69 million page views

The Terrorism Scale

Reader comment on item: [Beslan Atrocity:] They're Terrorists - Not Activists

Submitted by David Guy (Israel), Sep 8, 2004 at 12:40

Dear Mr. Pipes,
I have always objected to the concept that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Rather than attempting to define the term and running into P.O.V. issues I prefer to put the 'act' on a direct military objective scale. The greater number of degrees of separation the action is from a direct military objective, the more likely is it to be a terrorist act.

At one end is the acceptable military action. I describe this as uniformed soldiers, operating on behalf of a state, killing each other for an objectively military purpose e.g. capturing a strategic hill.

At the other end is the terrorist action. I use the Bali Bombing as my extreme example. Javanese Muslims operating in a Hindu area kill Australian tourists and local Balinese service personnel while inspired by a Saudi Arabian (Osama bin Laden) living in Afganistan. The declared purpose of the action is to force the Americans out of Saudi Arabian Territory.

I count eight degrees of separation. If we allow for the mandatory protest about Israel in the 'occupied territories' then the separation is nine degrees.

Beslan - Chechen rebels and non-chechen supporters kill non-combatant Ossetians close to Chechnya but outside the borders to protest Russian actions in Chechnya. The apparent reason is to start a civil war between Chechnyans and Ossetians. Non-Chechnyans are inspired by a Saudi Arabian - Osama bin Laden and apparently are protesting American action in Iraq which Russia opposes. I count six degrees of sparation for Chechnyans and nine degrees for the non-Chechnyans.

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2024 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum.Daniel J. Pipes

(The MEF is a publicly supported, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax-ID 23-774-9796, approved Apr. 27, 1998.

For more information, view our IRS letter of determination.)