Terrorism and counter-terrorism have historically evolved in various forms. Terrorism has increasingly diversified in terms of the objectives that are pursued, and counterterrorism efforts have likewise proliferated across a range of institutions. Criminologists have contributed to the study of terrorism and terrorism-related phenomena by focusing on terrorism as crime or deviance and counterterrorism as social control. The incorporation of terrorism and counter-terrorism as distinctly criminological topics of research serves to bring important dimensions to terrorism studies that other disciplines do not focus on.
From the viewpoint of criminology, terrorism is a fascinating subject that presents a challenging opportunity for scholarly reflection on a range of theoretical, empirical, and practical issues. The field of terrorism studies broadly encompasses both terrorism as a particular activity involving the infliction of harm for specified purposes, and counter-terrorism, involving practices and institutions concerned with defining and responding to terrorism. It is the unique province of criminology to focus on terrorism as a form of criminal or deviant behavior and on counter-terrorism as social control. Criminological analyses also focus on the dynamic interplay between terrorism and counter-terrorism to offer a unique perspective in the wider field of studies examining terrorism and terrorism-related phenomena. The study of these phenomena is itself part of the historical unfolding of terrorism and counter-terrorism in the context of societal development.
This research paper reviews the central criminological aspects of terrorism and counter-terrorism. It first offers a description of the major types, strategies, and characteristics of terrorism and provides a brief review of terrorist activity throughout history. Next, attention goes to the mechanisms and agencies involved with counter-terrorism to define and respond to terrorism. Subsequently, the major part of this research paper discusses the manner in which criminologists theoretically and empirically approach terrorism and counterterrorism as elements of their subject matter. Criminology analyzes terrorism as crime or deviance and investigates counter-terrorism as social control. The unique contributions of criminology make it a valuable addition to the wider field of terrorism studies.