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What is Terrorism? The Use of the Term “Terrorism” is Misleading and is Out of Touch with the Reality

Terrorism is a word that has been used quite often in these days. I have been puzzled by how the “terrorism” being used in different contexts. So, I am very curious to find out what does this word actually means, and whether the usage and application of the term terrorism is consistent with the reality on the ground.

oklahoma city bombing 14 What is Terrorism? The Use of the Term “Terrorism” is Misleading and is Out of Touch with the Reality

19 innocent children died in Oklahoma Bombing

The definitions of terrorism itself look very biased and designed in a way that allows and protects some acts of terrorising get away unnoticed as terrorist acts. For example, according to Oxford English Dictionary, terrorism is “the unofficial or unauthorised use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.” Looking at the definition from a linguistic point of view, while terrorism is a word in the same stem as terrorising, how come that terrorism being linked to only ‘unofficial’ or ‘unauthorised’ and also linked to one intention: political aims? Does that means if violence and intimidation is being used officially (say by a government or a coalition) and authorised (say by UN or a parliament), it is not terrorism? Also, What if the violence and intimidation was carried out without a clear political aim? Is it not terrorism?

Something not clear about the definition of terrorism by dictionaries is, if we agree with these definitions, it doesn’t identify when it comes to the use of violence and intimidation officially and authorised, the status and the nature of official and authorisation. The question here is, ‘official’ in what capacity and authorised by whom? Official for some people might not be official for some others. Likewise, there are various ways it can be authorised. It can by a single government, a coalition of governments, a regional body, or a worldwide body such as the United Nations. Then, there will be other lingering questions such as who in those governments and bodies support that and if there are oppositions to that?

My understanding is that any act of violence and intimidation that is used; whether it is official or unofficial, authorised or unauthorised, are acts of terrorism. Likewise, regardless of the intention we should focus on the actions and the result. Any act of intimidation and violence will be a terrorisation of the target people. Therefore, we can say any act of intimidation and violence is terrorism.

I have to agree that as in the definition, there are countless acts of unofficial, unauthorised (though it would be authorised by someone) acts of violence and intimidation, and are carried out with a political aim, that caused terrorisation of people and fatalities as well. However, there are examples of state sponsored acts of violence and intimidation of certain groups of people. It is also true that there are some acts of intimidation and violence that are authorised by governments and worldwide bodies, especially United Nations Security Council. Likewise, there are acts of intimidation and violence that are being carried out without any clear political intention. But one thing clear about these acts of violence and intimidation is that all of them terrorised certain groups of people with thousands of fatalities and even a larger number of injuries. Therefore, I regard these acts of intimidation and violence as terrorism.

If we try to explore acts of terrorism carried out by governments, there are many examples. Perhaps the most obvious of all of them are state sponsored terrorism carries out by USA and Israel. But, the irony is these two countries always accuse countries like Iran and Syria of state sponsored terrorism, because they support Palestine Hamas and Lebanese Hizbullah. During 1948 alone, 5000 plus Palestinians were killed. In the war of Attrition, 2500 Palestinians killed. In the Yom Kippur War, 1000 Palestinians killed. During the Lebanese Civil War, 75 000 Palestinians killed, including 3500 Palestinians massacred in the Sabar Shatila in September 1982 by Christian Lebanese Phalangists in the cover of Israeli army. During 2000-2005 – 5 000 Palestinians killed. During the Gaza War, 1 500 Palestinians killed. In the first Palestinian Intifada, Israel killed an estimated 3000 Palestinians. In Indifada of Alaqsa, Israel killed another 5500 Palestinians. There had been incidents of small massacres not well documented, if added all together, they will add up to thousands. During the Hebron Massacre 1994 Israel killed 60 Palestinians dead in Mosque. In the Church of Nativity, 20 Christians killed by Israeli fire, including 2 Priests and 3 Deacons. In the Al-Aqsa massacre 2000, 35 Palestinians killed. In Jenin, 53 Palestinians killed in 2002. When we add these figures, it is a staggering 98,615 Palestinians killed by Israel. These are terrifying acts of utter horror for those victims and for those who witnessed. However, by the western controlled media, these acts are not described as terrorist acts.

When we look at terrorist acts carried out by the USA, the Iraqi invasion is enough as an example. We all know, thousands of innocent Iraqis have been killed by America bombardments during the launch of the invasion attack and in the years that followed. Innocent Iraqis were terrified and horrified by the American missiles and bombs. Yet, it was not described as terrorist acts by world media.

Finally, there have been scores of terrorist acts carried out without a clear or announced political aim and even with some political intentions, but not branded as terrorism by a vast majority of world media. Perhaps the most destructive act of terrorism on American soil until the September 11, 2001 attacks was the Oklahoma City Bombing, which claimed 168 lives, including 19 children under the age of 6, and injured more than 680 people. The blast destroyed or damaged 324 buildings within a sixteen-block radius, destroyed or burned 86 cars, and shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings. It is arguable that the intention was politically motivated as the ring leader Timothy McVeigh had clear connections to an American militia movement. But with all those casualties and the utter terror caused, Timoty McVeigh is not labelled by American media as a terrorist. Why? Is it that he is not a Muslim? I bet if he was a Muslim, he would have been labelled as a terrorist.

oklahoma city bombing 300x196 What is Terrorism? The Use of the Term “Terrorism” is Misleading and is Out of Touch with the Reality

The Oklahoma Bombing destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah federal building.

There are many terrorist attacks carried out by non-Muslims, but not labelled as terrorist attacks and those who committed those acts are just being simply described as criminals; not terrorists, although they caused terror and horror to many people. If I give examples, I would need many pages to list that. However, let me mention some examples. How about those shootings by individuals mainly in American schools and universities that caused unspeakable terror to those who suffered. These shooting are not labelled as terrorism as well. There was a shooting on UK nuclear submarine HMS Astute in Southampton. In that incident, one person was killed and another injured critically by shooter who was a navy serviceman in the submarine. Hampshire police and the Ministry of Defence have said the incident was not terrorist related. Clearly those who witnessed this attack would have been terrified and utterly shaken, but it is not described as a terrorist attack. This is just one such example. In summary, I would say that it looks like Muslims are being labelled as terrorists. I think that is not fair as 99.9999% Muslims are law abiding peaceful people who abhor terrorism and killing innocent people.