Terrorism

United Airlines Flight 175 hits the South Tower of the World Trade Center during the September 11 attacks of 2001 in New York City.

Terrorism is, in the broadest sense, the use of intentional violence, generally against civilians, for political purposes.[1] It is used in this regard primarily to refer to violence during peacetime or in context of war against non-combatants (mostly civilians and neutral military personnel).[2] The terms "terrorist" and "terrorism" originated during the French Revolution of the late 18th century[3] but gained mainstream popularity in the 1970s in news reports and books covering the conflicts in Northern Ireland, the Basque Country and Palestine. The increased use of suicide attacks from the 1980s onwards was typified by the September 11 attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. in 2001.

There are different definitions of terrorism.[4][5] Terrorism is a charged term. It is often used with the connotation of something that is "morally wrong". Governments and non-state groups use the term to abuse or denounce opposing groups.[6][7][8][9][5] Varied political organizations have been accused of using terrorism to achieve their objectives. These organizations include right-wing and left-wing political organizations, nationalist groups, religious groups, revolutionaries and ruling governments.[10] Legislation declaring terrorism a crime has been adopted in many states.[11] When terrorism is perpetrated by nation-states it is not considered terrorism by the state conducting it, making legality a largely grey-area issue.[12] There is no consensus as to whether or not terrorism should be regarded as a war crime.[11][13]

The Global Terrorism Database, maintained by the University of Maryland, College Park, has recorded more than 61,000 incidents of non-state terrorism, resulting in at least 140,000 deaths between 2000 and 2014.[14]

Etymology

Etmologically, the word terror is derived from the Latin verb Tersere, which later becomes Terrere. The latter form appears in European languages as early as the 12th century; its first known use in French is the word terrible in 1160. By 1356 the word terreur is in use. Terreur is the origin of the Middle English term terrour, which later becomes the modern word "terror".[15]