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Welcome to the introductory ‘Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism’ course offered here online through the International Institute for Counter- Terrorism (ICT) at Reichman University. This course will introduce you to the basics of terrorism and counter-terrorism studies, with an emphasis on understanding the theories, concepts, debates and different scholarly views associated with terrorism.

Each of the subsequent tabs features the lesson material for the course.

Today we will begin our course by discussing the definition of terrorism, the lack of official, scholarly, or internationally agreed upon definition, and how this has affected the international community and terrorism studies. Lastly, we will introduce to you a working definition of terrorism created by Prof. Boaz Ganor, and explain why this might be a useful definition for the international community to adopt.

Let us begin by asking, “What is terrorism?” As citizens of the world, no matter where you live, you have either heard about terrorist attacks, read about them in the news, or even experienced terrorism first hand.

Terrorism is not something that we are able to ignore or turn a blind eye to. However, as we broadly speak about terrorism, we must understand that not everyone in the world agrees upon what terrorism is. An example of this can be seen after the September 11th, 2001 attacks; in the United States’ media, there were commentators who were shocked by these horrific acts. In their comments they referred to the 9/11 attacks as “bad terrorism” (implying that there are no reasons to attack Americans).

However, this implies that there is such thing as “good terrorism”. What we need to understand is that there is no “good” or “bad” terrorism. Terrorism is terrorism and there is no difference. Terrorism is a strategy, in which people are using a specific type of political violence in order to achieve their political ends.

If we were to ask decision-makers worldwide what they thought the definition of terrorism was, they would probably have different answers that supported their own causes and personal interests. For example, if you were to ask President Bashar al-Assad of Syria or President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran (two states that support terrorism) or even Ayman al- Zawahiri (the leader of al Qaeda), they would all condemn terrorism, despite the fact that the citizens of Western countries refer to them as the ultimate supporters ofterrorism, or even terrorists themselves.

In 1996, inthe midst of the Oslo Accords, Israel was plagued by a wave of suicide attacks. Concerned that the escalated level of hostility would stop the peace process, the international community decided to join forces and show their support and solidarity for Israel during this time of violence.

Traveling to Sharm el-Sheikh, leaders from around the world came and took part in the “Summit of Peacemakers” in March 1996. At the end of the conference, leaders from around the world came and held their hands together showing that the international community was united against

terror. However, if you were to ask each of those leaders to define terrorism, each would probably do so in a different way, and each would designate different organizations as terrorist organizations.

As we have no internationally agreed upon definition of terrorism, a common occurrence in the international community has been to designate a group as a terrorist organization if it carries out operations against you and/or your allies. However, if another group is carrying out the exact same operations against your enemies, suddenly, that group is not a terrorist organization in your eyes. An example of this can be seen with the Russian government; while the Russians are quick to define the separatist Chechen groups as terrorists, they would not necessarily define Hamas as terrorists. Furthermore, while the Turkish government defines the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as terrorists, they would not define Hezbollah as terrorists, despite the fact that both organizations carried out similar types of activities.

Do We Need a Definition?

There are two subject matters in regards to terrorism which many states and individuals in the international community agree upon. First, they argue, that there is no and will never be an internationally approved definition of terrorism. Secondly, many decision-makers and scholars would say that because we can fight terrorism without necessarily agreeing on the definition of terrorism, coming to an internationally agreed upon definition is therefore unnecessary.

In fact, this lack of an agreed upon definition has not stopped legislation that fights terrorism from using the word in its resolutions. For example, if one were to look at some of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions that regard terrorism, they refer to the term without necessarily defining what terrorism actually is. UN Security Council Resolution 1373, for example, adopted in 2001, created steps and strategies to combat international terrorism, all without defining terrorism.[1] Rather, resolutions regarding terrorism will jointly agree that a certain type of activity, which is attributed to terrorism, should be forbidden. For example, there are specific United Nations Security Council Resolutions that forbid: hijacking airplanes[2], blowing up airplanes[3], and taking hostages to name a few[4]. Those who criticize the effort to reach an internationally agreed on definition, use these United Nations Security Council Resolutions as an example, claiming that a definition is not necessary because the international community agrees on the fact that the activities the terrorists are doing is forbidden. However, if the international community decides that terrorism is a specific act, for example kidnapping, hijacking, or suicide attacks, they are creating a broader definition of terrorism than what the action really is. For example, if a person were to kidnap children for ransom, under the definition created by the United Nations Security Council that kidnapping is forbidden. This demonstrates the dangers of a broad definition of terrorism: these actions have nothing to do with political goals, which are an important aspect to the concept of terrorism.

Many, including those who partake in combat, see the question of the definition of terrorism as a theoretical one; “when you are being shot at, you are not asking theoretical questions”. However, despite these criticisms, reaching an internationally agreed upon definition is actually very practical. The question of the definition of terrorism is one of the best examples of how the international academic community can and should contribute to the international debate.

How can one fight terrorism effectively without a definition of terrorism? While we can claim, for example, that suicide attacks should be forbidden, without a working definition how can we argue that membership to a terrorist organization should also be forbidden? How can we prosecute members, supporters and inciters of terrorism without a working definition? How can we act together in the international community against state-sponsored terrorism if we don’t agree on what is terrorism? And how can we claim that being a terrorist or conducting terrorist activity is illegitimate without agreeing what a terrorist is?

The international community is facing a paradox, not only do they not have an internationally agreed upon definition, but there too many definitions of terrorism[5] exist. Furthermore, every head of state or organization is able to define terrorism in a manner that best suit and serve their personal agenda. Therefore, states are able to define anyone or anything as a terrorist or terrorist organization, based on their political calculations and their own personal interests.

In the book “Political Terrorism” written by Dr. Alex Schmid and Albert Jongman, the authors try to analyze the scholarly reaction to the subject matter of the definition of terrorism. In order to carry out their research, the authors gave a questionnaire and conducted a poll within the scholarly community. Schmid and Jongman asked what definition of terrorism researchers were using and what the key ingredients the definition required were. Results showed that scholars referred to 109 definitions which Schmid and Jongman broke down in twenty-two categories. The categories, in declining order of frequency were[6]:

Element Frequency
1. Violence, force 83.5%
2. Political 65%
3. Fear, terror emphasized 51%
4. Threat 47%
5. (Psych.) effects (and anticipated) reactions 41.5%
6. Victim-target differentiation 37.5%
7. Purposive, planned, systematic, organization action 32%
8. Methods of combat, strategy, tactic 30.5%
9. Extranormality, in breach of accepted rules without humanitarian constraints 30%
10. Coercion, extortion, induction of compliance 28%
11. Publicity aspect 21.5%
12. Arbitrariness; impersonal, random, character; indiscrimination 21%
13. Civilians, noncombatants, neutrals, outsiders as victims 17.5%
14. Intimidation 17%
15. Innocence of victims emphasized 15.5%
16. Group, movement, organization as perpetrator 14%
17. Symbolic aspect, demonstration to others 13.5%
18. Incalculability, unpredictability, unexpectedness of occurrence of violence 9%
19. Clandestine, covert nature 9%
20. Repetitiveness; serial or campaign character of violence 7%
21. Criminal 6%
22. Demands made on third parties 4%

At the end of their exercise Schmid and Jongman suggested the following definition: “Terrorism is a method of combat in which random or symbolic victims serve as an instrumental target of violence. These instrumental victims share group or class characteristics which form the basis for their selection for victimization. Through previous use of violence or the credible threat of violence other members of that group or class are put in a slate of chronic fear (terror). This group or class, whose members’ sense of security is purposefully undermined, is the target of terror. The victimization of the target of violence is considered extranormal by most observers from the witnessing audience on the basis of its atrocity, the time (e.g. peacetime) or place (not a battlefield) of victimization, or the disregard for rules of combat accepted in conventional warfare. The norm violation creates an attentive audience beyond the target of terror; sectors of this audience might in turn form the main object of manipulation. The purpose of this indirect method of combat is either to immobilize the target of terror in order to produce disorientation and/or compliance, or to mobilize secondary targets of demands (e.g. a government) or targets of attention (e.g. public opinion) to changes of attitude or behavior favoring the short or long-term interests of the users of this method”[7].

Please keep in mind, that we are unable to define a terrorist organization, until we have a definition of terrorism. For example, it’s impossible togo to the international community and say “stopETAor the IRA from recruiting and fundraising in your territory as they are a terrorist organization.” If there was an internationally agreed upon definition of terrorism, it would be easier to convince others of which organizations are terrorist organizations and which are not.

There are certain questions that need to be asked when searching for a definition. Should the term terrorism refer only to what sub-state actors and organizations are doing? Should terrorism also be used in defining atrocities that are being conducted by states? Where lays the difference between terrorism and regular criminal activity? Is it ever legitimate to use terrorism? If so, under what circumstances can one regard terrorism as a legitimate tactic?

When trying to define terrorism, one needs to be aware and differentiate between specific types of political violence. Political violence can be terrorism, guerilla warfare, violent political protests or other forms of activities. One needs to identify where the border lies in differentiating between types of political violence, as some tactics listed above are not specifically terrorism.

The Scale of Legitimacy

The question of terrorism as a legitimate tactic can clearly be seen in a lecture given by President Hafez al-Assad of Syria, the father of the current president. President Assad, in a November 1986 speech to the participants in the 21st Convention of Workers Unions in Syria, said the following: “We have always opposed terrorism. But terrorism is one thing and a national struggle against occupation is another. We are against terrorism… Nevertheless, we support the struggle against occupation waged by national liberation movements.”[8]

President Assad of Syriais not the only leader to mix the concepts of “terrorism” and “national liberation”. At the fifth Islamic summit meeting in Kuwait, at the beginning of 1987, aresolution was read that stated: “the conference reiterates its absolute faith in the need to distinguish the brutal and unlawful terrorist activities perpetrated by individuals, by groups, or by states, from the legitimate struggle of oppressed and subjugated nations against foreign occupation of any kind. This struggle is sanctioned by heavenly law, by human values, and by international conventions.”[9]

The foreign and interior ministers of the Arab League reiterated this position at their April 1998 meeting in Cairo. In a document entitled “Arab Strategy in the Struggle against Terrorism,” they emphasized that violent activities aimed at “liberation and self determination” are not in the category of terrorism, whereas hostile activities against regimes or families of rulers will not be considered political attacks but rather criminal assaults.[10]

On the other end of the political spectrum, we can look at a quote by Senator Henry Jackson of Washington’s 2nd District. Jackson said “the idea that one person’s ‘terrorist’ is another person’s ‘freedom fighter’ cannot be sanctioned. Freedom fighters or revolutionaries don’t blow up buses containing non-combatants; terrorist murders do. Freedom fighters don’t set out to capture and slaughter school children; terrorist murderers do. It is a disgrace that democracies would allow the treasured word ‘freedom’ to be associated with acts of terrorism.”[11] The problem that emerges is the false assumption that there exists a scale of legitimacy.

This imaginary scale places terrorism on one side of the spectrum as illegitimate, and places a national liberation struggle on the other side of the spectrum, and calls it legitimate. Even those, who claim to stand against terrorism, are falling into this trap of a legitimization scale.

A problem arises, however, for even if there is a definition of freedom fighters, can one attribute acts of terrorism to those who call themselves freedom fighters? This problem can be seen in action in the war prior to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. During this time period, there were three main Jewish underground movements, the Irgun, the Hagana, and the Lehi. The Lehi, an acronym for the “Fighters for the Freedom of Israel”, also known as the Stern Gang, claimed, as can be seen in their name, to be freedom fighters. However, this smallest Jewish underground movement, compared to all other organizations operating during this time, was the most radical and violent, and used acts of terrorism in order to obtain their political goals. In other words, Lehi, unlike the biggest Jewish underground (The Hagana) was conducting deliberate attacks against Palestinian civilians.

One of the main problems facing the international community can be clearly seen in the slogan “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”. This statement lets terrorist and their supporters to argue that since they believe they are freedom fighters they cannot being regarded as terrorists. However, as you will learn today, this is clearly wrong!

A Criminal Act or an Act of War?

A further problem plaguing the international community is whether to define terrorism as a criminal act or as an act of war. According to the definition of war by Carl von Clausewitz, a Prussian military theorist, War is not merely a political act, but also a political instrument, a continuation of political relations, a carrying out of the same by other means.”[12] In this sense, war is merely a continuation of politics, and under this definition, terrorism as a strategy of political violence could be classified as a type of war, making military means, including the army, an acceptable manner to fight terrorism.

However, although many terrorist organizations publicly declare a war on their enemy states, it is not widely accept that terrorism is a type of war, and many refer to terrorism as a type of crime. If one were to refer to terrorism as a crime, then law enforcement, such as the police, should be used as the main tool to combat terrorism. In reality, terrorism is both a type of war and a criminal act. To take it a step further, one could argue that terrorism is a war crime. Terrorism is a splinter group in a new breed in the evolution of modern warfare. Terrorism is a war due to the scope of the threat that it presents. For example, we can see the mass destruction and death that came out of the 9/11 attacks. This mass destruction is miniaturized compared to the threat of terrorists using non-conventional weapons (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear).

Additionally, cases exist in which terrorist activity, the terrorist act, and the terrorist organizations themselves are being misused by states as a tool in their own political ambitions. These states are conducting wars between themselves without fear of deteriorating into a regular war by using terrorist organizations to carry out their actions. For example,SyriaandIranuse Hezbollah to control politics inLebanonand its relations with Israel. However, the way in which terrorism is being conducted is turning a blind eye to the rules and regulations of war, hence, making it at the same time a crime.

There is a need to differentiate between the terrorist organizations and the terrorists themselves. A terrorist, could be aligned with an organization: Alternatively, terrorists can be “homegrown”, a member of a local network and not part of any particular organization. On the other hand, terrorist organizations might use terrorism as one tool in their basket and plan, initiate and execute terrorist attacks with political goals and calculated strategies.

Definition of Terrorism:

In war, there are two types of warfare: symmetric and asymmetric warfare. Symmetric warfare refers to a war between two states and their respective armies; it does not matter that one army or state might be stronger than the other, for at least there are two state entities involved. Asymmetric warfare is a war between a state and a non-state actor. The international community, through international law, has defined that under certain conditions symmetric war between states is permitted. This idea has been translated into laws of war in International Humanitarian Law, The Geneva Conventions and the Protocols of The Hague: While these laws are not fool-proof, they represent a high level of achievement in international law.

Another facet of Humanitarian Law is that it differentiates between two types of people in a war situation; civilians and combatants. According to international law the deliberate use of violence aimed or used against civilians at a time of war is forbidden. This is the most fundamental idea of a war crime. However, when a soldier deliberately attacks another soldier in a time of war, this might be permitted as long as it is being conducted under the laws of war (Jus-in-bello). The international community needs to adopt the same moral concepts that we applied to symmetrical warfare to asymmetrical warfare. There should be nothing legitimate about a deliberate attack on civilians.

If we were to apply the moral concept to asymmetrical warfare as we do to symmetrical warfare, we would find ourselves in a situation in which we would have to distinguish between two types.

Terrorism, according to Prof. Ganor, is the “deliberate use of violence, aimed against civilians, in order to achieve political ends”. On the other hand, guerilla warfare is defined as the “deliberate use of violence aimed against military targets, in order to achieve political ends.”

Thus, create a clear distinction between different types of military activities, Terrorism and Guerilla Warfare This definition deliberately omits the word “innocent” when referring to civilians. Since the word “innocent” is a subjective term therefore, it has no place in an international definition of terrorism.

Ends and Means in Asymmetrical Warfare:

Terrorism is no more and no less a mean by which to achieve a political goal. These political goals can be anything or any number of things including: nationalistic, separatist, revolutionary, extreme ideologies (communism, fascism, and anarchy), socio-economic goals, religious political goals, etc. An example of a political-religious goal can be seen in al-Qaeda. While some would argue that al-Qaeda’s goals are purely religious, this is not exactly so. Al-Qaeda’s ultimate goal as a global jihad movement is to spread their version of Islam all over the world and to change political systems and political regimes in order create local and global Islamic Caliphate states that will be run by the Sharia law; making their goals both religious and political.

However, Terrorism and Guerilla Warfare are not mutually exclusive. A situation could arise in which the same organization might act sometimes as a terrorist organization when it attacks civilians and at the same time can act as a guerilla organization when it attacks military personnel. In fact, the same person under this definition might sometimes be defined as a terrorist (when attacking civilians) and at other times be defined as a guerilla warrior (when attacking a military patrol). This distinction is based on applying the same moral concept that international community already agrees on, and applying it to asymmetrical warfare.

As we begin to study the definition of terrorism provided by Prof. Ganor, let us look at other definitions of terrorism. First of all, we will examine the US State Department definition. According to the US State Department, terrorism is the “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.” This definition emphasizes the idea of “non-combatants” rather than civilians; According to the US State Department “for purposes of this definition, the term “noncombatant” is interpreted to include, in addition to civilians, military personnel who at the time of the incident are unarmed or not on duty.” For example, the US State Department sees the attack on the USS Cole inYemen in 2000 to be a terrorist attack. However, this does not fall under the framework of our working definition. Furthermore, theUS sees an attack on an American convoy on a way to a base inIraq, or even an attack on a base itself to be a terrorist attack. According to Prof. Ganor’s definition, this is guerilla warfare.

The Muslim World League (MWL), the largest charity in Saudi Arabia, published in July 2002 “The Islamic viewpoint” on the definition of terrorism. The definition states: ”Terrorism is an outrageous attack carried out either by individuals, groups or states against the human being (his religion, life, intellect, property and honor). It includes all forms of intimidation, harm, threatening, killing without just cause…”[13] (To note, according to the MWL, if an organization is carryout these actions with a just cause, all of the above becomes permissible). Another clause in the definition is titled: “In Islam, Jihad is ordained to uphold right, repel injustice and establish justice, peace, security and clemency, with which the Prophet (peace be on him) was sent to take mankind out of darkness into light. More specifically, Jihad has been ordained to eliminate all forms of terrorism, and to defend the homeland against occupation, plunder and colonialism.”[14] This definition is a problematic example that mixes between terrorism as an illegitimate modus operandi in which there is a forbidden use of violence aimed against civilians and so called “just causes” and legitimate goals. This definition once again point out the cliché that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter a cliché that is mixing between goals and modus operandi.

Let us look at other academics in the field. According to David C. Rapaport, “the traditional distinguishing characteristic of the terrorist was his explicit refusal to accept the conventional moral limits which defined military and guerrilla action.”[15] Walter Laqueur writes: “Urban terrorism is not a new stage in guerrilla war, but differs from it in essential respects, and [that] it is also heir to a different tradition.”[16] Furthermore, Samuel Huntington argues that “guerrilla warfare is a form of warfare by which the strategically weaker side assumes the tactical offensive in selected forms, times and places. Guerrilla warfare is the weapon of the weak.”[17]

Now, let us apply Prof. Ganor’s definition of terrorism to Israel. If there was an attack on an elementary school in Tel Aviv, this would be a terrorist act. If the same organization would conduct an attack against an Israeli soldier in the battlefield, this would be guerilla warfare. Lets examine the applicability of this definition in a more complex situation: If an attack were to occur against a soldier, where he was hitchhiking back from a vacation, this would also fall under guerilla warfare as long as the attack was planned and executed deliberately to attack a soldier.

Case study – The kidnap of an Israeli soldier – Gilad Shalit

On June 25th, 2006 an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, was kidnapped by Hamas militants and was held in captivity in Gaza. According to the definition presented, the attack that occurred against Gilad Shalit’s platoon and the kidnapping of him falls into the category of a guerilla act. While Hamas was conducting many terrorist attacks in the past and there are many other war crimes and problems involved in the Gilad Shalit’s kidnapping, such as the fact that Hamas forbidden visit from a Red Cross representative, under Prof. Ganor’s definition the kidnapping itself is not an act of terrorism.

While no one in Israelagreed with what has befallen Gilad Shalit, a debate has been ongoing in Israeli society on what price should be paid to return Gilad Shalit home. There were those who believed that Israel should not negotiate with terrorists and not accept their demands to free convicted Palestinian terrorists from the jails, and there are those who believed that Israel should have paid any price to bring Gilad Shalit home. However, even for those Israelis who believe that Gilad Shalit should be brought back to Israel at any price, they probably have their own personal limit on what price they are willing to pay. And what is that price? One terrorist for one soldier? A few terrorists for one soldier? Hundreds terrorist for one soldier? Not to free terrorists who were convicted in lethal felonies? We should use the working definition of terrorism and the logic behind it when judging who and how should be freed for Gilad Shalit. The Palestinians who engage in deliberate attacks against Israeli civilians should be classified as terrorists. As such, they should be brought to court if they are captured. Once sentenced, these terrorists should serve their full sentences in jail, and should not be freed for any reason, and should not be included in any hostage exchanges. This should be done regardless of if a terrorist was convicted in lethal felonies or not, they should have to serve their full sentence. On the other end of the spectrum, those Palestinian militants who deliberately engage in attacks aimed at military personnel should be classified as guerilla warriors. If these guerilla warriors are captured, they should not be brought to court and jailed like their terrorist counterparts, rather they should go to Prisoner of War (POW) Camps. In the POW camps, these guerilla warriors will be given international humanitarian protection, as described in International Law, such as visitation rights by the Red Cross. These guerilla warriors will stay in the POW camps until one of two things happens. First, if Israel signs a peace agreement with his organization, he could be released. Secondly, if Israel has a prisoner exchange with his organization, he could be released; this would be regardless of if he has blood on this hands or not.

This is an extremely important idea that is needed to be conveyed to the terrorist organization and the states own citizens. States might be willing to pay a high price for their soldiers and their civilians, but at the same time, the state is operating on clear moral boundaries.

Will the moral differentiation between terrorism and guerilla warfare make a difference?

Criticisms exist that terrorist will continue to create definitions that play on words and will not change their world views or the targets that they choose to attack. Is this really so? Most terrorist organizations are rational actors; they conduct a rational decision-making process. This process calculates the costs and benefits of certain alternatives and allows an individual or an organization to choose the alternative that they believe is the most beneficial to them. This calculation is a subjective process that needed to be analyzed and understood from the point of view of the one who is making the calculation – in the eyes of the beholder.

Today, as the system is currently set up, there is little incentive for an individual or an organization to differentiate between civilian and military targets. In cases where a perpetrator attacks a school girl versus a soldier, the label “Terrorist” is equally applied. This loophole provides incentive to perpetrators to avoid more difficult attacks (against soldiers) and focus on easier targets, which also happen to garner more international attention.

Therefore, it is important that international community distinguish between terrorism and guerilla warfare, that reactions are generated according to this distinction, and a new set of cost-benefit alternatives will be created for terrorists. These different reactions, such as a terrorist being sentenced in a court and a guerilla warrior being sent to a POW camps, would force individuals and organizations to re-assess their cost- benefit calculations. For example, if an organization would act on a declaration to refrain from terrorism, but will continue fight and use violence against the state, they will create for themselves a different standing in the international arena, a more legitimate standing. They will be able to present themselves as legitimate militants, by refraining from a deliberate attack on civilians. This allows the organizations to present themselves in a better light when asking to recruit and fundraise in international territories.

A criticism of the working definition argues that differentiating between terrorism and guerrilla warfare, guerilla warfare may be considered legitimate by the international community in certain circumstances, although this is not the case in International Humanitarian Law.

State Terrorism vs. Non-State Terrorism:

States are not necessarily more moral than organizations, and can sometimes be involved in deliberate attacks against civilians. States can conduct therefore terrorism. But when a state does carry out deliberate attacks against civilians, this is already defined by the international community as a war crime, and as such they should be regarded as war criminals whom are prosecuted under International Humanitarian Law. As soldiers, military commanders and decision-makers should be prosecuted for war crimes when they are attacking or giving the order to deliberately attack civilians. However non-state militants should be prosecuted for terrorism when they are responsible for commiting the same felonies.

Short and to the point:

As said there are many different definitions which are being held by different states, governmental apparatuses, scholars, conventions and laws. Many of these definitions emphasize different aspects of terrorism. In general it seems that the longer the definition, the more blurred the lines become and more double meanings can be found in the wording. As said, within the framework of asymmetric warfare, war between a state and a non-state actor, there exist two types of means: terrorism or guerilla warfare. It is either one or the other. Overlap comes when one puts the goals of the organizations on top of the means. For example, instances exist in which revolutionary organizations uses terrorism in order to promote the revolution, while at the same time; the same organization uses the means of guerilla warfare to promote the revolution. There are examples of anarchists who are both terrorists and guerilla warriors. And there are examples of freedom fighters who are both terrorists and guerilla warriors, and stay freedom fighters the whole time, no matter what means they use to achieve their goals. These examples show just how subjective terms can be.

For example,


In order to answer the question, “is one man’s terrorist another man’s freedom fighter?” let us discuss one last example. Hassan Nassrallah (Secretary General of Hezbollah), and Hamas leader Ismail Haniya argue that they are not terrorists, but rather freedom fighters. The international response to such a claim should draw upon Prof. Ganor’s working definition of terrorism: What are the means you will use to fulfill your legitimate claim of freedom?

freedom fighters you might have the right to use violence against civillians. deliberately choosing to attack civilians, raises questions of legitimacy. in these cases perpetrators maybe freedom fighters, but definitely a terrorists. as previously demonstrated, there exists a difference between the means of an organization and the goals of an organization. There is no “just” or legitimate goal that justifies the deliberate use of violence aimed at civilians. The international community should not judge the goals, but rather means. The international community will never come to an agreement with the “just” cause, as this is a subjective statement. However, the international community can and should agree that even if a just cause exists, no one has the right to deliberately attack civilians. There is no just cause that can justify that kind of atrocity.

Relevant Readings

Appendix 1: Definitions of Terrorism
Ganor, Boaz. Is One Man’s Terrorist Another Man’s Freedom Fighter? The International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT)

Appendix 1: Definitions of Terrorism

United States


The PATRIOT ACT of 2001 uses the term ‘terrorism’ that is defined by Title 18 Chapter 113B, Section 2331 of the United States Code and amends it to include the following:

  • DOMESTIC TERRORISM DEFINED- Section 2331 of title 18, United States Code, is amended–

(1) in paragraph (1)(B)(iii), by striking `by assassination or kidnapping’ and inserting `by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping’;

(2) in paragraph (3), by striking `and’;

(3) in paragraph (4), by striking the period at the end and inserting `; and’; and

(4) by adding at the end the following:

(5) the term `domestic terrorism’ means activities that–

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of theUnited Statesor of any State;

(B) appear to be intended–

(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.’.

(b) CONFORMING AMENDMENT- Section 3077(1) of title 18, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:

(1) `act of terrorism’ means an act of domestic or international terrorism as defined in section 2331;’



The term ‘‘terrorism’’ means any activity that—

(A) involves an act that—

(i) is dangerous to human life or potentially

destructive of critical infrastructure or key resources; and

(ii) is a violation of the criminal laws of the United

States or of any State or other subdivision of theUnited States; and

(B) appears to be intended—

(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.


U.S. Code Of Regulations- Title 28 Section 0.85 in conjunction with Title 18 Chapter 113B, Section 2331 of the United States Code[20]


The FBI uses the definition of terrorism provided by – Title 28 Section 0.85 which states:

“the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”

Yet, the FBI makes a distinction between domestic and international terrorism[21]:

  • “Domestic terrorism is the unlawful use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual based and operating entirely within the United States or Puerto Rico without foreign direction committed against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives.”
  • “International terrorism involves violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or any state, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or any state. These acts appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or affect the conduct of a government by assassination or kidnapping. International terrorist acts occur outside the United States or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished, the persons they appear intended to coerce or intimidate, or the locale in which their perpetrators operate or seek asylum.”




The D.O.S has used the same definition since 1983: Title 22 of the United States Code, Section2656f(d)

(1) the term “international terrorism” means terrorism involving citizens or the territory of more than 1 country;

(2) the term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant* targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents;

(3) the term “terrorist group” means any group practicing, or which has significant subgroups which practice, international terrorism;

(4) the terms “territory” and “territory of the country” mean the land, waters, and airspace of the country; and

(5) the terms “terrorist sanctuary” and “sanctuary” mean an area in the territory of the country—

(A) that is used by a terrorist or terrorist organization—

(i) to carry out terrorist activities, including training, fundraising, financing, and recruitment; or

(ii) as a transit point; and

(B) the government of which expressly consents to, or with knowledge, allows, tolerates, or disregards such use of its territory and is not subject to a determination under—

(i) section 2405(j)(1)(A) of the Appendix to title 50;

(ii) section 2371(a) of this title; or

(iii) section 2780(d) of this title.

Ø  * For purposes of this definition, the term “noncombatant” is interpreted to include, in addition to civilians, military personnel who at the time of the incident are unarmed or not on duty. We [Dept of State] also consider as acts of terrorism attacks on military installations or on armed military personnel when a state of military hostilities does not exist at the site, such as bombings against US bases in Europe, the Philippines, or elsewhere.


According to the D.O.D Joint Publications of17 March 1998, the D.O.D classified terrorism as:

  • “The calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.”


According to the C.I.A., they follow the same definition for terrorism as the D.O.S. – Title 22 of the United States Code, Section2656f(d) (see D.O.S. definition)



The Anti-Terrorism Act which isCanada’s first anti-terror legislation and defines terrorism entered into the Canadian Criminal Code onDec. 18, 2001. The Anti-Terror act states in Bill C-36:

`terrorist activity” means

  • (a) an act or omission that is committed in or outside Canada and that, if committed in Canada, is one of the following offences:
  • (i) the offences referred to in subsection 7(2) that implement the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft, signed at The Hague on December 16, 1970,
  • (ii) the offences referred to in subsection 7(2) that implement the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation, signed at Montreal on September 23, 1971,
  • (iii) the offences referred to in subsection 7(3) that implement the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 14, 1973,
  • (iv) the offences referred to in subsection 7(3.1) that implement the International Convention against the Taking of Hostages, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 17, 1979,
  • (v) the offences referred to in subsection 7(3.4) or (3.6) that implement the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, done at Vienna and New York on March 3, 1980,
  • (vi) the offences referred to in subsection 7(2) that implement the Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts of Violence at Airports Serving International Civil Aviation, supplementary to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation, signed at Montreal on February 24, 1988,
  • (vii) the offences referred to in subsection 7(2.1) that implement the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, done at Rome on March 10, 1988,
  • (viii) the offences referred to in subsection 7(2.1) or (2.2) that implement the Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf, done at Rome on March 10, 1988,
  • (ix) the offences referred to in subsection 7(3.72) that implement the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 15, 1997, and
  • (x) the offences referred to in subsection 7(3.73) that implement the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1999, or
  • (b) an act or omission, in or outside Canada,
  • (i) that is committed
  • (A) in whole or in part for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause, and
  • (B) in whole or in part with the intention of intimidating the public, or a segment of the public, with regard to its security, including its economic security, or compelling a person, a government or a domestic or an international organization to do or to refrain from doing any act, whether the public or the person, government or organization is inside or outside Canada, and
  • (ii) that intentionally
  • (A) causes death or serious bodily harm to a person by the use of violence,
  • (B) endangers a person’s life,
  • (C) causes a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or any segment of the public,
  • (D) causes substantial property damage, whether to public or private property, if causing such damage is likely to result in the conduct or harm referred to in any of clauses (A) to (C), or
  • (E) causes serious interference with or serious disruption of an essential service, facility or system, whether public or private, other than as a result of advocacy, protest, dissent or stoppage of work that is not intended to result in the conduct or harm referred to in any of clauses (A) to (C),
  • and includes a conspiracy, attempt or threat to commit any such act or omission, or being an accessory after the fact or counselling in relation to any such act or omission, but, for greater certainty, does not include an act or omission that is committed during an armed conflict and that, at the time and in the place of its commission, is in accordance with customary international law or conventional international law applicable to the conflict, or the activities undertaken by military forces of a state in the exercise of their official duties, to the extent that those activities are governed by other rules of international law.


United Kingdom[26]


July 20th 2000, theUnited Kingdom revised their anti-terror legislation and created the Terrorism Act 2000. Here the definition of terrorism is proposed to be:

  • 1. –(1)In this Act “terrorism” means the use or threat of action where-

(a) the action falls within subsection (2),

(b) the use or threat is designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or

a section of the public, and

(c) the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or

ideological cause.

(2) Action falls within this subsection if it—

(a) involves serious violence against a person,

(b) involves serious damage to property,

(c) endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action,

(d) creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or

(e) is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.

(3) The use or threat of action falling within subsection (2) which involves the use of

firearms or explosives is terrorism whether or not subsection (1)(b) is satisfied.



Australiaas a Common Wealth nation has enacted several anti terror legislation, but the most recent has been the Security Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Act (2002). This act has amended the Australian Criminal Code of 1995.

Terrorism is defined as:

  • an action or threat of action that causes serious physical harm or death to a person, or endangers a person’s life or involves serious risk to public health or safety, serious damage to property or serious interference with essential electronic systems; and
  • the action is done or threat is made with the intention of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause and to coerce or influence by intimidation an Australian or foreign government or intimidate the public or a section of the public.



The French Penal Code, Article 421 Sec.1-5 discuss the types of terrorist acts as:


  • Act no. 2001-1062 of 15 November 2001 Article 33 Official Journal 16 November 2001)


The following offences constitute acts of terrorism where they are committed intentionally in connection with an individual or collective undertaking the purpose of which is seriously to disturb public order through intimidation or terror:

1° willful attacks on life, willful attacks on the physical integrity of persons, abduction and unlawful detention and also as the hijacking of planes, vessels or any other means of transport, defined by Book II of the present Code;

2° theft, extortion, destruction, defacement and damage, and also computer offences, as defined under Book III of the present Code;

3° offences committed by combat organizations and disbanded movements as defined under articles 431-13 to 431-17, and the offences set out under articles 434-6, 441-2 to 441-5;

4° the production or keeping of machines, dangerous or explosive devices, set out under article 3 of the Act of 19, June 1871 which repealed the Decree of 4 September 1870 on the production of military grade weapons;

– the production, sale, import or export of explosive substances as defined by article 6 of the Act no. 70-575 of 3 July 1970 amending the regulations governing explosive powders and substances;

– the purchase, keeping, transport or unlawful carrying of explosive substances or of devices made with such explosive substances, as defined by article 38 of the Ordinance of 18 April 1939 defining the regulations governing military equipment, weapons and ammunition;

– the detention, carrying, and transport of weapons and ammunition falling under the first and fourth categories defined by articles 4, 28, 31 and 32 of the aforementioned Ordinance;

– the offences defined by articles 1 and 4 of the Act no. 72-467 of 9 June 1972 forbidding the designing, production, keeping, stocking, purchase or sale of biological or toxin-based weapons;

– the offences referred to under articles 58 to 63 of the Act no. 98-467 of 17 June 1998 on the application of the Convention of the 13 January 1993 on the prohibition of developing, producing, stocking and use of chemical weapons and on their destruction;




Germany’s Criminal Code was last amended in 2009, but has had anti- terror legislation since the 1970’s. Article 129(a) deals with domestic terrorism; Article 129(b) deals with foreign terror organizations

(1) Whosoever forms an organization whose aims or activities are directed at the commission of

  1. murder under specific aggravating circumstances (section 211), murder (section 212) or genocide (section 6 of the Code of International Criminal Law) or a crime against humanity (section 7 of the Code of International Criminal Law) or a war crime (section 8, section 9, section 10, section11 or section 12 of the Code of International Criminal Law); or
  2. crimes against personal liberty under section 239a or section 239b,

(2) The same penalty shall be incurred by any person who forms an organization whose aims or activities are directed at

  1. causing serious physical or mental harm to another person, namely within the ambit of section 226,
  2. committing offences under section 303b, section 305, section 305a or offences endangering the general public under sections 306 to 306c or section 307(1) to (3), section 308(1) to (4), section 309(1) to (5), section 313, section 314 or section 315(1), (3) or (4), section 316b(1) or (3) or section 316c (1) to (3) or section 317(1),
  3. committing offences against the environment under section 330a(1) to (3),
  4. committing offences under the following provisions of the Weapons of War (Control) Act: section19 (1) to (3), section 20(1) or (2), section 20a(1) to (3), section 19 (2) No 2 or (3) No 2, section 20(1) or (2), or section 20a(1) to (3), in each case also in conjunction with section 21, or under section 22a(1) to (3) or 5. committing offences under section 51(1) to (3) of the Weapons Act; or by any person who participates in such a group as a member, if one of the offences stipulated in Nos 1 to 5 is intended to seriously intimidate the population, to unlawfully coerce a public authority or an international organisation through the use of force or the threat of the use of force, or to significantly impair or destroy the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a state or an international organisation, and which, given the nature or consequences


InItalyanti- terror legislation has been created in the early 70’s due to domestic criminal activity. In 2001, new anti-terror legislation was passed yet, no distinct definition of terrorism was made. In 2005, new anti-terror legislation, Law 155 Article15 inthe Italian Criminal Code was passed and defined terrorism as:

  • Conducts with the purpose of terrorism are all the conducts that, due their nature or context, can cause serious damage to a country or to an international organization and are committed in order to intimidate the population or force public authorities or international orginizations to perform or not to perform a given act, or to destabilize or destroy the fundamental policitcal, constitutional, economic and social structures of a country or of international organization, as well as any other conduct defined as terrorism, or committed for the purpose of terrorism, by conventions or other provisions of international law which are binding for Italy.




Spain does not have specific anti terror laws, but rather criminal laws that have been treated to fit terrorism as a form of aggravated crime. These crimes are mentioned in the Spanish Penal Code Article 571, passed in 1995 and then amended in 2000. The crimes which can be listed as terrorism are as follows:

that of belonging to, acting for the sake of, or collaborating with armed bands,

bodies or groups whose aim lies in subverting the constitutional order or in seriously altering public peace, by committing the following offences:

  1. Havoc or arson. It may be punished by 15-20 years prison penalty apart from the penalty that may be incurred if someone’s life or physical or mental integrity was damaged.
  2. Crimes injuring people, they may be punished by:

 20-30 years prison penalty if a person’s death is caused.

 15-20 years prison penalty if it involves loss of any organ, limb or sense; impotency; sterility; deformity; a very serious mental illness or kidnapping somebody.

10-15 year prison penalty when somebody is otherwise injured, illegally arrested or threatened. If the victim is a member of any of the State legal, governmental, military or police bodies, then the penalty will be increased by at least half of the normal penalty.

  1. Arms possession and stockpiling may be punished by 6-10 year prison penalty.
  2. Any other offence which is aimed at subverting the constitutional order or breaking the public peace. These offences may be punished by its corresponding penalty as established in the Spanish Criminal Code, increased by at least half of the normal penalty.




Turkey’s anti terrorism legislation was issued 1991, Act No. 3713 in conjunction with the Turkish Penal Code.

Article 1. (1) Terrorism is any kind of act done by one or more persons belonging to an organization with the aim of changing the characteristics of the Republic as specified in the Constitution, its political, legal, social, secular and economic system, damaging the indivisible unity of the State with its territory and nation, endangering the existence of the Turkish State and Republic, weakening or destroying or seizing the authority of the State, eliminating fundamental rights and freedoms, or damaging the internal and external security of the State, public order or general health by means of pressure, force and violence, terror, intimidation, oppression or threat.

(2) An organization for the purposes of this Law is constituted by two or more persons coming together for a common purpose.

(3) The term “organization” also includes formations, associations, armed associations, gangs or armed gangs as described in the Turkish Penal Code and in the provisions of special laws.

Russian Federation[33]


TheRussian Federation’s definition of terrorism is defined in Section IX, Chapter 24 Article 205. This Federal Law was amended onJuly 21, 2004.

  1. Terrorism, that is, the perpetration of an explosion, arson, or any other action endagering the lives of people, causing sizable property damage, or entailing other socially dangerous consequences, if these actions have been committed for the purpose of violating public security, frightening the population, or exerting influence on decision-making by governmental bodies, and also the threat of committing said actions for the same ends, shall be punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term of eight to twelve years.
  2. The same deeds committed:
  3. a) by a group of persons in a preliminary conspiracy;
  4. b) abolished
  5. c) with the use of firearms

shall be punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term of ten to twenty years.

  1. Deeds stipulated in the first or second part of this Article, if they have been committed by an organized group or have involved by negligence the death of a person, or any other grave consequences, and also are associated with infringement on objects of the use of atomic energy or with the use of nuclear materials, radioactive substances or sources of radioactive radiation, shall be punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term of fifteen to twenty years or by deprivation of liberty for life.
  • * Note: A person who has taken part in the preparation of an act of terrorism shall be released from criminal responsibility if he facilitated the prevention of the act of terrorism by timely warning governmental bodies, or by any other method, unless the actions of this person contain a different corpus delicti.




The Indian Prevention of Terrorism Act of 2002, replaced the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) of 2001. This Act gives the stated definition for a terrorist act.

(1) Whoever,—

(a) with intent to threaten the unity, integrity, security or sovereignty of India or to strike terror in the people or any section of the people does any act or thing by using bombs, dynamite or other explosive substances or inflammable substances or firearms or other lethal weapons or poisons or noxious gases or other chemicals or by any other substances (whether biological or otherwise) of a hazardous nature or by any other means whatsoever, in such a manner as to cause, or likely to cause, death of, or injuries to any person or persons or loss of, or damage to, or destruction of, property or disruption of any supplies or services essential to the life of the community or causes damage or destruction of any property or equipment used or intended to be used for the defense of India or in connection with any other purposes of the Government of India, any State Government or any of their agencies, or detains any person and threatens to kill or injure such person in order to compel the Government or any other person to do or abstain from doing any act;

(b) is or continues to be a member of an association declared unlawful under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (37 of 1967), or voluntarily does an act aiding or promoting in any manner the objects of such association and in either case is in possession of any unlicensed firearms, ammunition, explosive or other instrument or substance capable of causing mass destruction and commits any act resulting in loss of human life or grievous injury to any person or causes significant damage to any property, commits a terrorist act.




On February 19th 2007, the Philippine government passed a law condemning terrorism and making it a crime. The measured was enacted into law onMarch 7, 2007 and it is called: “The Human Security Act of2007.” Republic Act 9372 Sec. 3 states that:

Terrorism.– Any person who commits an act punishable under any of the following provisions of the Revised Penal Code:

  1. Article 122 (Piracy in General and Mutiny in the High Seas or in the Philippine Waters);
  2. Article 134 (Rebellion or Insurrection);
  3. Article 134-a (Coup d’ Etat), including acts committed by private persons;
  4. Article 248 (Murder);
  5. Article 267 (Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention);
  6. Article 324 (Crimes Involving Destruction), or under
  7. Presidential Decree No. 1613 (The Law on Arson);
  8. Republic Act No. 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act of 1990);
  9. Republic Act No. 5207, (Atomic Energy Regulatory and Liability Act of 1968);
  10. Republic Act No. 6235 (Anti-Hijacking Law);
  11. Presidential Decree No. 532 (Anti-Piracy and Anti-Highway Robbery Law of 1974); and,
  12. Presidential Decree No. 1866, as amended (Decree Codifying the Laws on Illegal and Unlawful Possession, Manufacture, Dealing in, Acquisition or Disposition of Firearms, Ammunitions or Explosives)

thereby sowing and creating a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace, in order to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand shall be guilty of the crime of terrorism and shall suffer the penalty of forty (40) years of imprisonment, without the benefit of parole as provided for under Act No. 4103, otherwise known as the Indeterminate Sentence Law, as amended.


[1] Press Release. SC/7158. 4385th Meeting (Night) Resolution 1373 (2001)

[2] UN Security Council Resolution 286

[3] The Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation, concluded at Montreal on 23 September 1971

[4] The International Convention against the Taking of Hostages, adopted in New York on 17 December 1979.

[5] See Appendix 1: Definitions of Terrorism

[6] Schmid, Jongman et al. Political terrorism: a new guide to actors, authors, concepts, data bases, theories, and literature. Amsterdam: North Holland, Transaction Books, 1988, P. 5-6

[7] Ibid. P. 1-2

[8]Tishrin, (Arabic) Syria, November 17, 1986.

[9] Al-Anba’a (Arabic), Kuwait, January 30, 1987

[10] Haaretz (Hebrew), April 21, 1998.

[11] Senator Jackson as quoted in Benyamin Netanyahu’s book Terrorism: How the West Can Win, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1986

[12] Clausewitz, Carl von. On War. 1832

[13] Quoted in: Weisburd, David, et. al. To Protect and to Serve: Policing in an Age of Terrorism, Springer, 2009

[14] Ibid.

[15] Alex P. Schmidt, Political Terrorism (SWIDOC, Amsterdam and Transaction Books, 1984) p. 44

[16] Walter Laqueur, The Age of Terrorism (Boston-Toronto: Little Brown, 1987), p. 1

[17] Walter Laqueur, Guerrilla Warfare, a Historical and Critical Study (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, London, 1977), p. 39















[32] – (Turkish Penal Code)




Goals of a Terrorist Organization

For the purpose of defining terrorism, the type of goal sought is irrelevant (so long as the goal is political). The terrorist and the guerrilla fighter may have the exact same aims, but they choose different means to accomplish them. Among the political aims that different organizations (both terrorist organizations and guerrilla movements) seek to achieve are: national liberation (liberating territory from an occupying power) Separatism (separating from a state and having self determination); revolution (changing the government); and changing the prevalent socio-economic system. Extreme ideologies can also motivate terrorist organizations; these include Nazism, Fascism, Communism, and Anarchism. Furthermore, an organizations religious’ goals can also evolve into political goals; this might occur when the religious goals are highly connected to concrete political aims. For example, a terrorist organization whose religious goal is to create an Islamic Caliphate state would have a tangible political aim of changing the regimes in Arab and Muslim countries.

State Terrorism

Can states conduct terrorism? States are not necessarily more moral than organizations and they are capable of carrying out the same or greater atrocities as terrorist organizations. When a state deliberately commits attacks against civilians at times of war and violations of the laws or customs of war, this is defined as a war crime. When a state murders, exterminates, enslaves, or commits other inhumane acts against any civilian population, before or during a war this might be considered a crime against humanity. Therefore there is no need to use the term terrorism to describe atrocities which are carried out by states. Although individuals might also be prosecuted for war crimes or crimes against humanity, defining these atrocities which are being committed by non state actors – Individuals, networks or terrorist organizations is much more complicated. The equivalent therefore of the state’s war crime or crime against humanity is the organization’s terrorist activity.

Some scholars have underestimated the importance that states play in modern terrorism. These scholars argue that terrorism today revolves networks with the fragile connections between its nodes and cells members of the organization, also known as “Homegrown Terrorism” [1] These scholars argue that in the era of terrorism networks, the importance of states in terrorism is weakened, and states play a lesser role than they used to have in the past.

In order to better understand states involvement in terrorism, the book, “Deadly Connections: States that Sponsor Terrorism” by Professor Daniel Byman, delineates the level of involvement of states in terrorism and classifies them into different levels of involvement. Professor Byman notes that, even in the modern evolution of terrorism, where the connection of the state becomes less apparent, a terrorist attack such as 9/11 could not have happened without concrete involvement, support, and shelter that was given by a specific state; Afghanistan.

According to Ray S. Cline and Yonah Alexander, state sponsored terrorism aims “to achieve strategic ends in circumstances where the use of conventional armed forces is deemed inappropriate, ineffective, too risky, or too difficult.” The threat of states involvement in terrorism is multiplied when the sponsoring state has or concurrently attempting to gain non-conventional weapon capabilities (CBRN).[2] These states show a different magnitude of threat that has never been faced before as they might someday offer non-conventional capabilities to terrorist organizations.

Today, many states are being defined as states that sponsor terrorism. The US State Department annually publishes a report that lists states that sponsor terrorism. However, unilateral decisions by the United States with regard to the aforementioned lists are inherently flawed; these lists represent on top of other things the interests of the US government and not necessarily just the true nature or level of involvement of a state in a specific terrorist attack.

Furthermore, when the U.S. government had specific interests in reference to states which are involved in terrorism they subsequently found ways to add or remove those states from designation lists according to the US interests. For example, the US has had a tumultuous relationship with Iraq. There have been times when Iraq was considered as a state that sponsors terrorism and others whenU.S. government’s interests forced them to repeal Iraq’s designation.[3] Moreover, the nature and level of involvement in terrorism by states during the time periods they were not on designation lists sometimes did not differ from the level of involvement at other times in which they were designated as states that sponsors terrorism.

It is interesting to note, that many states are reluctant to endorse the United States’ designation of states that sponsor terrorism. This leads to a perplexing situation in which a state could be defined as states supporting terrorism by the U.S. and not by the European Union for example. In order to impose the U.S. list on other states such as those in Europe, there was a suggestion for a resolution in the U.S. Congress, given by Senator Alfonse Marcello “Al” D’Amato, from New York.

The “Iran Foreign Oil Sanctions Act” to sanction foreign firms, known as the D’Amato law proposed two things: first, a primary boycott on states who sponsor terrorism and a secondary boycott on states and companies that disregard the need to boycott states that sponsor terrorism (according the US government list). The resolution stated that if a another state’s company was dealing with a state that the US designated as one who sponsors terrorism, than the US government, or American companies would be outlawed from having commercial relations with those companies that disregard the boycott. Although the House of Representatives unanimously approved the resolution in July 1996, debate was consequently raised in the International community. The US was criticized and threatened by Europe and Japan that if they were to carry through on these threats, other states would in turn create boycotts in retaliation against the US and US companies. In response, the US dropped the resolution threatening a secondary boycott.

The current concept of state sponsored terrorism is not fully understood. the international community attributes too many varieties of states and too many activities of these states, to the concept of “State Sponsored Terrorism,” without differentiating levels of involvement and activities. Furthermore, the term “State Sponsored Terrorism” has become a political weapon; rival states ascribe it to one another, and terrorist organizations use it against their enemy states.

Classification of States:

Figure 1: Classification of States

States’ involvement in terrorism requires a concrete and clear classification. The categorization presented, breaks down state involvement of terrorism into two distinct categories: the level of state involvement in terrorism (actions attributed to the state), and the classification of the state itself.The pyramid shape is the best to exemplify the classification (Figure 1), as they support the description of hierarchy involved in each stage of involvement, and level of support given by the organization. As a state climbs each step in the hierarchy of the pyramid, it is more involved and intertwined with terrorist activity. Usually if a state is participating or is involved at a higher level of support on the pyramid, than it is involved in all the lower levels of support as well.

The pyramid not only describes the hierarchy, but also describes the magnitude and capacity of the activity. Climbing the pyramid is climbing into more in depth involvement and specific links with terrorist attacks. The higher the level on the pyramid, the more the state involvement is critical to the heart of the terrorist attack. Furthermore, the higher you move up on the pyramid, the less number of states are usually involved.

Terrorism Supporting State:

The lowest and most basic classification of a state involvement in terrorism is “Terrorism Supporting State” (Figure 1). A terrorism supporting state is defined as a state that operates in one or several of the following levels of state involvement in terrorism: inciting, indoctrinating, giving financial support, giving military support, supplying weapons, providing training, or operational and intelligence support.

The most basic and lowest level on a pyramid (see Figure 2: Classification of States) consists of incitement, and ideological indoctrination. These activities pursue people to join the terrorist organizations and offer them justifications in doing so. This most basic involvement of state supporting terrorism can be seen clearly in two examples.

Throughout the 1970s, there was a string of communist terrorism attacks worldwide. The former USSR sent indoctrinators into different countries and different organizations in order to incite them and used the communist ideology to motivate their proxies to launch terrorist attacks. An example of a terrorist organization that has been influenced and motivated by the USSR and the communist ideologies in the 70’s is the PFLP – the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. A more recent example can be seen in the Iranian relationship with Hezbollah. Iran sent indoctrinators to Hezbollah in Lebanon to give them spiritual, religious and ideological guidance and to motivate them to conduct terrorist activities[4].

The next level on the hierarchical pyramid is the financial support of terrorism by a state. Under this category, states directly transfer significant sums of money to terrorist organizations, sometimes reaching to tens of hundreds of millions of dollars a year. The amount of monetary support given by the state reflects its wealth, the importance of terrorism in its foreign and internal policies, and the level of cooperation with the respective organization. Examples of states giving financial support to terrorist organization can be seen in the former USSR, Saudi Arabia, Syria[5], and Iran.

In addition to or in place of financial support, a state might contribute military support. Military support can be given by a state in one of two ways: Through weapons and/or through training.Weapons given to an organization come in a variety of types ranging from small arms to heavy weapons – from guns, machine guns and hand grenades up to cannons, missiles and tanks and aircrafts. Two of the most active states in giving military support to terrorist organizations have been in the recent years Iran and Syria. The military training can be handled in two different ways.In some cases the supporting state sent trainers to the terrorist organization and the trainer trained the terrorists in their own territory. In other cases the state invited the organization trainees to come and train with the state’s regular army within different capacities such as infantry, air force, and navy. For instance, Hassan Salame(a Hamas leader responsible for several suicide attacks in Israel, who was arrested in mid-1996) reported that he had trained in Iran. His disclosure confirmed many accounts of an extensive military and operational training network in Iranian facilities for members of terrorist organizations and extremist groups from all over the world. The military support is generally given to organizations that are creating their own militias and small armies.

The highest-level terrorist supporting state refers to a state that offers operational support. In this case, a state gives concrete intelligence information that is needed for the terrorist organization to carry out the terrorist attack or other operational support such as – consternated documents, safe houses, safe transferring services via secured diplomatic deployments, etc.

In the four levels of above, the state supports the terrorist on-going activity (and not necessarily a specific terrorist act) because the state and the organization have a mutual interest, or the state believes that the organization is supporting and promoting said state’s interests. While receiving support from a state the organizations are able to conduct terrorist attacks in the manner in which they feel will best promote their own interests. However, the initiation of the activity remains in the hands of the terrorist organization itself, while the state is just playing a supporting role in the activities.

Weak states

Some states are trying to repel the claims of being a terrorism supporting state by arguing that the terrorist organizations are misusing their hospitality. The state claims that their military and security forces are too weak to contend with the terrorist organizations and prevent their activity in their territory. The argument that a state can be too weak to stop terrorists from using its territory for planning, preparing and conducting terrorist attacks is misleading. If a state is truly too weak to defend itself, it has an ability to turn to a neighbor or a stronger state to ask for help. For example, Lebanon nowadays is too weak to contend with Hezbollah. Hezbollah military arm which is backed up by Iran is probably stronger then the Lebanese army and Hezbollah political apparatuses are totally embedded in and even control Lebanon political institutions. However, the reason Lebanon became too weak in the first place was because they were reluctant to deal with Hezbollah when it was just a small organization operating within their territory. Even if Lebanon were to say that their state is too weak to disarm Hezbollah, other options exist; for example, they could have turned to Syria, the Arab League, the USA or even France for help. Rather than ignoring the issue, states deal with the problem, only if they are exploiting all the options to contend with the terrorist organization and fails, only then they can claim that they should not be held responsible for the terrorist organization activities in their territory.

Terrorism Initiating State:

In the second and higher level of classifications of states are states that initiate terrorism. In this level of involvement, that state is initiating and / or directing the terrorist attacks. Terrorist organizations do not initiate their own activity. In the terrorism initiating level, the responsibility of the state and its involvement in the terrorist acts is much deeper than in previous level. Here, since the initiation of the attack comes from the state, without that direct initiation there might not be a terrorist attack.

One of the best examples of state initiating and directing terrorism can be seen in the 1985 Anne-Marie Murphy case. In this case, an Irish woman lived with a Palestinian man (Nizar Hindawi) in Ireland and conceived a child. Hindawi told Murphy that he wanted to marry her, and he sent her to meet his family in Palestine. Hindawi bought his girlfriend a one-way ticket to Israel on an EL AL flight and packed her suitcase for her. Telling her that he had business to take care of in Britain and he would come and join her in Palestine where they would get married. Anne-Marie Murphy arrived at the check-in desk and was asked the normal barrage of questions by EL AL security. During the questioning, security personnel got suspicious due to her answers. When security searched her suitcase, agents found a bomb that was set to explode mid-air. Anne-Marie Murphy was not aware of this and had been fooled into carrying the bomb. When Hindawi was arrested, it was found that the attack had been initiated and directed by a Syrian Air Force Intelligence General. When he was imprisoned in England, Hindawi tried to smuggle out a message to the Syrian General, asking to carry out more hijackings and bombings in order to free him. As an outcome of this incident, England had cut their diplomatic relations with Syria for a period of time.


Some people wonder if targeted killings should be also considered as state initiating terrorism: however, it is the prerogative of the state to attack its enemy even if the enemy is not a state but a terrorist organization as long as the attack is against the organization’s military personnel or targets. This prerogative to conduct a preventive military strike is only limited in cases of possible collateral damage. So, there is legitimate reciprocity, (as noted in chapter A – the definition of terrorism) – both sides have the legitimacy to deliberately attack enemy military personal or targets (not just in a combat situation) and should refrain from deliberate attacks against civilians and limit the possibility of collateral damage.

However, even if conducting targeted killing against active terrorists is legitimate, a problem emerges when contending with a “dual” person; one who is both a political leader and a military leader. Although it would not be legitimate to attack a member of a political party that is personally inclined towards a terrorist organization, it would be legitimate to attack a terrorist leader who might have even been elected to be a member of parliament but he is still involved in the terrorist activity of the organization.

Terrorism Operating States

The next level of state involvement in terrorism is “Terrorism Operating State.” Such a state uses proxies to carry out terrorist attacks. A proxy is a puppet organization that terrorist operating states controls. In the prior lower levels, Terrorism Supporting states give support to an ongoing activity. States initiating terrorism initiate terrorist attacks and without the state there would not be an attack. However, terrorism operating states are subordinating the organization to the interests of the state. The target selection does not necessarily reflect the interests of the organization. Rather, the state is uses a proxy organization as a marionette to promote the state’s interests (even if they are contradictory to the organizations own interests).

An example of a terrorist operating state using a proxy can be seen in the way that Syria was using the Palestinian terrorist organization – PFLP-GC (The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General command, headed by Ahmed Jibril). Despite calling itself a Palestinian organization, this organization was not mainly concerned with the Palestinian interests but rather was used by Syria to promote the Syrian interests in Lebanon and the Palestinian arena. In the Civil War in Lebanon in 1976, Palestinians were fighting the Christians during the first few months of the war. At the time, Syria was supporting the Christians and was forcing the PFLP-GC to fight together with the Christians against the Palestinians. The Syrian demands have created internal rift in the organization that led to a split and the creation of a splinter group – PLF (Palestinian Liberation Front, headed by Abu-El Abas).

Another example of a proxy organization can be seen in Iraq with the creation of Saddam Hussein’s Arab Liberation Front in the late 6os. Once again, ostensibly claiming to be a Palestinian organization, it was used by Iraq to promote Iraqi interests in the Middle East and not Palestinian interests. When a state is conducting this type of activity, it becomes a state that is operating terrorism.

Terrorist State:

The highest level of state classification and involvement in terrorism is state terrorism. State terrorism is when a state uses the state apparatus (intelligence and security agencies) to carry out attacks against civilians, (As mentioned above this type of activity might be defined sometimes as war crimes or crimes against humanity without referring to the term State terrorism).

In this highest level of involvement, the state is no longer using proxies to carry out its bidding but is rather using its own apparatuses. For example, Iran used their intelligence ministry and their revolutionary guards to kill Iranian dissidents in Europe after Khomeini’s revolution in 1979.Furthermore, In May 1996 an Iranian intelligence agent was arrested in Germany for the murder in Paris of Reza Masluman (a former minister in the Shah regime and a leading member of the Iranian opposition). In another instance, four Lebanese and one Iranian were tried for the 1992 assassination of four Kurdish leading members of the Iranian opposition, at the Mikonos restaurant in Berlin. The former-Iranian president, Abdel Hassan Banisader, who testified at their trial in Berlin, accused the Iranian leaders, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Khamenei, of personal involvement in the murders[6]. This type of state involvement in terrorist attacks are defined as a terrorist state.

Another example of a terrorist state is Libya. The Libyan government has also been directly involvement in terrorist activities. For example, a French judge declared the leading figures in the Libyan intelligence stood behind of the explosion of a UTA-owned (France) airplane over the Sahara Desert in 1989, in which all 170 passengers and crew were killed. The judge issued two international warrants for arrest against Libyans for their involvement in preparing and transporting the bomb, and intends to prosecute them in absentia[7].

Why Define?

While it is rare, if any leaders of states of the top three levels of the pyramid (terrorist initiating states, terrorist operating states and terrorist states) were to be brought to court, their acts would be considered crimes against humanity or war crimes. Unfortunately, historically it seems that in some cases those who are put on trial are usually those who have lost the war, and not those who won the war. However, just because a state won the war, does not mean that it did not carry out similar or even the same actions as the state that lost the war. Using the suggest classification can be found helpful in bridging the gap between the theory and the practice and having more balanced and neutralized perspective.

Iran as a case study:

Iran is a good case study in examining different levels of state involvement in terrorism. On one hand, Iran was sponsoring Hamas’ terrorist activity. In this sense, Iran was training and funding Hamas and sending weapons and ammunition. Here, the Iranian-Hamas relationship can be classified as the lowest level of involvement in the pyramid “Terrorism Supporting State.”

The next level of the pyramid is a terrorism initiating state, and it is under this classification the Iran-Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) relationship was founded. PIJ was founded in 1987, a few months before Hamas was officially created. Unlike Hamas, who was more cautious about receiving support and orders from Iran, in the late 1980s PIJ was tightly connected with Iran. There have been cases in which PIJ launched terrorist attacks from direct orders that came from Iran.[8]

Iran is also a terrorism operating state that uses proxies to carry out terrorist attacks. The Iran-Hezbollah relationship can best be described as a proxy relationship, with Hezbollah as a proxy of Iran is being depended on Iranian, monetary, military and operational support, Hezbollah is obliged to fulfill Iranian instructions and commends, and to promote Iranian interests. As such Hezbollah carried out several terrorist attacks that have been initiated by Iran. Hezbollah was also used by Iran to lunch attacks and to conduct military operations in different conflict areas such as Iraq, and was used by Iran to help and defend Bashir Assad regime during the “Arab Spring” uprising in Syria.

Lastly, Iran is a terrorist state. Iran was using the “Al Quds force” at the Revolutionary Guards and the Intelligence Ministry in order to commit terrorist attacks in different countries in, including European countries. These attacks where mainly conducted against Iranian dissidents, opposition targets, Kurdish activists, etc.

The terrorist organization

The previous lecture discussed the definition of terrorism and defined the act of terrorism itself.However, we have yet to define the terrorist organization.

An international agreement is necessary on an acceptable definition of terrorism in order to climb to the next step and agree on who is a terrorist organization. In order to understand what a terrorist organization is we must get back to the distinction between guerrilla warfare and terrorist acts. A terrorist act is a deliberate attack on civilians in order to achieve political ends. Therefore, a terrorist organization is one that conducts terrorist acts aimed at civilians. But most of the organization conducts both attacks against civilian and military targets. In order to define the organization, one can use different measurements – either qualitatively or quantitatively.

The simplest way to measure an organization is quantitatively. For example, if more than 50% of an organization’s attacks are aimed at civilians, then the organization should be referred to as a terrorist organization. The quantitative threshold could be more restrictive and argue that in order to define a terrorist organization it’s enough that the organization was engage in conducting a considerable sum of terrorist attacks (say 40, or 30% of its overall attacks).

The alternative way in which to define an organization is by using the qualitative measurement. For example, if an organization whose actions are overwhelmingly guerrilla activity, (for example 99% of its attacks aimed against military targets and therefore should be considered as guerrilla activity), if said organization carried out only few terrorist attacks, (i.e. deliberate attacks aimed at civilians) by doing so the organization should be referred to as a terrorist organization. In this sense, by carrying out any deliberate attack against civilian targets, the organization is losing its moral standing and legitimate arguments.

It must be noted that the process of becoming a terrorist organization is reversible. That is to say, if the organization can become a terrorist organization by making a decision and conducting an attack against civilians, it can also do the opposite and declare a change in its policy stating that it will from “now on” refrain from attacking civilians. But in order for the situation to be reversed, an organization cannot just publicly state this change in policy, but must also carry out these statements. By making this change, an organization can move from the illegitimacy of being a terrorist organization back into the arena of legitimacy.

Symmetric vs. Asymmetric Warfare:

When studying the current warfare situation, it must be emphasized that there has been an evolution in warfare in general and modern terrorism in particular. Classical warfare (i.e. war between two or more states) is considered to be symmetric warfare. This war is conducted by two states and their militaries. The war itself takes place on the military battlefield and the goal of both sides is to defeat the military capabilities of their opponent. Through the use of their firepower, armies want to impose the defeat of the other side by depriving them from their fighting capabilities[9].

In the mid-20th century, there was an evolution in warfare strategies, and the wave of modern terrorism materialized. This new warfare was described as asymmetric warfare, or a war between a state and a non-state actor. Emerging on top of the military battlefield was a new arena in which to fight; the media. This modern terrorism strategy was meant to spread fear and anxiety within the state enemy population and use this psychological warfare to defeat the motivation of its enemy state to keep on fighting.

In the recent years, a new stage in the evolution of modern warfare has emerged. A situation has arisen in which the state is fighting a new breed of terrorist organizations; the hybrid terrorist organizations. The HTO (Hybrid Terrorist Organization) is an organization with at least two arms: the non-legitimate arm – the terrorist arm, and the so called legitimate arm – the political arm, (at times the HTO develops a third arm which is responsible of buying hearts and minds by conducting welfare activity and giving free religious and education services). When a state is combating a hybrid terrorist organization, winning the war has left not only the arena of the classical military battlefield nor just the arena of the media. In order to win in the battle against the hybrid organization, a state must succeed also in the arena of law and justice. Winning the war now turns to be being able to defeat the legitimacy of the enemy to fight by using states courts and international tribunals. The new breed of multidimensional warfare therefore includes the need to fight simultaneously on these three arenas – the military arena, the psychological – media arena, and the legal-moral arena. The state finds itself in a situation in which it must defeat simultaneouslythe terrorists capability to conduct terrorist attacks, defeat the terrorists motivation to keep on conducting terrorist attacks and to strengthen their population resilience to terrorism (using among other measures the media to achieve these two goals), and refute the terrorists legitimacy to conduct their attacks while not lose their own legitimacy to fight the terrorists (conducting these effortsthrough the local and international legal system). It is important to note, that one of the most prevalent problems facing states which are engaged in the multidimensional warfare against hybrid terrorist organizations is their inability to fully understand the new challenges of the multi-dimensional battlefield.

Traditionally, the military fights on the battlefield; the foreign office is conducts the battle of public diplomacy in the media and the lawyers and legal experts defend the state legitimacy in the courts. A state therefore can find itself in a paradox, where it has won the military battlefield war, but have lost in the media war. Or, a state could have won the military battle and public diplomacy war in the media, but at the same time lost its legitimacy to fight in the courts. The challenge of winning the multidimensional war in the 21st century is therefore the ability to coordinate and win in all three simultaneous campaigns.

Understanding the Terminology:

Terminology plays a very important role in counter-terrorism policies. For many years scholars used the term “low intensity warfare” to describe terrorism. However, the term “low intensity warfare” is no longer relevant, as modern terrorist attacks can accrue mass casualties. Such attacks can be seen in the September 11th and Mumbai attacks.Furthermore, as the possibility of non-conventional attacks (i.e. CBRN attacks) has become more probable, describing such attacks as “low intensity” is absurd. While there have not been many cases of CBRN attacks in the past, major cases throughout history include: the 1978 Poisoning of Israeli Oranges, the 1984 Oregon USA Rajneeshee bio-terror attack, the 1990 attack in Sri Lanka by the Tamil Tigersthe 1995 Tokyo Japan Sarin Subway attacks, and the 2001 Anthrax attacks in the US.[10] Therefore, the term “low intensity warfare” should be abandon when trying to describe the current terrorism phenomenon.

Nowadays modern terrorism is being regarded as an “Asymmetric warfare”. The term asymmetric warfare brings up imagery of the biblical story of David and Goliath.[11] In this story the monstrous military giant Goliath fights the smaller shepherded David, one is immediately drawn to support the underdog- David. In this regard the state is analogous to the giant Goliath. The state has enormous military resources, an army, an air force, navy, huge economic resources, etc. As this Goliath state is fighting the helpless Davidian organization that does not have any resources and is approaching monstrous Goliath only his slingshot and his braveness and determination. By referring to the terrorism warfare as an asymmetric warfare the terrorist organization immediately gets a positive connotation and the state a negative one.

But a war between a liberal democratic state and a terrorist organization is not analogous to a David and Goliath situation. Rather, this is an example of reverse asymmetric warfare: the state (so called Goliath) is handcuffed by his own liberal democratic values and the obligations it faces under international humanitarian law. The shackled Goliath is facing a David who is unrestrained by the same values and even misuses them to attack the shackled goliath. Therefore war between a liberal democratic state and a terrorist organization should be regarded as a reverse asymmetric warfare rather than asymmetric warfare.

Multi-dimensional warfare:

There is a crucial need therefore to develop a much more sophisticated term to describe the current phenomenon of terrorism warfare, a term that will contain and describe more accurately the complexity of this phenomenon – The suggested term is – “multi-dimensional warfare”. This term explains the fact that terrorist has many modus operandi dimensions – in which sometimes a state will find itself fighting against terrorists, sometimes guerillas and sometimes insurgents In multi-dimensional warfare, there are also different confrontational domain dimensions. This means that the war could be conducted in multiple arenas, including: the military arena, the criminal arena, the economic arena, or the psychological arena. At the same time it could be operating in differentintensity level dimensions: using “low intensity” (cold weapons), or “high intensity” (CBRN capabilities). In addition, there is the casualty scope dimension, where causalities could range from several people to tens of thousands. While dealing with multi-dimensional warfare, it is important to remember, that we are not only discussing many dimensions in which this phenomenon lies, but also that these dimensions are very dynamic.

For example, there are cases in which the same organization can be acting as a terrorist organization and a guerrilla organizationSometimes the organization might prefer to be active at the military arena, or the psychological arena and even the economic arena. . Furthermore, this is not limited to the actions of the same organization; there are cases in which the same terrorists can be engaged in both low intensity activity and high intensity activity simultaneously. Multi-dimensional warfare has therefore many facets and dynamics within the different dimensions. The same organization may act in different dimensions, the same activist may act in different dimensions, and there can even be different dimensions in the same campaign.

The multi-dimensional warfare became a very convinced arena for the activity of hybrid-terrorist organizations. There are two different models for HTO activity – the Hezbollah vs. the IRA models.

Hezbollah vs. the IRA: terrorism and politics

Let us examine these two contradicting models of hybrid terrorist organizations: Hezbollah and the Provisional IRA. There is no doubt that both the Provisional IRA and Hezbollah were involved in terrorism an politicsboth of them enjoy extensive popular support among their population. However, there exists a difference between the two organizations. The Provisional IRA represents the positive model, as it is a terrorist organization that made a decision to abandon terrorism and focus solely on the political arena. Clearly, the use of the political arena rather than terrorist attacks should be seen as a positive outcome. Ideally, this is what all terrorist organizations should do, no matter their political claims and grievances.

Hezbollah represents the opposite model of a hybrid terrorist organization. Hezbollah is a terrorist organization that is continues to openly conduct terrorist activity, support proxy organization and guide them in their terrorist activities. Hezbollah also incites and motivates others to conduct terrorism, while simultaneously claiming to be a legitimate political party. In contrast to the IRA Hezbollah hasn’t replaced its terrorist activity with legitimate political activity but is actually is mixing the two. The international community should not accept this type of hybrid activity which actually reflects another effort to misuse liberal – democratic convictions, values and apparatuses by terrorist organizations in order to gain legitimacy.

There was another distinct difference between Provisional IRA and Hezbollah political activity. Hezbollah is acts in the political arena under its own name. Many have been elected to the Lebanese parliament as Hezbollah representatives. This was never the case with the Provisional IRA. The Sinn Fein, was regarded as the political arm of the Provisional IRA, however, the representatives of the party denied such claims and emphasized that they were not part or connected to the Provisional IRA.

The international community should never accept political activity of a terrorist organization and should not legitimatize a political party that is an integral part of a terrorist organization such as Hezbollah or Hamas. The HTO should not be given the opportunity to enjoy the two contradicting worlds – the illegitimate world of terrorism and the legitimate democratic political world.

Welfare Activity:

The welfare activity which is being conducted by a terrorist organization is designed to buy hearts and minds and to gain political support within the organization’s constituency. Unlike an independent humanitarian organization, the welfare services are usually given only to the members and supporters of the organization. These services can be tied to obligations the recipient must fulfill; some requirements include community centers and following the organization’s ideology. While receiving the welfare services, people will listen to lessons, or indoctrination, where the organization’s ideology is presented to the people. That is to say, in many cases the welfare is linked to indoctrination. This is not welfare for the sake of welfare, but rather welfare that meant to promote the popularity of the organization. .

The process of buying the hearts and minds of the people through welfare activity is then translates into political success via democratic elections. Unfortunately several Western decision-makers tend to believe that in the event of a terrorist organization succeeding in democratic elections subsequently legitimizes the organization. These western decision makers believe that democracy is the miracle solution for radicalization, terrorism and extremism in the Muslim. What these decision makers fail to understand indoctrination negates the values of a liberal democracy. People who have been educated from childhood to believe that becoming a “Shahid” (a suicide attacker)acceptable they learn that killing civilians is permitted and but is also justified, Subsequently, when faced with elections, that education will express itself in a vote for a terrorist organization. If one day free elections are suggested or imposed on these societies that were exposed to radical extremist education, the fundamentalist, extremist terrorist organization most probably will win these elections. Due to this positive reinforcement by the West, terrorist organizations view this path as the way in which to legitimize their organizations.

Furthermore, after winning the elections, these terrorist organizations are able to use state resources in order to conduct more indoctrination and give more welfare services that supports and imposes their extreme ideologies, values and goals, and buy more hearts and minds in perpetuating cycle.

To sum up, political activity does not legitimize a terrorist organization. In fact, the opposite is true; a terrorist organization that is also conducting political and welfare activity – A hybrid terrorist organization – is more dangerous than an organization that doesn’t conduct these activities.

Relevant Readings

Ganor, Boaz. Countering State-Sponsored Terrorism. Herzliya: Israel, The International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, 1998

Overview of State-Sponsored Terrorism, United States Department of States, 2004

[1] See: Sageman, Marc, Leaderless Jihad, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008. 200 pp.

[2] CBRN refers to Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear.

[3] Iraq was removed from the list in 1982 to make it eligible for U.S. military technology while it was fighting Iran in the Iran-Iraq War; it was put back on in 1990 following its invasion of Kuwait. It has since been removed following the 2003 Invasion.

[4] Iran’s relationship with Hezbollah will be elaborated below.

[5] For more information of state funding for terrorism in regards to the USSR, Saudi Arabia and Syria, please see Paul J. Smith’s book “The Terrorism Ahead Confronting Transnational Violence in the Twenty-First Century” Chapter 8. New York and London: M.E. Sharpe.257pp

[6] See Prof. Ganor’s Countering State-Sponsored Terrorism (ICT Papers, No. 1) Link:

[7] See Prof. Ganor’s Countering State-Sponsored Terrorism (ICT Papers, No. 1) Link:

[8] The Iran-Hamas relationship changed after the OSLO Accords when Hamas began falling into the open arms of Iran as well. Since then, the Iran-Hamas relationship can also be classified as terrorism initiating state

[9] The traditional laws of war (created by treaties and customs) apply to symmetric warfare.

[10] Parachini, John. “Putting WMD Terrorism into Perspective.” The Washington Quarterly, 26:4. Autumn 2003.

[11] As the story goes, the Israelites were fighting the Philistines in the Valley of Elah. Goliath was the champion of the Philistines and was sent to fight the champion of the Israelites. However, all the Israelite warriors were too scared to fight the monstrous Goliath, so David which was a common shepherd volunteered to do so, turned down armor and took only his slingshot and five stones with him. With one stone from the slingshot, David was able to knock out Goliath and when he fell to the ground, David took his sword and cut off Goliath’s head. (the story found in the Hebrew Bible -Christian Old Testament- in Samuel 1 Chapter 17).

Welcome to the introductory ‘Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism’ course offered here online through the International Institute for Counter- Terrorism (ICT) at Reichman University. This course will introduce you to the basics of terrorism and counter-terrorism studies, with an emphasis on understanding the theories, concepts, debates and different scholarly views associated with terrorism.

Each of the subsequent tabs features the lesson material for the course.

To register, please fill out this form.

In what language is the course taught?

The course is taught in English.

What is the academic level of the course?

The course is equivalent to a M.A. level course at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy, at Reichman University.

How can I pay?

Payment is received via Paypal only.

How long does it take to complete the course?

The course typically takes 40 hours to complete, and can be carried out at each individual’s preferred pace, on their own schedule.

When does the course begin?

The course will begin two weeks after payment has been received.

What are the application requirements?

Applicants will be considered after evaluation of CV.

What is the framework of an online course?

The course is comprised of a mixture of lectures, readings, and videos.

Will I receive a certificate at the end of the course?

Yes, you will receive an ICT certificate upon completion of your required assignments.

Are there assignments during the course?

Those who would like to receive an ICT Certificate will have to complete two short assignments which will be comprised of short answer and essay questions.

What is the ICT?

The International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) was founded in 1996 and is one the leading academic institutes for counter-terrorism in the world, facilitating international cooperation in the global struggle against terrorism. The ICT is an independent think tank providing expertise in terrorism, counter-terrorism, homeland security, threat vulnerability and risk assessment, intelligence analysis, and national security and defense policy.

Why an online course?

The ICT, through its collaboration with the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy at Reichman University, has provided undergraduate, graduate, and executive degrees to thousands of students and professionals in the last decade. With our programs consistently filled to capacity and demand ever-growing, we have developed a new multi-module format: The Online Course in Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism.

The prestige and unique combination of top academic knowledge coupled with the Israeli Counter-Terrorism experience bring hundreds of students to Israel to participate academic and executive programs at ICT. The online course gives the ability to the student to earn this unique knowledge without the need to travel to Israel and spend valuable time and resources.

Who is the lecturer?

Dr. Boaz Ganor is the Founder and Executive Director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) and serves as the Ronald Lauder Chair for Counter-Terrorism, the Deputy Dean of the Lauder School of Government at Reichman University, and is the head of the Counter-Terrorism and Homeland Security Studies Program (Bachelor Specialization, Graduate Degree, and Executive Program) at Reichman University

Dr. Ganor is also the Founder and President of the International Academic Counter-Terrorism Community (ICTAC), an international association of academic institutions, experts, and researchers in fields related to the study of terrorism and counter-terrorism. Dr. Ganor has served as an adviser in Israel to the Prime Minister’s Office, the National Security Council, the Counter-Terrorism Bureau, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Transportation.

Dr. Ganor is a member of the International Advisory Council of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies (IDSS), Nanyang Technological University, The Republic of Singapore. He is also co-founder of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence (ICSR), a partnership between the University of Pennsylvania, USA; Reichman University, Israel; King’s College, United Kingdom; and the Regional Center on Conflict Prevention (RCCP), Jordan. Dr. Ganor was a Senior Fellow at The Memorial Institute for Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT), Oklahoma City, USA; and was a member of the International Advisory Team of the Manhattan Institute (CTCT) to the New York Police Department (NYPD).

Dr. Ganor has published numerous articles on terrorism and counter-terrorism. His book, “The Counter-Terrorism Puzzle – A Guide for Decision Makers” (Transaction Publishers, 2005), is used as a text book in universities around the world. He is also the editor of “Countering Suicide Terrorism” (2001) and “Post-Modern Terrorism” (2006). He is the co-editor of “Trends in International Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism” (2007), “Hypermedia Seduction for Terrorist Recruiting” (2007), and “Terrorism Informatics – Knowledge Management and Data Mining for Homeland Security” (2008). In 2008-2009 and 2010, Dr. Ganor served as a Koret Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He taught undergraduate counter-terrorism courses in the International Relations program at Stanford, as well as graduate courses at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley.

Who is the course aimed at?

The course is essential for students of counter-terrorism, security and strategy programs; law enforcement officers; first responders; military personnel; counter-terrorism experts; homeland security officials and private sector specialists.

What topics will be covered during the course?

Please refer to the “Course Schedule” section for a full list of topics.