The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.
The key words here are unlawful: not only not legitimized by domestic law, but also under the chimera of international law, including the Geneva Conventions. Unlawful: not covered by law, not allowed by legal definitions.
But let's expand further and go to your friend and mine, WikiPedia:
Terrorism is an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi-) clandestine individual, group or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reasons, whereby — in contrast to assassination — the direct targets of violence are not the main targets. The immediate human victims of violence are generally chosen randomly (targets of opportunity) or selectively (representative or symbolic targets) from a target population, and serve as message generators. Threat- and violence-based communication processes between terrorist (organization), (imperilled) victims, and main targets are used to manipulate the main target (audience(s)), turning it into a target of terror, a target of demands, or a target of attention, depending on whether intimidation, coercion, or propaganda is primarily sought,"
This is also a good starting point:
In order to cut through the Gordian definitional knot, terrorism expert A. Schmid suggested in 1992 in a report for the then UN Crime Branch that it might be a good idea to take the existing consensus on what constitutes a "war crime" as a point of departure. If the core of war crimes - deliberate attacks on civilians, hostage taking and the killing of prisoners - is extended to peacetime, we could simply define acts of terrorism as "peacetime equivalents of war crimes".
So why is this important?
Because we have the problem of terrorist support not being perceived as a crime, but instead we've got the bugaboo one side calling people terrorists and the other side calling them "freedom fighters" or other terms. I'd like to show that this is a false dichotomy and that the attempted interchangability of the two terms is a deliberate attempt to whitewash terrorist activities.
But first a connection that should be made.
This is a great post, but there is one point I'd like to expand on.
For me, this is the key quote:
...if you are a citizen you cash in your abovementioned rights by collaborating with terrorists? Yes you do. You have then become an "Agent of a foreign power" as defined under subsection (b)(2)(C). Such agents include anyone who "knowingly engages in sabotage or international terrorism, or activities that are in preparation therefor, for or on behalf of a foreign power," and even includes those who aid and abet or knowingly conspire with those engaged in such behavior.
Wait, that includes anyone, even citizens? Yes — subsection (b)(1) is the part that applies to foreigners; (b)(2) covers everybody. And the whole point of the act is to collect "foreign intelligence information," which is defined under section 1801 subsection (e)(1)(B) as "information that relates to, and if concerning a United States person is necessary to, the ability of the United States to protect against sabotage or international terrorism by a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power."What does this mean?
That the definitional differences between those who are actively terrorists and those who "merely" support terrorist activities doesn't really exist, except in the tortured legal arguments of those who support terrorists.
So who's a terrorist?
Anyone who thinks it's a grand idea to kill indiscriminately under cover of subterfuge, with no regard to the rules of warfare, with no regard to anything except furthering their political ambitions.
Not merely those who actually go and do the deeds: it's anyone who also supports them.
And there is a HUGE difference between freedom fighters and terrorists. It's just that those who claim there isn't are invariably on the side of the terrorists, aiding and abetting them.
None: there are so many fools out there who think it's grand when some idiot blows himself up and inflicts pain and suffering. The key point here is that no freedom fighter kills indiscriminately, unlawfully and without regard to the rules of warfare: the rules are clear on this case. I'l leave the exact work as an exercise for the reader, but suffice to say that terrorists, almost per definitio, do not play according to the rules of the game because if they do, they will lose.
And those who argue that the classic freedom fighters of the past (citizen soldiers during the War of Independence, of the Maquis during WW2) didn't play according to the rules is woefully ignorant of history.
But when did that stop the left and its apologists?
Let me expand further: terrorists are unlawful combatants.
Let's not get bogged down in the squabbling of what happens to an unlawful combatant: under the Geneva Convention, that's left to the government involved. The question is determining who is an unlawful combatant: the 1949 Geneva convention put up a four-part test.
Article 1. The laws, rights, and duties of war apply not only to armies, but also to militia and volunteer
corps fulfilling the following conditions:
1. To be commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
2. To have a fixed distinctive emblem recognizable at a distance;
3. To carry arms openly; and
4. To conduct their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.
In countries where militia or volunteer corps constitute the army, or form part of it, they are included under the denomination "army."
There is as well Article 2, which expands on this:
Art. 2. The inhabitants of a territory which has not been occupied, who, on the approach of the enemy, spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading troops without having had time to organize themselves in accordance with Article 1, shall be regarded as belligerents if they carry arms openly and if they respect the laws and customs of war.
The key point here is that terrorists do not fulfill these tests, but "freedom fighters" in the past have done so: the Maquis in WW2 fulfilled these tests.
Terrorists do not.
Nor do their supporters.