The definition of terrorism should be as follows: Any action or threat that is meant to, or whose primary goal can reasonably be assumed to, frighten, hurt, or kill individuals who are not directly involved in hindering the legitimate goals advocated by the proponents of such an action or threat.
This would include hate speech that calls for the killing or harming of other people due to some invalid criteria as race or different gang affiliation. Under these rules, any individual such as a white supremacist, a singer, a gangster or anyone else who openly admits to seriously hating or wanting to harm or kill other people (the threat doesn’t have to be directed at a named individual), would be able to be arrested and charged with terrorism for the mere statement. A successful conviction would result in very severe punishments. If the threat or action resulted in the death of the targeted person, then the death penalty should be applied.
Terrorism should not be made into a new class of offense. It should either be treated as a military attack (if it is significantly sponsored by a state) or as merely a crime in the conventional sense. No special governmental departments should be created to deal specifically with the threat of terrorism. No special funding for anti-terrorism related expenditures should be made. We already have the military to address military threats and the police to address criminal threats. Anti-terrorism efforts should fall mostly within the police domain, though at times, the military could be involved if the evidence warrants.
Anybody can initiate terror (both civilian and military personnel), and thus be a terrorist. Terrorism should be defined by the target and/or goal of the act, not necessarily by the type of act or who commits it.
Resistance against political or military rule (if their goals are supported by a sizable portion of the suppressed population (perhaps at least 20%)) employing actions or threats meant to frighten, hurt, or kill individuals directly associated with their political or military subjugation or control should not be considered terrorism. If less than the critical percentage of the population support the major thrust of the resistance movement, such acts should be considered criminal offenses. In either case, however, if the targets of these attacks or threats are against civilians or others not directly involved in hindering the political aspirations of the offensive group, then it should be called terrorism.
The bluntness of the weapons employed should also be an important factor to consider in whether to define an act as terrorism. The technological or financial ability of the ‘terrorists’ to use more surgical weapons/methods in order to reduce collateral damage, but their decision not to, will facilitate the defining of that action as a terrorist act (depending on the actual amount of collateral damage).
The more significant an opponent’s individual target is or the higher it’s value, the higher the collateral damage would need to be in order to classify the action as terrorism. For example, attacking or killing the head of the opposition would justify much higher collateral damages (including more innocent civilian deaths) than would an attack on a rank-and-file soldier or police officer. To use another example, the carpet-bombing of large areas during WWII would be far more justified than such actions today (especially by modern countries) because of the much more ready availability of technologies and weaponry that could accomplish the same objectives with far less collateral damage, especially involving innocent civilian deaths.
Penalty for Terrorists
The death penalty should be applied to actual and attempted terrorists if it is learned that their planned terrorist acts were mainly targeted towards and would have almost certainly caused the death of innocent individuals or if their plot included the use of either nuclear explosives, ‘dirty’ nuclear/conventional explosive bombs, deadly, contagious, or severely debilitating biological agents, deadly or permanently debilitating chemical agents, or the use of explosives with an estimated energy yield with a cumulative total of greater than one ton of TNT.