Nature and causes of Terrorism

An International peace and understanding is unattainable at present conjuncture. This is caused by the presence of many factors which explicitly threat the world peace and understanding. Among of these factors includes natural cause like presence of diseases such as Malaria and HIV/ AIDS, environmental hazards such as floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruption just mention a few.

But also there are manmade causes such as civil wars, apartheid, slave trade, drugs human being trafficking and Terrorism. This piece of words has been put in place to conceptualize what terrorism means, nature, the causes and consequences in the contemporary societies.

Meaning of terrorism

There is no an exhaustive/ outstanding definition of the word terrorism depending on the nature of event committed and the reason behind. Different scholars deine terrorism differenly depending on various factors.

NATO defines terrorism as “The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence against individuals or property in an attempt to coerce or intimidate governments or societies so as to achieve political, religious or ideological objectives”. (The AAP-06 NATO Glossary of Terms and Definitions, Edition 2014

Terrorismin the broadest sense can be defined as the use of intentionally indiscriminate violence as a means to create terror among masses of people; or fear to achieve a financial, political, religious or ideological aim. It is used in this regard primarily to refer to violence against peacetime targets or in war against non-combatants.

Ken and Dunne, (2002:28) defined terrorism as a method of political action that uses violence (or deliberately practices fear) against civilians and against civilian infrastructure in order to influence behavior, to inflict punishment or to exact revenge.

For the perpetrators, the point is to make the target group afraid of today, an afraid of tomorrow and an afraid of each other.

Terrorism is an act, not an ideology. Its instrument are assassination, mass murdering, hijacking, bombing, kidnapping and intimidation, such acts can be committed by states as well as private people.

In this regard there is complexity in defining the term terrorism, it depend the perception of individual .For example the Boers government in South Africa regarded Africa National Congress struggle as the terrorism action, but it was the legitimate struggle for independence, like Mau-Mau in Kenya was regarded by British government as the terrorism action .But also Yasser Arafat the Palestinian leader according to Americans he was nothing but a terrorist. Defining terrorism clearly depends which side you are on, and which side wins in the end.

Terrorism can shortly be defined as “The unlawful use of force or threatened violence against individuals or property in an attempt to coerce or intimidate governments or societies so as to achieve political, religious or ideological objectives”. It involves the instrument (acts) such as assassination, mass murdering/ genocide, hijacking, bombing, kidnapping and intimidation.

Some of the most prominent terrorist organizations in the world are as follows:-

Abu Nidal Organization (ANO), it was formed in 1974 was an offshoot of Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), which was thought not to be sufficient aggressive. The (ANO) was committed to completely independent Palestinian state had bases in Lebanon and Palestine and drew support from Syria, Sudan and Libya. It was responsible for many attacks on airports in Rome and Vienna (1985) and a number of aircraft hijackings.

Hizbollah (Party of God) also knows as Islamic jihad (Holy war) was formed in Lebanon in 1982 after Israel invasion, Majority were Shia Muslim who embraced the doctrine of Ayatollah Khomeini, the ruler of Iran. They aimed to set Islamic state in Lebanon, also aimed to expel the Israelis from Palestine .It has been responsible in different attacks on the US embassy in Beirut in1985, seizing a number of western hostages in 1987, including Terry Waite, a special peace envoy sent by Archbishop of Canterbury, they attacked the Israel embassy in Argentina (1992) and later by (1994) attacked Israeli cultural Centre.

 Al – Qaeda (The Base) it is the famous terrorist group at present time. It consists of mainly Sunni Muslims and formed toward the end of 1980 is as a part of struggle to expel the Soviet forces which had invaded Afghanistan in 1979. Al- Qaeda was sponsored and trained by USA. When Russia withdrew from Afghanistan al- Qaeda expanded its horizons. It began a general campaign in support of the establishment of Islamic government, Special target was the non religions conservative regime in Saud Arabia (Osama bin Laden’s homeland) which was supported by USA and garrisoned by American troops Al – Qaeda’s aim was to force the Americans to withdraw their troops so that Islamic regime would be able to come on power, a secondary aim was to bring an end to US support for Israel. It has organized many terrorism attacks against America. The notable terrorism attack was the 11 September 2001 attack whereby four airliners on internal flights in the USA were hijacked. The first one was deliberately crashed into the 110- storey North Tower of the world trade centre in New York. A quarter an hour later the second plane crashed into the south Tower. In the mean time a third plane was flown into the pentagon (US department of defense) and the fourth plane missed its target and crashed in a rural area of Pennsylvania not far from Pittsburgh (Low, 2005: 266 – 270)

The Tamil Tiger in Sri – Lanka .The member of this group were Hindus living in the North and East of Sri –Lanka, whereas the majority of the island’s populations were Buddhist. The Tiger campaigned since 1980 for an Independent homeland, using suicide bombings, assassination of leading politician and attack on public building and Buddhist Shrines. The notorious action was the assassination of Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi of India in 1991.

The Africa Nation Congress (ANC), it is probably the most successful terrorist group. Originally, formed in 1912.It was adopted violence method in the early 1960 when apartheid became more brutal. After long campaign the white supremacist government eventually succumbed to pressure from world opinion as well as from ANC. Nelson Mandela was released (1990) and multi-racial elections were held (1994) Mandela the former “terrorist” become the first black president of South Africa.

Other recognized terrorism groups include Tupamaru revolutionary movement in Peru which aimed to rid the country of US influence, Boko Haram (Nigeria), Al-Shabab (Somalia) the Islamic Group in Algeria which aim to set up an Islamic state in place of existing non-religious government and the National Liberation Army in Bolivia which aim to end the country of US influence.

Generally the terrorism groups have enforcements against the oppressors, humiliation and exploiters. They have been using violence against the oppressors. These include hijacking, insurgencies, seizing a number of western hostages, suicide bombing and direct attacking using different weapons.


Terrorism has been broadly divided into two categories:-

Non – democracy terrorism

These are groups which have sparked violence against their aggressors for example Francisco Franco of Spain, the shining path in Peru under Alberto Fujimori; Africa National Congress used “Umkontho we Sizwe” against an apartheid regime. The aims of these groups were to coerce their opponents to change the ruling system. Other terrorism of this kind has been reported in Philippines, Palestine against Israel’s Jews, Indonesia, United State of America, India and United Kingdom

The Religious terrorism

It is the type of terrorism performed by the groups or individual on which their motivation is typically rooted in the faith based tenets i.e. to spread or enforces a system of belief, view point or opinion. Example, of this system is Muslim fundamentalist or fanatics in the Middle East under groups like Al- Qaeda and Al- Shabab in Somalia which fight to install Muslim faith.


Terrorism as an action which applies the use of violence has got this nature.

Terrorism is intentional. This means the terrorist have their intended goals .aims and mission of performing certain terrorist action, example, to liberate the oppressed people or to install certain principles i.e. religious principles.

Terrorism is rational. The planers for terrorism action are very careful and think critically before any action. The process of terrorism goes gradually and perfectly planed example the planning to attack World Trade Centre stated in 1996 but the action took place in 11th September 2001.

 Terrorism is act of violence. No any peaceful means is applied by terrorists groups they rather use violence i.e. biological weapons, chemical weapons suicide bombing and other ways like aero plane hijacking.

 Causes fear. Terrorism is inevitable causing fears among of the people. This is because the terrorist can take place any place, anywhere and anytime, thus people are normally insecure and fears because of the past incidents, example it is possible for an Americans to fear because they have been a targeted population by Al – Qaeda group.

Target audience or society. Terrorism action targets certain population for example Umkontho We Sizwe militia targeted Boers governmental official, buildings and offices. , September 11 attack in United States of America targeted, the Americans. Al- Shabaab group in Somalia targets the non- Muslim believers and the Somalia government.

For the purpose of changing behavior in that audience or society. This means any action is done to bring certain change, for example change from dictatorship to democratic principle, changing from traditional belief to more pronounced religions belief i.e. Muslim fundamental resist being occupied or colonized by other nation, to attain social justice, anti-imperialism and so forth.


The causes of Terrorism is quite controversial among of the world’s Philosophers, Historians, Political scientists and Psychologists .Among of these scholars no one has given the real causes of terrorism .

But the available evidences show that terrorism is caused by:-

Ethnicity and extremely nationalism. In some places terrorism has been enhanced with extremely nationalism or ethinism, some tribal/ ethnic groups exerts force against other ethnic groups on a struggle to occupy certain position or appropriation of some resources for example authority, political independence, and thing like employment and so forth. This struggle induces one ethnic group to form terrorism group against the competitor.

Religious factors. It is other cause of terrorism, is a kind of terrorism performed by group or individual, the motivation of which is typically rooted in the faith based tenets i.e. aim to spread or enforce a system of belief, view point or opinion. This of kind of terrorism has based on world religious group like Christianity and Islam. In order to spread their belief to non believers they have spread it by force through terrorism action, for example, fundamentalist Muslims in the Middle East backed by Al-Qaeda group has operated all over the world operating through suicide bombing . Another example, the Al – Shabaab group in Somalia has enforced Sharia and has been using terrorism action to traditional Muslims or non Muslim believers. However, some Western society associates Christianity theory as the main cause of terrorism.

Ideological factors. Ideology is the set of belief, especially one held by a particular group, which influences the way people behave. For example, the enforcement of socialism ideology in USSR (Russian) was done through Bolsheviks terrorism group removed the monarchy class of Tsar .Others have been anti – Socialism and anti-imperialism terrorism which have profoundly operated in Africa countries.

A strive for freedom or political independence. Is other cause of terrorism in the sense that, a certain group or people, struggles to be free from political impediments, example in many African Nations. African used numerous ways in liberating themselves from Colonialism. In South Africa there was a terrorist’s wing under Africa National Congress termed as Umkontho we Sizwe which strived for political independence of Africans mass against Boers regime (Apartheid).

Poverty and economic disadvantages. Devastating poverty and unequal accessibility to opportunities among of the people do triggers terrorism emergence. Economic disadvantages has been spearheaded by globe change of policies included globalization .This has caused privatization which has exerted unemployment and henceforth poverty .The victims have  been willingly joining the terrorism groups and engaging in suicide bombing.

Non- existence of democracy/ dictatorship tendencies. The countries in which democratic principle are not prevailing, terrorism is i These include lack of rule of law, free and fair election, accountability and transparent just mention a few, do sparks to emergence of group which violate against the government. Many countries face terror because of absence of democracy example in Cuba, Philippine and Burma (Myanmar).

All in all terrorism action has been a crime which has been affecting the world community politically, economically and socially. Henceforth, there is a need of quick diplomatic remedies by an International community rather than use of military insurgence on terrorist groups. Because the later has been used but failed to come out with a positive results.


There are numerous impacts caused by terrorism in the world. These impacts have adversely affecting the wellbeing of human race as follows.

It has led increase in government expenditure all over the world. For example, the Europeans nations and United State of America spends a lot of money in the war against terrorism. Beside, the country like united state of America formed US Army Special Reaction Teams (SRT) and Combat Application Group (CAG). Also even developing nations have increased their national budget by training their armies and buying some science and technology devices to detect terrorism movements.

Terrorism has motivated manufacturing of mass killing weapons. Example Al- Qaeda manufactured Anthrax which affected people in European nation, besides the manufacturing or a threat to manufacture nuclear and biological weapons has been motivated by terrorists especially in the Middle East.

Destruction of properties, terrorism operation has targeted buildings, transport and communication infrastructures  , industries and so forth , Through suicide bombings has enhanced  demolishing of buildings and infrastructures, for example underground bombing in England and Spain, India Hotel in 2010 , Bali bombing which contributed to   destroy Airplane, on September 2001 world Trade Centre was demolished by Al-Qaeda hijackers. But also in Philippine the terrorist action demolished the night club .This has became difficult for the victim countries to reinstall these properties because requires a lot of money.

Mass killing. The operation of terrorism has caused mass killing of innocent people all over the world. For example, about three thousands people died in USA on 11th September, 2001 in United States of America. Suicide bombing has recently killed some people in Uganda when watching football match,  in the middle East suicide bombings are common .Besides, wars on terror has caused the death of many people, example USA troops operation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Terrorism has affected much the tourism industry. Since the occurrence of terrorism incidents, tourism industry has been adversely affected in many nations of the world. This is because tourists from many parts of the world have been threatened with terrorism operation. The volume of people moving from one place to other has drastically declined .Consequently, the problems of unemployment, lack of foreign currencies and poor utilization of resources have reported in many countries of Africa, Latin America and Asia.

Terrorism affects industrial production and supplying chain. The Industrialized countries have been affected with terrorism operation because it has altered the smooth operation of international trade, this is because people have not always moving from one place to other due to the threats of terrorism .This has greatly affected the production and the way of supplying their products . Thus, it has consequently affected the world economic status of many countries.

Terrorism weakens competence in the government and political leadership of the target countries. If the government is targeted with terrorism losses confidence, also cause threat and insecurity among of government leaders. It has occurred in the countries such as Afghanistan, Philippine and Israel.

The evidences which are available reveal that from 1980’s and 1990’s suicide attacks increased in their frequency .Up until the moment terrorism has threatened the world socio- economic development and no any measures which have already put in place .Thus there is a need to have International peace and understanding through a diplomatic way, for example, arbitration and reconciliation through table negotiation with terrorist leaders

Role of big powers in maintaining world peace and understanding

The world peace and understanding is unattainable throughout the globe. Many countries are still facing the socio–economic and political problems. Thus, the big powers have responsibilities in maintaining International peace and understanding in order to make the world a better place for wellbeing of human race. But, before going in detail let us first conceptualize the meaning of big powers and its role in maintaining world peace and understanding.

Who are big powers?

These are countries or group of countries which are powerful in military, technologically and economically. These countries include USA, Britain, China, Japan, France and Italy, but also include group of countries which are forming the United Nation Organization (UNO), the Commonwealth and the European Union (EU). These organs are directly responsible in maintaining world peace and understanding.

The following are roles of big powers in maintaining world peace and understanding

Promoting the peaceful use of the outer space and oppose the intrusion of weapons and arms race in the outer space. China and Russia for example in 2018 submitted to the conference on disarmament draft treaty on prevention of the placement of weapons in the outer space and the threat or use of military weapon against outer space objects.

Oppose the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and actively take part in international non proliferation efforts

Building up political relations of equality, mutual trust, and seeking common ground while putting aside differences among them

Cooperating worldwide to cope with the challenges like terrorism, environmental pollution, etc.

Taking preventive diplomacy to manage and alleviate conflicts within and between small powers

To react to massive abuses of populations by primary antagonists in internal state conflicts

Taking effort to combat the illicit trade and small arms and light weapons through the arms trade treaty.



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