Sociology Index

Involvement of States in Terrorism

Books on Sociology of Terrorism, Terrorist Groups, Sociology of Terrorism

State terrorism and state-sponsored terrorism are terms loosely used to describe terrorism committed by nation-states. Violent activities committed by a state against civilians are forbidden by international conventions and are clearly defined as “war crimes” when it is a war situation and as “crimes against humanity” in other situations.

Though these definitions have led to the international delegitimation of the use of violence against civilians by military personnel and political leaders, it is still not clear as to the use of violence against civilians by organizations or individuals on political grounds.

States may be involved in terrorism in different ways: from general support for terrorist organizations, through operational assistance, initiating or directing attacks, and up to the perpetration of terrorist attacks by official state agencies.

State involvement in terrorism are usually placed under the general category of “terrorist states,” or “state sponsored terrorism.”

“States supporting terrorism” - States that support terrorist organizations, providing financial aid, ideological support, military or operational assistance.

“States operating terrorism” - States that initiate, direct and perform terrorist activities through groups outside their own institutions.

“States perpetrating terrorism” - States perpetrating terrorist acts abroad through their own official bodies–members of its security forces or its intelligence services, or their direct agents. States intentionally attacking civilians in other countries in order to achieve political aims without declaring war.

State Terrorism and Globalization - The Cases of Ethiopia and Sudan
Asafa Jalata, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA, International Journal of Comparative Sociology, Vol. 46, No. 1-2 (2005)
This article compares the essence and effects of Ethiopian and Sudanese state terrorism by focusing on the commonalities between the two states. These peripheral African states have used global and regional connections and state terrorism as political tools for creating and maintaining the confluence of identity, religion, and political power. Ethiopia primarily depends on the West, and Sudan on the Middle East, since Christianity and Islam are the dominant religions in these African states respectively. While the Ethiopian state was formed by the alliance of Abyssinian (Amhara-Tigray) colonialism and European imperialism, the Sudanese state was created by British colonialism known as the Anglo-Egyptian condominium. Massive social and cultural destruction and violence have produced and maintained these colonial political structures. These structures, in turn, have racialized identities by facilitating the processes of Abyssinianization and Christianization in Ethiopia, Arabization and Islamization in Sudan, and Africanization and marginalization of indigenous Africans in both states. Furthermore, each state has been involved in ethnonational cleansing, which has been disguised rhetorically as a move toward national self-determination and democracy. Consequently, the racialization and ethnicization of these states, external dependency, and domestic terrorism have prevented the implementation of national self-determination and the construction of legitimate multinational democracies that could solve the political, social, cultural, and economic crises in Sudan and Ethiopia.

The Global War on Terrorism and State Terrorism - Stohl, Michael
Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ISA's 49th ANNUAL CONVENTION, BRIDGING MULTIPLE DIVIDES
Abstract: It is often proclaimed that the events of 9/11 changed "everything." Building upon the arguments of Duvall and Stohl (1983), and Stohl (1988), this paper will examine the impact that the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) initiated by the Bush Administration has had on the use of repression and state terrorism in those states which joined the counter terrorism coalition constructed by the United States. To do so it will employ data from the political terror scale and examine the changing conditions within these states over the past half decade.

Terrorism by the State - Cindy C. Combs, ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=170155
Abstract: "Internal" state terrorism involves the use of violence and intimidation by state officials and institutions against the citizens of the state to gain their submission to authoritarian rule. At least three levels of internal state terrorism have been identified as useful gradations in understanding the scope of terrorism practiced by the state. The first is intimidation, in which the government tries to anticipate and discourage opposition and dissent, frequently through control of the media and profligate use of police force. This form of state terrorism has existed in almost every nation-state at some point in its history, most often during times of war. A second level of internal state terrorism is coerced conversion, which involves government efforts to create a complete change in a national lifestyle. A third level of internal state terrorism is genocide, whereby the state engages in the deliberate extermination of an entire class or ethnic or religious group for ideological reasons. Coercive measures within the state constitute only one form of state terrorism. There are at least two other forms of state terrorism that have become prevalent in recent years. Clandestine state terrorism involves a direct, but not open, participation by state agents in terrorist activities. Surrogate terrorism is where a state provides resources and technical assistance of surrogates whose activities are viewed by the supporting state as helpful to their aims in dealing with other countries and opposing ideologies. State terrorism is often served by the booming sale of arms by technologically advanced countries to such countries as Libya and Iran, who make no secret of their propagation of terrorism.

The ghosts of state terror: knowledge, politics and terrorism studies
Richard Jackson ,Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University, UK
Published in: journal Critical Studies on Terrorism, Volume 1, Issue 3 December 2008.
Abstract: Employing a discourse analytic approach, this paper examines the silence on state terrorism within the broader terrorism studies literature. An analysis of this literature reveals that state terrorism is noticeable mainly for its absence as a subject of systematic academic study. Following the textual analysis, the main finding - the silence on state terrorism within terrorism studies - is subjected to both a first- and second-order critique. A first-order or immanent critique uses a discourse's internal contradictions, mistakes and misconceptions to criticise it on its own terms. In this case, the absence of state terrorism is criticised for its illogical actor-based definition of terrorism, its politically biased research focus, and its failure to acknowledge the empirical evidence of the extent and nature of state terrorism. A second-order critique entails reflecting on the broader political and ethical consequences of the representations enabled by the discourse. It is argued that the absence of state terrorism from academic discourse functions to promote particular kinds of state hegemonic projects, construct a legitimising public discourse for foreign and domestic policy, and deflect attention from the terroristic practices of states. The exposure and destabilisation of this dominant narrative also opens up critical space for the articulation of alternative and potentially emancipatory forms of knowledge and practice.

State and state-sponsored terrorism in Africa: the case of Libya and Sudan
Strategic Review for Southern Africa, May, 2008 by Lyle Pienaar
ABSTRACT: This article aims to describe past and present state sponsorship of international terrorism in Africa. Firstly, it commences by exploring the differences between terrorism, international terrorism and state-sponsored terrorism. Secondly, it details the United States' list of state sponsors of international terrorism and the sanctions that accompany that list. Thirdly, international terrorism and state-sponsored terrorism in Africa, during and after the Cold War, are briefly discussed. Fourthly, two case studies regarding the state sponsorship of international terrorism in Africa are presented. The case studies include Libya, a previous state sponsor of international terrorism, and Sudan, currently on the United States' list of state sponsors of international terrorism. The case studies consider the history of these two countries as sponsors of international terrorism; the international community's attempts to prevent their involvement in international terrorism; how Libya succeeded in being taken off the United States' list; and Sudan's efforts to join Libya as a country that is no longer seen as a sponsor of international terrorism.

Bringing the state back into terrorism studies - Blakeley, Ruth
European Political Science, Volume 6, Number 3, September 2007 , pp. 228-235(8)
Abstract: Orthodox terrorism studies tend to focus on the activities of illiberal non-state actors against the liberal democratic states in the North. It thus excludes state terrorism, which is one of a number of repressive tools that great powers from the North have used extensively in the global South in the service of foreign policy objectives. I establish the reasons for the absence of state terrorism from orthodox accounts of terrorism and argue that critical-normative approaches could help to overcome this major weakness.

State terror, terrorism research and knowledge politics - Jackson, Richard, 2008
Employing a discourse analytic approach, this paper examines the silence on state terrorism within the broader terrorism studies literature. An analysis of this literature reveals that state terrorism is noticeable mainly for its absence as a subject of systematic academic study. Following the textual analysis, the main finding – the silence on state terrorism within terrorism studies – is subjected to both a first and second order critique. A first order or immanent critique uses a discourse's internal contradictions, mistakes and misconceptions to criticise it on its own terms. In this case, the absence of state terrorism is criticized for its illogical actor-based definition of terrorism, its politically biased research focus, and its failure to acknowledge the empirical evidence of the extent and nature of state terrorism. A second order critique entails reflecting on the broader political and ethical consequences of the representations enabled by the discourse. It is argued that the absence of state terrorism from academic discourse functions to promote particular kinds of state hegemonic projects, construct a legitimizing public discourse for foreign and domestic policy, and deflect attention from the terroristic practices of states. The exposure and destabilisation of this dominant narrative also opens up critical space for the articulation of alternative and potentially emancipatory forms of knowledge and practice.

State Terrorism and Taboo: Contemporary Anthropological Perspectives on and Approaches to the Study of State Terrorism - Sluka, Jeff
Presented at the ISA's 49th ANNUAL CONVENTION, BRIDGING MULTIPLE DIVIDES
Abstract: This paper begins by providing an overview of contemporary anthropological perspectives on and approaches to the study of state terrorism. This is followed by analysis of the politics of the definition of ˜terrorism; terrorism in reality and propaganda, or subjective, political, and objective perspectives on terrorism; and the politics and taboos of "terrorism studies" and the "terrorism industry"." The paper then concludes by presenting a power-conflict theory of modern state terrorism fundamentally relating it to three dominant global trends of the past half-century, growing inequality, increasing oppression and human rights abuses, and the massive growth of state power in the world today.