Q. What are the tactical or strategic reasons for resorting to terrorism?

Essay by LizeUniversity, Bachelor's May 2004

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Reasons for resorting to terrorism vary as much as the types of people who commit terrorist acts. Terrorism generates psychological fear beyond the immediate act. Terrorist acts are a powerful medium because they undermine the rules of the state and international society. This essay will define terrorism before the strategic and tactical motivations behind terrorist acts will be discussed.

Terrorism is increasingly becoming defined for society by the media. The ambiguity of the term has arisen from the media's need to formulate words that cover acts of violence targeted against society, and label them as something similar ( Hoffman, 1998, 13 ). Hoffman ( 1998 ) defines terrorism as " violence - or equally important, the threat of violence - used and directed in pursuit of, or in service of, a political aim. " ( Hoffman, 1998, 15 ) Reference to the term terrorism throughout this essay can adopt this definition.

Strategic and tactical motivations behind a terrorist act are incredibly varied. States and official movements such as El Salvador and the Palestine Liberation Organisation ( PLO ) , have engaged in the use of terrorist tactics to repress and control their own citizens, political rivals, enemies and minority groups challenging power. Movements and factions known as terrorist organisations act with the hope of achieving varied outcomes, some of which include; fighting for political revolution, against land / property invasion, life interference or policy / legislation change and the restraining of certain groups and behaviour. ( Wilkinson, 1977 )

Terrorists often believe that they have exhausted all attempts at legitimate change, and have no other option to bring recognition to their cause and change to their society. Terrorist groups vary according to their motivations, aims and the means taken towards achieving these aims. Motivations often include religion, politics, economics and...