Terrorism

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Terrorism is the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.[1] No universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition of terrorism currently exists.[2][3] Common definitions of terrorism refer only to those violent acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for a religious, political or ideological goal, deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants (civilians), and are committed by non-government agencies.

Some definitions also include acts of unlawful violence and war. The history of terrorist organizations suggests that they do not select terrorism for its political effectiveness.[4] Individual terrorists tend to be motivated more by a desire for social solidarity with other members of their organization than by political platforms or strategic objectives, which are often murky and undefined.[4]

The word "terrorism" is politically and emotionally charged,[5] and this greatly compounds the difficulty of providing a precise definition. Studies have found over 100 definitions of “terrorism”.[6][7] The concept of terrorism may itself be controversial as it is often used by state authorities to delegitimize political or other opponents,[8] and potentially legitimize the state's own use of armed force against opponents (such use of force may itself be described as "terror" by opponents of the state).[8][9]

Terrorism has been practiced by a broad array of political organizations for furthering their objectives. It has been practiced by both right-wing and left-wing political parties, nationalistic groups, religious groups, revolutionaries, and ruling governments.[10] An abiding characteristic is the indiscriminate use of violence against noncombatants for the purpose of gaining publicity for a group, cause, or individual.[11]

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