One could probably write an entire essay on the various ways in which terrorism has been explained, but for our purposes we will stick to two accepted meanings of the term. While the dictionary meaning is ‘the use of violence and threats of violence, especially for political purposes’, a 2004 United Nations Security Council report describes it as any act ‘intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a government or an international organisation to do or abstain from doing any act’.
It is no secret that all around the world there exist governments that covertly or otherwise themselves indulge in acts of terrorism (in fact terrorism originated as a state action), and it would be wrong to think of terrorists as people who live outside the pale of law and carry out destructive acts. This unsavoury fact further complicates the issue of terrorism, and makes its solution more elusive than ever. It also lends credence to the oft-repeated saying that ‘One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.’
At the bottom of the whole problem is man’s propensity to overuse violence as a means of achieving his ends. However much this mentality is outwardly decried by politicians, this is often a public posture, and the inside story is quite different. More and more, entire generations are brought up on a cult of violence propagated by commercial movies, best-selling books, video games and the like.
With the blessings of big business, it all passes off in the name of legitimate entertainment, but it warps the impressionable minds of the young, and is instrumental in creating the insecure world that we live in today. All said and done, it is this growing sense of insecurity in the minds of people that most of all makes terrorism a modem curse.
There existed a moral principle once that a virtuous life acted as a shield against mishap and misfortune. Modern terrorist acts,...