AUDE CAMPION & WILLEM-JAN VAN DER WOLF
Terrorism, in its broadest sense, is the use of violence and fear to achieve an ideological aim. The term is used in this regard primarily to refer to intentional violence during peacetime or in the context of war against non-combatants (mostly civilians and neutral military personnel). The terms “terrorist” and “terrorism” originated during the French Revolution of the late 18th century but became widely used internationally and gained worldwide attention in the 1970s during the Northern Ireland conflict, the Basque conflict, and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. The increased use of suicide attacks from the 1980s onwards was typified by the 2001 September 11 attacks in the United States.
There are various different definitions of terrorism, with no universal agreement about it. 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.
Varied political organizations have been accused of using terrorism to achieve their objectives. These include right-wing and left-wing political organizations, nationalist groups, religious groups, revolutionaries and ruling governments. Legislation declaring terrorism a crime has been adopted in many states. When terrorism is perpetrated by nation states, it is not considered terrorism by the state conducting it, making legality a largely grey-area issue. There is no consensus as to whether terrorism should be regarded as a war crime.