By Abdollah Bagheri
Nowadays Terrorism is a specially word that is a subject for most of news in mass media. One of the most important aspects of terrorism is definition of this word. Terrorism is a word with this capacity that everyone can interpret it in according to his/her benefits.
For example US army attacks to civilians of Pakestan and claims that they fight against terrorism. In other word, USA terrors civilians to fight against terrorism. This example shows the importance of the definition of the word of terrorism. for this we should make a specific and strict definition for terrorism.
By referring to Islamic texts, it will be clear that the legislator (God) constantly encourages his believers to respect others either to their enemy and we can not find any document in Islamic texts permitting terror enemies.
At first, This paper will study the definition of terrorism and explain the approach of Islam as to terrorism and show difference between Islamic jihad and terror and finally as a case study, we will study Islamic Republic of Iran as an Islamic country that was a victim of terrorism, to probe and explain reasons and causes of terrorism in Iran.
1- The Exact Definition of the Word “Terrorism”
Various definitions have been proposed for the word Terrorism, such as:
“Terrorism is derived from the Latin root ‘terror’ that means fear and horror. It refers to the behaviors and activities of a group which seeks its political goals through bludgeon and causing trepidation and horror. Also, violent and illegal measures of the States to suppress and horrify protestors are ranked as terrorism, namely governmental terrorism.”
“Terrorism is defined as governmental and non-governmental actors’ activities who attempt to accomplish their political goals through harsh tactics and means including hijackings, hostage-takings, acts of sabotage, bombings, bank robberies, political abductions, and assassinations. With their activities, underground organizations typically seek to intrigue mass-media and draw public attention. Many governments also take various forms of terrorism, such as air attacks, mass executions, and large-scale arrests, to reach their political aims.”
“Any kind of governmental or non-governmental violent measure seeking to accomplish a political goal is called Terrorism. Terrorism does not resemble other types of violence. It exerts to draw international attention towards an injustice, either factual or chimerical. Terrorists take different tactics such as hijackings, bombings, hostage-takings, assassinations, bank robberies, and acts of sabotage.”
“In French, ‘terror’ literally means intimidation and scaremongering. In politics, however, terror is referred to violent and illegal measures taken by governments to suppress and terrify their protestors, and also contender groups’ harsh and horrifying behaviors to achieve their political goals. Terrorism is a tactic for governments that suppress their protesters through detention, torture, execution, and much illegal harassment by undercover political police.”
“Terrorism means assassination, assault, and intimidation among people to gain political goals or to overthrow the government in order to take the helm of State or devolution of which to a certain group. Governmental terrorism is a term indicating the interference of one or several governments in interior or foreign affairs of another, in order to throw public into panic through operation or participation in terrorist actions, or supporting military operations aiming at emasculation, derogation, and overthrow of that government or its leading system.”
“Idiomatically, ‘terror’ refers to a state of great consternation resulted from violence, homicide, and massacre measures taken by a group, a party, or a government to achieve political goals, or to obtain or maintain power. Character assassination or mental terrorism means terrifying and menacing individuals through demoralization and targeting their hardiness and prestige. Terror regime is referred to a regime governing through panic development, intimidation, detention, and assassination of its dissenters.”
In the second clause of article 1 of the “Islamic Conference Organization” convention, “terrorism” is defined as: “any kind of violent or threatening actions that – despite their orientations and purposes – are taken in order to implement criminal plots (individually or as a group) to spread panic among people; to assault or endanger their lives, reputation, freedom, security, or rights; to imperil or convert environment or any kind of public or personal properties; to endanger national resources or international facilities; or to thunder stability, territorial integrity, political unity, or the authority of independent countries.”
2- Islamic Literature on Terrorism
2.1- The Glorious Koran and prohibition of terror
The term “terror” is not clearly articulated in the Glorious Koran, but there are many verses that prohibit assassination of human beings; thus, one instance of which is terror. Some of these verses are indicated in the following:
1. «مِنْ أَجْلِ ذَلِكَ كَتَبْنَا عَلَى بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنَّهُ مَنْ قَتَلَ نَفْسًا بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ فِي الأرْضِ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا وَمَنْ أَحْيَاهَا فَكَأَنَّمَا أَحْيَا النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا وَلَقَدْ جَاءَتْهُمْ رُسُلُنَا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ ثُمَّ إِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِنْهُمْ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ فِي الأرْضِ لَمُسْرِفُونَ»
“So, we assigned to Bani-isreali people that killing a human without his/her perpetrating of murder or corruptive acts is much like as killing all the human. [On the other hand] saving a human’s life is much like as reviving all the human. And our prophets have brought obvious proofs for Bani-isreal; yet, many of them infringed and trespassed on earth.”
2. «وَلا تَقْتُلُوا النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلا بِالْحَقِّ »
“Do not kill a human being, which is proscribed by God, unless justly.”
According to this verse, killing a human being is not allowed, unless it is based on justice.
3.« قُلْ تَعَالَوْا أَتْلُ مَا حَرَّمَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَيْكُمْ أَلا تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا وَلا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلادَكُمْ مِنْ إِمْلاقٍ نَحْنُ نَرْزُقُكُمْ وَإِيَّاهُمْ وَلا تَقْرَبُوا الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَلا تَقْتُلُوا النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلا بِالْحَقِّ ذَلِكُمْ وَصَّاكُمْ بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ»
“Call them and read what God has proscribed for them: avoid paganism; be graceful to your parents; do not murder your children in fear of indigence, we will feed you and them; avoid filthy acts, either public or hidden; and do not kill any human being, who is dignified by God, unless based on justice. This is what God has advised you; maybe you understand.”
Also the term of terrorism is not clearly articulated in the mentioned verses, but we can easily understand that one instance of verses that prohibit assassination of human beings is prohibition of terrorism.
2.2- Prohibition of terror in prophetic tradition and impeccable imams ideology
1. Moslem-ibn-aghil refrained from assassination of Obaidollah-ibn-ziad:
Suggested by [Moslem’s] partner, it was decided that Moslem hid in the larder behind the curtain and waited for Obaidollah to walk in. He was supposed to erupt into the room and dispatch Obaidollah while the signal (demanding water) was given by the partner. Obaidollah arrived and sat a while for talking. But when the partner demanded water, Moslem didn’t come out to run the plot; the signal was repeated, yet, no sight of Moslem. Obaidollah, who felt himself at risk, asked Haani about what he said; and they responded that he was running a fever and was under a delusion. However, Obaidillah left there pretty soon. Then they asked Moslem why he hadn’t run the plot; to which he answered: “for the sake of what Ali quoted from Muhammad; i.e. faith prevents surprise assassination.”
It is narrated in a validated hadis that Abu-sabah-kanani told Imam Sadegh: “We have a neighbor who insults Amiralmomenin. Do you allow any kind of action (terror) towards him?” Imam asked if he was man enough to do that. “I swear, if you allow me, to waylay and kill him with a sword.” Imam told him: “This is terror, Abu-sabah; and the Prophet has deprecated it. Certainly, Islam has prohibited terror.”
2.3- Shiite fiqh and prohibition of terror
Terror could be classified under the case of armed defiance in Shiite fiqh, which is discussed in the following.
Armed defiant in view of [Islamic] jurists: anyone who draws weapon to terrify others –either on the land or the sea, during the day or the night, in or out of the city– is considered as an armed defiant in jurists’ view.
“المحاربُ کلُّ مَن جرَّد السلاحَ لاِخافةِ الناسِ فی برٍّ او بحر لیلا او نهاراً فی مصر و غیره”
 Saheb Javaher cites from sharia. Except for a narrow dissidence in locution, many jurists have recognized this definition; e.g. Mohaqeq Ardebili in Majma-ol-fayeda; Mohaqeq Helli in Sharaye; Allameh Helli in Direction of Thoughts and Tabserat-ol-motoalemin; Fakhr-ol-mohaqeqin (Allameh Helli’s son) in Izah-ol-favayed; Shahid-e Saani in Masalek-ol-afham; Kashef-ol-qeta in Kashf-al-qeta; Ravandi in Fiqh-al-koran; and Shahid-e Avval in Dorous. Also Sellar in Marasem, Qazi-ibn-barraj in Mohazzab, Ibn-hamza in Vasila, Ibn-edris in Sarayer, and Fazel Meqdad in Riaz have discussed this issue in different words.
In this definition, jurists have considered several conditions and components that are indicated below due to their importance:
Unveiling the weapon: carrying a weapon does not simply prove an armed defiance; but the weapon should be unveiled and be applied to be considered as an armed defiance.
Location: in the definition given by jurists, no specific location has been considered for armed defiance. Anyone who draws weapon is considered as an armed defiant; either on the land or the sea, in or out of the city, in an Islamic or a pagan territory.
Time: this component is not effective in the definition of armed defiance. Thus, it doesn’t matter when the act is taking place; either during the day or the night, it may be recognized as an armed defiance.
Intimidation purpose: drawing the weapon does not simply suffice; but the carrier should be intended to intimidate and spread panic among people as well. So, he may not be recognized as an armed defiant if he draws his weapon for any other purposes.
Terrifying people: unveiling the weapon does not simply suffice to call someone an armed defiant; but the action should be taken in front of people. Therefore, if anyone unveils his weapon at home, in the desert, or any other place which is hidden from people’s sight –thus, causing no horror, he may not be recognized as an armed defiant.
Most of the jurists have indicated the term “terrifying people”, by which they mean “terrifying anyone whose intimidation is proscribed”; it includes all the people, even the pagan, either living in peace under the Muslim authority, or in covenant with them. Generally, intimidation is not allowed among any individuals, parties, or groups; unless there is a justification for it. Saheb Javaher has cited some arguments from the Holy Book and Tradition; and has also claimed consensus on the issue.
Two other conditions considered in jurists definitions include “number” (one person or more) and “gender” (male or female). These components are derived from the phrase “مَن یجرّد السلاح”.
Thereby, most of the jurists recognize two key and major conditions in the definition of armed defiance. Firstly, “the weapon should be unveiled” – i.e. drawing weapon; secondly, the person who carries the weapon “should be intended to terrify people”. Therefore, if some people panic from a person’s acts, while that person has no intention to terrify them, he is not an armed defiant. The two mentioned conditions are both together effective in the definition. It must be regarded that armed defiance involves significant and various crimes such as larceny, that does not fit in the definition of terror. Based on the aforementioned arguments, it can be suggested that “terror” is a blatant instance of armed defiance.
Some others define “terror” as panic and fear, and claim that a “terrorist” is one who draws weapon to spread panic in the society. Accordingly, in fiqh, “terror” is idiomatically considered as a synonym to “armed defiance”. Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi distinguishes between (legitimate) self-defense and territorial authority defense. “If a usurper government arrogate a nation’s rights, and the owners have no way to get their rights back except for a kind of armed defiance (namely fight), it is not regarded as an armed defiance; but it is repelling corruption” he remarks. In Islamic fiqh, “terror” is mostly discussed under the case of “armed defiance”; because it’s major component is to spread killings and panic, and to violate innocent people’s security. In juridical system, any kind of such armed crimes is treated as organized armed defiance, thus, “terrorism”.
However, he mentions a point derived from Koran; that is, legitimate defense also has a boundary, and if goes beyond that line, it becomes trespassing legitimate defense. As God says:
Meaning that even in confronting invaders, you shouldn’t trespass legitimate defense. Aggression is not allowed and not appreciated even towards the enemies, unless it is to prevent attacks; even though, it should be a defensive rather than an aggressive act.
Hence, as discussed earlier, terror is not only prohibited in Shiite fiqh; but also punishments have been assigned to such activities in statutory system of which.
Now that prohibition of terror has been identified in Islamic base principles and Shiite fiqh literature; we may express insights of Imam Khomeini, the great Shiite clergy, about terror.
2.4- Imam Khomeini and Terrorism
Considering Imam's ideology after the revolution, no such an order can be found in his words. In fact, he condemned such an act, no matter who practiced it:
“Don’t take such acts as heroic – exploding a bomb somewhere – for a twelve-year kid is also capable of carrying a bomb and exploding himself/herself. It doesn’t show power, it shows weakness. In my mind, Ibn-moljam is more courageous because he committed his inhumane act in front of people and was damned by God; these people are not even that brave and do their acts secretively and covertly. I regard Mr. Abbas, who killed Iran's chancellor (Amin-ol-soltan), a courageous man cause he shot him in the vicinity of parliament among other people, and shot himself, fearing his arrest. He is a man; those are not. Those who escape the country and give orders to terror people secretly are not men.”
Now that Islam's position on terror has been determined, it is necessary to explain that if Islamic Jihad and Martyrdom-seeking ops are regarded as terrorist acts or not?
3- The Difference Between Islamic Jihad and Terrorism
Considering the Islamic jihad, one question is raised: are Palestinian Martyrdom-seeking ops terrorist operations?
As a response, it should be mentioned that Martyrdom-seeking ops have “absolute defensive characteristics” following Shiite's perspective on Jihad and defensive Jihad. To shed light on this topic, we will examine the Fatwa of a great clergyman. In one of the questions addressed to late Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani, he was asked: “are we allowed to kill others through suicide-bombing as Palestinian suicide –bombing ops?”
“The Palestinian case is a matter of defense, and defending yourself, your territory, your family, and Islamic values is allowed in any forms or ways” he replied.
He has explained more on this topic somewhere else. In the second volume of Jame-ol-masael, he states: “if a person thinks he may lose his life while defending himself or his family, in this case defense is permitted, even necessary. However, if defending your properties may endanger your life, it's not necessary, even it's recommended to quit.”
Based on Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani's writings, it can be seen that he considers the Palestinian suicide-bombings under the general conditions necessary for defending self or foundations of Islam, and defines it according to defense laws. For the importance of this part of judicial Fatwa, another question and Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani's reply will be stated in following part:
Q 294: some time ago, a Palestinian committed a suicide-bombing op in an Israeli mall. With regard to Islamic laws, is it permitted to kill women and children knowingly?
A 294: “If a rubber breaks into your house, he will be confronted, even though he brought his wife and children along. To answer your question, it should be noticed that it is the Israelis who kill Palestinian children and ruin their houses. Therefore, according to Islam, it's essential that Palestinian soldiers fight Israeli soldiers and civilians who support them.”
Two major points in Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani's fatwa are prominent:
First, he prescribes suicide-bombing ops for confronting Israelis soldiers and their active supporters in Israel's attacks, not for killing civilians, and finds it consistent to the legitimate rights of defense.
Second, the question has been answered according to Shiite judicial argument about “intruding rubber”. Shiite's narrations on the theme of intruding rubber and its conditions have specific characteristics. Chapter 46 of Vasayel-o-shiia, on the topic of Jihad with enemies, concerns this problem and relates narrations on which many contemporary Shiite fatwas and thoughts are rooted. Based on the narrations of this chapter, the killing of the intruding, tyrant, and armed rubber – in order to defend your properties, territories, or self – is permissible; however, it's better to quit fighting in case of protecting your properties.
It has been related from Prophet Mohammad in a narration that: “A man killed in his home is a martyr.”
Having related and repeated this hadis from the Prophet, Imam Bagher addressed one of his followers and asked him: “O Aba-maryam, do you know what the concept of ‘home’ means? He said: “my lord! It means to be killed near your family, properties or such.” Imam said: “O Aba-maryam, we know the truth through fiqh.”
Indeed, the abovementioned narrations state the immediacy of defense measures. Saheb Javaher considers the defense of self, territory, and properties compatible with religious principles, texts, and consensus, but, according to Shiite clergymen, immediately states the observation of the hierarchy, from the easiest to the hardest measures – from oral warning, peaceful demonstration to armed fighting – even though he does not deem such observation necessary in case of armed robbery.
In the eyes of Shiite clergymen, as said before, if the foundations and principles of Islam were attacked by intruding apostates, they should be defended, like saving your life, in any ways possible; if infidels decide to eliminate Islam, Islamic slogans and symbols, sharia, and the name of Mohammad (in Islamic societies), Jihad is permissible.
Therefore, as stated before, the martyrdom-seeking ops are based on the legitimate right of defense; of course, it's hierarchical in which the legitimate defense through martyrdom seeking ops is the last stage.
4- Islamic Republic of Iran as the Victim of Terrorism
United States has always claimed to be the vanguard in fighting terrorism and has taken practical initiatives by forming an international coalition of its allies. Such objective measures were manifested after the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001 and the proposal of preventive defense. In order to achieve such an objective, US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003 respectively, under the pretext of fighting terrorism. However, according to the reports of security organizations, while wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have reached their 7 and 9 years, thousands of Iraqi and Afghan civilians have been the victims of terrorist acts of coalition forces. The release of thousands of classified documents concerning the war in Afghanistan by the wikileaks only shows a small percentage of terrorist activities of coalition forces led by America. Yet, there are many instances of America's support for terrorism. Supporting the terrorist acts and crimes of Israel in massacring Palestinian and Lebanese people, killings of Pakistanis under the pretext of fighting Al-qaida terrorist group, backing the Yemini's government in butchering Shiites along with other major and minor measures are just few examples of United States of America's terrorist records. These measures, taken under the cover of fighting terrorism, have caused many challenges in the region. The reverse approach of America toward fighting terrorism along with the tangled security chaos in the Middle East has caused a state in which terrorist activities are increasing. All of these signs along with America's refusal to admit its mistakes and the manifestation of a new generation of terrorists indicate the failure of white house's policies. However, instead of revising its wrong policies in the past, US attempts to include Iran into its realm of wrong strategies by using stick policy, deviating public's attention.
The annual reports about the Iran's support for terrorists are released while America's acts have caused and exacerbated the influence of terrorists in the region. The studies conducted by information and security organization suggest a bitter truth of an increase in insecurity of the world since the beginning of the war against terrorist on September 2011. This insecurity has many reasons but different approaches of the west, especially America, toward dealing and defining such concept is of importance.
Iran: A great victim of terrorism
Despite such anomalous acts, America is pointing its accusation toward Iran, although Iran has always been the victim of terrorist activities in the world. According to the statistics, 17 thousands Iranians have lost their lives in terrorist acts since the revolution. Therefore, terror and terrorism are familiar terms for Iran and Iranians.
Terrorist activities have commenced since the early days of revolution and survived by daily changing of its nature. Iran has always been the target of organized terrorist acts especially by a group known as Mujahidin; a group which has been backed by America and western countries. This group entered the international list of terrorist groups for assassinating political and religious characters between the years of 1360 and 1363. Mujahidin has operated hundreds of terrorist acts in Iran during these years. Of these terrorist measures, the terror of Mohammad Ali Rajaee and Mohammad Javad Bahonar, the then president and prime minister, can be named; they were killed in an explosion at the prime minister office in Shahrivar of 1360. Furthermore, this group, supported by air force of Iraq, invaded Iran resulting in defeat; they were equipped by west for the invasion.
In fact, America can't deny its support for this terrorist group while they were committing terrorist acts in Iran, or even when its members fled Iran and resided in America or Europe, or the time they stayed in Iraq under the support of America. Also, America can't deny its support for the other terrorist groups active in Kurdistan or Baluchistan; however, there are more documents acknowledging the support of west, specifically America, for the terrorist group of Abdolmalek Rigi. As said in Rigi's confessions before his execution, it was America which organized its terrorist activities under the cover of Al-Qaida, Taliban, and other terrorist groups to reach its long-term objectives. To prove the role of America in fully supporting and equipping Abdolmalek Rigi, the news statesman site reports on the behalf of an ex CIA agent: intelligence organizations of America and Britain had a role in supporting and equipping Abdolmalek Rigi. Also, as ABS channel reported in April, 2007, US government covertly supports the terrorist groups in Baluchistan. However, the most important issue, on which America is accused for committing terrorist acts against Iran, is its ongoing threats for bombarding Iran's nuclear facilities, and the recently announced atomic attacks.
Having ignored its roots and its objective differences, the term “terrorism” has been defined in western media as violent measures committed by individuals and groups. By this interpretation, terrorist acts will embrace all the acts of Palestinians, freedom – seeking fighters in all around the world who attempt to obtain their legitimate rights and freedom for the failure of other fruitful ways; in fact the legitimate right of defense, in unique situations with specific facilities, to halt the enemy as the only way to resist the authority of usurpers is known as “terror”. Martyrdom-seeking ops are instances of this kind. Thus, we should differentiate between terrorist acts and Martyrdom-seeking operations while defining the term “terrorism”.
Islamic republic of Iran has always been accused by superpowers to support terrorism for its policies of defending the rights of the downtrodden people and confronting the tyrants, but a closer look at the Iran's history shows that not only Iran is not the supporter of terrorism but it's among the first victims of terrorist operations.
It should also be mentioned that the first act of hijacking in the world was committed by one of the so-called terrorism fighters, Israel, in December, 1945, and American mercenaries throughout the world put the extensive use of kidnapping and assassination in their agenda in order to spread panic; as the legal ministers and elected MPs were arrested, taken to insecure places, and tortured and afterward announced publicly that: Sayyed Hassan Nasrollah, the secretary general of “Hezbollah”, will be assassinated. This is the “governmental terrorism” which is backed by countries that proclaimed to fight terrorism.
Therefore, we should bear in mind that today most of those countries proclaiming to fight against terrorism, in fact, are the prominent supporters of terrorism.
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.PHD student of Azad university in public law, MA in Islamic study and private law from Imam Sadiq university
.researcher at Islamic studies.
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 . Fakhr-ol-mohagheghin, Ibn-ol-allamah; research by Al-kermani, Al-eshtehardi, Al-boroujerdi, and Koushanpour, vol. 4.
 . Shahid-e Saani; Masalek-al-afham.
 . Jafar Kashef-ol-qeta; Kashf-ol-qeta, vol. 2, p. 419.
 . Qotb Ravandi; Fiqh-al-koran, research by Sayyed Ahamad-al-hossaini, p. 387.
 . Shahid-e Avval; Al-dorous-ol-shar’iia, vol. 2, p. 419.
 . Najm-e-din Al-tabasi; Negation and Refrain in Islamic Ruling, pp 388-393.
 . Mohammad Hassan Najafi; Javaher-ol-kalam, , vol. 41, p. 564.
 . Shahid-e Saani, former, vol. 15, p. 5.
 . Allamah Helli; Direction of the Thoughts, p. 186.
 . Islam on Terror, Mir-ali, Mohammad-ali, vol. 102, pp 29-36.
 . Sayyed Mahmoud Hashemi; “Terrorism and Legitimate Defense in View of Islam and International Law”, p. 13.
 . idem.
 . Sura Al-baqara, Verse 190.
 . refer to: Sayyed Ebrahim Hossaini, Coercion Prohibition Principle and Exceptions in Islam and International Law, p. 185 and 205-206.
 . Imam Khomeini; Imam’s Tome, vol. 15, p. 139.
 . www.Lankarani.org /Persian /Ahkam /new-estefta; Q 812
 . Mohammad Fazel Lankarani; Jami-ol-masa’el, vol. 2, chapter: Defense, p. 481.
 . www.Lankarani.org /Persian /Ahkam /new-estefta; Q 492
 . Mohammad-ibn-Hassan Al-hor-al-ameli; Means of Shiite Towards Study of Problems of Sharia, vol. 15, pp 119-123.
 . idem, p. 1
 . idem.
 . Mohammad Hassan Najafi; Javaher-ol-kalam, research by Sheykh Abbas Quchani, , vol. 41, “Al-hodoud”, p. 651.
 . idem, vol. 21, p. 47.
 . Firahi, Davoud; lecture on: “Legitimate Defense, Terror, and Martyrdom-seeking ops in Shiite”, vol. 6, pp 109-126.
 . The exact number of Iranian victims of terrorism is declared as 17159 in website: www.habilian.ir
 .Aftab news agency, 18/6/1389
. Abas-ali Amid Zanjani,Islam’s International Rights, vol. 3, p. 425.
 . Sayyed Ebrahim Hossaini; “International Terrorism in view of Islam”, vol. 125, pp 15-32.