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Discussion & Responses: Difficulties in Defining Terrorism

Discussion & Responses: Difficulties in Defining Terrorism

Discussion & Responses: Difficulties in Defining Terrorism

Question Description

Over the years, hundreds of varying definitions for terrorism have been developed; to this day, however, there has been little agreement as to a single standardized definition.

Even in the wake of 9/11, most Americans are still not sure what terrorism actually is. Considering its long history and current prominence, comment in your initial post why you feel it is so difficult to define terrorism. Specifically discuss whether or not you feel it is possible or even necessary to define terrorism.

In addition, respond to at least two of your classmates’ postings either as a response to a question about your analysis or to the classmate whose work you reviewed.

To complete this assignment, review the Discussion Rubric document.

To acess textbook


Password MaX0802!


Textbook: Global Terrorism, Chapter 2
This chapter explores the various definitions and classifications of terrorism.

Book Chapter: Inside Terrorism: Defining Terrorism (Optional)
This is an excerpt from Bruce Hoffman’s 1998 book on terrorism. In this chapter, Hoffman explores the ever-changing meaning of terrorism and attempts to understand why it is so difficult to define.

Peer post 1

Terrorism is hard to define because it is not a single person,place,or concrete idea that necessarily has a standard in which it can be measured against.It’s an overarching goal to further a party or persons ideologies or agenda using a threatening manner;however, from there it can branch off wildly.That is the underlying basis of which I understand terrorism. As long as people have ideas about how to harness fear, the confounds of imagination and creativity is the only thing stopping them.

Even between the FBI:

International terrorism: Perpetrated by individuals and/or groups inspired by or associated with designated foreign terrorist organizations or nations (state-sponsored)

and the DOD:

The calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.

the definitions of terrorism are different. It is important to recognize and define terrorism,but it has to keep changing aswell.


Peer post 2

Hello everyone,

In response to this week’s discussion post prompt, I must say terrorism should be defined easily. I don’t believe the world we live in is as simple as either black or white. However, I do believe that it should be that simple and I believe many things are made complicated, causing mass confusion. In Bruce Hoffman’s NY Times’ published writing, “Inside Terrorism,” he mentions the term ‘terrorism’ is inappropriately applied to many things by the media. At one point, Bruce mentions the example scenario of someone poisoning the fruit on the shelf inside a produce market. Before I continue this thought, here are some quotes from his text.

“This imprecision has been abetted partly by the modern media, whose efforts to communicate an often complex and convoluted message in the briefest amount of airtime or print space possible have led to the promiscuous labelling of a range of violent acts as `terrorism’ ” (Hoffman, 1998).

“Rather than learning what terrorism is, one instead finds, in the first instance, a somewhat potted historical — and, in respect of the modern accepted usage of the term, a uselessly anachronistic — description” (Hoffman, 1998). I had to look up the definition of the word anachronistic/anachronism. It defines the act of applying a term to an era or event to which it does not belong.

Now, to me, terrorism should be defined as anything that causes terror. I believe poisoning a produce section in the market will definitely terrorize anyone and everyone who shops there, once they find out what happened. People would definitely stop shopping there, especially if someone died from being poisoned by the very food sold from that market. Or at the very least, they wouldn’t buy produce from there anymore because they would fear for their lives. There is no doubt terrorism first became a defined word through political acts of violence during the French Revolution and later. However, terror, when applied to just a few people or an entire nation, is still terror. Threatening one person’s life would be considered an act of violence by today’s standards. However, what is the difference if one person is terrorized or multiple people are terrorized? It is still terrorism in my opinion. To simplify the current definition of Terrorism is necessary, I believe.


Hoffman, Bruce, “Inside Terrorism,” Published 1998. NY Times. Web. ISBN: 0-231-11468-0

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