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Defining terrorism

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

Submitted by Bjorn Merker (Sweden), Sep 8, 2004 at 14:18

Dear Daniel Pipes: I appreciated your reflections on media reluctance to call terrorism terrorism. I do, however, think we can easily do better than an "I-know-it-when-I-see-it" definition of the phenomenon. Terrorism is a matter of the means employed to reach a public objective. When those means include the deliberate targeting of civilians for lethal violence, you have a clearcut and unproblematic case of terrorism. It is the means that decide the issue, and those who employ those means are terrorists. This avoids an undesirable assimilation to murder, which would make the concept lose specificity, and it obviates the nonsense about "one man's terrorist being another man's freedom fighter".
Best, Bjorn.

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