The political relativity of the idea is obvious in the phrase, “One man’s terrorist is another’ freedom fighter.” Depending on the analyst, violence against an enemy can be perceived as terrorism or counter-terrorism, as aggressive offense or legitimate defense. To Israel and the U.S. government, Palestinian organizations are terrorists but to Palestinian people, they are freedom fighters struggling for the occupation of their homeland. The Indian government considers groups working to liberate Kashmir from Indian oppression to be terrorists while many Pakistanis receive them as freedom fighters. The U.S. calls its violent allies friends and accuses its opponents as terrorists. The Reagan administration championed the Contras as freedom fighters, while the Nicaraguan people who suffered their bombs and bullets viewed them as terrorists.
Terrorists believe their cause to be altruistic and serving the better of society. Bruce Hoffman in his latest work Inside Terrorism (1998) states that the terrorist is basically a violent intellectual, prepared to use and certainly committed to using force in the attainment of his goals. (p. 43). He also adds that by distinguishing terrorists from other types of criminals and terrorism from other forms of crime, we come to appreciate that terrorism is: ineluctably political in plan and purpose; violent-or, equally important, threatens violence; planned to have far-reaching psychological repercussions beyond the immediate victim or target; perform by an organization with an identifiable chain of command or conspiratorial cell structure (whose members wear no uniform or spot insignia); and perpetrated by a sub-national group or non-state entity.
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