What exactly is state terrorism? It is comparable to non-state terrorism in that it involves politically, ideologically, or religiously motivated acts of violence against persons or organizations who are not involved in an armed war. The essential distinction is that the violence is carried out by governmental agents. State actors which engage in state terrorism include governments, but they also include state-sponsored groups such as terrorist organizations that receive some degree of support from their government.
State terrorism is used to justify measures aimed at suppressing political opposition and punishing civil society activists. It can be seen as a tool used by powerful countries to maintain their position by keeping down those who would otherwise be their opponents.
How does terrorism differ from other forms of violence? Terrorism is defined as violent acts intended to create fear and panic among the public, while other forms of violence are intended to achieve something through force. However, this distinction is not always clear-cut: many acts considered terroristic in nature are also used for criminal purposes (such as robbery), while others that do not aim to create fear (for example, work-related accidents) can still cause damage and loss of life. It is therefore difficult to classify certain incidents based solely on their intent.
Terrorism is a type of violence used by individuals or groups to obtain attention or change behavior. Other types of violence include murder, suicide, and accidental deaths.
Government backing for violent non-state actors involved in terrorism is referred to as state-sponsored terrorism. Because of the derogatory character of the term, identifying specific occurrences is frequently subject to political debate and varying definitions of terrorism. State sponsors of terror include Syria, North Korea, and Iran.
State sponsorship can take many forms including financial support, weapons sales, intelligence services assistance, and military training. For example, Iran has been identified as a state sponsor of terror due to its support of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine.
Syria has been accused of supporting terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda in opposition to the United States government. In response, the United States has imposed sanctions on Syria with the goal of weakening the Syrian government through economic means.
North Korea has been accused of sponsoring acts of terror because of its controversial nuclear program. The country has been condemned by most of the world for its development of nuclear weapons, but it views nuclear arms acquisition as necessary for its security.
Finally, Israel has been accused of being a state sponsor of terror due to its actions against Palestinians and other Arabs. Although Israel has developed nuclear capabilities it has never attacked another nation nor has it engaged in terrorism overseas. It is important to note that not all countries that develop nuclear technology become enemies of other states; therefore, Israel's nuclear status does not make it a terrorist organization.
State sponsors can support terrorist organizations in a variety of ways, including but not limited to funding, training, giving weapons, and hosting groups within their borders. Iran, North Korea, and Syria are examples of countries that have been identified as state sponsors of terror.
India's government has been accused of supporting militant groups in Pakistan. In 2001, the Indian newspaper The Hindu reported that India was providing economic aid to Kashmiri militants in order to destabilize Pakistan. The report said that India was giving money to groups like the Hizbul Mujahideen who were fighting against Pakistani troops in Kashmir.
In 2010, India's defense minister Pranab Mukherjee admitted that his country had provided funds to certain Kashmiri rebels despite objections from Washington. He also said that India would continue to provide financial assistance to those groups that requested it.
Pakistan's government has accused its northern neighbor of being responsible for several attacks on Pakistani citizens and institutions. In February 2011, the president of Pakistan called India's government "the world's biggest sponsor of terrorism."
State sponsorship of terror has occurred throughout history and remains a problem today. Modern states use legal measures to prevent terrorist groups from receiving funding or other forms of support. However, these efforts cannot be expected to succeed where others have failed.