Terrorism can refer to either a type of organisation, where the entire group is organised for terrorist activities with a political aim, or it can be seen as a tactic to realise certain sub-goals employed by organisations with other aims, such as insurgency groups or organised crime syndicates. Terrorism is a form of struggle in which violence is deliberately used against civilians in order to achieve political goals (nationalistic, socioeconomic, ideological, and religious).
Terrorism is violence, or the threat of violence, calculated to create an atmosphere of fear and alarm. These acts are designed to coerce others into actions they would not otherwise undertake, or refrain from actions they desired to take. All terrorist acts are crimes. Many would also be seen as violations of the rules of war, provided a state of war existed. The motives of all terrorists are political, and terrorist actions are generally carried out in a way that will achieve maximum publicity. Unlike other criminal acts, terrorists often claim credit for their acts. Finally, terrorist acts are intended to produce effects beyond the immediate physical damage of the attack or operation, having long-term psychological repercussions on a particular target audience. The fear created by terrorists may be intended to cause people to exaggerate the strengths of the terrorists and the importance of their cause, to provoke governmental overreaction, to discourage dissent, or simply to intimidate and thereby enforce compliance with their demands.
In order to discuss strategies on how to prevent terrorism, it is first necessary to distinguish between terrorism as a tactic and terrorism as a form of organisation. To understand the background of politically and ideologically motivated terrorism it is important to analyse the root causes of terrorism. Political and economic grievances are among the basic and fundamental root causes. Increasingly, radicalisation of parts of the population or certain religious, ethnic or political groups is an important factor in understanding terrorism.