Let’s talk about the term ‘Terrorist’

Over the past three months the United Kingdom has witnessed some horrific acts of terrorism. The ones I am specifically referring to here are the Westminster attack on 22nd March 2017, the Manchester arena bombing on 22nd May 2017, and the London Bridge attacks of 3rd June 2017. These are disgusting, unforgivable acts of terror. One of the issues surrounding these, as well as other similar events, that I find frustrating – other than the events themselves, of course – is how the word ‘Terrorist’ or ‘Terror Incident’ gets used.

Seven people have been killed and dozens injured during attacks in two closely connected areas of London on Saturday night. The police are treating the attacks as terrorist incidents.

From the Guardian website report on June 2017 London Bridge attacks.

Officers – including firearms officers – remain on the scene and we are treating this as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise.

From the Guardian website report on March 2017 Westminster attack.


The below definitions taken from Dictionary.com


  1. a person, usually a member of a group, who uses or advocates terrorism.
  2. a person who terrorizes or frightens others.
  3. (formerly) a member of a political group in Russia aiming at the demoralization of the government by terror.
  4. an agent or partisan of the revolutionary tribunal during the Reign of Terror in France.


  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of terrorism or terrorists:
    terrorist tactics.

Let’s not mistake what is happening in these events: people are commiting horrific acts of violence and desctruction; killing, harming and scaring many innocent people – they are, by definition, terrorists. However, within the media you will find quotes like the ones above, discussing how incidents are only being treated as terrorist incidents. One even goes as far as to say “[…] until we know otherwise”. I mean, with all the facts currently available at the time, nothing could change the fact that it is a terror incident.

What do they really mean?

I think what they are really talking about is the origin, nationality and agenda of the attackers. While this is important to find out in the context of the investigations, it makes no difference to the fact that that person, or persons, are terrorists. Plain and simple. If a Christian fundamentalist goes into a crowded place and kills a bunch of people, they are just as much of a terrorist as if a Muslim person did the same – any religeon for that matter (or none). The origin, nationality and agenda of the attacker(s) makes no baring on the outcome they are aiming to achieve.

So why is there such a reluctance to classify an incident, like those mentioned above, as terror incidents until further information is gathered? When the events in question so blatently are.

I was first woken up to this way of phrasing such news by Akala on Frankie Boyle’s Election Autopsy 2015. I have timestamped the link but I strongly urge you to watch the whole discussion.

Continue the discussion

I am not a politically savvy person; these are only my initial thoughts when reading the news of these tragic events. I encourage you to reply if you feel I am completely missing the point in what the news is trying to say. This post isn’t written to just try and get people angry. If anything, I’d like it to get people to think.

Thank you for reading.