Terrorism: Understanding of USC Definitions

Table of Contents

Today, terrorism is a topic that bothers many people globally. Though the word “terrorism” was on all lips, its definitions and impact remain unclear from different perspectives (Whittaker, 2013). In this paper, special attention to the statutory definitions of international and domestic terrorism, criminal penalties, and the essence of terroristic organizations will be paid.

Statutory Definitions of International and Domestic Terrorism

The US legislation system defines two types of terrorism. According to 18 U.S. code of § 2331 (n.d.), international terrorism is defined as an act that jeopardizes human life, a violation of the existing criminal laws, and an activity that occurs outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

In other words, this type of terrorism has to happen not on the American territory. Its purposes include intimidation of the population, the influence of the local governmental policy, or change the governmental conduct. Domestic terrorism is the term that is used to identify all dangerous to human life activities the main characteristic of which is a violation of the US criminal laws. In fact, this type is similar to the one discussed above.

However, its main differentiation from international terrorism is that domestic terrorism has to occur within the US territorial jurisdiction. Regarding such statutory definitions, domestic and international types of terrorism have many things in common with the only distinctive feature, the location of activities.

Criminal Penalties regarding Terrorism

There are several important penalties that can be imposed on murders. A killing of a national of the United States is a serious crime that has to be penalized regarding the conditions defined by 18 U.S. code of § 2332 (n.d). For example, an attempt to commit killing should be fined or imprisoned for about 20 years.

If a conspiracy of several people to commit a murder or kill a person is proved, such penalties as fines or imprisonment for several years or for life can be imposed. Bodily injuries and emotional harm are also the outcomes that may be financially penalized or lead to imprisonment.

However, the existing legal issues are not constant. They may be changed in regards to specific conditions, the results of investigations, and other personal aspects that can be used within the context. The current definitions and explanations are used to control the population and legally determine human behaviors.

Designation of a Terrorist Organization

Nowadays, people are aware of numerous terrorist organizations that threaten the population security and human lives. There are several criteria that should be met to understand the essence of a terrorist organization.

In 8 U.S. code of § 1189 (n.d.), a definition of terrorist organizations is given, explaining them as organizations that are involved in terroristic activities the goal of which to threaten the US security or the lives of the American population.

A designation of a terroristic organization occurs in several stages, including the notification of the Speaker and the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives by the Secretary of the intentions, the publication of the designation in seven days after approval, and the creation of administrative records that control assets of such organizations. Revocation may be determined in no later than 180 days.

At this moment, the US government has already designated many foreign terrorist organizations. Some of them are HAMAS, al-Qaida, Jemaah Islamiya, and Army of Islam. This list is far from being full, and some organizations have already been delisted because of different reasons. Still, numerous threats exist, and they cannot be ignored today.


– Definitions. (n.d.).

– Criminal penalties. (n.d.).

– Designation of foreign terrorist organizations. (n.d.).

Whittaker, D. (2013). Terrorism: Understanding the global threat. New York, NY: Routledge.

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