Terrorism defines actions of violence against civil population and political order by non-governmental bodies.

The differentiation of Terrorism against, for example, Guerrilla or independence war, is that terrorism is action that is not a military strategy for gaining territory, but rather a communication strategy for causing fear and public anxiety, in order to induce political changes or repress population groups. Terrorism can be identified as targeting civilians, while the guerrilla warfare is focused on national armies, and implies ideological motivation. For this reason, terrorism has not yet been defined by the United Nations. After the attack towards Israelis during the Olympic games in Munich in 1972, the move toward coining a definition was countered by Asian, African and Arabian nations that argued, that a definition would simply enable any oppressive state to declare any liberation movement one of terrorism. This definition would support any established order structures against any non-established demands, disregarding political or humanitarian arguments.

Terrorism is classified by motivations: social revolutionary terrorism describes political left terrorist groups such as the RAF, which disappeared in the western world after the cease of the cold war, but still existing in Latin America and South-East Asia. Ethnic-national terrorism defines acts of violence for the liberation of a population group, for example, the ETA or the IRA. Religious terrorism defines an act performed in a religious context with holy motives. While these forms of terrorism oppose the established political order, conservative, vigilant terrorism aims at supporting the established order with the aim to break the law of this order. This can be, for example, paramilitary movements in Latin-American countries.

Although a contemporary problem, the phenomenon of terrorism is not new: the Zealots and Sicarii were a terrorist group against the order of the Roman Empire in the first century P.D., the Assassins for an Islamic terrorist group were active from the 11th until the 13th century.

The term State Terrorism defines actions of a state implemented by the executive, military, police or the judiciary with means of violence that target the civil population, or accept civil victims. Historic examples are the German Nazi Regime (1933-1945), the Cultural Revolution in China (1966-1976), or the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in Chile (1973-1990)

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