Defining Terrorism There is no one definition of “terrorism” that every state and non-state actor can agree upon. Today’s activity will demonstrate how difficult it is to define what constitutes an act of terrorism and who is a terrorist.
ter·ror·ism noun The use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.
Discuss the following for each scenario:. Has terrorism occurred? What, specifically, is the act of terrorism? Who is the terrorist?
Scenario 1 Boston Massacre, March 5, 1770 Territory = the American colonists Country = Great Britain Americans gathered to protest the presence of British soldiers in the colonies. British soldiers shot and killed five American colonists armed only with rock-filled snowballs. The event is historically considered to be part of the American War of Independence, also known as the American Revolution.
Scenario 2 Tiananmen Square Massacre, June 4, 1989 Country = the People’s Republic of China Citizens = Chinese protesters Starting in April, Chinese citizens (mostly college students) began a protest in Tiananmen Square, calling for civil rights and democratic freedoms. On June 4 th, military tanks cleared the square violently. An unknown # of people died. Information about the massacre is hard to come by because China is a VERY closed society. Chinese school children do not learn about this event; few Chinese are even brave enough to discuss it.
Scenario 3 Tamil Tigers Land X = Sri Lanka People M = Tamil people of Sri Lanka Group M = Tamil Tigers People Q = other ethnic groups of Sri Lanka The Tamil Tigers were a militant separatist group (meaning they want an independent state and they’re armed) whose acts of terrorism and use of child soldiers as a means to gain independence led them to be labeled as a terrorist group. They lost the Sri Lankan Civil War in 2009 and the group is now considered defunct. Some leaders of the Tamil Tigers are currently on trial for war crimes.
Scenario 4 Sarin gas attack on Tokyo subway – March 20, 1995 Country = Japan Group = Aum Shinrikyo, a religious cult Members of Aum Shinrikyo believed Armageddon (the end of the world) was coming and only they would survive. Experts believe they were attempting to begin Armageddon. 5500 people were injured; 12 were killed
Scenario 5 The Crusades, 11 th – 13 th C. People / Land / Religion = European Christians, Europe, Christianity People / Land / Religion = Middle Eastern Muslims, Middle East, Islam Land = the Holy Land (Palestine) Europeans led several “holy crusades” to “take back” the Holy Land. They believed that Christians were being attacked in the Middle East. Many historians now believe this was an excuse for invasion.
Scenario 6 French Revolution, 1789 Country = France People = middle & lower classes People = aristocracy & the royal family Government = Revolutionary Government French Revolution: – Storming of the Bastille – Execution of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette – Reign of Terror (many historians claim this is the first use of the word “terror” in this context)
Scenario 7 The government of Country A is very unhappy with the government of Country B, whose leaders came to power in a revolution that threw out the former Country B dictator. Country A decides to do everything in its power to overthrow the new leaders of Country B. It begins funding a guerrilla army that attacks Country B from another country next door. Country A also builds army bases in the next door country and allows the guerrilla army to use its bases. Country A supplies almost all of the weapons and supplies of the guerrilla army fighting Country B. The guerrillas generally try to avoid fighting Country B's army. Instead, they attack clinics, schools, and cooperative farms. Sometimes they mine the roads. Many, many civilians are killed and maimed by the Country A-supported guerrillas. Consistently, the guerrillas raid Country B and then retreat into the country next door where Country A has military bases."
Roots of Terrorism Anti-Semitism Cold War politics Militarism Money / poverty Oil Political power Racism Religion / fundamentalism Sexism War on drugs