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Formation of the Concept of Terrorism (From Understanding Terrorism: Analysis of Sociological and Psychological Aspects, P 17-26, 2007, Suleyman Ozeren, Ismail Dincer Gunes, et al., eds. -- See NCJ-225410)

NCJ Number
Erkan Sezgin
Date Published
10 pages
This chapter examines various definitions of “terrorism” and various arguments regarding the nature of terrorism.
This chapter argues for the realistic recognition that each state constructs its own definition of terrorism in accordance with its national interests. On the other hand, an international approach to terrorism may require nation-states to abide by the concepts derived through the deliberations and rules of international organizations, including the adoption of an international definition of terrorism into its own national laws. The concept of terrorism, however, is inevitably subject to the interpretation of societal groups that share common security and cultural interests. This means that concepts of terrorism are socially constructed. The problem arises when attempts are made to codify these social values. This is illustrated by a comparison of counterterrorism legislation developed by the United States (the USA PATRIOT Act) and Turkey’s Anti-Terrorism Act. Since counterterrorism legislation developed in various countries will inevitably reflect a given country’s experiences with its own unique security threats and how policymakers and the public perceives the source of those threats, this chapter proposes the use of the paradigm of a “family album,” in which the family members are seen to share certain family characteristics while maintaining distinctive physical features. This paradigm argues for an acceptance that various countries’ understanding of terrorism will be different while exhibiting common characteristics that enable cooperation in addressing security threats with common features or common sources. 2 figures and 19 references


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