and motive to cause fear and mayhem both seem to be absent from the CI

Chaser, please explain why you think the examples are POV? I tried to make both as factual as I could. In any case, you should not revert contributions unless you are prepared to correct them pretty much immediately. Basically, what I think you're saying is, the history is so shoking to your political sensibilities that the history needs to be toned down, or else eliminated. I am restoring my contribution because (1) I think it's non-POV (2) you cannot remove it, fail to "correct it" and thereby suppress it forever. I.e. if it is POV, it's only get seen and edited if it's up. --JustFacts 17:19, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Contras/US Section

In the article it says the state-department of the USA described the Contras as terrorists. However, everything I can find has the US government hailing them as heroes. For example (I know this isn't a great source but it does have a quote on it attributed to Ronald Regan: "moral equivalent of our founding fathers."[3] GiollaUidir 18:15, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

Terror/terrorism diction

It has become commonplace for certain press and government leaders to interchange 'terrorism' and 'terror.' I'd suggest that something be done to comment on which term is appropriate/accepted and seek to trace where the split came from.

incidents in colombia

There was a mayor bombing in 1989 in colombia during the drug lords era, more specifically, the bombing ocurred in a business centre and shopping mall in Bogotá called "Centro 93" (still an important place despite being almost destroyed, it was reconstructed and now part of a cosmopolitan zone in Bogotá). According to the Wikipedia List of terrorist incidents, the bombing was made with a truck bomb and killed 52 people and injured a 1,000. Can this be concidered an example of a major incident?

Minako-Chan* 22:56, 15 July 2006 (UTC)

I would say so! and we want aas much range in "causes",groups,locations and times on here so as to be more NPOV through more information.Hypnosadist 00:35, 16 July 2006 (UTC)

Well, I admit i was too young at that age and there isn't much information on the net about the many incidents that happened here in Colombia during the drug lords era. The "Centro 93" bomb was the worst incident, probably one of the worst terrorism acts in Colombia but it seems people forgot about it (which i think, is a good thing for us Colombians).

If i can find information about this in other sources other than the internet, I'll be glad to contribute, but my question is, Colombia; being the country with most terrorist incidents in the world but only a few with a conciderable magnitute to be compared with incidents in india and england, in which part of the article would this information about terrorism in colombia would go?

Minako-Chan* 01:14, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

USS Cole

The article itself says it does not qualify as terror and here its said its terror? I think the Cole can be exchanged with a better fitting example like the bombing of the embassy.--Stone 07:08, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

I agree with Stone, the attack on the USS Cole, while it was a cowardly sneak attack, it was not, in my opinion, a "terrorist" attack. The USS Cole is a military vessel of the United States Navy and would be considered a legitimate target in any war. This attack is probably more correctly defined as a jihadist suicide attack; therefore it should be removed from this article in favor of another example that better fits the criteria, like the bombing of the London Underground, where civilians were targeted. -- Britcom 01:54, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
Definately an act of war not terrorism.Hypnosadist 02:06, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

Embargoes are State Terrorism?

The article includes embargoes as state terrorism. What's up with that? Naturally this is not true, otherwise "economic sanctions" must be included in the definition of state terrorism, which means trade agreements which stipulate economic recourses for violations need to be included in the state terrorism definition, which means diplomatic trade discussions need to be included.

name change?

What happened? A relatively new user -- editing for about a week -- changes the name of this page without any discussion because he wants to focus on individual terrorists? I haven't been active on this page a while but am I the only one seeing a problem with this? And now, of course, it is impossible to move the page back. I note based on the user's edits, he has a fascination with notable killers and murderers - that is all fine, but this article was about terrorism, not about individual terrorists, and nobody had a problem with the title until now. Now what is the procedure for getting the name changed back? Unless the consensus agrees with Space ghost?--csloat 00:34, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

From history : 22:37, 27 July 2006 Space Ghost 900 (Talk | contribs) m (moved Terrorism to Terrorists and Terrorisim: this article should be made to address the issue of notable indivual terriosts instead of the act of terriosim.)

Why ?

Move it back ! Ericd 01:02, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

I agree. The name change was not discussed, and would have been voted down if it had been. We should move it back. --Mr. Billion 02:19, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

Requested move

Terrorists and TerrorismTerrorism – move it back to Terrorism. … Rationale: Superfluous. Ericd 01:06, 28 July 2006 (UTC)


Add *Support or *Oppose followed by an optional one-sentence explanation, then sign your opinion with ~~~~
  • Support per WP:NAME and WP:MOS. --Dhartung | Talk 06:01, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
  • Support --Stone 06:41, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
  • Support--csloat 07:38, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
  • Support. New title is unusual for no apparent reason. Isomorphic 08:23, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
  • Speedy support. How did it end in this silly title in the first place? An unilateral move, as I get it? Duja 09:33, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
  • Support Hypnosadist 10:26, 28 July 2006 (UTC)


Add any additional comments

This is a huge problem with wikipedia that a troublemaker can come change the name of the article without discussion and then it cannot be changed back without an admin intervening after a discussion and vote. It should be as easy or difficult to change the article in the first place as it is to change it back. *sigh*--csloat 07:39, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

In general, it can be moved back (if the redirect doesn't have history). The problem here is that other people were fixing the redirect for spelling and something minor, instead of reverting it back. A guy has been kicked off the Wikipedia (can't recall his username) for page moves to the names that suited him, then purposefully touching the redirect so that it's irrevertible without an admin. Duja 12:11, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
I'm not convinced that this is a "huge problem" procedurally. From one perspective it's very good. Once the poll is taken the issue can be considered closed, which preemptively eliminates the possibility that the article will be moved back and forth by individuals until the whole thing becomes a major dispute. Isomorphic 00:42, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
I do not support the move. It should stay stuck at this title. --TheM62Manchester 09:24, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

State Terrorism

This section fails to mention terrorist groups funded and directly aided by the CIA, such as those throughout Latin America, the harboring of anti-Cuban terrorists in Miami, and terrorist actions perpetrated by the Israeli government against the Palestinians, and, more recently, the Lebanese population.Smitty Mcgee 16:16, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

embargoes as state terrorism?

i propose deleting embargoes in the list of examples for state terrorism. if this is controversial, maybe that could be discussed in the state terrorism article which does not mention embargoes. --trueblood 08:24, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

The Five Stage Process

I second the recommendation to remove this material. It don't see its relevance.--Motorsportsmark 17:16, 30 July 2006 (UTC)

I agree free up room for more important information and wikilinks.Hypnosadist 18:45, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

This section gives undue weight to a particular individual's theory of the sociology of terrorism. Unless it were to become an academic standard, it doesn't belong here. I've removed it. --Mr. Billion 03:27, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

Bias under State Terrorism

Although there is a link to a more in-depth article, the summary section given here is ridiculously biased. It lists Islamic extremist groups and communist-backed groups as examples of state terrorism, but fails to mention American or Israeli terrorism. This would seem to be a necessary counter-point to the argument presented here.Smitty Mcgee 16:01, 31 July 2006 (UTC) sigh --trueblood 19:27, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

"Against Innocents or non-combatants"

I've reverted the intro again because the phrase "against innocents or non-combatants" is misleading. What do you call it when insurgents in Iraq kidnap American and British soldiers, and film their executions? Clearly these victims are combatants, and in the eyes of terrorists, they are not innocent; but at the same time, these are not typical actions of war, they are mass-media-enhanced tactics of spreading fear - the very definition of modern terrorism. Rodeosmurf 15:41, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

But under that definition, any use of violence could be construed as terroristic. What separates terrorism from non-terrorism is not the conventionality of the tactics used, but the targets of those tactics.Smitty Mcgee 15:59, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
My point was that the type of person being directly harmed by terrorists is not important, when the message of the terrorist act is the same; The message behind executing a soldier(a combatant) on video is more or less the same message behind killing thousands of innocents on 9/11. An insurgent firing his weapon at a coalition soldier on the streets of Fallujah does not intend to spread any ideological message or demand, and it is therefore not a terroristic act. It doesn't matter if the victim is a soldier, because some acts of violence against soldiers are terroristic in nature, and some are simply standard acts of warfare. All that matters is whether there is a message, and whom it is being directed at. Rodeosmurf 16:33, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
I disagree. Any soldier killed on the battlefield is an act of war, not terrorism. Deliberately killing or threatening to kill unarmed civilians is terrorism. Soldiers are armed and trained to risk death in combat, civilians are not. Now if you want to argue that killing an unarmed and non-threatening military prisoner of war is a war crime and against the Geneva conventions, then I would agree it is a war crime, but still not terrorism. Terrorism is a war crime, but not all war crimes are terrorism. Terrorism has its roots in barbarism.
One sort of terrorism that has not been mentioned is terrorism by proxy. The deliberate act of endangering civilians by setting up military targets (i.e. rocket launchers) next to occupied homes and civilian buildings so that when the target is bombed, civilians are sure to be killed by the blast.
The failure of combatants to wear a uniform in combat is another war crime especially when they attack in populated areas and hide in the crowd. -- Britcom 18:12, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
The notion that "Any soldier killed on the battlefield is an act of war" is ridiculous. The beheading of soldiers on videos which are then disseminated to the mass media is clearly an attempt to spread fear. In direct relation to the fighting going on in the war, the terrorists receive almost no benefit in killing the soldier; it would be completely absurd for the insurgency to attempt to defeat the coalition by endlessly capturing and beheading soldiers one at a time. Beheadings of this type have absolutely nothing to do with war, and everything to do with sending a message to the western world and generating fear and hopelessness. Why the hell would they film it otherwise? Terrorism is about creating fear, and sending a message; A terrorist can accomplish this by victimizing a soldier just as easily as he could by victimizing an innocent. Rodeosmurf 19:42, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
I still disagree, to whom are they attempting to spread fear? Anger maybe, but fear? All right, perhaps they wish to spread fear amongst the other soldiers, but how would that be different then shooting him out in the open, or killing him by shelling his platoon, this is just more of the same. Yes, it is horrible, but that is war and it has always been like that, the difference today is you the civilian get to witness it at home in your living room, while in times past you just heard about it a week later. I stand by my statement; terrorism is unique as a tactic because it targets civilians and by doing so threatens all the other civilians who see the video. Civilians would not normally feel threatened by the death of a soldier in battle or as a prisoner, since the war is not being fought in the target audiences location (i.e. here in the west) however, bombing a civilian train in London does threaten the target audience at home. Do you see the difference?
Let me also say that the criteria here for what is fear of terrorism should be a "reasonable" fear, anyone can develop an unreasonable fear, like fear of the number 13. We should not be basing our definition of terrorism on such a low threshold of fear, like fear of seeing death on TV five thousand miles away from the incident qualifies as being terrorized. If that were true, then any death on TV would be terrorism, and Hollywood movie studios would be terrorist organisations. Many Hollywood productions inclued real war footage and show real soldiers being killed. --Britcom 20:05, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
You don't think watching a soldier beheaded on television causes reasonable fear? Sure, the viewer wouldn't be afraid of getting kidnapped and beheaded themselves, because they're not anywhere near a place where that would happen; And certainly I'll agree that these videos are designed primarily to be seen by soldiers. But I can't agree with the notion that beheading someone on film is the same as shelling a platoon or shooting a soldier in the open; the videos convey a sense of complete hopelessness to stop the terrorists, and show the relentless violence of their mindset, much moreso than any conventional fighting could. These messages generate fear and demoralize the soldiers, whereas fighting conventionally is just par for the course. Terrorism directed at the soldiers is terrorism nonetheless.
At any rate, the videos aren't just directed at soldiers; they threaten everyone with the prospect of dealing with the perpetrators, who are showing themselves to be ruthless and uncaring murderers. These videos are a prime example of terrorism. Rodeosmurf 21:13, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
I don't agree with your definition of “terrorism” of soldiers as equivalent to terrorism. Terrorism must be defined differently than the military demoralization you describe. Otherwise you legitimize the killing of innocent civilians as the same as the killing of soldiers. There must be a difference in the definition in order to logically understand the subject matter. There is, and always has been a difference in the definition of things military and non-military. The reason for this is that we consider war to be separate from the civilized society it is designed to protect. Many things are permissible in war that are not permissible within civilized society. The reasons for this are purely practical. Without the practical ability to make war upon an attacking nation, that nation is powerless to prevent being overrun by its enemy and snuffed out. Every major nation that exists on the face of the earth exists to this day because it is the result of winning the wars in its history. There are also many nations that do not exist today, because they lost and were wiped out. For example, where is the great Aztec nation? Gone, overrun, looted, and replaced by Spanish Conquistadores. Terrorism is an “ism”; it is a philosophy, it is the philosophy that war should not have limits and that everyone (old women, children, babies, pregnant women, the handicapped, etc.) is a target for death, torture, rape, and oppression. Terrorism is a form of barbarism purposefully and narrowly directed at the most defenseless members of a society in order to break that society’s will to defend itself. It is by its very nature, cowardly, pathetic, and uncivilized. Those who subscribe to its tactics have elected themselves to be vermin and a pestilence upon the earth. They leave no option for peace other than their own eradication because they give no quarter and accept no treaty or terms. They are obsessed with their own deaths and those of their victims. They are criminals in every and all senses of the word. They are scum with no redeeming qualities and with no legitimate purpose for existence. They see no value in human life; therefore they make their own lives of no value. Their existence is a threat to everyone who wants peace and peace is not possible while they exist. They are incompatible with civilized society and they seethe with lust for its destruction and the deaths of its constituents. They are, in a word, evil.--Britcom 13:57, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
What you describe could equally be called War Crimes when carried out by "official" armies.GiollaUidir 15:22, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
The grotesque nature of these acts make them war crimes; the fact that they are filmed and distributed makes them terrorism.
In response to Britcom: Again, you and the others are missing the point. I understand full well that it is expected that soldiers will be attacked during wartime. But the types of things I've described go far beyond any definition of war, crossing over into the realm of terrorism.
I am not attempting to equate civilians to soldiers, thereby backhandedly legitimizing all terrorist acts against civilians as merely acts of war. In fact, it seems that those who disagree with me are doing almost the same thing: legitimizing terrorist acts against soldiers as acts of war, and sympathising with those who would mutilate a human on television by thinking of them as soldiers who are simply fighting a war. As you said, these people are not soldiers, they are cowards; their acts are not those of war but of motivated violence used as a fear-generating weapon.
These videos are not just 'military demoralization'. I'm not in the military, but I've seen the videos and been disturbed by them; they have affected me and my peers, just as they might affect a soldier, which is entirely the goal of the perpetrators. Rodeosmurf 18:02, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
See my comments below at Reverted Intro --Britcom 02:27, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

"Causes" section

==Causes== ====Social Networks==== ====Historical Context==== ====Cross Cutting Cleavages==== Cross Cutting Cleavages refer to a person or group's connections to other persons and groups with different ideologies and backgrounds. It has been found [citation needed] that the use of violent tactics for a political agenda is far more likely to be committed by groups with few cross cutting cleavages. For example, the al-Qaeda network is comprised of men who met while fighting Soviets in Afghanistan during the cold war, and all share the same religious and political beliefs. Thus an organization of like-minded individuals with little connection to opposing thoughts become "extremist" and use violence against their enemies. Research has also shown (citation?) that people become involved in terrorist organizations through their social networks, their social ties to others. It is then more important who one knows than what one thinks in becoming a terrorist. Combining these two ideas, we can begin to predict when terrorist organizations will form and who will be a part of them. If persons with few outside connections but many friends within their closed community, violent action on a political ideology is possible. {{citation needed}}

This section needs citations and a lot of work, if it's worth keeping at all. I've moved it here from the article. It sounds like it may be an extension of the "five stages", which as I noted above under the Five Stages heading I've removed because its inclusion gives undue weight to a particular individual's theories. And why is there nothing under the Social Networks and Historical Context headings? --Mr. Billion 18:55, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

Don't know if this is the place, but I like the idea of discussing how "persons with few connections" outside their own beliefs may tend toward erratic behavior. Might call it the Timothy McVeigh syndrome. These guys met and talked among themselves and reinforced their own wacky ideas, and there was no one there to say "Wait a minute, this is nuts." Ditto the Branch Davidians and the Jones cults, and it even says something about the political polarization we are witnessing in the U.S. today. There is so much media that we can pick just the outlets that agree with us and never have to hear the other side of the story. JHarlen


Perhaps this article should be protected. There seems to be a history of spam, nonsense and racist rubbish being posted on here. Blowski 13:00, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

Reverted intro

I've reverted the intro to something which I hope we can get some consensus on. Let's take a look at this statement:

Terrorism is distinguished from other uses of force in that it involves the intentional targeting of persons who, unlike heads of state, members of the armed forces, and security personnel, are not direct participants in the conflict with the terrorists. Thus a "freedom fighter," an "insurgent," or a member of the armed forces may be a terrorist if and when he/she engages in an act of violence intentionally targeting a civilian population, while members of an acknowledged terrorist group defending themselves against persons trying to capture them are not, per se, committing a terrorist act.

First of all, this part is far too long. The other debate I got involved in regarding this page sprung up because of a two-word phrase, 'against non-combatants', which essentially says the same thing. Additionally, the whole thing about terrorists defending themselves and therefore not committing terrorist acts is unnecessary, as this would be obvious if the introductory sentence properly identified terrorism as actions, rather than as a philosophy or ideology.

I've changed it to 'almost exclusively against non-combatants', which I hope will account for the subtle nuance of the debated subject matter. generate fear, cause disruption, and ultimately to cause the authorities of a population to comply with certain political, religious, ...

This is too presumptuous, as many terrorist acts are meant to affect public opinion, which only affects authority figures indirectly. Also, this is somewhat redundant, as it is later explained that terrorism targets societies. Rodeosmurf 21:32, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

I agree the discussion of examples of what is NOT terrorism could go somewhere else so that the introductory section is not too long. But generally, I see nothing in this latest version that actually distinguishes terrorism from other acts of violence. I believe that is what we need to reach consensus on. And I'm afraid I don't follow the logic in the arguments you put forth here in the discussion. E.g., you say the introductory sentence needs to describe terrorism as an action, not a philosophy. The introductory sentence DID describe it as an action -- the use of violence. No philosophy there. And isn't saying that terrorist acts are meant to affect public opinion and thus affect authority figures indirectly the same as saying "generate fear ... and ultimately cause the authorities ... to comply ..."? That was my intent. Maybe I missed the mark. Anyhoo, in one sentence or less, what distinguishes terrorism from other violence? I say it's that it is the intentional targeting of a general population/non-combatants whatever we want to call them. Adding "almost exclusively" invalidates this as a distinguishing factor. So what is it?JHarlen
Terrorism is distinguished in that violence is used to create fear, and that fear is directed at larger societies'';//Can't the same be said for acts that are not terrorism, such as developing or testing a nuclear weapon (Iran, India, pakistan) or missile (North Korea), or issuing threats in speeches, or shelling an off-shore island (Quemoy-Matsu), or any number of other acts? Again, I think it is the violent attack on the civilian populace that distinguishes. 'I believe that is what the terrorists themselves say their method and aim is.// I think that, as it is, the article makes this fairly clear. The intro sentence explains that terrorism is used to create fear, and the following sentence explains how it is an indirect form of coercion. We do not need to reiterate or elaborate on the notions that innocents are being harmed, because that is already made clear by the existing statements.
My apologies for the mix-up with the logic - The article previously referred to terrorism as 'a strategy' rather than 'the use of violence...'; at any rate, the whole thing about terrorists defending themselves would still be redundant, because the article defines terrorism as the use of violence to generate fear; The scenario in which 'terrorists' defend themselves is, by our definition, not an act of terrorism. // Agreed, but so many things are called terrorism that I believe it is important to say, somewhere, what is NOT terrorism.JHarlen//
The thing about the authorities seemed to suggest a more direct brand of terrorism which specifically and exclusively targets only the authority figures in societies, which I doubt is what you intended. Otherwise it just seems redundant and unnecessary, given the definition of terrorism as targeting societies. //I think we need to try this without using the word "targeting" in several different senses. When you say targeting societies I believe what you mean is that their purpose is to affect the societies. And conversely when you say the terrorists don't really target people, you might get a rise out of folks who were at the World Trade Center. What you mean, I believe, is that their ultimate goal is not just to kill, but to effect change in policies.JHarlenRodeosmurf 22:37, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

Can't the same be said for acts that are not terrorism, such as developing or testing a nuclear weapon (Iran, India, pakistan) or missile (North Korea), or issuing threats in speeches, or shelling an off-shore island (Quemoy-Matsu), or any number of other acts? Again, I think it is the violent attack on the civilian populace that distinguishes.
No, because these acts are not in themselves violent. Pushing one's political weight around does not have the same effect as murdering thousands, so it is the combination of violence and the use thereof in spreading fear which defines terrorism.
Agreed, but so many things are called terrorism that I believe it is important to say, somewhere, what is NOT terrorism.
I agree, but I think that sort of thing should either go in the definitions section below the intro or on the separate page about the Definition of terrorism.
I think we need to try this without using the word "targeting" in several different senses. When you say targeting societies I believe what you mean is that their purpose is to affect the societies. And conversely when you say the terrorists don't really target people, you might get a rise out of folks who were at the World Trade Center. What you mean, I believe, is that their ultimate goal is not just to kill, but to effect change in policies.
This is a good point, and I apologize for not seeing the way this could be read earlier. I've changed part of the intro on the page to reflect this difference. Rodeosmurf 23:57, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
Also, Xosa just changed the intro sentence back to 'refers to a strategy of using violence...'. I think either phrasing works, but I'd like to hear what Xosa has to say on the matter if he/she would like to chime in here. Rodeosmurf 00:00, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
I surrender, Rodeosmurf. I agree and disagree with many points in your write-up, but if we can't handle this fundamental one I see no contribution I can make: that terrorism's stated aim, to effect change by killing as many innocent civilians as possible, is what makes it unique. It is a stark, singular, and easily discernible difference. No one else does this. It shares this characteristic with no other kind of fighter. One man's terrorist is NOT another man's freedom fighter. (Think of me whenever you hear someone say that.) Onward and upward. I've enjoyed the exchange and thank Wikipedia for the forum.JHarlen

Okay, I have read what you all have to say about defining terrorism and I have studied several authoritative definitions on the subject and I believe the best one I have read so far is the one given by Princeton University on its WordNet project site. Princeton defines terrorism thusly:
“the calculated use of violence (or threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear” [[4]]
Before anyone criticizes this definition, I would encourage you to go back and reread the definitions of “guerrilla warfare”, “insurgency”, “barbarism”, and “war crime” because many of acts attributed to terrorism today, actually fall into one of these other categories and should not be lumped in with the definition of terrorism. We need to keep in mind that not all violent acts rise to the level of terrorism, even though they may be committed by individuals or organizations that are reputed as terrorist. I think often we rush to define an act of violence as terrorism, just because it is committed by a terrorist organization. By no means it to say that there aren’t valid examples of terrorism today, there most assuredly are. But, in order for us to hope to bring an end to terrorism, we must understand what makes it different from the other forms of violence previously mentioned. Likewise, just because an act of violence may not be definable as terrorism, does not lessen its severity, or seriousness. Terrorism is an especially heinous form of violence and it should stay that way and we should not allow it to be redefined down to just a synonym for “guerilla warfare”, or “resistance”. Many terrorist organizations try to portray their actions as merely guerilla in nature down-playing their criminal acts leading many to believe that terrorists are merely guerillas with bad publicity, or conversely that all soldiers are terrorists. Most of this confusion comes from attempted justification or obfuscation by the terrorists themselves. I think it would also be helpful for each of us to go back and reread the Geneva Conventions so as to get a handle on what lawful war looks like so that we may contrast that with recent acts attributed to terrorism.--Britcom 02:24, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

Revised definition

I recently introduced this revised definition of terrorism: Terrorism is the systematic use or threatened use of violence to intimidate a population or government and thereby effect political, religious or ideological change. This definition is derived from the American Heritage Dictionary and the Encylopædia Britannica. -- WGee 02:04, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

This is wonderful; Hopefully this will end the ongoing debates about the definition. However, it seems to me that the two sentences which follow the definition are very poorly worded.
Terrorist attacks are designed to influence the broader society to which those killed, injured, or taken hostage belong. The dramatic focus of mass media is often ascribed as amplifying and broadcasting feelings of intense fear and anger that make terrorism more effective in the modern world.
These almost seem to be written in some sort of backwards-speaking Yoda-talk, which uses passive voice and draws attention away from the subject. I'd recommend this:
Terrorist attacks are not intended merely to victimize or eliminate those who are killed, injured, or taken hostage, but rather to victimize and influence the societies to which they belong. Modern terrorism has come to be defined in part by the influential power of the mass media, which terrorists co-opt in their efforts to amplify and broadcast feelings of intense fear and anger.
Opinions? Rodeosmurf 20:25, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
I still like the Princeton Univ. definition: “the calculated use of violence (or threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear” [[5]] IMHO, It is simple, and easy to understand, and is not easily confused with the definition of war. The way I read it, WGee's definition is indistingishable from the definition of traditional warfare, (see the rest of my comments on this issue at the end of “Reverted Intro” above.)
Here is a quote from about the confusion; "Guerrilla warfare is sometimes confused with terrorism, in that a relatively small force attempts to achieve large goals by using organized acts of directed violence against a larger force. But in contrast to terrorism, these acts are almost always against military targets, and civilian targets are minimized in an attempt to increase public support. For this reason, guerrilla tactics are generally considered military strategy rather than terrorism, although both terrorism and guerrilla warfare could be considered forms of asymmetric warfare." [[6]]--Britcom 05:31, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

I'd agree that the definition as currently stated is indistinguishable from conventional warfare. Really don't think it's suitable. Scholars have been trying to sum up terrorism in a few short words for years and have singularly failed to do so. I'm afraid any attempt to do so here is likewise doomed to failure.

The problem, as noted elsewhere, stems from the fact that nation states reserve the right to conduct and/or support political violence themselves in pursuit of their own objectives. The result is that they are unwilling to commit to a hard and fast definition which could be applied objectively because it would limit their own ability to pursue political violence to further goals they believe to be worthwhile.

The most informative thing you can say about the definition of terrorism, in my opinion, that there isn't a useful one. As such, I'd recommend avoiding any attempt to sum up terrorism in the intro. (Apologies if I've broken any formatting conventions, I'm new here.) - Garrys 12:22, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

There may not be a useful definition of terrorism but I think an honest definition of how the term is normally used would be "really bad stuff that the other guys do". It is a propaganda tool that would lose its effectiveness if it had a hard and fast definition. It is a word that has powerful connotation but has an extremely fluid denotation. According to Mark Burgess of the Center for Defence Information ( "The term terrorism did not itself appear until the end of the 18th Century, when it was used by the likes of the British political philosopher Edmund Burke to demonize the leaders of the French Revolution." - BrianM
I don't think the word "terrorism" should ever refer to a form of conventional warfare. Those who have said such things in the past are often sympathizers with the terrorists, and either secretly or overtly support terrorist methods. Terrorism should be defined as an aberration of the rules of war, not as synonymous with the rules of war. The whole purpose for the word to exist is to define a different set of rules used by some groups or governments that are unacceptable according to traditionally accepted, and legally delimited (by treaty or convention) rules of war. Add to this the natural law definition of crime, and you discover that universally the rules of war exclude the intentional targeting of; ‘’non-combatant’’ women, children, aged, disabled people, and prisoners (men of military age (approx. 15-50) who display any hostility are assumed to be combatants, unless they immediately make a display of passivity or surrender). That right there is your definition of terrorism in a nut shell. Groups or governments who, as a policy, target those above mentioned individuals for rape, torture, kidnapping, or death, are guilty of terrorism whether you call it that or not. These perpetrators are the ones who according to natural law, are guilty of a crime and thereby deserve punishment by the governing authorities of the nations the victims belong to, even unto death, because what they are guilty of is a capital crime against natural law, humanity, international law, and every civilized body of national law. I disagree with the idea that terrorism cannot be defined, to me that is a ridiculous and illogical notion (no offense). Of course it can be defined, the problem is some people don’t want it defined because they may harbor the notion that they, or their pet organizations, may want to use terrorist tactics in the future. If the definition of terrorism can be obfuscated, they continue to operate in a grey area and can deflect criticism of their actions. This grey area, in my view, is unacceptable and the proverbial “spade” should be called a “spade”. Terrorism is the deliberate and avoidable targeting of innocents with violence. Anything that does not equate this, also in my view, is a ‘’re’’definition, not a definition of the word. --Britcom 20:59, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
Here is another defintion that I find acceptable from the Definition of terrorism page: "In November 2004, a UN panel described terrorism as any act: "intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act." [7]" --Britcom 21:46, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
Actually, I like the definition from the UN panel better than the definition I inserted. A dictionary and an encyclopedia aren't exactly the most scholarly sources, anyway. To many people, a UN panel is one of the most independent, netural, and authoritative commentators on a subject, so I believe its definition is quite appropriate to use. -- WGee 03:14, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
Q - Is there anyone else who likes the UN Panel defintion (above) [8], and would like to see it in the article; or are there any objections to it being placed in the article? --Britcom 03:34, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
I definately want the UN Panel defintion (above) placed in this article, perhaps even as the First definition, as the UN are highly notable and A Lot of people and cultures where involved in the formation of this definition.Hypnosadist 12:29, 18 August 2006 (UTC)


"Terrorists are g**d*m muslim and islamic loonys who are a**holes and should all die!!!! GET THE F**K OUTTA OUR COUNTRY!!!"

I'm not entirely sure how this site works, but...that guy should be warned.

  • Nevermind, it appears he has already been warned previously for removing information from the terrorist page. He's already been warned. Perhaps some bannination should be done? =P67.33.141.71 15:27, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
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