Guerrilla Groups Terror Groups And Resistance Fighters Research Paper

Length: 7 pages Sources: 8 Type: Research Paper Paper: #19058573 Related Topics: Homeland Security, Total War, Criminal Act, Law Enforcement Published June 14, 2022
Excerpt from Research Paper :

Suicide Attackers: Definition of Terrorism


Terrorism and terrorist are problematic terms because they are so loosely defined; broadly used to categorize individuals, groups and actions; and increasingly politicized (Dombrowsky, 2005). Without a clear definition of terrorism and what constitutes an act of terror or one to be a terrorist, the usage of these terms should be discouraged, as there are other terms that can be better applied (Britton, 2005). The assumptions made when terrorism and terrorist are used to describe an individual who engages in acts of warfare against a state, or total war against civilians, are that the actor is somehow worse than an ordinary guerrilla warfare opponent. Therefore, in the case of Al Jihad, the fictive Palestinian organization, it is important to consider these points before determining how to label the groupas terrorist, guerrilla or criminal. This paper will describe the differences among the three labels, discuss the dilemmas faced while making these distinctions, provide an overview of different academic and governmental definitions of terrorism, discuss why developing an internationally accepted definition is a problem, and discuss how the lack of an internationally accepted definition hinders efforts to combat terrorism.

Labeling Al Jihad

Al Jihad wants to create a Caliphate State and therefore can be considered a non-state actor interested in establishing itself as a state. Its method of gaining control is diverse: it targets civilians by engaging in suicide bombings like the terror group Al Shabaab in Somalia (Center for International Security and Cooperation, 2019). It has used IEDs to target Israeli soldiers. It has engaged in rocket attacks like Hamas. It has adopted a small-scale total war approach in its mission to become a Caliphate State. The question is: how should other states categorize Al Jihad? As a criminal group, a terror group, or as a guerrilla group? The fact is that it demonstrates characteristics of all three.

A criminal group is one that is well-organized with a network that enables it to operate beyond the boundaries of state and national lines. Such groups are able to coordinate their attacks, raise funds, transfer funds, grow their network, and become international over time. While it is unclear the extent to which Al Jihad is organized across state boundaries, it does stand to reason that the potential for it to grow across state lines exists, since its own mandate is to create a new state of its own. This requires some organization, planning, funding, networking, and infrastructure. Al Jihad could be considered a criminal group for that reason.

A terror group is one that engages in acts of terror for the purposes of destabilizing a regime, community, society or state. Al Jihad is certainly acting as a terror group, considering its attacks on civilians in Tel Aviv. Its goal appears to be to create chaos, concern, fear, anxiety, and despair in the Israeli state. The US Code classifies terrorism as any premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated againstnoncombatanttargets by subnational groups orclandestine agents. Al Jihad certainly fits that definition since its motivations are political (to establish a state of its own) and the group does target noncombatants (civilians).

However, the group also engages in guerilla tactics against combatants, namely the IDF, using IEDs and rockets. Thus, it also falls under the categorical label of a guerilla group. Its tactics include a killing journey that targeted civilians, soldiers and law enforcement. It is essentially a group focused on total war through terrorist, criminal, and guerilla means.

Dilemmas Faced in Making Distinctions

The difficulty in making distinctions is that there is a sense that one must be all one thing or another. The reality is that there is a great deal of overlap among the different labels. Terror groups can have characteristics similar to criminal groups; guerilla groups can have characteristics similar to terror groups, and so on. Col. Cusic, for example, of the US Army, has stated that terrorism within the countrys borders is a criminal act and the proper responsibility of civil law enforcement (Cusic, 2009, p. 7). A response to a group should not be predicated upon how that group is labeled. Sufficient is the fact that the group represents itself as an enemy combatant to an established state. Yet, governments and academics believe that response must be total and integrated: Docobo (2005) notes, for instance, that the new policing model for terrorism and homeland security must address the areas of crime prevention, intelligence gathering, and information sharing [necessitating] a shift in the culture of law enforcement agencies, involving the creation of external partnerships, citizen…guerilla group, or criminal groupwill depend on these geopolitical factors. Defining terrorism, in other words, is something that goes on within the context of a much larger political, social, and economic world in which geopolitics matters immensely.

For states to cooperate and collaborate there would have to be an alignment of geopolitical ambitions and that is rarely the case. States form and break alliances, and shifting friendships and positions occurs with regularity. States may be friendly one year and not the next. They may attempt to formalize a relationship and yet may hit roadblocks over specific political or geopolitical issues, trade, or security matters. Terrorism is really a expression of one group of people using violent means to combat its perceived oppression and to gain political control. But this same may be said of a criminal or guerilla group as well. Moreover, the fact that states form alliances with such groups is not a secret.


Al Jihad may be considered a criminal, guerilla, and terror groupbut there is no guaranteed that the international community will ever agree on how Al Jihad should be categorized or classified. The international community consists of diverse actors and states, all with their own agendas and ambitions. Some of them may align themselves with or support Al Jihad and its cause or crusade against Israel since they themselves are at war with Israel. Other states might view Al Jihad as an enemy combatant and want it classified according to the harshest terms possible. Moreover, there is some political strategizing that must take place when determining how to classify a group. If one country supports that group, but another classifies it as a terror group, there will be sanctions that can harm the supporting the group. Thus, it is not always a case of combating terrorism but rather of using terrorism to wage economic sanctions against other states in a geopolitical gambit for control and domination of a region. After all, it has been argued that some of the states that signed the Abraham Accords did so in hopes of being removed from the US terror list. Thus, terror is really a politically useful term. Combating these groups, however, is really a local issue that can be solved with the help of the international…

Sources Used in Documents:


Barzegar, K. (2011). The Terror Plot: An Ideological War for Geopolitical Interests. Retrieved from

Batrawy, A. (2021). UAE and Israel press ahead with ties after Gaza cease-fire. Retrieved from

Britton, N. (2005). Dog or Demon? What is a Disaster? Philadelphia: Xlibris.

Center for International Security and Cooperation. (2019). Al Shabaab. Retrieved from

Cusic, J. (2009). The Confusion of Homeland Security with Homeland Defense. Army War Coll Carlisle Barracks Pa. Retrieved from

Docobo, J. M. (2005). Community policing as the primary prevention strategy for homeland security at the local law enforcement level. Retrieved from

US Code. 22 U.S. Code § 2656f - Annual country reports on terrorism. Retrieved from

Cite this Document:

"Guerrilla Groups Terror Groups And Resistance Fighters" (2022, February 09) Retrieved June 30, 2022, from

"Guerrilla Groups Terror Groups And Resistance Fighters" 09 February 2022. Web.30 June. 2022. <>

"Guerrilla Groups Terror Groups And Resistance Fighters", 09 February 2022, Accessed.30 June. 2022,

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