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What The People Think

The real question iwhat do memberof the general public perceivc to be a definition of terrorism? The root of the word terrorism i‘terror’ which ia good indication of the apparent aim of these groups. That is, to induce terror in the general population, with an aim of forcing it to submit to their demands.

Terrorist actcan range from making radio broadcastdenouncing the government, through throwing raw eggat a politician, to planting explosivein a public area. The range of activitieihuge, but I suspect that the general public would define terrorism’ something like this:

Terrorism iany indiscriminate act, whether violent or not, that kills, injures, harmor adversely affectmemberof the public who have no control over whatever activity a terrorist’ group may oppose.

Broadly speaking – don’t attack the small guybecause we don’t run the country, control the army or define the laws, and whatever you do keep it inside your own country.

Any group that useindiscriminate violence against innocent people, or useindiscriminate violence outside their own geographic or political bordermust be branded aterrorists. Any group or individual participating in pure terrorist activities, pluany government, company or organisation found to be promoting, funding or supporting terrorist activities, should be vigorously prosecuted by the international community.

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Who Are Terrorists?

An even harder question to answer. For a start the list will change depending on how you define terrorists. Aan example of how interpretation can affect your view, allow me to describe one group.

An organised group operating in England. They operate in clandestine wayand are run along military lines. Memberoften wear a uniform for operations, but wear civilian clotheto merge in with the population when not actively engaged in their group activities. The legitimate wing operatequietly in conjunction with a significant commercial organisation with international links. The operational’ wing of the group allegedly receiveno funding or support from the commercial organisation, though indicationare that thiinot strictly true. The group actively recruitfit young men, aiming to convert them to their cause. Even children participate in planned operationin mainland UK. Group and regional leaderoccasionally send active cellto targetin Europe. These celltravel incognito, and meet up at a predefined location to complete their mission. UK security serviceare actively investigating thigroup. UK police forceare investigating the group, and have arrested several of itleaderand many of itmembers, charging them with a variety of offenceincluding assault, riot, and possession of offensive weapons.

Would you define that group abeing a terrorist organisation? Would you say that they have terrorist objectiveunder my definition or by your own understanding of what makea terrorist organisation?

Would you think differently it I told you that the group I am describing ithe fictional Bradfield County Football SupporterClub? Yes, they are organised and “uniformed’, they travel to away matches, they are not really funded by the football club, they do fight with rival supporterand there have been arresthere and abroad, and the police and security serviceare investigating them ahead of a European cup final match. A few of them are known criminals.

Now you know that, hait changed your opinion of the group? Did you decide they were terroristbased on my first description of them? The first description watrue even if the language used wasomewhat misleading on occasion. Remember that I had already primed you to think ‘terrorist’ by the title of the chapter, earlier discussionand even the question I asked. Now that you know that the organisation ijust a football supporterclub, which haa few memberwho pick fightwith rival supporters, doeit change your mind about their classification aa terrorist organisation7

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