Does any organisation refer to itself as terrorist ? It seems to me this word is only used by political opponents to such organisations, as the term terrorism has a quite negative connotation. But I'm not sure if there are any historical or contemporary examples of organisations or movements referring to themselves as terrorist, or explicitly stating that terrorism is a suitable method to achieve their goals?

  • It would probably hurt a group's recruitment tactics to refer to themselves as terrorist. Instead they might refer to themselves as rebels for a greater cause. Similar to how a dictatorship like North Korea refer to themselves as a republic. In this article the recruiters refer to their enemies as "Invaders"
    – Nick
    Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 20:11

1 Answer 1


According to Steven Poole in his book Unspeak:

(pp. 127-8): British Conservative MP Julian Amery, recalling his experiences in Britain's Special Operations Executive during the Second World War, said: 'I was a terrorist myself once. One of my duties was the recruitment of people to carry out terrorist actions against the Nazis in Yugoslavia and Albania.'3
3 Cited in Rees, Phil, Dining with Terrorists: Meetings with the World's Most Wanted Militants (London, 2005), pp. 15-16

And later:

(p. 135): 'Terrorists' was once a proud self-description by those who committed political violence: as Phil Rees remarks in his superb Dining with Terrorists, 'The Russian revolutionaries who assassinated Tsar Alexander II and the French anarchists who manned the Paris Commune used the word with pride.'19
19 Rees, op. cit.

Jonathan Barker's (very good, but not very well indexed) The No-Nonsense Guide to Terrorism has this:

(p. 10): The conservative British politician, Edmund Burke, was among the first to use the terms 'terrorism' and 'terrorist'. He wanted to draw attention to the murderous excesses of the Jacobin state and its 'strong corp of irregulars ... let loose on the people', a perfect example of state terrorism using proxies. In the late 1800s Russian anarchists adopted the terms, describing proudly as 'terrorism' the stabbing, strangling or shooting of selected state officials. Since then few have claimed the labels; they have been reserved as terms of abuse to describe one's enemies.

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