How do you define terrorism? Webster defines it as the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion. That seems to be a simple enough definition, but countries around the world can’t agree on how it should be defined. Even organizations in our country can’t define it. “The FBI defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or 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 FBI further classifies terrorism as either domestic or international, depending on the origin, base, and objectives of the terrorist organization.” It is my opinion that this is the correct definition of the word.
Given the FBI's mission of investigating and solving crimes -- both political and other it is not surprising that its definition focuses on different elements. The FBI definition also identifies a much broader category of terrorist targets than only `noncombatants', specifying not only governments and their citizens, but also inanimate objects, such as private and public property. The FBI definition further recognizes social alongside political objectives as fundamental terrorist. When I hear the word terror I immediately associate the word with fear in my mind. I think of the kid who terrorizes others on the playground. It reminds me of my girlfriend’s fear of spiders or my fear of snakes. So, when I think of terror I think of fear. If I were to think of terror on a national level then I would think of it as striking fear into others. This is captured in the FBI’s definition.
m-w.com. 2012. Merriam Webster. 06 December 2012. www.merriam-webster.com FBI.gov. 2012. 06 December 2012. http://www.fbi.gov/albuquerque/about-us/what-we-investigate. New York Times. 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/h/hoffman-terrorism.html
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