What fundamentally distinguishes terrorism from other forms of organized violence is not simply its severity but its features of amorality and antinomianism. Ideologists of terrorism assume that the death and suffering of those who are innocent of any crime are means, entirely justified by their political ends.
Political terror is characterized by: (a) indiscriminateness, (b) unpredictability, (c) arbitrariness, (d) ruthless destructiveness, and (e) implicitly amoral and antinomian nature of a terrorist’s challenge. Political terror may occur in isolated acts and also in the form of extreme, indiscriminate and arbitrary mass violence.
Political terrorism is a sustained policy involving waging of organized terror either on the part of the State, a movement or faction.
Taking terrorism in anti- state sense, there can be said to be three main phases of its history. There is first a prehistory of terrorism, in the sense of acts which could today be called ‘terrorist acts’. Its main form was reflected in several acts of assassination for political and politic religious ends.
The second phase and recent Kargil conflict of terrorism was the use of violence by political groups, especially by anarchists and some nationalists. A third and more complex phase of terrorism dates from the end of Second World War.
Officials and citizens of the colonial state were attacked as part of what ultimately turned to be successful to be successful campaigns for national independence.
According to their main aims and motives, the perpetrators of international terrorism can be divided into five categories.
(i) National terrorists:
These are groups seeking political self-determination. They may wage their struggle in the territory they seek to liberate and from bases abroad.
(ii) Ideological terrorists:
These groups profess to change the whole nature of the existing political, social and economic system.
(iii) Religious fanatics
Some religious groups employ international terrorism to undermine and ultimately overthrow a prevailing religious order which they regard as corrupt and evil.
(iv) Single-issue fanatics:
These groups are obsessed with the desire to change a specific policy or practice within the target society.
(v) State-sponsored terrorism:
This is used as a tool, both of domestic policy and of foreign policy.
International terrorism generated widespread concern in the societies affected, and as a result, it has spread in the world on the whole. Some countries like the USA set up special units to cover anti-terrorism, that is, measures to prevent terrorist acts and counter-terrorism. Then there was terrorism within communal situations, largely in Third World countries.
Here people of different ethnic or religious character, who had often lived side by side for centuries came to be locked in situations of violence and retribution, often involving massacres, mass kidnapping and so forth. Examples of such terrorism were conflicts between Christians and Muslims in Lebanon, Tamils and Sinhalese in Sri Lanka.
Guerrilla warfare is another form of terrorism. The western world realized in the 1960s and 1970s how vulnerable it was to attack by urban guerrillas. Some earlier, mainly anti- colonial, movements had employed tactics akin to those of the urban guerrillas, notably the Jewish Stern Gang and Arab terrorists who attacked the British Mandatory regime in Palestine.
Meeting the challenges of terrorism is not an easy proposition. It will be unrealistic to hope for complete disappearance of terrorism from the face of the earth in near future but to deem it totally impossible is to turn pessimistic.
Let us start removing the pricking nails of hatred, fear and distrust. Let us strive for peace. Let us move, what if the route is long, up and steep. Humanity will win as it has won many such paths.
Means of conducting struggle against terrorism generally polarize around two approaches: (a) the police plus non-violent sanctions approach, and (b) the military approach.
The first approach stresses that what defeats terrorism ultimately is slow, patient police work, foiling plots, defusing bombs, arresting and trying culprits, diplomatic explosions etc. supplemented by, perhaps, economic or other boycotts of an offending state.
The second approach stresses that terrorism deserves, in addition, a more violent response- though one which is more carefully targeted and discriminate than the terrorist acts complained of. The bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi on 14-15 April, 1986 was justified by the American and British Government in these terms.
While dealing with the menace of terrorism Government concerned should be firm in its attitude. There should be no submission to terrorist blackmail. In the face of guns and bombs it would be as foolish to argue with them as it would be to present a protest note to an invading army.
Government must prove that it can meet such threats with force. It should also convince the common people that it can protect them from the terrorist. Above all the Government must seek to avoid alienating the support of the masses of the population.
The other strategy is -to isolate the terrorists from their host population. But this is fraught with risks requiring an extraordinarily high degree of skill, determination and patience on the part of governments and security forces Mo concessions should be made by the government.
If the government is too soft with them they will be encouraged to make more demands, and the other extremist groups will also be encouraged to resort to terrorist blackmail. In order to maintain the morale of the security forces as well as public confidence in government, it is essential that the government rigidly maintains its authority and implements its policies without fear or favour.
At the political level, special or emergency powers and acts may be used to proscribe membership in, or support of, terrorist organizations and forbid the raising of private armies and wearing of para-military uniforms.
Such measures should be combined with banning of marches and demonstrations. The regulation of availability of firearms, use of explosives and sale of dangerous chemicals and weapons is another useful measure.
Vital intelligence network is also necessary to combat terrorists and to conduct psychological warfare operations. Another step in this direction for consideration is the recommendation made by Mr. Harold Wilson in 1972.
He proposed the formation of a specially trained anti- terrorist section with the special skills and resources required. However the best hope for effective action to reduce the vulnerability of liberal democracies to attacks by international terrorists and narco-terrorism lies in the adoption of I stronger anti-terrorist measures by individual governments.