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This article was written by Shikhar Mishra, a student of University of Lucknow.


The main focus of essay is on the nexus between the terrorism and law. That means to get in root about the concept that law is responsible for driving terrorism or it is terrorism which enforce the sovereign authority to make law. Firstly I had discussed about the origin of law, definition of law, concept of justice. Secondly I had discussed about the concept of terrorism, beginning of terrorism, definition of terrorism, causes of terrorism. In the second stage I had primarily focus on the concept that a terrorist for one is a hero for other. And finally in the last stage I had discussed about the main reason behind the main causes of terrorism.

Origin of Law:-

Which came first, law or crime? Law, no crime, no law, no crime. It’s enough to make your head spin right off your neck. It is the same concept as of the chicken and the egg, which we try to figure out from our childhood age.  When we go through some biological aspect we can clear up that the egg came first, and then it hatch a chicken. Same is the case here, crime came first and then it contrives the idea of law.

So now the question is what crime is and how it contrives the idea of law? From the ancient point of view a crime is an immoral act which is against the “Dharma”. In the same manner from the modern point of view crime is an unlawful act punishable by state or authority [1].                In both the era crime affects continuously both the sociological and the economical aspect in society which outgrowth the concept of law and the punishment are use as enforcement machinery to accomplish the law.

 Now if we look over the term law we can trace its origin from the word lag which means a piece of wood, just as a piece of wood can’t be broken easily in the same way whatever law is enacted by the ruler or it is commanded by the sovereign, it can’t be broken, it is to be obey. However in the ancient time the term law includes different meaning in different societies. The assimilate word for the term Law in Hindu system is Dharma, in Islamic system it is Hukum.

Definition of Law:-
Generally speaking law is system of rules that are enforced through social institution to govern behaviors [2]. Almost every jurist has attempted to define law. Here we shall discuss some remarkable definition.

Salmond’s Definition of law -: Salmond [3] defines law as “the body of principle recognized and applied by the state in the administration of justice”.

Austin Definition of law -: According to Austin, “law is the aggregate of rules set by men as politically superior, or sovereign, to men as politically subject.” In other words, law is the ‘command of the sovereign’.

India constitution also defined law under Article 13 as – “law” includes any Ordinance, order,                 bye-law, rule, regulation, notification, custom or usage having in the territory of India the force of law;

If we look over Salmond’s definition of law we can find out he gave more emphasis on administration of justice. Now, the question arises what is administration of justice or what is justice?

Concept of Justice:-

The origins and development of concept of Justice are examined from three theoretical point of view mentioned in Plato’s book ‘The Republic’:-

According to traditional concept of justice, to do good to friends and to do bad to enemies may be called justice rightly. According to Radical theory, justice lies in the interest of the stronger. And finally according to Pragmatic theory justice is the necessity of weak people.
However Plato rejected above three principle and laid down that justice, cover both the just person and the just city state. His definition of justice is that justice is the having and doing of what is one’s own. In the modern sense justice is the legal or philosophical theory by which fairness is administered [4].Or we can say that justice is the emanation of rules prescribed in the law of land or public Law.

Hitherto we had discussed about law, its origin, it’s relation with justice, concept of Justice. Now let’s discuss about the second aspect i.e. terrorism and it’s relation with law.


Concept of Terrorism:-

It is very essence to know what actually terrorism means. Generally the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims is termed as terrorism.[5]

However it becomes hard to have a universally acceptable definition because of the problems stems from confusion over what it is we are really talking about. The confusion arises here just because a terrorist for one is a hero for other. For example Sardar Bhagat Singh was considered a terrorist by the British administration in the 1929-1930 but for the entire Indian public he was a hero, a symbol of resistance to British oppression. Another example is of Osama-bin-laden and his comrades were hailed as freedom fighters in the 1980s by the American government at a time when politicians like Dick Cheney considered Nelson Mandela a terrorist. The same can be said about terrorist organization which runs in many parts of country including Kashmir, Israel, Pakistan, Afghanistan and many more. An Oppressed people in the organization ultimately find voice in terrorism as the only way to get justice.

In support of this view Ghazi Algosaibi has written poetry titled “The Martyrs” which was especially on Suicide Bombers.

“The Martyrs”
                                                  God is witness that you are martyrs
The Prophets are witness…. and the Holy men
You died to honor my God’s word
In lands where the dessert are prisoners…
You committee Suicide?
We are the owner who committed suicide by living like the dead. [6]

Thus we may conclude that a terrorist for one is hero for others. And this leads to difficulty in defining the term terrorist.

Now after looking over the concept and evolution of Terrorism let’s look over some remarkable definition of terrorism.

Beginning of Terrorism:-
The concept of terrorism as wide as its roots and practices can be traced at least to the 1 Century A.D. However the first recorded use of Terrorism and terrorist was in 1795, relating to the Reign of Terror instituted by the French Government. Up to 1800, terrorism generally includes state violence directed against other states, and violence that states inflict on their own citizens. But after 18 Century it includes citizen violence directed against other citizens and violence that citizens inflict on their own state. However in regards with the present scenario of 21 Century it also includes violence that citizen (or group of people) inflict on the other state.

Definition of Terrorism:-
As mentioned already, terrorism has different meanings for different people. An interesting approach to the problem of defining terrorism was taken by two Dutch researchers from the University of Leiden, Alex Schmid and Albert Jongman. [9]They collected 109 academic and official definitions of terrorism and analyzed them in search for their main components. They found that the element of violence was included in 83.5% of the definition and political goals in 65%, while 51 % emphasized the element of inflicting fear and terror. Only 21 % of the definition mentioned arbitrariness and indiscriminate targeting, and only 17.5% included the victimization of civilians, noncombatants, neutrals, or outsiders [10].

According to Martha Crenshaw, a senior fellow at CISAC and FSI and a professor of political science by courtesy at Stanford:-

The deliberate and systematic use or threat of violence to coerce changes in political behavior. It involves symbolic acts of violence, intended to communicate a political message to watching audiences.

Causes of Terrorism:-

In the film Seven’ Kevin Spacey plays a serial murderer who, when asked by detective Brad Pitt why he has committed a series of ghastly murders, replies, ‘Sometimes you have to hit people on the side of the head with a sledge hammer to get their attention’ [9] . Unfortunately the practical of conversation between them is traces all around the world. Don’t you think this is one of the major causes which drive people towards terrorism? Yes, of course it is a major cause but it doesn’t solely drive the people towards terrorism. There are some relevant point which outgrowth this concept. Below are the most common causes of terrorism:- 

  1. Ethno-nationalism: –

The desire of population to break away from a government or ruling power and create a state of their own is generally cause the formation of terrorist groups. This also includes taking a land of others territory in his own. Today Kashmir is one of the best examples in support of this subject matter who continuously tried to acquire the territory of Kashmir which is under the jurisdiction of India. For this purpose many terrorist organization were continuously targeting the Indian Army Base. Some of them are Hizb-ul Mujahideen (HM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Al Umar Mujahideen and many more.

  1. Religion:-

The most commonly held belief today is that terrorism is caused by religion. Though it may not be the main cause but play a significant role in driving some forms of it. It is particularly dangerous due to the dedication of those who practice it and their willingness to sacrifice themselves for the cause. Example: – Al-Qaeda is perhaps the most prominent example a group that can be characterized as religious terrorist. Religious terrorism has a long history from Catholic Protestant violence in Ireland to Muslim Hindu tension in India and Pakistan.

  1. Alienation / Discrimination: –

This factor acts as a driver of terrorism mainly for Diasporas who are living in other county. Many times these group face discrimination in the countries they reside, leading to further feeling of isolation. This lead to look to more conservative, and eventually, extremist ideologies. The Hamburg Cell, consisting of two of the pilots in the 9/11 terrorist attacks is perfect example of this.
4. Socio-economic status:-

However we had differentiated terrorism and crime on the basis of goal they want to achieve. Crime mainly focus to achieve money or property and terrorism is a generally to achieve some political objectives. At the same time we can’t deny the fact that the economical condition does not laid the foundation of terrorism. Inaccessibility of available resources causes agitation amongst common men. When this agitation takes violent proportion it manifests as terrorism. Similarly the era of globalization is also responsible for foundation of terrorism. As it creates an acute awareness about opportunities available. This leads to frustration among growing cohorts of urbanized uneducated and unemployed youth. Seeing this, allows terrorist organization to gain attention and entry to societies that have felt wronged by these perceived social injustice.

  1. Political Mishap:-
    Political terrorism is more of warfare. A lack of political inclusiveness in stated or grievance against a certain political order may cause individuals to join or create terrorist groups. Some Domestic Terrorists Organization is Army of God, Ku Klux Klan, Lashkar-e-Omar, and Muslim United Party. This can be further classified in two more categories:
  • Right Wing Terrorism – This type of terrorism aims to combat liberal government and preserve traditional social order. Modern rights wing terrorist groups include the Klu Klux Klan and Neo-Fascists.
    (B) Left Wing Terrorism – This group seeks to overthrow capitalist democracies and establish socialist or communist government in their place. The Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party Front in Turkey, Revolutionary Organizations 17 November in Greece, and The Revolutionary Armed Force of Colombia all are current example of left wing terrorist group.


Now looking over all the causes we may conclude that:-

  1. Our basic rights to get ROTI, KAPDA, and MAKAN are not safe that we always try to break away from a government or ruling power.
  2. Is our law is so rigid that people thinks that their religion right is suppressed.
  3. Our primary and secondary education is so isolated that only teach to serve the interest for own purpose.
  4. The only thing behind such a complex and dangerous thing is political mishap because all the laws are enacted by legislature consists of politicians.

The answer of all the above points is still missing. We had to look over all the points to roots its main cause. It’s time to fight against terrorism on the international level.



  • “Crime” Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition.
  • Robertson, Crime against Humanity, 90
  • Jurisprudence by SALMOND
  • ”Terroirsm” Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition.
  • Terrorism, Concept, Causes, and Conflict Resolution, Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution George Mason University

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