There is broad agreement on the core meaning of the term ‘terrorism’, but considerable disagreement about its delimitation.

Terrorism can be seen as strategic actions in which violence or threat of violence is used to create fear, gain attention for a cause, or coerce another party to give in to certain demands. The aim is to achieve effects on others beside the direct victims or targets of the violence. Some analysts reserve the term for non-state actors, while others include state terrorism. Some define acts as terrorism only if the actions are directed at civilian targets, while others include all non-combatants (including military targets not involved in the combat). At NUPI, research on terrorism has concentrated especially on the European rim from North Africa to the Caucasus region, and our main instrument for this research is the research programme the Terror Consortium.

Some questions we seek to answer:

  • What are the linkages between terrorism, organized crime, weak states and new forms of organized violence?
  • How to distinguish between terrorists and freedom fighters?
  • What are the political implications of how the various insurgence groups are defined?