Defense & Security

Terrorism as Genocide: Killing with “Intent”

0 511
Political violence can include intra-state or inter-state actions. Flanigan and Fogelman described domestic political violence as coups, rebellions, civil wars, political assassinations, major rioting, etc. However, political violence also encompasses genocide, mass killings, protests, terrorism and other forms of direct action.  Violence is a form of direct political action used by individuals and governments in an attempt to achieve a political goal; both genocide and terrorism fall under this category.

BY ASHLIE PERRY | October 07, 2012


Etzioni (2004) becks the question “Under what conditions is democracy undermined?” in order to effectively wage war on terrorism. International relations have defined actors as both state and non-governmental organizations at the international level. Forms of violent acts, like terrorism, have changed the previous definition of “actors”. Terrorism, as well as other acts of political violence, has shifted the focus from large scale conflicts between nation states to small arm battles.  It is defined many ways by different institutions, depending on the institutions’ agenda. The varying views of terrorism ultimately affect the way that each institution, state or government responds to terrorist acts. Despite the plethora of definitions, there are some commonalities.  Terrorism is a form of direct political action used by individuals and governments in an attempt to achieve a political goal. For terrorist, the belief in major transformation of society, or millenarianism, allows for personal redemption even though violence is used (Crenshaw M. , “Has the Motivation of Terrorists Changed?”, 2006).

There are more than 86, 000 documented terrorist attacks from 1970- 2008 alone (START Database).  The prevalence of genocide has also increased in recent history. This brings forth the current research questions; can terrorism be a form of genocide? Can terrorism result in genocide or genocidal acts? Have there been instances of genocidal terrorism since the term was coined in 1945?

The argument put forth that terrorism, when using definitions previsouly established in genocide studies, certain condition of terrorism can be classified as a form of genocide. Terrorism, according to Raphael Lemkin’s definition, can be used as a form of genocide. This does not evoke the argument that all cases of terrorism are genocide nor that all genocides are acts of terrorism. However, the argument is put forth that non- state and state terrorism can be used as a form of genocide.

Drawing upon the New York Public Library’s Raphael Lemkin Archives (1947-1959), Lemkin’s definition of genocide, in contrast to the 1948 UN Convention definition, is used to draw comparisons between the concepts of genocide and terrorism.  Would terrorism be considered a form of genocide under both Raphael Lemkin and the UN Genocide Convention’s definitions of genocide?

Lemkin also addresses the motivations to use genocide and the psychological scars that are evoked during and after genocides occur. The intent to evoke “fear, sorrow, pain, etc”, mass movement, crowd behavior of actions against others, and the linkage between nationalism and genocide were used to describe genocide. Similarly some of the scars and motivations described by Lemkin are used in the psychological studies of terrorism. The research question emerges, what is the difference between terrorism and genocide?

© Copyright 2012 by CESRAN

About the author / 


Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  • 25th Issue is Online Now!

    Vol. VI | No. IV – October-November-December 2020 To Download the Magazine Click Here… CONTENTS 05-13….. World News by Ebru Birinci 15-20….. The Jungle Grows Back How can We Redefine the Future World Order in the Tension of Power and Ideas? by Marco Marsili 22-29….. Interview With Professor Katharyne Mitchell by Ozgur Tufekci & Rahman…

  • 24th Issue is Online Now!

    Vol. VI | No. III – July-August-September 2020 To Download the Magazine Click Here… CONTENTS 05-14….. World News by Ebru Birinci 17-24….. Preparedness for an Uncertain Future “The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself” by Professor Mark Meirowitz 25-39….. EU LAW vs UK LAW The Primacy of EU Law over National Law:…

  • IEPAS2020 is Going Virtual!

    Dear Friends and Colleagues, IEPAS2020 is Going Virtual! Due to the COVID19 pandemic, we are holding our entire conference virtually by streaming all of the live sessions. You may participate in all of our virtual networking events. In case of missing a session, you may get full access to the replays of every session since all…

  • The 13th issue of JCTS (Journal of Conflict Transformation & Security) is out now…

    The 13th issue of JCTS (Journal of Conflict Transformation & Security) is out now… Vol. 8 | No. 1 | 2020 Click here to Download the Entire Issue   TABLE OF CONTENTS Editor’s Note By David Curran Introduction By Nergis Canefe Research Articles Statelessness as a Permanent State: Challenges to the Human Security Paradigm By…

  • The 19th Issue of The Rest: Journal of Politics and Development is Out Now!

    The 19th issue of the rest: journal of politics and development is out now. Download the issue here… TABLE OF CONTENTS Research Articles Turkish AK Parti’s Posture towards the 2003 War in Iraq: The Impact of Religion amid Security Concerns By Alberto Gasparetto Nigeria and the Great Powers: The Impacts of the Boko Haram Terrorism on…

  • CESRAN International Named again amongst the Top Think Tanks in the World

    CESRAN International is pleased to announce that it has been named again amongst the world’s best think tanks. The 2019 Global Go To Think Tank Index ranked CESRAN International 141st among the World’s “Top Think Tanks in Western Europe” 75th among the World’s “Top Environment Policy Think Tanks” 153rd among the World’s “Top Foreign Policy…