People use words loosely sometimes and ‘terrorism’ has been used more loosely than most. Terrorism is a tactic, widely used by combatants of all stripes. It is the deliberate commission of atrocities for the purpose of immobilising one’s enemy, or making him less effective, through fear. It has also been called ‘shock and awe’ which sounds much better.

IS (or ISIS, ISIL, DAESH*) has certainly employed terrorism to cow the populations of the land it has invaded, and to discourage armed opposition from Iraq and Turkey. But the beheadings that have become an IS trademark are not acts of terrorism. They are designed not to cow but to outrage and provoke the people and governments of the countries whose citizens they are targeting. They want us to put those much talked-of boots on the ground.

Why? They are confident that they can beat us, either because they have Allah’s backing or because they believe (with some reason) that we will grow tired of the game before they do, yielding a victory that will confirm their dominance and force global acceptance of their caliphate.

The most superstitious among their followers may also seek martyrdom and the rewards they have been promised. What better martyrdom than at the hands of a well-armed western infidel?

What do you think? Should the term ‘terrorism’ be applied to the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip, or to the retaliatory attacks of the Israeli Government? Perhaps these too are designed to provoke rather than to intimidate. And what about Boko Haram, Al-Shabab, the Lord’s Resistance Army… are they trying to induce compliance through fear? Or are they just psychopaths who enjoy what they do?

There is much more to say about this subject. Please let me know your views.


* For an explanation of the acronym DAESH I recommend http://pietervanostaeyen.wordpress.com.

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