Terrorist or extremist activity

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What is terrorism and violent extremist activity?

Trying to define terrorism can be difficult and controversial, because so many people and countries see it differently. But any definition usually includes:

  • mass intimidation - trying to make lots of people scared to go about their everyday or normal life
  • unlawful violence or the threat of violence against the public
  • violence intended to change a law, culture or political system, or to change how people think or act

Having extreme thoughts or beliefs is not a crime. Using unlawful force or threats to support a belief or ideology is.

These criminal acts can include threatening someone because they are a different race, religion or sexual orientation; causing damage to property to get a political point of view across; or setting off a bomb to kill or injure people.

Why does terrorism or violent extremism happen?

There are many reasons to explain why it may happen but whatever the excuse is, these are criminal acts that cannot be justified under any circumstances.

Why do people get involved in terrorism or violent extremism?

There are many reasons why this may happen. Here are just some:

  • a lack of identity or belonging
  • insecurity
  • defending their culture, way of life or beliefs
  • they may be pressured, or bullied into it
  • they may have been radicalised by violent extremist groups
  • they may want retaliation

Those who encourage or get others to commit acts of violent extremism often target vulnerable people who are led into believing that violence or criminality can earn respect, riches or even glory.

However, even though a person may feel angry about something they believe is unfair this does not mean they should attack or threaten any person or any community.

Who are terrorists or violent extremists?

They can come from any background, any community, or any religion or belief. They can be young or old, male or female, rich or poor. They believe that violence or terrorism is an acceptable way of changing how others think or behave.

Terrorism or violent extremism