An investigation of the concept of state terrorism
Despite claims that state terrorism has been more of a problem than the insurgent variety, the evidence provided by both a content analysis of bibliographies on the topic of terrorism and the opinions of a great number of academics suggests that there is a far smaller amount of academic literature on state terrorism than there is on insurgency terrorism. In addition it has been noted that the literature on state terrorism, like that on terrorism generally, suffers from a lack of work on the definition of the term. Whilst it is difficult to think of any author who has methodically applied a definition to the actions of a particular actor in order to assess whether each constitutes an act of terrorism. This thesis attempts to address each of these issues. However before doing either of these things it attempts to show that the suggested reasons as to why the State cannot commit acts of terrorism can be at least questioned, whilst simultaneously showing that some authors believe that state terrorism has produced far more victims and than the sub-state variety. Then after revealing the explanations for academia's neglect of state terrorism the thesis investigates the notion of (substate) terrorism in order to identify its core meaning, before attempting to incorporate this into a 'comprehensive' definition of terrorism which would enable the political analyst to identify acts of state terrorism committed within the area of the state's jurisdiction and abroad. This definition, along with other definitions of terrorism taken from both the literature and legislation, are then tested by being applied to the 'counter-terrorist' activities of Israel, form which concluding comments on each and the general notion are made. The decision to concentrate solely upon counter-terrorist actions can also be seen to be addressing a gap in the literature, as can the choice of a Western state. The application of various definitions of state terrorism to the counterterrorist actions of Israel within Israel, the administered West Bank and abroad, therefore means that this area provides a novel testing ground for any definition. By examining the issue of state terrorism the thesis aims to raise, if not answer several important questions and issues surrounding the concept of state terrorism. In addition to illustrating the problems facing the production of any definition of the word 'terrorism' such an examination will hopefully illustrate the problems of applying any definition of terrorism. Finally the thesis aims to further the cause of knowledge by accurately describing the legalities of various aspects of Israel's counter-terrorist policies since Israel took over the administration of the West Bank in 1967. As well as using the existing literature this thesis contains both the quantitative and qualitative replies of 120 academics to a pointed questionnaire on the topic. Many of the results of this are scattered throughout the conceptual parts of the thesis including this introductory chapter, and all the quantifiable results and the sampling technique are described in Appendix A.