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Defining Terrorism Essay

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Introduction There are many differing definitions of terrorism. What is terrorism? How do we define it? Why is one man’s terrorist another man’s freedom fighter? These are just a few of the questions that face the world on a daily basis. There are many challenges that face the international community when it comes to how to define terrorism and what it constitutes. This paper will explore the challenges facing scholars when it comes to labeling terror and discuss potential ways to properly define it.

Challenges in Defining Terrorism Finding a proper, well-accepted definition of what constitutes terror is extremely difficult. There are many challenges that confront scholars, experts, and everyday people when it comes to
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However, as he mentions, it is when we go beyond this definition is when the problems arise. Another issue is our own individual biases, perceptions, and stereotypes. In the United States, the majority of American citizens would associate a terrorist with someone from the Middle East. However, someone living in Afghanistan or Iraq could have their own idea of a terrorist as an American soldier. This goes to show that another man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, and further proves that how we see ourselves and others is completely different than reality. These preconceived biases and stereotypes further challenge finding a accepted definition of terror. Research into terrorism is another challenge in defining terrorism. According to James Rinehart, “those who write about terrorism, tend to possess a preconceived bias of a ‘problem-solution’ orientation in which he or she is simply attempting to justify a set of counterterrorist prescriptive” (4). This research is unreliable at best because as mentioned previously, preconceived biases and stereotypes tend to become involved. Furthermore, there is little research into the why of terrorism, and also very little research into the psychology of terrorists by actual psychologists. The scarcity of primary, first-hand research and due to the private nature of data that is out there, the challenge to defining
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