The Terrorist across Law and Criminology: A Comparative, Interdisciplinary and Critical gaze

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The ‘terrorist’ has often been depicted as a being transcending the ‘standard criminal offender’.

This paper aims at providing the reader with an overview of the concept of ‘terrorist’ considered across different legal systems and criminological perspectives.

The qualification of ‘terrorist’, legal or otherwise, contains in itself more than legal meaning: even more so than the ‘standard criminal offender’, the terrorist tends to be depicted as an abnormal, deviant individual who is unlikely to fit ‘standard’ categories due to the social discredit that is usually associated with infamous terrorist attacks.

This, of course, is mirrored by the lack of any hardcoded definition of ‘criminal’ or ‘crime’.
For instance, terrorism itself is a concept associated with those of ‘evil’ and ‘wrongness’, exacerbated by declarations such as that of Mr. George W. Bush, who has defined terrorism as ‘evil incarnate’.

On the other hand, terrorists are sometimes described as ‘freedom fighters’, adding to the misconception and uncertainness.

For this reason, the paper, after having examined the definition, or lack thereof, of terrorism across European Union Law, Italian Law and English Law, will provide a critical, criminological analysis of the terrorist persona, highlighting discrepancies and similarities across seemingly different theories. Definitions of both legal and scholarly nature will be provided.

A dissenting opinion will then be provided, emphasising how Law and Criminology, in theory, could benefit from a non-static definition while embracing a flexible, entirely context-based approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalDROIT PENALE: The Indian Law Journal on Crime and Criminology (ILJCC)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2017


  • Terrorism
  • comparative analysis

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