Terrorism has to be capable of definition, because it is a major world issue, exceeded in importance only by global warming, over-population, resource depletion, peak oil, deforestation, desertification, soil loss, poverty, overconsumption, militarisation and probably a few other issues that evade me at the moment. Anyway, it is a biggish issue, and a major issue for those directly affected by it when they lose loved ones, and it affects all of us when our liberties are taken away in the name of the so-called War on Terror, so LW is quite right to ask for a definition. The fact that there is no agreed definition reflects the pejorative aspect of the word.
Let me try again, this time by assembling the components:
1 Violence against civilians, not combatants, which is the criminal element that appears in some definitions.
2 For political (religious or idealogical) ends
3 Aims at frightening the general population
4 Not restricted to non-state groups (i.e. state terrorism exists, states can commit war crimes in undeclared wars)
5 The crime may be intentional or collateral.
Does that cover all relevant aspects, or is there stuff there that should be taken out? If we agree the elements, we can then fuse it into a definition for use here, and who knows, the method might pass on up as far as the UN, or at least over to the terrorism board on oD?
I spent a long time last year debating terrorism in the Madrid section of oD, hence my interest in securing a definition.