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TERRORISM.

CONCEPTUAL DEFINITIONS AND PRECISIONS


Terrorism has no ordinary accepted definition. The difficulty of defining comes
both from its complexity and from a wide divergence of the individuals,
organizations or states position that are involved in anti-terrorist struggle. The
elementary definition is that of "purpose and approach": Terrorism is an
unconventional battle tactic used to achieve strictly political goals based on acts of
violence, sabotage or threat against a state, organizations, social categories or
against a group of civilians, whose exact purpose is to produce a generalized
psychological effect of fear and intimidation. The ultimate goal is to put pressure
on that entity to get it to act in accordance with the wishes of the terrorists, if that
goal is not met by conventional peaceful means.

The definition of the phenomenon of terrorism has become more current than ever,
and at the same time it is not easy to achieve, sometimes for subjective reasons.
The difficulties are so diverse, from political, philosophical, ideological to even
legal. It is also difficult to distinguish between terrorist acts and other crimes.
Thus, becoming a priority to facilitate the identification and combat of terrorist
acts, this issue remains to be open. Until the semantic clarification, the
international community, faced with many other problems and obstacles, call to
pragmatic solutions, fighting and sanctioning as the terrorist acts take place on a
case-by-case basis, even if it cant be defined by a commonly accepted definition .
As a result of some criminal acts, namely the assassination of some political
figures, it was agreed, even before World War II, the adoption of the "Convention
for the Prevention and Punishment of Terrorism" which considers the "terrorist
act" - "criminal acts against states with the intention of creating a state of terror to
private individuals or groups of 31 people and the public interest. " It also been
added the Convention for the Creation of the International Criminal Court for the
trial of persons accused of terrorist acts.
The Council of Europe has adopted in June 2002 the "Counter-Terrorism
Decision", which, although it does not contain a specific definition of terrorism,
but merely the presentation of principles and rights in the field of terrorist acts, has
the advantage to establish several basic criteria:
a) Causing death by attacking persons;
b) The attack on the physical integrity of persons;
c) Kidnapping and taking hostages;
d) Destruction of government physical facilities, transport, public or state property,
likely to endanger human lives or cause major economic losses;
e) Hijacking airplanes, ships or other public means of transport;
f) The production, possession, acquisition, transportation, sale or use of weapons,
conventional or nuclear explosives, biological weapons, as well as research to
make such weapons;
g) Spread of dangerous substances that can cause fires, floods or explosions
endangering human lives;
h) Interruption of the supply of water, energy or other natural resources that
threaten life;
i) Threating the execution of the above mentioned terrorist acts.
The difficulty of defining terrorism is a matter of cultural, political and social
perception of the act of violence and of the political purpose pursued through
terror.
Alex Schmid analyzes the content of 109 definitions of terrorism by finding the
following frequency of used concepts in a study on terrorism:
Violence and force (appear in 83.5% of the definitions)
Political motivations (65%)
Fear, emphasis on terror (51%)
Threat (47%)
Psychological effects and foreseen reactions (41.5%)
Discrepancy between objectives and victims (37.5%)
Intentional, planned, organized and systematic actions (32%)
Battle, strategy and tactics (30.5%)
a) Definition of the Federal Code of the United States
The illegal use of force and violence against persons or property, made to achieve
political or social objectives, for intimidation or punishment of a government,
civilian population, or a population segment. This definition is being criticized for
introducing the concept of "terrorist act for punishment," following the terrorist
attack in Oklahoma, an act which was the main reason for the FBI's punishment for
intervention against the Davidian sect in Waco, Texas.
b) The definition of the United Kingdom Terrorism Act of 2000
The definition of terrorism that is found in the UK law adopted in 2000, is so broad
that it includes not only the use of violence and the threat in order to achieve some
political, ideological or religious goals but also "serious disruption or interference
in the functioning of an electronic system. "
Using firearms or explosives that are not aimed at influencing the government or
creating a state of terror are also considered to be acts of terrorism.
This law is highly criticized on the grounds that it is a way too wide definition of
the terrorism and creates a potential abuse from the government. Critics of this law
argue their point of view with many hypothetical examples (some even comical
and absurd) such as that of an environmental activist who according to the law it
would be considered a terrorist for threating to use a hunting weapon to destroy his
own computer.
c) Definition of the US Defense Department
The use of the allegedly unlawful violence to create fear in order to intimidate or
punish governments or societies for the achievement of generally political,
religious or ideological purposes.
This definition is also strongly criticized for allowing the application of the
concept of terrorism at a state level (terrorist state) and introduces the arbitrariness
of legality conferred by American courts.
For example, the killing of Iranian civilian citizens could be considered legal by
the US government and therefore would not constitute an act of terrorism. This
argument was used for US support to the Iranian Anti-Iranian terrorist group
Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). The members of this group have officially received
the status of "protected persons" from the US government, even though the MEK is
on the official list of terrorist groups, developed by the US Department of State.
d) Definition of the PATRIOT - United States Law
"... dangerous acts for human life that occur with the violation of the United States
or any State criminal code (from the US componence)." It is considered to be one
of the vaguest, interpretable and arbitrary definitions of terrorism by both liberal
and conservative critics.
e) Definition of the League of Nations (1937)
All criminal acts directed against a state or made or planned to create a state of
terror in the minds of certain persons, a group of people or the general public.
This widespread and ambiguous definition reflects the preoccupations of interwar
governments to face the danger of anarchist, communist and liberation movements
under the colonial occupation. This definition was also used by the British
Government to justify the suppression of the peaceful movement for the
independence of India.
The major difficulty in defining terrorism66 is not the tendency to generalize a
technique of applying violence - which, in principle, could be used by anyone in all
kinds of conflicting relationships and situations - but rather to limit the name to
certain Factors, only to certain types of conflicts.
Some theorists believe that almost any act of violence can be included in the
category of terrorism, although some confusion may arise from the apparently
similar behavior of an individual who, for political reasons, commits a violent act
in relation to the behavior of a criminal Of common law or of a mental
disequilibrium. Also, due to moral implications, the attempts to define the concept
start from the assumption that some types of political violence are justifiable, while
others do not.