Crime VS Terrorism

In recent times there has been a great debate about which crimes constitute as terrorism and others which are simply called hate-crimes, different from terrorism, or those just described as a normal crime. The recent terrorist acts committed by terrorist organizations has forced many countries to change their laws to properly define terrorism under their jurisdiction, yet still some ambiguity remains.

The definition of terrorism provided in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is political in nature and this leads to much debate about which crimes to brand as terroristic acts.

Many, usually those in support of the ideology of terrorists, don’t see terrorism as a crime but justifiable on the ground that their grievances should be heard, or because they claim to have superiority over those who don’t believe in their ideology or causes. An example of this is Sardar Baghat Singh who threw bombs in a legislative assembly in British occupied India. He was seen as a hero, martyr and a symbol of resistance to the British rule, however his actions undoubtedly fit the definition of terrorism and he was tried and hanged for terrorism by the British regime. He is even commemorated in India today with a large bronze statue in the Parliament of India.

Another difference between the two is that, in terms of the law in many countries, terrorism charges carry a harsher penalty than normal crimes. This is done to deter any future terrorist acts committed, however it is well known that terrorists have their political motives and ideology so ingrained into them that even the death penalty is not much of a deterrence. Terrorist also tend to not plead guilty, even if it means a reduction in sentence, since in their mind doing so is admitting to any wrong doing, and terrorists usually never repent or feel guilty for their actions. To compound matters even morem in many jurisdictions the charge of terrorism carries extra burden of proof since the charges also rely on proving motive and other psychological factors. Due to this, some crimes, although fitting the definition of terrorism, are not charged as such due to the difficulty in securing a conviction for it.

Terrorism is a problem facing the modern world, which many have taken steps towards eradicating with the recent war on terror. There are many differences between normal crime and terrorism but many legal and political matters add a layer of ambiguity between the two. What is clear however is that it’s completely unacceptable and repugnant to kill in the name of an ideology.