After the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center towers in 2001, terrorism became a common term in the lexicon of both the American media and society as a whole. Since that time, news outlets, along with people, are more careful about the usage of terrorism. A rudimentary definition categorizes terrorism as criminal acts performed by groups “to instill fear, coerce, or intimidate people in order to get them to alter their beliefs and/or day-to-day activities. The basic goals of terrorism are to cause casualties, destroy critical infrastructure, disrupt the economy, and interrupt daily routine.” (Bennett 31)

Unfortunately, the term terrorism is subject to a person’s perspective on an event. Walter Laqueur notes in Age of Terrorism, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” (7) This is a concept that multiple news outlets have addressed. They currently use more descriptive adjectives, such as “gunman”, “suicide-bomber”, and “attackers”. These terms inform and are objective, whereas the label of terrorist implies a subjective analysis conducted by the reporter.

            The gray area of what is terrorism is clearly exemplified in Steven Spielberg’s movie, Munich. The members of Black September who took the eleven Israeli Olympians hostage and eventually murdered them, sought to make a political statement to the government of Israel about a Palestinian homeland. Conversely, the Mossad assassins, in retaliation, were enacting revenge for the murders by murdering Black September leaders. Both groups were performing terrorist acts upon the other, but it depended on the perspective it was viewed from.

Works Cited

Bennett, Brian T. “Terrorism: Assessing the Risk of WMD & Minimizing Exposure.” Professional Safety 48.10 (2003): 31-38. Print.

Laqueur, Walter. The Age of Terrorism. Boston: Little, Brown, 1987. Print.

Munich. Dir. Steven Spielberg. Perf. Eric Bana and Daniel Craig. Dreamworks SKG, 2005. DVD.