The U.S. Law code defines terrorism as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.” (Zalman)  Brooke Barnett & Amy Reynolds use Brigitte Nacos definition of terrorism which describes terrorism as “political violence against noncombatants or symbolic targets which is designed to communicate a message to a broader audience.” (Barnett & Reynolds, 2009, p. 16) Personally, I do not like using the word terrorism since one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.  If I were to agree on a definition, I would go with Nacos’ definition of it.  The reason why is because there is no target that is off limits to a terrorist.  Civilians, politicians, and soldiers are all acceptable targets.  Also, the whole reason for an attack is always to send a message.  Al-Qaeda releases videos stating their reasons for an attack(s) and what they want to be done.  It is the flexing of muscle by an opponent considered not as powerful compared to the target entity.

Reference

Barnett, B., & Reynolds, A. (2009). Terrorism & the Press. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing.

Zalman, A. (n.d.). Definitions of Terrorism.  About.com.  Retrieved from http://terrorism.about.com/od/whatisterroris1/ss/DefineTerrorism_5.htm