General Question

kenmc's avatar

What, in your opinion, are the characteristics of a "Terrorist"?

Asked by kenmc (11773points) March 24th, 2009

Don’t be fooled by the idiot box.

You can be considered a terrorist.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

22 Answers

lillycoyote's avatar

My definition? A terrorist is person who uses violence to terrorize people, almost exclusively civilians and/or non-combatants in the furtherance of a particular ideology or a particular social, political or religious agenda.

kenmc's avatar


Would that make America a “Terrorist State”?

Kelly27's avatar

@lillycoyote said it perfectly.
A terrorist imo can be anything from a schoolyard bully to a religious nut strapping on a bomb and entering the subway.
Of course that is a broad definition of the word, but hey, you asked. ;)

dalton's avatar

It’s kind of neat watching as you craft a response!

VzzBzz's avatar

Similar to lillycoyote, I believe a terrorist is one who willingly harms anyone or anything in the way of their objective, directly or non directly related to their particular enemy.

lillycoyote's avatar

Actually, I thought my definition was kind of narrow. I like to keep it confined to people who use violence specifically targeted against civilians to further a particular ideology or social, political or religious agenda. It keeps people from labeling anyone who commits a violent act as a terrorist.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

Terrorist = one who terrorizes. Yeah, it’s a simple definition, but sometimes, that’s for the best.

lillycoyote's avatar

School yard bullies, maybe not terrorists but people who bomb abortion clinics yes.

aidje's avatar

In my book, a terrorist is someone who uses violence to forward their agenda, but without the approval of a recognized state. Also, the violence and agenda must be on a larger-than-interpersonal scale. This definition works pretty well for me in terms of aligning both with my own views and with common usage.

lillycoyote's avatar

@boots I would say the U.S. is less of a “terrorist state” in that it would be pushing it to say that the U.S. specifically targets civilians and more that it is an Imperialist state that doesn’t it considers “collateral damage” an unfortunate but sometimes necessary consequence of furthering it’s own interests and it’s own agenda.

kenmc's avatar

@aidje Why couldn’t be at the approval of a State?

@lillycoyote The us has specifically targeted civilians.

lillycoyote's avatar

@boots yes, I suppose it has and continues to, but not on the scale that it did, say, in WWII. And in the guerilla wars it has fought since, things get a little more dicey.

kenmc's avatar

@lillycoyote I think that proves my point of it being a stupid term to use as it has been. Terrorism is a tactic. America is fighting a war on a tactic. Wars on ideas=fascism.

lillycoyote's avatar

@boots I agree completely. Terrorism is a tactic. You can’t declare war on a tactic. Might as well declare war on “aerial bombardment” or “blowing things up” and see how far that gets us.

Jack79's avatar

A terrorist in the everyday sense is someone who is involved in violent and/or illegal activity but guided by some political or other ideological motivation (as opposed to criminals who just do it for the money).

What the term should mean is anyone who terrorises me. I have never felt threatened by any Arab, but the possibility of me being blown to pieces by a US bomb (stray or not) is pretty high. Or at least was during the Bush period. Not to mention the everyday hassle at airports and so on.

aidje's avatar

@boots Why couldn’t it be at the approval of a State, you ask? Because then it’s just standard military action. My point is not that a state can do no wrong. I think that there is sometimes very little difference between the actions of states and the actions of terrorist organizations. I think that this is best demonstrated when an un-recognized states’ military actions are labeled terrorism.

The difference is not that terrorists attack civilians. Terrorists can target militaries, such as with the bombing of the USS Cole. And a military may take action that many view as terrorist, such as the “shock and awe” tactics used in Iraq. So the line is blurred, and the only solid, constant difference between terrorists and militaries is that one is state-approved and the other is not.

kenmc's avatar

@aidje Terrorism is a tactic. It’s a style of combat. A full fledged army (like the US) could be a group of terrorists if they try to terrorize a group of people.

The idea that someone is a “terrorist” is all-in-all silly. It’s a propagandized mythical figure.

BTW, wasn’t trying to imply that you said the State could do no wrong.

aidje's avatar

@boots I assure you, we are in violent agreement.

Zen's avatar

@aidje @boots Stay the course…

YARNLADY's avatar

Who are the real terrorists in the United States? There over 1,200 people gunned down in the US every single month.

Ron_C's avatar

Terrorists, especially suicide-murder ones, are ignorant followers. They are deluded about religion and politics and manipulated by ruthless murders that crave power more than justice. Terrorist leaders are the lowest sort of vermin and their followers are among the dumbest and most useless people in the world.

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