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The Complex Relationship between State Terrorism and Non-State Sector Terrorism

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Whilst are official groups, the complex governmental and political infrastructures of states such as Sudan and Ethiopia for example, clearly mask the subliminal controlling influence of groups involved in terrorist activities,   which also fall within the concept of state-sponsored terrorism (Jalata, 2005). Indeed, Jalata points to the fact that both Sudan and Ethiopia utilise “ state terrorism as political tools for creating and maintaining the confluence of identity, religion, and political power” along with Jalata’ s assertion of “ intergovernmental” forces within these states which has facilitated “ ethnonational cleansing, which has been disguised rhetorically as a move towards national self-determination and democracy” (Jalata, 2005).

Indeed, with regard to Sudan, the UN Security Council views the totalitarian regime as supporting non-state sectors such as Janjaweed’ s policy of ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population of Darfur (Jalata, 2005). This further highlight the close correlation between state and non-state terrorism as the state acquiescence of non-state terrorist activities clearly points towards state-sponsored terrorism de facto. As such, the central differentiating factor between state-sponsored terrorism and non-state terrorism appears to be the state sanction of the terrorist activity, whether by official means or by stealth (Primoratz, 2004).

Furthermore, the term is often utilized to describe the conduct of various governments in directly organizing violent acts in other states, which often creates a problem with international law with regard to the legitimate use of force (Ackerman, 2003). To this end, state-sponsored terrorism can often be cloaked within the veil of legitimacy, which lends itself to Primoratz’ s assertion that state terrorism is morally worse than non-state terrorism as “ state terrorism is bound to be compounded by secrecy, deception and hypocrisy” (2004).  

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