Terrorism is any premeditated attack for political, religious, or nationalistic aims in which the intended primary target is civilian.
The intentional targeting of civilians as a goal is a grotesque international phenomenon. Nearly every type of public venue has suffered the carnage terror brings: markets, restaurants, hotels, schools, buses, trains, airplanes, offices, apartments, social clubs, embassies, churches, mosques, synagogues, temples.
There are many compelling and legitimate causes and grievances throughout the world that deserve attention and resolution. And discontent, opposition and resistance to a particular situation can take many forms. However, terrorism is never justified for whatever the cause. There are no exceptions and no exemptions. It doesn’t matter where it happens, who the victims are or the identities of the perpetrators. Terror is terror.
There is a clear moral distinction between targeting civilians intentionally as the primary goal and attacking a military target as the primary aim. That difference is the demarcation between terror and guerilla actions.
All loss of civilian life is tragic. Always. All governments fighting terror are obligated to minimize civilian casualties when responding to attacks. Yet, terrorists often put large populations at risk by purposely hiding in civilian areas, increasing the likelihood of bystander casualties in counter-terror military operations.
Terror as a tactic must be universally rejected and unequivocally repudiated by all responsible leaders, institutions, and governments. Those who continue to support terror or condone it must be discredited locally, regionally and internationally.