Terrorism can be defined as (a) indiscriminate military violence or as (b) indiscriminate military violence by non-state organizations such as revolutionary movements or resistance or, as it is usually understood, as (c) use of terror as a political or military instrument. Because of the disagreements over who is a terrorist, there has been only feeble international cooperation on dealing with terrorism.
Terrorism is a socially constructed notion that is continuously renegotiated at the political level. It is almost a truism that one person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter. Terrorism is generally defined as the symbolic use of actual violence, for political reasons, against non-military targets. By symbolic use, scholars of terrorism suggest that terrorism is successful when its message reaches a large public, much larger than the circle of those actually harmed by it.
The arbitrary nature of dishonesty, the abuse of power, authoritarianism, the subjection of minorities and direct action in the form of coups, components of a general climate of implicit or explicit violence, form the destabilizing cultural context which serve as an internal inducement for the growth of terrorism. Combating terrorism without attacking this cultural context or, even worse, combating terrorism on the basis of this context is a fruitless task. It may end terrorism momentarily, but it will leave untouched the conditions for its re-emergence. The struggle against terrorism can bear fruit only if it is undertaken as a struggle by the whole of society against the roots of its own cultural degradation and lawlessness. The great mistake is to call for the survival of authoritarian structure as a form of prevention of terrorism. To do so would mean giving terrorism the conditions for its own reproduction.
Terrorists are murderers, cold-blooded killers and if people start looking for root causes, devising explanations or making excuses, they are only wasting their time.