Omar Malik

This paper provides the important first steps both to understanding terrorism and to formulating a proper response.

In 1977 Walter Laqueur predicted accurately that "disputes about a detailed, comprehensive definition of terrorism will continue for a long time, they will not result in a consensus and they will make no notable contribution towards the understanding of terrorism." Attempts to incorporate the many manifestations of terrorism within a single definition were doomed from the start. The term 'terrorism' has been applied across the whole spectrum of political violence and over the centuries of history. It has been applied to times of war and of peace; to the actions of states, groups, and individuals; to actions against liberal states and actions against repressive states and dictatorships. To treat terrorism as a general concept separates the action from its context, and consequently from its intention and its justification. Almost a quarter of a century after Laqueur's prophetic words, Omar Malik's paper charts a route out of the definitional log-jam. It provides the important first steps both to understanding terrorism and to formulating a proper response.