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Varieties of Terrorism

Extended to the experience of the terrorized (Part #1)

Engendering terror through intimidation
Broadening the taxonomy of terrorism
Questions in distinguishing terror and terrorism
Distinguishing degrees of fear and terror
Training for intimidation and terrorism
"Terrorism-alpha" vs "Terrorism-beta"

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This note endeavours to clarify the variety of ways in which terror is deliberately caused or experienced. The purpose is to provide a reminder -- which should not be necessary -- that the phenomenon of "terrorism" also exists outside the specific domains in which "anti-terrorist" security measures are taken. Ironically it could be argued that the official focus on the more narrowly defined forms of "terrorism" is one of the most effective means of obscuring other forms of terrorism to which far more people are exposed. Typologies and taxonomies of "terrorism" seldom make any reference to such other forms of terrorism and should therefore be considered incomplete in the acknowledgement of the variety of ways in which people are intimidated. It is worth recalling that the prime objective of "terrorism" is inducing a climate of fear.

And yet it is precisely such other, more widespread, forms of "terrorism" which are characteristic of any "breeding ground" for "terrorists" in the narrower sense. It could be argued that many of these other varieties of "terrorism" are not "serious", and some may even be understood as negligible since they imply no threat of death. But the question is whether they give rise to commensurate fear -- as perceived and experienced by those exposed to such intimidation -- or whether such fear is to be devalued and demeaned in comparison with that associated with the more narrowly defined forms of terrorism.

It is useful to reflect on how it is that the most powerful nations in modern civilization have invested so much in countering the narrower form of terrorism, whether in terms of funds, human resources or intelligence. And yet relatively little is effectively invested in the response to the forms of terror that many experience on a daily basis. It is almost as though resources are allocated in highly visible response to an elusive enemy as a means of avoiding any response to far more frequently experienced forms of terror in the daily lives of many. The systematic counter-terrorist security measures might even be said to be engendering more terror than those deliberately undertaking occasional conventional "terrorist" actions.

It is also worth recalling that it is not only the prospect of physical violence that causes fear but also various forms of contextual or structural violence. Fear is an unpleasant feeling of perceived risk or danger, real or not. Fear also could be described as a feeling of extreme dislike to some conditions/objects, such as: fear of darkness, fear of ghosts, etc [more]. Inability to guarantee sufficient food or water, especially for vulnerable dependents, may engender deep existential fear on a daily basis.

r, especially for vulnerable dependents, may engender deep existential fear on a daily basis.

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