Sociology Index

The concept of terrorism for "National Liberation"

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

“One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” - 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."

“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.

The former President of the Soviet Union, Leonid Brezhnev, made the following statement in April 1981, during the visit of the Libyan ruler, Muamar Qadhafi:

“Imperialists have no regard either for the will of the people or the laws of history. Liberation struggles cause their indignation. They describe them as ‘terrorism’.”

The struggle for “national liberation” appears to be the positive and justified end of terrorism.

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. Freedom fighters or revolutionaries don’t blow up buses containing non-combatants; terrorist murderers do. Freedom fighters don’t set out to capture and slaughter schoolchildren; terrorist murderers do . . . It is a disgrace that democracies would allow the treasured word ‘freedom’ to be associated with acts of terrorists."

Professor Benzion Netanyahu also assumed, a priori, that freedom fighters are incapable of perpetrating terrorist acts:

"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 ."

This strengthens the attempt by terrorist organizations to present terrorism and the struggle for liberation as two contradictory concepts. The claim that a freedom fighter cannot be involved in terrorism is groundless. A terrorist organization can also be a movement of national liberation, and the concepts of “terrorist” and “freedom fighter” are not mutually contradictory.