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Terrorism, in its broadest form, refers to the intentional use of indiscriminate violence to instill fear or terror in order to achieve an ideological, religious, or political goal (Greene 781). Terrorism is now classified as a violent crime and fourth-generation warfare. Furthermore, it is regarded as a major societal threat in modern times, and thus an unlawful crime under anti-terrorism laws in some jurisdictions (Greene 783). Terrorism may be considered a war crime under international law, particularly when used against non-combatants such as neutral military members or civilians (Greene 784). However, terrorism has no single definition since it involves a range of activities and practices, all designed to intimidate people or instill fear (Bangura 124). Nevertheless, the Policy and Counterterrorism Guidelines of the Federal Bureau of Investigation has one well-known definition. According to Federal Bureau of Investigation, terrorism is a form of the violent act, or a dangerous act to human life that violates the criminal laws of any state to coerce or intimidate the civilian population, a government, or any group with the aim of meeting specific social or political objectives (Bangura 126).
Meaning of Political Violence
Political violence is a broad terminology that describes violence committed by either governments or persons to attain political goals (Young 2). Most individuals and groups believe that their demands will never get addressed by their political systems. They, therefore, believe that violence is not only necessary but also justified for them to achieve their political goals. In the same way, several governments across the world believe in the use of violence for the purpose of intimidating their populace into an agreement (Young 5). Governments sometimes use force as a way of defending their country from other threats of force or outside invasion, and also as a means of coercing other governments or conquering territory (Young 8).
Political violence may also get defined as a politically motivated violence that is outside of state control (Rak 364). Some political scientists also view political violence as a collective political struggle or a component of the contentious politics, which encompasses such activities as civil war, revolution, strikes, and riots, as well as more peaceful protest movements (Rak 365).
The Difference Between Terrorism and Political Violence
Terrorism is characterized by a standard exclusion from property damage policies as opposed to political violence that involves activities of invasion, war, civil war, hostilities, acts of foreign enemy, revolution, mutiny, insurrection, or military power. In some policies, political violence might involve strikes, riots, civil commotion, and lockout (Young 13).
With political violence, the traditional property damage insurers may have the willingness to reinsert strike, riot, civil commotion, or lockout. However, terrorism typically needs a separate policy. Additionally, terrorism has no single definition, and the separate policy may fail to reflect the exclusion, thereby resulting in a gap (Rak 367).
The definition of terrorism might be an act, including the use of violence or force, by any group or individual, whether acting on behalf of, alone, or in connection with any organization, dedicated for religious, political, or ideological purposes. Such objects may also include the aim of influencing any government or putting the public in fear (Bangura 128). A terrorism policy, therefore, excludes the damage or loss occasioned directly or indirectly by invasion, hostile acts of government or sovereign entities, revolution, rebellion, civil war, and even insurrection among other war violence-related activities (Greene 788). Political violence policy, on the other hand, can provide a broader cover to include revolution, rebellion, civil war, insurrection, or any other hostile acts by a terrorist group and belligerent power, as well as strikes, riots, malicious damage, or civil commotion (Young 16). However, where the cover is available, the cost difference between a political violence policy and a terrorism-only policy is relatively modest and worth considering (Young 19).
Examples of Terrorism Acts
Terrorism acts usually pursue the soft targets which include property areas that provide little security or threat to the terrorists. An example of a terrorist act was the case on 12th October in the year 2000, when the American warship got attacked by suicide bombers, USS Cole (Bangura 129). The Cole was in the Yemen's port at Aden to take on fuel. The terrorists took advantage of the light security around the warship, and a small motorboat loaded with explosives sped up closer to the anchored ship and, without any warning, exploded on the port side. The small boat is reported to have contained about 400-700 explosives that resulted in a 40 by 40-feet rapture in the warship's hull. The Al Qaeda then claimed responsibility for the attack (Bangura 129).
Another example of a terrorist act was the case on 18th September in the year 2001, when letters got mailed to several media outlets, which contained a deadly chemical agent in powder form. The written notes on the letters pointed to extremist religious groups. The toxic chemical agent exposed several people to Anthrax and subsequently many people (Greene 791).
The 21st December 1988 attack on Pan Am Flight 103 is another example of a terrorist act. The plane was moving from Heathrow to JFK when it exploded in the middle of the flight over the Lockerbie town in Scotland. The plane got destroyed completely, and all the passengers on board plus the crew died. Several extremist groups claimed responsibility for the attack (Green 793).
Examples of Acts of Political Violence
One of the examples of political violence is genocide. Genocide refers to systematic or deliberate destruction, in part or whole, of a religious, racial, ethnic, or national group. Genocide typically gets conducted with either the government's covert or overt support in various countries where genocide acts occur. The most cited example of genocide in history is the Holocaust (Young 20).
Political violence can also take the form of police brutality, which has the characteristic of the excessive use of force (Rak 369). Police brutality can be defined of the violation of civil rights that takes place when police officers act with excessive force when restoring order by employing the use of an amount of force to civilians, that is more than necessary. Cases of police brutality are common across the world, and they cause several injuries and fatalities to members of the public (Rak 371).
Another example of political violence is rioting, which refers to a violence disturbance by a group of people who gather to protest perceived injustice and wrongs (Rak 381). Such injustices and wrongs can range from inequality and poverty to government opposition and unemployment. The rioters can manifest themselves in several ways, but in most cases in the form of damage to properties, and it is usually difficult for the authorities to identify the individuals participating in property destruction (Rak 382).
Bangura, Abdul Karim. "Terrorism And "Islamic Terrorism": The Definition Debate." Journal of Islamic Studies and Culture 3.2 (2015): n. 123-131. Web.
Greene, Alan. "The Quest For A Satisfactory Definition Of Terrorism: R V Gul." The Modern Law Review 77.5 (2014): 780-793. Web.
Rak, Joanna. "Contra-Acculturative Thought As The Source Of Political Violence." Terrorism and Political Violence 28.2 (2016): 363-382. Web.
Young, Joseph K. "Measuring Terrorism." Terrorism and Political Violence (2016): 1-23. Web.
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