To those subjected to that terror under the blade of the guillotine or through other, slower methods of torture, that was a rather dubious honor. The paradox remains today in any attempt to discover whether or not terrorism has achieved its political ends.
Webster's dictionary defines "terrorism" as "the use of terror and intimidation to gain one's political objectives" (Websters, 1995). This is a fairly rational and non-judgmental definition of the word, and perhaps because of the objectivity of the statement, virtually every country in the world could be said to have used "terrorism" as a tactic many times. Every war uses terrorism on a massive scale according to this definition. Those people that are defined as "terrorists" today just happen to be rather ineffective in their killing methods (compared to sovereign countries) and have a purer political ideology than most of them. Al Quaeda killed around 3000 people on 9/11/2001, the Madrid bombers killed 192 people on 3/11/2004 and the London bombers killed 52 on 7/7/2005 (White, 2005). These figures would have been laughably small for any of the countries that deliberately bombed one another's civilian populations in WWII. The German, American, Japanese and British authorities would have had severe questions for any bombing mission that came back with these paltry numbers.
By way of comparison, more than the total 9/1...
Killing another human being without justification is a criminal offence in Britain (Homicide Act, 1977), and so is attempting to kill them or to cause injury to them. The question that needs to be asked when dealing with legislating against terrorism is whether any new laws are really required. Should terrorists be prosecuted as common criminals This question will be dealt with in detail later.
It seems as though the words "terrorist" and "terrorism" are not objective descriptions of a person or a series of activities, but rather as a pejorative word used by one side of a conflict against another. Take for example the French Resistance during World War II. Was it a terrorist organization According to the Nazi government of the country (which had won the country through the 'legitimate' use of military force) they were. According to much of the rest of the world, and probably 99% of today's historians, they were not. The question is, why The French Resistance blew up bridges, soldiers drinking in bars, executed "collaborators" summarily, assassinated leading military figures and generally conducted themselves as a terrorist group would today. They did not wear uniforms, performed "asymmetrical warfare" because they did not stand a chance taking on Germany conventionally and, to use the parlance so often adopted by governments today "hid behind civilians" in a rather cowardly way.
The reason that the French Resistance is not defined as a terrorist group is that its aims are now seen as utterly legitimate. They are the positive side of the equation within the now old truism that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." The Resistance were freedom fighters, with all the romantic