Terrorism Define and Contrast the Many Definitions Research Paper

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Terrorism

The term "terrorism" is profoundly political, as can be seen by the numerous definitions of terrorism and the lack of a globally-agreed description. The myriad definitions show nations struggling to define "terrorism" in self-serving ways. Efforts to clarify and unify those definitions vary from legalistic to nearly bombastic. After listing many definitions from different nations and from within the United States, itself, this paper examines a legalistic attempt to lay the groundwork for a universal definition, then a more cutting attempt to dispel the self-serving political "fog" surrounding these definitions. The common thread in both approaches is the appeal to diplomatically weigh competing national interests in order to form a workable worldwide definition of "terrorism

Definitions of Terrorism

a. UN General Assembly Resolution 54/109 (1999)

"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."[footnoteRef:1] The UN Member States still have no universal definition of terrorism, which is a significant obstacle to worldwide anti-terrorism efforts.[footnoteRef:2] [1: (United Nations General Assembly, 2010).] [2: (Tiefenbrun, 2003, pp. 382-3).]

b. Arab Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism (1998)

"Any act or threat of violence, whatever its motives or purposes, that occurs in the advancement of an individual or collective criminal agenda and seeking to sow panic among people, causing fear by harming them, or placing their lives, liberty or security in danger, or seeking to cause damage to the environment or to public or private installations or property or to occupying or seizing them, or seeking to jeopardize national resources."[footnoteRef:3] [3: (Arab Convention on Terrorism, 2009).]

c. UN Security Council Resolution 1566 (2004)

"[C]riminal acts, including against civilians, committed with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury, or taking of hostages, with the purpose to provoke a state of terror in the general public or in a group of persons or particular persons, intimidate a population or compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act."[footnoteRef:4] [4: (United Nations Security Council, 2004).]

d. The European Union (2002)

Set forth in Art.1 of the Framework Decision on Combating Terrorism (2002). This lists certain serious criminal offences against persons/property which: "given their nature or context, may seriously damage a country or an international organization where committed with the aim of: seriously intimidating a population; or unduly compelling a Government or international organization to perform or abstain from performing any act; or seriously destabilizing or destroying the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a country or an international organization."[footnoteRef:5] [5: (The Council of the European Union, 2002, p. L164/4).]

e. The United Kingdom's Terrorism Act (2000)

Section 1(1): "Terrorism means the use or threat of action where the action falls within subsection (2) (i.e. violence, serious damage, endangering life, etc.) and (b) the use or threat is designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, and (c) the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause."[footnoteRef:6] In addition, acts of terrorism are further described in Section 1(2): Acts involving serious violence against a person, serious damage to property, acts that endanger a person=s life, other than that of the person committing the action; acts that create a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or acts designed seriously to interfere with or disrupt an electronic system."[footnoteRef:7] [6: (The National Archives, 2000).] [7: (Ibid.)]

f. France -- Criminal Code, Article 421-1 and -2

Characterizing terrorism as a crime against humanity, France lists serious criminal acts which it would also consider terrorism: "Acts are terrorist acts when they are intentionally committed by an individual entity or by a collective entity in order to seriously disturb law and order by intimidation or by terror."[footnoteRef:8] The Criminal Code also lists specific terrorist acts in 421-1: "Attempted murder, assault, kidnapping, hostage-taking on airplanes, ships, all means of transport, theft, extortion, destructions, and crimes committed during group combat, the production or ownership of weapons of destruction and explosives including the production, sale, import and export of explosives, the acquisition, ownership, transport of illegal explosive substances, the production, ownership, storage, or acquisition of biological or chemical weapons, and money laundering."[footnoteRef:9] Finally, the Criminal Code adds environmental terrorist acts in Article 421-2: "Placing in the air, on the ground, under the ground and in the water (including territorial water) any substance that would put the health of man and animals or the environment in danger."[footnoteRef:10] [8: (Tiefenbrun, 2003, pp. 375-376).] [9: (Ibid.)] [10: (Ibid.)]

g. Canada -- Anti-Terrorism Act §83

The Anti-Terrorism Act §83.01(1)(a) defines "terrorist activity":

"(a) an act or omission that is committed in or outside Canada and that, if committed in Canada, is one of the following offences:

(i) the offences referred to in subsection 7(2) that implement the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft, signed at The Hague on December 16, 1970,

(ii) the offences referred to in subsection 7(2) that implement the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation, signed at Montreal on September 23, 1971,

(iii) the offences referred to in subsection 7(3) that implement the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 14, 1973,

(iv) the offences referred to in subsection 7(3.1) that implement the International Convention against the Taking of Hostages, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 17, 1979,

(v) the offences referred to in subsection 7(3.4) or (3.6) that implement the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, done at Vienna and New York on March 3, 1980,

(vi) the offences referred to in subsection 7(2) that implement the Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts of Violence at Airports Serving International Civil Aviation, supplementary to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation, signed at Montreal on February 24, 1988,

(vii) the offences referred to in subsection 7(2.1) that implement the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, done at Rome on March 10, 1988,

(viii) the offences referred to in subsection 7(2.1) or (2.2) that implement the Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf, done at Rome on March 10, 1988,

(ix) the offences referred to in subsection 7(3.72) that implement the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 15, 1997, and (x) the offences referred to in subsection 7(3.73) that implement the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1999."[footnoteRef:11] [11: (Department of Justice Canada, 2008).]

h. The United States -- 18 U.S.C. §2331

Federal Law states: "[Terrorism is]…activities that involve violent… or life-threatening acts… that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State and… appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and…(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States…"[footnoteRef:12] [12: (Office of the Law Revision Counsel, U.S. House of Representatives, 2011).]

i. U.S. Patriot Act of 2001:

"Terrorist activities include:

i) threatening, conspiring or attempting to hijack airplanes, boats, buses or other vehicles;

ii) threatening, conspiring or attempting to commit acts of violence on any "protected" persons, such as government officials

iii) any crime committed with "the use of any weapon or dangerous device," when the intent of the crime is determined to be the endangerment of public safety or substantial property damage rather than for "mere personal monetary gain"[footnoteRef:13] [13: (U.S. Department of Justice, 2011).]

j. U.S. Army Manual

"Terrorism, for the purposes of this training circular, is the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear. It is intended to coerce or intimidate governments or societies ... [to attain] political, religious, or ideological goals."[footnoteRef:14] [14: (U.S. Army, 2001).]

k. Department of Defense Dictionary of Military Terms

"Terrorism: 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."[footnoteRef:15] [15: (U.S. Department of Defense, 2010).]

l. U.S. State Department

"[Terrorism is] premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience."[footnoteRef:16] [16: (U.S. Department of State,…[continue]

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