Terrorism remains a significant challenge across the world. The measures that have been applied to deal with the terrorist activities have not been successful since the perpetrators continue to carry out operations. However, the challenge that arises when it comes to the solving of the phenomenon of terrorism lays in the meaning of the concept. The different ideas that people have regarding terrorist activities continue to represent a problem for the addressing of the issue.

Keyword: terrorism


Universally, there has been a problem of arriving at a common definition of the term terrorism. There are various criminal activities that take place, but the law enforcement agents have not been able to categorize them as acts of terror. Thus, people have different perception concerning terrorism. The purpose of the paper is to analyze the different perspectives that are present regarding terrorism and how it has affected the ability to fight it. Insights from the discussion will help in explaining the different definitions of terrorism and angles related to the issue. An understanding of the phenomenon is helpful in dealing with the detrimental effects of terror.

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Definition of Terrorism

The concept of the definition of terrorism continues to draw different ideas. There is no single definition of terrorism. Dyson defines terrorism as using violence and threats to coerce or intimidate particularly for political reasons (as cited in Random House Websters Dictionary, 1998). However, others view it as the use of violence to evoke feelings of fear among the people. Most of the definitions of terrorism have been linked to the use of force for purposes of creating fear among people in a particular area and it is often related to politics. The author of the book Terrorism: An Investigators Handbook has a strong argument when it comes to the perception that people have about terrorism (Dyson, 2011). The variations on the concept of terrorism as a term make it difficult to categorize the facts that could be related to terrorism. For example, it is true that an attack that may not be politically motivated could be given a different term even if it is evident that it was a terrorist attack.

As a result, there is no universally accepted definition of terrorism. Every federal institution that has been tasked with the duty of dealing with terrorism has its definition of the term. Lack of a definition of the phenomenon can have a significant challenge when it comes to the war on terrorism. Particularly, if a crime is to be committed, what would happen is that despite the nature of the offense, even if it was terroristic in characteristic, it is not given the attention that it deserves. Such a problem arises when it comes to the entire concept of dealing with terrorism.

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Delineating Terrorism

There is a need to have a clear understanding of the notion of delineation of terrorism. The description of the term helps in understanding the various aspects of terrorism. The different definitions of terrorism make it possible to delineate terrorism. According to Terrorism: An Investigators Handbook, it may not be possible to have a broader expression of the term terrorism (Dyson, 2011). It is determined by the fact that having a clear position on terrorism may not be easy. Through lack of such pertinent information, it could be a problem to understand the scope of terrorist activities if they were to occur. However, through a representation of the concept of terrorism from different angles, it could be a problem to address the issue of terrorism. In particular, any of the activities conducted by criminals with the primary purpose of causing harm and fear among the people may be considered as an act of crime just like the others. Nonetheless, this approach should not be taken. Developing a precise description of terrorism, it is possible to point out the various aspects that could be related to terrorism and mount a response towards it. Further, some of the scholars emphasize the need to have the specificity of terrorism made known so that the law enforcement agencies understand how to categorize a crime and confirm or deny whether it is a terrorist attack (Caruson & MacManus, 2006). The different methods used by the various terrorist groups negate the need to have a broader and accurate idea of the concept of terrorism for easier counter-measures against it.

Dissecting Terrorism

The lack of a universal understanding of the term terrorism negates the need to dissect it to put in perspective. There are different angles within which the term terrorism can be defined. The first angle represents the issues of the immoral legal terrorist. The individual in such a state would do anything to save his life. In a field of war, they would opt to kill anyone so that they get to save their lives. The second angle includes activities conducted by the illegal, immoral terrorist. Such kind of individuals would work out ways of ensuring that they protect themselves but at the expense of others. They make sure that they secure their lives but fail to obey orders. The third angle comprises the legal, social terrorist. This kind includes the ones who go to war on the state orders with a clear mindset that they would die. They go ahead to kill and destroy but with the knowledge that they also may lose their lives.

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The different perspectives that come into play when it comes to the definition of terrorism are an indication of the diverse nature of terrorism as an act. As a result, there is the difficulty in developing a concrete definition of terrorism. However, it is significant to look at each of the perspectives so that it becomes easier to mount a response to any of the potential attacks. The institutions fighting against terrorism need to have the different definitions as a way of preparing to deal with any attack that could be classified as a terrorist.

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