One might argue that the notion of a freedom fighter might be the same as the understanding of a freedom fighter. In a broader sense, it predominantly differs in terms of perspective. Arguing from this standpoint, one may think that it would be difficult to figure out the perspective of a perpetrator, which is in itself the problem of segregating between these two classes. Members of the political left may perceive detainees at the famous high-security Guantanamo Bay prison as a freedom fighter. Yet, to the governments and the soldiers who have to fight them, they may seem as hardcore and ruthless criminal masterminds (Steven Best, 2004).
The thin line between fighting for freedom and terrorism stems from the understanding of the latter, wherein the warfare is unrestricted from the common rules of the society that provide basic rights for survival such as those provided under the Geneva convention. While a freedom fighter seeks to provide an identity and opportunity to his people, the sole aim of a terrorist is the thirst for political power.
Individuals and revolutionaries such as Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama have gained the respect of not just their countrymen, but of the whole world. part of the reason for them being considered as true freedom fighters lies in their peaceful methods to obtain freedom and their ability to mobilize the masses against a just cause whether it be in the improper practice of apartheid or the atrocities against the Tibetan culture (Paul Eden, 2005). Terrorist, on the other hand, believe in intimidating the population. the amount of support that they garner among the larger populace is limited to radicals and their supporters, who are driven by the urge for political gain and mileage and who use other means as a veiled weapon such as religion and ethnicity.
Organizations such as the Al Qaeda are truly terrorist organizations, not just because they were involved in mass killings of innocent individuals, but also because they believe in radicalizing the population so as to force the government to over react to any unprecedented situation. Their primary intention is to erode the legitimacy and grip of the government over regular affairs of the state (Gus Martin, 2007).
As such, terrorism is simply a different version of war, that does not only follow any convention and targets the population instead of directing their agitation against the administration. Another purpose of targeting the population stems from the initial inability to take on the government or the military forces of the land. Radical Islamic organizations are known to obtain donations for their terrorist activities among countries in the Arab world such as Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, where the general population is under a misguided perception of the concept of jihad, which has been utilized by the radical mullahs simply due to prevailing poverty and illiteracy in these countries. Capitalizing on the deficiencies in the population to seek evil ends is a crime and does not constitute any form of freedom struggle (Martin Warner, 1990). Thus, nations need to identify between these two categories and take the necessary steps to eliminate the threat posed by terrorism in the modern world.
1. Steven Best (2004), Terrorists or freedom fighters?: reflections on the liberation of animals. New York: Lantern.
2. Paul Eden (2005), September 11, 2001: a turning point in international and domestic law?. University of Michigan.
3. Gus Martin (2007), Essentials of Terrorism: Concepts and Controversies. London: SAGE.
4. Martin Warner (1990), Terrorism, protest, and power. London: Edward Elgar.
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