"Over time, the succession of terrorist incidents around the world becomes not merely shocking, but numbing. It is understandable, therefore, that we often take refuge in the necessary abstractions of news coverage: numbers killed, damage done, reactions of governments and security forces. But human faces haunt every one of these stories. Terrorism is evil because it is an affront to human life and universal values of civilization that we share in common. To condemn terrorism in this absolute manner does not mean that we ignore either the complexities of history or the specific political context in which it arises. It certainly does not mean that we dismiss the injustice and oppression that terrorists exploit. But it does mean that we never, never excuse terrorist acts because suffering and poverty and injustice persist in the world. Sympathy for the underlying cause claimed by terrorists is all the more reason to reject their acts and seek their elimination. Terrorism should be defined, as one expert has written, 'by the nature of the act, not by the identity of the perpetrators or the nature of their cause.' Moreover, terrorists inevitably end up oppressing and killing far more of the people they claim to represent-including women and children-than any real or imagined enemy. The stories and profiles presented here are neither comprehensive nor do they attempt to represent the extent or full dimension of the common threat of terrorism that all nations face today."
United States Department of State, Office of International Information Programs: http://usinfo.state.gov/