Defining Terrorism

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Submitted By ELPACUSO
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Defining terrorism is a very difficult task to do. It is so difficult to define that even the U.S. government cannot agree on one single definition “No one definition of terrorism has gained universal acceptance “(State Department, 2000). According to the National Institute of Justice “The search of a universal, precise definition of terrorism has been challenging for researches and practitioners alike” (GOV, 2013). Richard Betts, Director of the Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University states “There has never been any consensus definition of terrorism” (Libaw, 2012). Brian Jenkins states that “the problem with defining terrorism is compounded by the fact that terrorism has recently become a fad word used promiscuously and often applied to a variety of acts of violence which are not strictly terrorism by definition” (Jenkins, 1980, p. 1).
Bruce Hoffman, in his Inside Terrorism, states: “We may define terrorism as the deliberate creation and exploitation of fear through violence or the threat of violence in the pursuit of political change. It is meant to instill fear within, and thereby intimidate, a wider ‘target audience.” (Hoffman, 2006). Several U.S. governmental agencies use different definitions of terrorism for example the U.S. Department of Defense (1990) defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of, or threatened use, of force or violence against individuals or property to coerce and intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological goals” (U.S. Department of Defense, 1990). The State Departments definition holds that only sub national groups not states can commit acts of terrorism.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations (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…...

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