Freedom fighters or terrorists by another name?

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Centre for Security Research, Edith Cowan University

Place of Publication

Perth, Western Australia


School of Engineering / Security Research Centre




Bailey, W.J., Mcgill, A.P. (2008). Freedom fighters or terrorists by another name? In the Proceedings of the 1st Australian Security and Intelligence Conference. pp 84 -92. Mount Lawley, Australia: Edith Cowan University.


The term "terrorism" has been over-used in recent history. This has led to the term losing some of value as its meaning has been altered This essay will refute the statement that freedom fighters are but terrorists of a different name. It will be argued that there are certain actions and practices that separate the two. Performing these behaviors will cause a group to fall under either one heading or the other. Defining Terrorism has been a challenge in recent history. Early usage of word stems from the writings of Russian Revolutionaries, modem day definitions have changed somewhat from these early beginnings. The term freedom fighters first emerged in British controlled Palestine with creation of the group "Freedom Fighters for Israel". Differentiating between freedom.fighters and terrorists involves the identification of a number of issues including; who has the right to label activist groups, the requirement of popular support, freedom as a primary goal, their targets and areas of operation. Included within this paper will be an examination of the IRA which aims to isolate and identify changes in behaviours that lead to a group shifting its focus from freedom fighting to terrorism. It is certainly possible to evaluate a group by its actions and goals and categorize it as either a terrorist group or freedom fighters.

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