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What is terrorism?

“Terrorism” is a tactic: although defined in various ways, it essentially means an act that inflicts fear on the public by using coercion or intimidation. Terrorism is most often used for political purposes, often as a means to resist or change government policies and directions. Although there is no universally agree-upon definition (studies have found over 100 definitions of the word), terrorism is most commonly associated with violent acts intended to impose fear, for religious, political or ideological goals.

The United Nations has attempted for years to define terrorism. In November 2004, a report by the United Nations Secretary General used the following definition, which is as clear and coherent: Terrorism is any act “intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act.”