Sociology Index

Terrorism For National Liberation

Sociology of Terrorism

Syrian official position is that Syria does not assist terrorist organizations; but it supports national liberation movements. President Hafez el-Assad, in a November 1986 speech to the participants in the 21st Convention of Workers Unions in Syria, said: "We have always opposed terrorism. But terrorism is one thing and a national struggle against occupation is another. We are against terrorism, nevertheless, we support the struggle against occupation waged by national liberation movements."

Senator Jackson was quoted in Benyamin Netanyahu’s book Terrorism: How the West Can Win as saying, "The idea that one person’s ‘terrorist’ is another’s ‘freedom fighter’ cannot be sanctioned.

"For in contrast to the terrorist, no freedom fighter has ever deliberately attacked innocents. He has never deliberately killed small children, or passersby in the street, or foreign visitors, or other civilians who happen to reside in the area of conflict or are merely associated ethnically or religiously with the people of that area. The conclusion we must draw from all this is evident. Far from being a bearer of freedom, the terrorist is the carrier of oppression and enslavement ." 

“Terrorism” and “national liberation” are used together in official Arab pronouncements. The fifth Islamic summit meeting in Kuwait, at the beginning of 1987, stated in its resolutions that: "The conference reiterates its absolute faith in the need to distinguish the brutal and unlawful terrorist activities perpetrated by individuals, by groups, or by states, from the legitimate struggle of oppressed and subjugated nations against foreign occupation of any kind. This struggle is sanctioned by heavenly law, by human values, and by international conventions."

In a document entitled “Arab Strategy in the Struggle against Terrorism,” it was emphasized that belligerent activities aimed at “liberation and self determination” are not in the category of terrorism, whereas hostile activities against regimes or families of rulers will not be considered political attacks but rather criminal assaults.

There is an attempt to justify terrorism for the sake of national liberation. Any activity for “liberation from the yoke of a foreign occupation” will not be terrorism but a legitimate and justified activity.

Robert A. Friedlander, Terrorism and National Liberation Movements: Can Rights Derive from Wrongs, 13Case W. Res. J. Int'l L.281 (1981). "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." This much used and far too greatly abused aphorism well illustrates the dilemma produced by militant self-determination proponents.