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Actually, the U.S. Dept State and FEMA's info should both be in the public domain. Checking into that, perhaps it's proprietary and licensed.

U.S. Dept State says this about copyrights on their site. Looking for FEMA's. I've not yet found it and so have sent an email to FEMA's public relations people. Not expecting a response very soon, if at all. They have quite understandably got their hands full with more pressing concerns.

FEMA has very promptly returned the following response about the copyright question:
  • Generally speaking, anything on the FEMA site is public domain and not copyrighted. If something is noted as copyrighted, then it's obviously an exception to this generalization. If you have specifics you'd like to ask us about, please let us know.
  • Holly Harrington
  • FEMA

US is also terrorism-supporting country. CIA commited some terrorist actions in past.

"Such as"?
- - -
I suspect there are few large nations or empires that haven't had to engage in what amounts to terrorism in one form or another, or sponsored it, somewhere along their history. But maybe that's a discussion for the Colonialism page? ;-)
More seriously, though, how do we approach describing the CIA's involvement with terrorism? One of the reasons I didn't really go into it is because I have a pretty strong opinion on the subject and don't feel I could be unbiased, so feel it should be written about by someone else. As well, there are a *lot* of allegations of things they've done that just don't have a heck of a lot of proof, and of course are denied by the CIA, so where do *we* draw the line between "believed true" and "might be true"? -- BryceHarrington

One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. - Ronald Reagan referring to Nicaragua's Contras

Are any of these people terrorists?

The United States Department of State has a guideline in Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f(d): The term 'terrorism' means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets

Certainly a definition of terrorism should not depend on whether an act was carried out by a member of al Qaeda or the Navy Seals. When Ariel Sharon orders the destruction and bombing of a village in the occupied territories of Palestine - is this a terrorist act?

To restrict the definition of terrorism to only "individuals or non-governmental groups" seems arbitrary and runs the risk of making the term only useful as a propaganda term for illegitimate states that seek to quell popular descent.


The complete text of your quote makes it clear that the US government considers terrorism restricted to "subnational groups or clandestine agents".

Title 22 US Code, Section 2656f(d) (d) Definitions As used in this section - (1) the term international terrorism means terrorism involving citizens or the territory of more than 1 country; (2) the term terrorism means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents; and (3) the term terrorist group means any group practicing, or which has significant subgroups which practice, international terrorism.


Article Most controversial subjects in wikipedia/Talk said:

Using words that carry more emotions than contents, like "terrorist", is strongly discouraged.

AV responded:

This by itself is a subjective judgement. "Terrorist" has plenty of well-definable content, and should be used when appropriate. --AV

I'm afraid "terrorist" means little more than "military or paramilitary action we disagree with". Take the Middle East for instance: Israel says those who use violence against it are "terrorists", and its violence is "response". Many Palestinians, Arabs or Muslims would say that it is the Israelis who are the "terrorists", and that violence against Israel is the "response". Who is the terrorist and who is defending themselves against terrorism is basically a question of how you want to define things. -- SJK

This is incorrect. When you attack citizens (rather than soldiers) indiscriminately in order to intimidate your opponent into doing something, you're a terrorist. It doesn't matter whether you consider it a "response" to anything. Some Palestinian groups do that and are justly called terrorist groups. Some Israelis also do that (e.g. Baruch Goldstein) are are also justly so called.
I strongly object to the recommendation not to use the word "terrorist", which I consider to be an absurdly, and stupidly, extremist application of political correctness. --AV

And when you attack citizens during war, since you can't find, say, osama bin laden? That's not terrorist?

No, unless you're specifically and intentionally targeting the civilian population. "Attack citizens" and "attack a state" are different things, nonwithstanding the fact that every mass-scale attack will have civilian casualties. --AV

AV: Well, the American Heritage Dictionary defines "terrorism" as "The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons". See no reference here to any civilian vs. military distinction (people could be either). And in the case of the Middle East conflict, questions of "unlawful" (at least in a domestic law sense) are really irrelevant, since its an international conflict, albeit at present a cold one. And the recent (i.e. today or yesterday or so) Israeli destruction of the house of a Palestinian family one of whose members (allegedly) participated in terrorism seems clearly to be destruction of property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments (i.e. making Arafat do what Israel wants). So by that definition Israel would appear to be terrorist. But my point is not that Israel is or is not terrorist, or that the Palestinians are or are not terrorists; my point is simply that the word is too vague to have any real meaning except as a value judgement. -- SJK

I understand your point; I simply think it's not founded in fact. The AH definition is sloppy, since according to it every military action can be considered terrorist activity, which is plainly not the fact. If you consider how the word is actually used, you'll see that it's almost never applied to organised attacks against military targets, in particular wars. Next, it's certainly lawful according to the Israeli laws and regulations for Israeli army to destroy a house owned by terrorist's family, however abominable the practice must seem to you; that isn't a terrorist act. If, on the other hand, some lone Israeli individual destroy a house of someone he suspects to be a terrorist, that certainly is a terrorist act and will be defined as such even in Israeli mass-media and public consciousness. In fact, a few days ago a terrorist group of settlers wounded several passerby Palestinians, and it's called and discussed as a terrorist act.
There certainly exists some blurriness about what is or isn't considered terrorism, but to claim that this blurriness or uncertainty in some cases (especially those involving whole states) translates to total uselessness of the term is, I maintain, incredibly misguided. However you put it, to say that someone who kills civilians indiscriminately is a terrorist is not a value judgement. Shrinking from using the correct word in this instance is an example of propaganda, since you're helping the terrorist to avoid the justly negative connotations that the word "terrorism" has acquired. You're, in fact, indirectly participating in his PR campaign. --AV

AV: The biggest problem with the definition of terrorism is dealing with the distinction between terrorism and warfare. How is an act of terrorism different from gurellila warfare?

Terrorism targets primarily the civilian population.

It isn't really. Legitimate or not, terrorist bombings and assasinations are often a succesful military strategy to adopt when faced with a much more powerful enemy that one has little hope of defeating by conventional means. Terrorism is just a different form of warfare.

Sure, it's a different form of warfare, but it's still terrorism.
Again, what you're trying to do here, as far as I can see, is to prevent the situation in which a paricular act is called terrorism and thereby acquires unpleasant associations that come with this term. But the associations are there for a reason. If you want, you can call a terrorist a guerilla fighter or a freedom fighter, and the terrorist may be these things, but he still remains a terrorist. --AV

Let me give you another example. Israel assasinates many leaders of Hamas and other Palestinian groups. The PFLP assasinates the Israeli tourism minister. Which one is the act of terrorism? They are both assasinations.

Zeevi has not been sending suicide bombers into Palestinian cities. Radical as he was, he was a politician, not a military or terrorist activist. The leaders Israel has been assasinating have been (according to Israel's claims, which haven't been contradicted) operational leaders directly overseeing military/terrorist activity. Your analogy would be better founded has Palestinians assasinated an Israeli general on active duty; as it is, the analogy is badly flawed.

You might say that one was carried out by a government and one not, or one was lawful under domestic law and one not. But imagine it turned out that the PFLP operatives who assasinated the tourism minister were really Syrian intelligence agents, acting on the orders of the Syrian President? I'm sure Israel would still call it an act of terrorism, even though it was done by a government.

Yes, and had Israeli secret agents assasinated a minister in Syria's government, I wouldn't hesitate to call it an act of terrorism as well (nor would Israel's mass-media, by the way).
Well then, is the assasination of Hamas leaders terrorism? -- SJK
No, because it targets leaders of the military wing of Hamas, not its speakers or political activists, or any other civilians. This doesn't mean that it's not wrong (or that it's wrong), of course, but it's not terrorism.
I'll also note here that although there're plenty of people who'll disagree with me on this particular point, existence of doubtful cases in no way constitutes proof that the notion of terrorism is devoid of content. --AV
AV: So assasinating the head of the IDF (I mean the top general -- don't know the structure of the Israeli army) wouldn't be terrorism? If whoever that person is was the next PFLP target, I'm sure the Israeli government would still call it terrorism.
It wouldn't be terrorism, no. I'm not sure how the Israeli government would deal with it, but I am sure that on the whole the Israeli society would treat it differently than Zeevi's assasination (this doesn't mean it'd be forgiven or unanswered, of course). The Israeli government, like all other governments, has a history of trying to use the word "terrorism" to achieve its political ends, though its record in this is much better than that of all its neighbouring countries. --AV
Okay, if attacking military targets isn't terrorism, why do the media & the U.S. government keep on referring to the Cole bombing as an act of terrorism, or attacks on U.S. troop barracks in Saudi Arabia, and before that they called the attack on the U.S. marines in Lebanon in the 80s terrorism. It seems that the term terrorism is commonly to include military targets as well. But if it includes military targets as well, which is how the world media and the US government use it, then Israeli assasinations of members of Hamas' military wings are terrorism, no? This is just my point -- whether or not an act of violence is terrorism is a question of political expediency, not fact. When it suits one politically, one defines it one way, when it suits one the other way, one defines it the other way. So the term doesn't mean much in a factual sense.
I think terrorism can have a meaning in a legal sense: terrorism is acts of violence in violation of the law, or in other words disapproved by the government. But that doesn't make terrorism anything factually objective -- it is just the opinion of those who hold power in that particular country. -- SJK
You are right, some doubtful areas don't make a concept useless. But sometimes a concept is so blurry that it means basically whatever the user wants it to. -- SJK

Ultimately the assasination you call terrorism is the assasination you disagree with. -- SJK

This is incorrect. The term has clear objective content, and that can be plainly seen from its usage. --AV


I don't believe the following is true, so I removed it:

but it is a criminal offense under nearly every national or international legal code (see Hague Regulation of 1907 and the Geneva Conventions of 1949).

Firstly, many countries still don't have specific legislation against terrorism, although often terrorist offences can be prosecuted as ordinary criminal offences such as murder or destruction of property. Secondly, talking about "nearly every national legal code" is strange, since many states don't have codes. Talking about "nearly every international legal code" is even stranger, since what is an international legal code? A treaty? It certaintly isn't illegal under nearly every treaty, because most treaties have nothing to do with terrorism. And referencing the Hague Regulations and Geneva Conventions is also strange. Their provisions might have some application in cases of terrorism, but they primarily deal with international armed conflict between states (i.e. wars), not isolated acts of terrorism. But there are several whole conventions, which unlike the Hague Regulations or Geneva conventions actually deal specificially with terrorism. A list of the main ones is already in the article.

I also can't make sense of the following paragraph, so I removed it as well:

Many governments have also taken a direct hand in terrorist activities against their own or other countries' peoples. Victims include the Jews in Germany, the Soviets under Stalin, China and Japan in China, Armenians in Turkey, Chileans under Pinochet, East Timor under Indonesia, Palestinians under Israel, and Americans under COINTELPRO in the United States.

This passage seems to use a potentially overly broad definition of terrorism. Genocide, killings by death squads, and forced famines are not generally considered to be terrorism, though it depends on who you ask. -- SJK

They're just as bad, if you ask me. There is so much evil in this world that it helps us good folks to name the various categories. And don't bother to ask me to take the NPOV on this, my opposition to evil is implacable. Ed Poor