Considered an act of using violence against people to inculcate fear or intimidate a government or the civilian population. It is mostly in the pursuit of political, ideological or religious goals. .
The word terrorism was first used in France to describe a new system of government adopted during the French Revolution (1789-1799). The regime de la terreur (Reign of Terror) was intended to promote democracy and popular rule by ridding the revolution of its enemies and thereby purifying it. However the oppression and excess of violence used by this group transformed it into a feared instrument of the state. It wasn't until the late 19th century that the word gained wider popularity when it was used by a group of Russian revolutionaries.
Terrorism has been practiced throughout history and throughout the world. It all started more than 2,000 years ago when it was practiced by a Jewish sect called Zealots. They employed very public acts of murder of Roman legionnaires or Jewish citizens they considered guilty of apostasy or betrayal. Also captured the Roman held fortress Masada and massacred the garrison. Just before the end, the remaining Zealots, except for two women and five children, committed mass suicide. .
Between 1090 and 1272 an Islamic movement known as the Assassins used similar tactics in their struggle against the Christian Crusaders who had invaded what is today part of Syria. Both the Zealots and Assassins are legendary and many of their techniques and motivations are evident today. Both were motivated more by religious than by material causes.
Until the French Revolution (1789-1799), religion provided the main justification for the use of terrorism. This situation changed, however, as nationalism, anarchism, Marxism and other secular political movements emerged during the 1800s to challenge divine rule by monarchs. .
One of the most important developments in international terrorism during the 1980s was the rise in state-sponsored terrorism.