Terrorism (from Lat. – terror) is a socially dangerous activity; a conscious, deliberate use of violence by hostage-taking, arson, murder, torture, intimidation or any other attacks on life or health of innocent people. The definition of “terrorism” is a knotty question, because nowadays there are over 100 definitions of this phenomenon. However, none of them is widely recognized and supported by the international community.
Various dictionaries define terrorism in several ways. In the legal dictionary, for example, international terrorism is defined as a violent act, committed against individuals or objects, particularly those that are protected by international law (murder of foreign officials, explosions of embassies and missions’ organizations, headquarters of international organizations, public places, streets, airports, railway stations and others).
Terrorism should be distinguished from Latin word “terror”, from which it derived, as it possesses a slightly different meaning. Terror is violence against people, the aim of which is to suppress the opposition and the entire public, in order to eliminate any thoughts of resistance they might have. Terrorism, on the other hand, is violence of the weaker force, usually expressed by a few individuals with exceptionally radical views. It is a criminal activity that can be characterized by intimidating the public and authorities in order to achieve a criminal intent.
Terrorism as a phenomenon has two main illustrative purposes: first – to put pressure on the authorities, to intimidate, to spread fear and uncertainty; second – to address their target audience, that layer of society, which is believed to be subjected to persecution or discrimination, but inferior to radical terrorists.
The meaning and the definition of the word “terrorism” has changed over the years and acquired new meanings. For example, with the advent of the XIX century, this term was not extended to military action and defined a political struggle. The term “terrorism” began to take on signs of political assassinations, and the concept of “terror” implied the repressive actions of the state.