Sunday, July 21, 2024

Terrorism-A Study of a Complex Phenomenon

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Terrorism is one of the most dangerous malice that is afflicting humankind today. It knows no border, no country, no region etc. It only seeks to destroy and bring about mayhem and death.

Ken Booth and Tim Dunne, in their book Worlds in Collision have given the following definition-Terrorism is a method of political action that uses violence (or deliberately produces fear) against civilians and against civilian infrastructure in order to influence behaviour, to inflict punishment or to exact revenge. For the perpetrators, the point is to make the target group afraid of today, afraid of tomorrow and afraid of each other. Terrorism is not an ideology but an act. Its instruments are assassination, mass murder, hijacking, bombing, kidnapping and intimidation. Such acts can be committed by states as well as private groups.

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Psychological reason- Those who engage in terrorism may do so for purely personal reasons, based on their own psychological bent of mind. Their motivation may be nothing more than hate or the desire for power. For example, in 1893 Auguste Vaillant bombed the French Chamber of Deputies.

Ideological reason- Ideology is defined as the beliefs, values, principles by which a group identifies its particular aims and goals. Ideology includes religion or political philosophies and programs. ISIS is motivated by the strong desire to establish a global caliphate by restoring the glory of Islam to its pristine nature as it existed in the 7th century CE.

Strategic reason- Terrorism is sometimes seen as a manifestation of the failure of politics to alleviate people’s needs.

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When people seek redress of their grievances through the state and its institutions, but fail to win government’s attention to their plight, they may resort to violence. From this viewpoint, terrorism is the result of a logical outcome of the goals and objectives of a group, and their estimate of the likelihood of gaining victory by utilizing the resentment of the people against the government in general and state in particular.

Combating terrorism

The first task should be to give a concrete globally accepted definition of terrorism. Currently there is no globally accepted definition what constitutes terrorism and its form, while governments, think tanks and public intellectuals around the world have given definitions of terrorism sadly any globally accepted definition of terrorism continues to elude us.

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Sustained de-radicalization programmes need to be carried out by the state, civil society etc to combat terrorism. An example is the Maharashtra model of de-radicalization. Also, the religious leaders cutting across their ethnic, religious and cultural differences around the world should join hands to speak out against hate and enmity promoted in the name of religion. They should collaborate and clearly articulate that the terrorists do not serve the cause of any religion by murdering innocents and that every religion teaches humanity first. Multilateral collaboration, information exchange and joint mechanisms become necessary to tackle international networks of terrorists.


Terrorism is a complex problem. It can neither be solved overnight nor can it be tackled with the power of just one nation. It needs to be dealt with an iron fist by people and nations together. Having said it, it is absolutely essential that countries around the world rally together to ensure that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations cannot be allowed to gain legitimacy and that the supporters of terrorism are isolated and dealt sternly both by the society and by the state.

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