chapter  1
Criminals and Terrorists: An Introduction
ByJames J. F. Forest
Pages 9

On January 24, 1878, a Russian revolutionary named Vera Zasulich became a populist hero after shooting and seriously wounding Colonel Fyodor Trepov, the oppressive and widely reviled governor of St. Petersburg who had recently abused a political prisoner. At her trial, when asked why she threw down her gun after the attack, she responded, ‘‘I am a terrorist not a murderer.’’1 Vera’s belief in the legitimacy of her actions-to her, the shooting was an act of political justice, not criminality-reflects a common theme throughout the world of terrorism, a world full of ideological attempts to justify violence. Criminals are motivated by a broad spectrum of reasons like personal enrichment, revenge, hatred of others, passion, psychological angst, and so forth, while terrorists believe that their actions-even the most violent or criminal-are justified by a higher cause. And yet, it remains difficult sometimes to separate terrorist and criminal activity. For example, terrorists maim, kill, and destroy, and it would be difficult to find a court of law anywhere in the civilized world that does not view these as crimes, regardless of motives or ultimate goals. Terrorists have also routinely engaged in money laundering, theft, fraud, extortion, smuggling (including drugs, weapons, and humans), bank robbery, and many other kinds of criminal activity.