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The issue in defining "terrorism" is in agreeing on a basis for judging whether the use of violence (directed at whom, by whom, and for what purposes) is justified; thus, the modern definition of terrorism is intrinsically contentious. The use of violence to attain political goals is prevalent among both state and non-state groups.

The majority of definitions in use have been written by agencies directly associated with the government and are systematically biased to exclude governments from the definition. The contemporary label of "terrorist" is highly pejorative it denotes a lack of legitimacy and morality.

The UN General Assembly Resolution 49/60 (adopted on December 9, 1994), titled "Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism," contains a provision describing terrorism: Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them.

Changing Nature of Terrorism

Terrorism in the 21st Century vs. Terrorism in the Past-

Traditional terrorism's secular nature stems from the fact that for much of the post-World War II period, terrorism was associated with nationalist and particularly separatist movements. Traditional terrorists could be content with minor political shifts or partial concessions to their aims. In this type of terrorism, violence was used strategically. Traditional terrorists, such as the siccari, a Jewish fanatical wing, preferred to use military-style command and control structures. By the 1980s, religion had become a major imperative for political violence, and it was regarded as a religious responsibility to participate in terrorism. New terrorists are difficult to persuade because their goals make them rigid and unyielding. Violence became more and more symbolic, and it was welcomed as a sign of total war. New terrorists are more likely to operate within amorphous multinational networks of loosely connected groups and support networks. Al Qaeda is a good example.

Terrorism in the postmodern or new era was carried out for a variety of reasons. Promises of rewards in the afterlife, financial rewards for families, attaining recognition within the community, and revenge, among other things, motivate people. Religious motivations inspire some terrorists to kill as many non-believers or unfaithful as possible. New terrorism, which some authors use to describe the global jihad, is seen as a reaction to Muslims' worldwide subjugation and the West's spiritual bankruptcy. Religious terrorists, on the other hand, attempt to replace rather than modify society's normative system.

Countering Transnational Terrorism

As a result of transnational terrorism, states have been confronted with a number of decision points about when and how to interfere, many of which are intertwined. The first set of choices involves deciding where to intervene. Some Western states have been tempted to interfere on a global scale in order to prevent terrorist groups from forming or to reduce the effectiveness of existing terrorist organizations in 'frontline' states. International aid, military advice and training, and financial and military support to governments are all examples of such intervention. As a result, there is a risk of supporting undemocratic administrations and participating in militarised activities in contested areas. The use of drones by the United States in Pakistan is one example that has sparked significant debate.

A parallel strategy has been to interfere at home by bolstering state power in order to reduce the impact and capabilities of terrorist organizations. However, whether at home or abroad, the result has been a reduction in civil liberties and restrictions on human rights. It is assumed that there is a required balance between human rights and human security and that the first duty of government is to safeguard citizens, specifically their security.

A counter-argument is that failing to preserve these fundamental values rewards terrorist behavior by classifying it as "outside" the normal criminal processes while punishing law-abiding civilians. Indeed, counter-terrorism and counter-radicalization policies and methods have had a massively negative human impact. This is evident in Egypt's crackdown on protestors, including journalists and civil rights organizations, in the name of combating terrorism. According to Human Rights Watch (2015), Egypt is experiencing its worst human rights crisis in modern history, with the government using national security to silence practically all criticism.


Terrorism is a term that has been around since the French Revolution. Terrorism is described as a destructive form of political action that uses instill violence to instill terror in order to achieve political goals. Terrorists frequently kill or injure non-combatants or the innocent in order to maximize terror and get widespread attention for their crimes. It draws the attention of the news media and the general public, and it is high on many countries and international organizations' agendas.

The cause, operation, and consequence of today's terrorism are all international. Its key characteristics ensure its significance in international relations because it raises a new level of security worry for nations: the threat of attack comes not from other states (war), but from mobile criminal gangs that travel between states and are distributed globally (transnational terrorism). This new wave of terrorism is seen by states as a threat to key elements of their sovereignty, such as their power, legitimacy, and sovereignty.


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