Justified terrorism emerges as a politically incorrect term generating intense moral and humanitarian debate. In the present opinionated atmosphere, any attempt to rationalize terrorist acts on whatever grounds (moral or otherwise) is likely to be perceived as inhumane at both the popular as well as the scholarly levels. Since terrorist related activities are often heinous, aggravated and deplorable, any notion such as that of Robespierre that “virtue without terror is powerless” loses whatever credibility it may have as a moral maxim.
The resultant destruction of property and loss of innocent lives often sparks sweeping denunciations of terrorism on humanitarian grounds citing ruthless violation of human rights and civil liberties. Many ethical scholars believe that terrorism is despicable since it falls short of various ethical principle like the ‘duty to care’ and ‘responsibility to protect’ by failing to regard people as “moral persons.” Deontological scholars believe that there is a fine line between terrorism and murder since terrorist act result into indiscriminate attack of the innocent, persecution and forcible displacement of population constituting crimes against humanity. Worst still, it targets innocent civilians who are blameless of the grievances from which it stems. Professor Hanna Buchanan of Stanford University believes that the essence of terrorism violates the jus in bello discrimination rule (Hoffman 76).
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