Terrorism and the blind men’s elephant.

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Terrorism is best understood as a form of warfare. Considerable division exists among researchers on the issue of defining terrorism. A minority propose that terrorism is a form of warfare, possibly identical to guerrilla warfare. However, the majority disagree with this position, instead viewing terrorism as a distinct and separate phenomenon. This divergence has been fuelled by the distinctive questions of morality which cloak any consideration of terrorism. The impact of this special morality dimension to the problem is examined, with the focus being directed to biases arising from the moral standpoint which has been adopted by most. It is argued that many of the so‐called distinctions between terrorism and warfare are illusionary. The article concludes that while there are solutions to the current conceptual deadlock these are unlikely to be realised in the near future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-28
Number of pages17
JournalTerrorism and Political Violence
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • terrorism
  • definitions of terrorism
  • terrorism studies

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