Defining Terrorism The History of Terrorism as a Strategy of Political

The History of Terrorism as a
Strategy of Political Insurgency
Section 1
It takes one to know
US Government Definitions
The United States Department of Defense
“the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate
fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of
goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.”
"Terrorism is the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to
intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment
thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives."
The U.S. Department of State
"premeditated politically-motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant
targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence
an audience.
Violence, Fear, Intimidation, unlawful, non-combatants or victims
It would appear the US Government is against it…
Terrorism Defined (or not) by non-US Agencies
and Governments
1992 UN
• "An anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by
(semi-) clandestine individual, group or state actors, for idiosyncratic,
criminal or political reasons, whereby - in contrast to assassination - the
direct targets of violence are not the main targets."
1974 British Government
• "…the use of violence for political ends, and includes any use of violence
for the purpose of putting the public, or any section of the public, in fear."
These definitions also seem to be not in favor of it
These and preceding thoughts were basically ripped off from…
Common Terms
Common components of definitions
Use of violence (or implied use)
Political objectives
Illegal (only state sanctioned violence is legitimate)
Missing is a component that recognizes the Terrorist lacks power
to directly confront the sate, so resorts to indirect
Alex Schmidt and Albert Jongman looked at 109
Common repeated elements of definitions
Violence 83.5%
Political Goals 65%
Fear/Terror 51%
Indiscriminate 21%
Victimization (of Civilians) 17.5%
Alex Schmidt and Albert Jongman, University of Leiden
Terrorism & Peoples War
Mao Zedong saw terrorism as a strategy of Political Insurgency,
and that Revolutionary conflicts pass through phases
When weak, use terror, as you strengthen guerilla war, and
then conventional war may follow
Different provinces can be at different stages
You can move both forward and backwards along the continuum
Primary goal is to not lose militarily, and wear down the enemy
The victory is fundamentally political, not military
Which way are we going?