Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Defining a terrorist group is as difficult as defining terrorism, which is a highly contested concept politically. There is no universally accepted, legally binding definition of the term, and national legislations or international organizations attach different meanings to the concept. As a consequence, the United Nations, for example—in 13 conventions and protocols adopted since 1963—confined itself to defining and proscribing specific acts of terrorism (such as skyjacking, hostage taking, and nuclear terrorism). A review of the literature by Alex Schmid produced more than 100 different definitions some of which diverge strongly. However, there are commonly cited criteria, such as the use of violent means, the political motivation of the perpetrators, and the intention to create panic and fear among segments of the population or the population as a whole. In the following, the major characteristics, forms of action, and types of such groups are discussed in light of a number ...