chapter  9
16 Pages

Terrorism

Terrorism, historically, has been a concern for the international community. In 1937 the League of Nations introduced the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Terrorism, which, although never coming into force, did offer a definition of the act of terrorism: ‘All criminal acts directed against a state and intended or calculated to create a state of terror in the minds of particular people’ (UN Office on Drugs and Crime 2005). Table 9.1 outlines the definitions of terrorism adopted by various US agencies. Between 1963 and 28 September 2001 there had been 12 conventions and protocols signed in the United Nations, but there was no single universally accepted definition of terrorism (Mazzitelli interview 2004). The reason for this anomaly was that the term ‘terrorism’ was value laden within political spheres: ‘one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.’ That much-used phrase was used to describe post-colonial or anti-apartheid liberation movements which resorted to violence as their last weapon against injustice.1 In any case, violent and sporadic attacks against peoples for many differing reasons have been known throughout history, for example in the Roman Empire, during the French Revolution and within Russia in the nineteenth century.2 Although

currently terrorism of the Islamist variety is the focus of attention, in sub-Saharan Africa three indigenous groups were identified by the US State Department as ‘terrorist’ organisations: Al Itihad Al Islamiyya, an Islamist group in Somalia; the Lord’s Resistance Army, a Christian group in Uganda; and the former military regime in Rwanda, the ex-FAR. Yet al-Qaeda cells and Hezbollah have been found to be active in a number of countries (Piombo 2007).