Explores the definitions and typologies of terrorism

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Reference no: EM13839132

Terrorism, Crime and Public Policy

Terrorism, Crime and Public Policy, explores the concept of terrorism by examining the meaning of terrorism and questioning the many different interpretations of the label. In order to understand terrorism, the author explores the definitions and typologies of terrorism.

"The common modern usage of the term, developed in the mid-twentieth century, regards terrorism as a tool of ethnic and religious fanatics to serve political ends, such as liberation from an alien occupying group, or simply to exact righteous vengeance against a group labeled as a threat or enemy" (Forst, 2007, p. 3).

The article goes on to explore the different definitions, and defining characteristics, such as cell-based networks, political motivation, religious ideology, and the targeting of noncombatants. A large part of terrorism is creating and utilizing fear. The article suggest that managing the population's general fear of terrorism may be more effective than targeting terrorists themselves (Forst, 2007). The article goes on to discuss different viewpoints regarding what terrorism truly is, whether it is a tactic or an ideology.

Forst identifies categories that nearly all acts of terrorism and terrorist groups fit into which help distinguish between the different types of terrorists, terrorist groups, and terrorist acts:

whether or not politically motivated
whether or not operating under state authority
degree of association with larger terrorist organizations or networks
extent of organization and planning
whether justified in religious or ethnic terms
whether aimed primarily at people or at symbolic targets
the types of people targeted

I found this article interesting, and found the exercise of examining the different definitions of terrorism useful. The author's categories designed for distinguishing between terror related incidents and groups is an interesting tool for examining the differences between terrorist organizations and actors. Personally, I generally attribute the label terrorism to any violent or destructive act, which is primarily motivated by extremist religious or political beliefs. I view terrorism strictly as an ideology, although it is technically possible for entities to utilize terrorism as a tactic, I believe that to carry out acts of terrorism, one must be driven by an extremist ideology.


Forst, B. (2007). Terrorism, crime and public policy. Conference Papers -- American Society of Criminology, 1. Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.contentproxy.phoenix.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=72734957-7b53-4e10-a1de-1ae2f4e8aeff%40sessionmgr4001&vid=1&hid=4106

Reference no: EM13839132

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