to instill fear and coerce governments or societies. Terrorism is often motivated by religious, political, or other ideological beliefs and committed in the pursuit of goals that are usually political.”
Debate continues over how terrorism ought to be defined, and different governmentagencies of the US offer varying interpretations. The FBI offers this definition of internationalterrorism:“International terrorism involves violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or any state, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or any state. These acts appear to be intendedto intimidate or coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a government by intimidationor coercion, or affect the conduct of a government by assassination or kidnapping. Internationalterrorist acts occur outside the United States, or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished, the persons they appear intended to coerce or intimidate, or thelocale in which their perpetrators operate or seek asylum.”
Definitions are often updated or revised, but nonetheless, terrorism in its basic form has long beenrecognised by American governments. This has lead to an evolving struggle against internationalterrorism, a struggle which came very much to the fore under George W. Bush and persists today.Combating international terrorism had become an issue in US policy making long prior tothe Bush Administration. In the 1980s, the Reagan Administration conducted its own “War onTerrorism”. Reagan himself asserted the US stance on terrorism clearly:“Let terrorists beware that when the rules of international behaviour are violated, our policy will beone of swift and effective retribution. We hear it said that we live in an era of limits to our powers.Well, let it also be understood, there are limits to our patience.”
3As cited in Michael Kraft, Edward Marks,
U.S. Government Counterterrorism: A Guide to Who Does What,
The First War on Terrorism: Counter-terrorism Policy During the Reagan Administration,
(New York, Rowman & Littlefield, 2003), p. 1.