Terror is a what, not a why

Greg Sheridan is right for the wrong reasons to deem Anders Breivik a terrorist because “his terrible violence was motivated by political ideology” (“The unheeded steps of a psycho killer”, The Australian, 28/7). Analysing motives can help us understand and perhaps prevent such events, but Breivik is a terrorist because of what he did, not why he did it.

A pro-democracy activist who blows up a bus is a terrorist. A fundamentalist Muslim soldier in battlefield combat is not. Terrorism is defined by a particular kind of lethal strategy, not a set of beliefs.

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