Home Station: U.S. State Department releases annual terrorism report for 2008

U.S. law requires the Secretary of State to provide Congress, by April 30 of each year, a full and complete report on terrorism with regard to those countries and groups meeting criteria set forth in the legislation. This annual report is entitled Country Reports on Terrorism. Beginning with the report for 2004, it replaced the previously published Patterns of Global Terrorism.

Download “Country Reports on Terrorism 2008″ as a 351-page PDF.

  • Thomas Belvedere

    As you are well aware, there is a long-standing debate over definitions of the term “terrorist.”

    Is your definition adequate? You say the
    “term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.”

    (1) If “politically motivated” is accepted, such incidents as Columbine are not terrorist attacks. Many parents there will disagree with you. Moreover, you thereby create the quagmire of defining “political” without any apparent benefits. See in particular Hoffman (“Inside Terrorism”) and his verbal contorsions involving Sirhan Sirhan.
    (2) Your definition of “non-combatant” seems to say that an attack against a military checkpoint in Baghdad would not be a terrorist attack. I doubt that our soldiers will agree with you.
    (3) “Subnational groups” lets national governments off the hook. If one of your declared terrorist groups becomes a national government, are they by that fact alone no longer a terrorist group? As for a government that contracts out for a terrorist act, what is the status domestically of someone who pays for a contract killing? President Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis declared that any attack by Cuba would be considered by the United States to be an attack by the Soviet Union: he was right.

    I hope you will find the following definition of “terrorist” to be useful. It is designed to separate the terrorist from the common criminal as well as from the legitimate freedom fighter (such as the French Resistance in World War II). As are all definitions, it is definitely only partial, hopefully only provisional.

    Highest Regards,
    Thomas Belvedere
    Author of “The Source of Terrorism: Middle Class Rebellion” (published May 2009).

    A terrorist is usually a middle class rebel (1) experiencing magnified marginal or transitional conditions, who (2) voluntarily (3) goes through certain rites of passage, among which are (4) clique membership and (5) a deliberate decision to commit a criminal act that is almost always (6) violent and most often (7) murder, in (8) the name of higher intentions or convictions without (9) retaining consciously the ambiguity of his criminal act and his higher intentions/convictions. He expresses powerful, unconscious, ambivalent emotions in two ways: (10) converting his intentions/convictions into idées fixes or absolute truths, the opposite extreme from ambiguity, and (11) wielding uncertainty as a weapon. That uncertainty is total, as shown by the fact that (12) everyone — allies, non-combatants, even himself — is a potential victim. A concluding note: it is the syndrome, the running together of components, which counts — not specific components taken in isolation.

    By not admitting what he cannot admit, the terrorist guards his secret, even from himself.

    By not admitting what he is, the terrorist shows the gravity that admission holds for him. To my knowledge, no terrorist or other middle class rebel has ever said what he is.

    What he is, is the secret he keeps: he is a middle class rebel.