The well-celebrated September 11 (2002) attack and the Beslan school siege are recent terrorist attacks of the twenty-first century.
Terrorism: Definition of a Phenomenon
As clearly stated above, terrorism has established itself as a world phenomenon before 1648. But then, it becomes imperative to look into the true meaning of the term.Although providing a definite definition for it has been accorded with series of controversies, etymologically, the term emanates from Latin, "terrere", meaning "to frighten" via the French word terrorisme, which is often associated with the regime de la terreur, the Reign of Terror of the revolutionary government in France from 1793 to 1794.The Committee of Public Safety agents that enforced the policies of "The Terror" were referred to as " Terrorists".
The English word "terrorism" was first recorded in English dictionaries in 1798 as meaning "systematic use of terror as a policy". The Oxford English Dictionary still records a definition of terrorism as "Government by intimidation carried out by the party in power in France between 1789-1794.
The controversial issue is that the vocabulary of terrorism has become the successor to that of anarchy and communism the catch-all label opprobrium, exploited accordingly by media and politicians.The difficulty in constructing a definition which eliminates any just cause for terrorism is that history provides too many precedents of organizations and their leaders branded as terrorist but who eventually evolved into respected government. This has applied particularly to national liberation movements fighting colonial or oppressive regimes, engaging in violence within their countries often as a last resort. Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya spent years of his life lobbying the British government before his involvement with the Mau Mau rebellion. Nelson Mandela, a hero in his continent and beyond, is another convicted "terrorist" belonging to this class.
Before making a valid point, it is important to say that this piece would like to consider further statements and criticisms on the issue and recognized that there are other valid arguments on these controversial issues. However, they are not within premises of this paper.
Arriving at a universally accepted definition of terrorism which narrows down to a specific method of conducting violence instead of "all its forms and manifestations" or which makes it possible to refer terrorist acts to an international court, as for genocide and other war crimes or which makes it impossible for individual countries to outlaw activities they choose to classify as terrorism perhaps for their own political interest is a great challenge in the study of terrorism.
While the United Nations has not yet accepted a definition of terrorism, the UN's "academic consensus definition," has been put forth for consideration. And they are available for public evaluation.
In final analysis, although, it is not clear the actual number of definitions of terrorism; but it is clear that terrorism does not have respect for human lives and values. It has claimed thousands of lives of innocent souls, rendered millions of people homeless and economically handicapped. Alas, it is clearer that terrorism has turned our world into a place conducive for its existence and spread.