The object of this essay is to compare the elements of assorted definitions of the term terrorist act in an effort to understand it as a construct, a arm and method of influence. In making so, this essay will besides reexamine terrorist act against national security and Malaysia ‘s exposure.


The word panic comes from the Latin word terrA“re which means ‘frighten ‘ , therefore a terrorist is person who favours or uses panic animating methods of regulating or haling authorities or community[ 1 ]. From this simple definition, utilizing such a technique of influence is defined as terrorist act. Unfortunately it is non that simple and legion definitions have been postulated by assorted lexicons, writers, administrations, and authoritiess that expand the simple definition to include methods, intent, timeframes and definitions of the victims, marks and culprits. A speedy online hunt can turn up tonss of definitions which build upon the basic construction of the simple definition above. Alex Schmid, in his 1988 reappraisal of terrorist act, inside informations over one hundred different definitions of the term.

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The simple definitions of terrorist act base at one terminal of the spectrum. Walter Laqueur ‘s simple definition has three component parts ; the usage of force, against guiltless victims and for political intent. Laqueur adds that any desire to measure up the term beyond this simple definition is pointless as the term ‘terrorism ‘ is so controversial[ 2 ]. He besides adds that farther definition will non help apprehension of the subject and promotes retaining a simple definition because the significance alterations invariably as the societal context of its usage alterations and evolves.

Unfortunately such pragmatism has gone ignored and many long and elaborate definitions have evolved at the other terminal of the spectrum ; the most complex of which exist as governmental and non-governmental definitions. The ‘academic consensus definition ‘ developed by Schmid on the footing of his work in ‘Political Terrorism ‘ utilizations thirteen of the 20 two component parts he found in common definitions of terrorist act. Schmid ‘s definition is notably used by the United Nations and it states[ 3 ]:

Terrorism is an anxiousness animating method of repeated violent action, employed by ( semi- ) clandestine single, group or province histrions, for idiosyncratic, condemnable or political grounds, whereby – in contrast to assassination – the direct marks of force are non the chief marks. The immediate human victims of force are by and large chosen indiscriminately ( marks of chance ) or selectively ( representative or symbolic marks ) from a mark population, and serve as message generators. Threat-and-violence-based communicating procedures between terrorist ( organisation ) , ( imperilled ) victims, and chief marks are used to pull strings the chief mark ( audience ( s ) ) , turning it into a mark of panic, a mark of demands, or a mark of attending, depending on whether bullying, coercion, or propaganda is chiefly sought.

The significance of this definition and other longer definitions is that the enlargement allows the definition to embrace a greater scope of relativity in specifying the histrions, victims, methods and intents.

The realization that terrorist act is a tactic, non a end, AIDSs to the apprehension of the term. While some victims and populations may see terrorist act as mindless bloodshed, bookmans by and large agree that there is about ever a intent behind each action[ 4 ]. This tactic is similar to any disincentive or coercive method, whereby the end is to increase the cost of a authorities or non-state policy in order to coerce alteration to a different policy. Generally, terrorist act is a maneuver of the weak that would non stand a opportunity against a authorities in conventional struggle. Additionally, it must be noted that terrorist act can non regulate or keep district ; hence its usage is limited and employment of terrorist act as a tactic requires a alteration in stance if the intent is met.

Violence, or its menace, is a pillar of the terrorist, but non all force can be labelled terrorist act. Actions during war between provinces, even the usage of arms of mass devastation, are by and large non considered terrorist act, despite the abomination topographic point on such tactics by modern society. However, when non-state histrions use bombs to kill civilian forces, this behavior is by and large called terrorist act. Therefore in specifying what terrorist act is, it is of import to detail who carries out the action every bit good as how and to whom[ 5 ]. While apparently hypocritical, the difference is of import as this distinguishes between legitimate histrions transporting out public force for public intents and terrorists who are private histrions utilizing force for public ends[ 6 ].

In utilizing their violent Acts of the Apostless, terrorist act creates two types of victim ; the immediate victim and the intended mark population. The immediate victim is the 1 who is injured, maimed or killed and the intended mark population is the receiver of the message the act contains. Generally, terrorist attention small for the choice of the immediate victims, who are simply symbolic marks[ 7 ], and concentrate more on the method employed to dramatically convey their message to derive the most exposure or coverage. In making so terrorists create a fright of the manner in which people are killed instead than increasing the existent statistical opportunity of it go oning[ 8 ]. This fright is the premier concern to provinces as it is this fright that drives the intent of the terrorist and provides the greatest menace to the national security of a province.


Terrorism has long been recognised as a serious menace to national security in both foreign and domestic domains. The changing nature and adaptability of terrorist act and terrorists, aided by the effects of globalization have ensured that province attempts to eliminate or cut down the likeliness of terrorist onslaughts remain high on national security dockets. Terrorism threatens national security on multiple degrees such corruption against authorities and its policy ; the negative effects on the economic system by cut downing touristry and trade ; decelerating development ; and cut downing economic and civil autonomies.

The present terrorist menace to Malaysia is equivocal. The Malaysia authorities provinces that there is presently no terrorist menace to Malaysia[ 9 ]yet the American Embassy in Malaysia issued a warning in January 2010 of possible terrorist onslaughts against tourers in eastern Sabah[ 10 ]and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade acknowledges[ 11 ]the input of Malaysia as preparation and meeting location for terrorists ; a thoroughfare for terrorists and equipment ; and the location of groups such as Kumpulan Militan Malaysia and Abu Sayyaf Group.

Despite the fact that there has been no incontrovertible terrorist event in Malaysia for a important period, the Malayan authorities commits important resources and attempt in guaranting this terrorist act free position remains. In 2003 the Malaysia established the South-East Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism ( SEARCCT ) , which focuses on regional preparation and counter-terrorism capacity-building. Additionally, the Malayan authorities retains a important figure of policies that were ab initio passed into jurisprudence to counter the Communist insurgence during the Malayan Emergency. These Torahs have been retained and are good in countering terrorist activities when discovered, such as the 2003 find of four metric tons of ammonium nitrate explosives[ 12 ]. Additionally, Malaysia has been forthright in the support of neighboring states in their attempts to counter terrorist act, such as in Thailand and Indonesia. Unfortunately, a figure of Malayan subjects have been involved with both successful and unsuccessful terrorist secret plans, showing the concealed activities happening within Malaysia that Malaysian governments have been unable to counter.

In visible radiation of the comparatively high degree of struggle in the South East Asiatic part and in near-by states, Malaysia ‘s porous boundary lines and the handiness of weaponries within the part, one could state that the precursor factors to enable terrorist act exist in Malaysia. Add the multiethnic and multi-religious facets of Malayan society, ruled by a paternal democracy that is dominated by a race based authorities with a non-secular fundamental law, and so the hazard heightens even more.

In reexamining Malaysia ‘s exposure to assail, a reappraisal of onslaughts on improbable marks such as Bali and the Twin Towers have shown that no state is immune, irrespective of readying, therefore Malaysia can be assessed as no different. With the precursor position discussed above in topographic point, Malaysia ‘s exposure is straight related to the motive degrees of bing or new groups within the state. The nature of asymmetric terrorist warfare is to happen a manner around all and any defense mechanisms to press place their coveted message and the piece presently no onslaughts have occurred in urban Malayan metropoliss, the possibility can non be discounted. A hereafter and presently unanticipated trigger that inflames preexistent and implicit in racial, spiritual or cultural tensenesss could perchance trip a displacement to active terrorist act in Malaysia. A possible trigger could be an unexpected election consequence doing the authorities to defy let go ofing power to a new election victor wishing to make its ain authorities.


In drumhead, it can be seen that terrorist act is a term that creates much emotion and imagination due to the influence of its mark audience by fright and the force imposed on its immediate victims to accomplish a intent. It is a term that is dynamic in significance, holding changed done clip as society has changed, and by being comparative in its usage when depicting an act of force as either war or terrorist act. Scholars accept that the word and construct is near impossible to specify accurately due to these factors and that to seek and make so is comparatively ineffectual.

In reexamining Malaysia ‘s exposure to terrorist onslaught, one can reason that Malaysia is no less vulnerable than any other state in South East Asia. Underliing precursor conditions exist that could enable terrorists to move if the motive to make so was provided or discovered. What such a trigger could be is undeterminable, but Malaysia ‘s current racial, cultural and political province could be a seedbed for the disfranchised if sufficient alteration occurs in the hereafter. Until so, the Malayan authorities ‘s current Torahs, constabulary and armed forces are invariably working hard to maintain this state safe.